In a curious annual statement to his nation’s diplomats around the globe, Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis recently proclaimed publicly that “historical memory policy” would be one of the main goals of Lithuanian’s foreign policy, particularly as it looks forward to its rotating presidency of the EU next year.
The insistence on the Eastern European right wing’s history appears alongside energy and transport infrastructure, economic development, consular services for citizens resident abroad, military security, international alliances and more. The speech also mentions the need for more coordination of Lithuania’s “body and mind” implying the need for more rather than less diplomatic work in the field of history revisionism internationally.
This report was republished on Operation Last Chance.
According to the transcript published on 19 July 2012 by the leading Baltic news portal Delfi, the foreign minister again made reference to “a unified view of historic truth” — Orwell incarnate! — becoming the foreign policy of the nation, while noting at the same time the recent bill on (minimal and delayed) restitution for Jewish communal property as a kind of springboard for proceeding full speed ahead with the Double Genocide politics inherent in the Prague Declaration.
Foreign Minister Ažubalis has in recent years been taken to task by the Jewish community of Lithuania for his antisemitic outbursts. He has publicly vilified his own Lithuanian parliamentary colleagues who signed the Seventy Years Declaration on the anniversary of Wannsee, offering the infamous “moustache comparison” that made the New York Times. He was greeted by a picket line of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania during his March visit to Tel Aviv. More recently, he has put on the record his support for the ceremonial reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister, when confronted in the Seimas by a leading member of the Social Democrats.
But now, with a restitution bill for communal property in his diplomatic pocket alongside a number of Holocaust projects for foreign consumption, he apparently judges that the time is ripe for a new “red-brown offensive” on the diplomatic front. Off the record, various Lithuanian career diplomats in Western capitals have told DefendingHistory.com that the “history control instructions” coming from Vilnius have made their work more difficult and mired it in untenable complications, setting back Lithuania’s diplomatic status by years or more.
But on the record, the foreign minister seems to continue to veer further from EU and NATO democratic principles by encouraging monitoring and opposition toward those, citizens and non-citizens, who may have a different view of history.
One wonders which websites, journals and persons the foreign minister might have in mind for “monitoring.” The Association of Lithuanian Jews? Other Litvak sites? Simon Wiesenthal Center? DefendingHistory.com?
In a throwback to Soviet-style euphemism for state crackdown on dissenting ideas, he says:
One wonders which websites, journals and persons the foreign minister might have in mind for “monitoring.” The Association of Lithuanian Jews? Other Litvak sites? Simon Wiesenthal Center? DefendingHistory.com? In its own proposal of Seven Simple Solutions to Jewish-Lithuanian issues, DefendingHistory.com has, by contrast put it this way, in item no. 4:
“Action to repeal the recent legislation that would punish (with prison sentences up to two years!) those who would not agree to (in effect) equalizing Soviet and Nazi crimes by regarding the former, in Lithuania, as not amounting to genocide. This law is an affront to democracy and open society, and has already intimidated liberal and Western oriented voices in the country. The people of Lithuania deserve the same level of freedom and democracy as all other people in NATO, the European Union and the OSCE. That freedom includes the equal right to support inter alia the Seventy Years Declaration.”
The following is a translation of the relevant section of the foreign minister’s recent speech:
HISTORICAL MEMORY POLICY
“Dear Colleagues! state consciousness [thinking at the national level] requires the recognition of memory, i.e., history. Existing as a precondition of the continuity of the nation, historical memory lies in the zone of political expression or even of the battle for influence. It strengthens relations and prestige in the world. But when propaganda does harm to memory, the thinking of the communities is harmed as well as national security. In this field Lithuania’s actions need to be better coordinated. Up till now some use history as a cover for their own agenda, while others believe that the past is a safe-house for facts and that justice and Lithuania’s real experiences will shine of their own power for everyone. This is an erroneous view, which we must correct today.
“Having established a common platform for conscience and memory in the European Union [reference to the Prague Declaration and resulting documents], we aspire to a unified view of historical truth. Last year we achieved a breakthrough in relations with the Jewish communities. Holocaust memory projects, and support to those who suffered from Nazism increased Lithuania’s authority in the world and opened the way for expanding business and cultural ties with Israel, the USA, EU countries, South Africa and South America, where there are large Litvak populations. On the other side, we have also formed a serious view toward the crimes of Soviet totalitarianism. We are seeking to have denial of these crimes criminalized through Europe.
“An important, integral part of the strategy of history policy is also the monitoring and prevention of external historical propaganda which is being carried out today. We have also activated Lithuanian heritage protection and commemoration of past projects and initiatives.
“A comprehensive book on Lithuanian history will soon appear. During [our] presidency of the EU it will show the world in an attractive style that Lithuania was not born accidentally, but was born of our forefathers’ mature and consistent decision to create their future and that of our state independently. We are also preparing a special manual of Lithuanian history for diplomats which will aid in responding appropriately to the distortion of facts encountered in the international arena and will thus defend Lithuania’s honor and image.
“Of course, a successful history policy requires civilian support and institutional unity. For that reason we will continue to discuss actively with partners and social authorities in order to coordinate the requirements of Lithuania’s body and mind.”