Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Planning to (Ab)use EU Presidency to Push Red-Brown Politics



In spite of the repeated visible damage to Lithuania’s standing emanating from previous attempts, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now announced that red-brown politics in the service of Double Genocide would be one of the goals of its upcoming stint in the rotating presidency of the European Union.

There was diplomatic blood on the floor following the foreign ministry’s failed attempt to insinuate Double Genocide into the Stockholm Program in 2010 (reports here, here, and here).

Earlier this year, eight bold Lithuanian parliamentarians, all Social democrats (two MEPs and six MPs), made history by signing the Seventy Years Declaration on the seventieth anniversary of the Wannsee Conference. The 2012 SYD repudiates Double Genocide and  the 2008 Prague Declaration.

The current foreign minister’s trashing of the eight and his infamous “moustache comparison” led to coverage by Roger Cohen in the New York Times.

The newest plans are chronicled in Baltic Review, whose 16 July 2012 report contains the following text:

RE-LIVING LITHUANIA’S HISTORICAL MEMORY OF THE CRIMES OF TWO TOTALITARIAN REGIMES OF THE 20TH CENTURY WILL BE COMMEMORATED WHEN THE COUNTRY HOLDS THE LITHUANIAN PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL OF THE EU NEXT YEAR

Next year’s Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be especially important for reviving Lithuania’s historical memory. On May 16, in a meeting with U.S. historian Timothy Snyder, Foreign Minister Ažubalis expressed his appreciation to Mr. Snyder for “perpetuating the historical memory of the crimes of the totalitarian regimes which is significant to Lithuania and the entire Western Europe, and emphasized Lithuania’s active efforts to commemorate the memory of the victims of the atrocities of the 20th century.”

Foreign Minister Ažubalis commended the historian for his courage and determination to remind the entire world that in the 20th century, Europe suffered from two totalitarian regimes that were responsible for horrendous crimes against humanity. “Despite the fact that the form of expression, methods, or scale of the terror of Fascism and Stalinism were different, we should honor the memory of the victims of both regimes, rather than contrast the regimes,” the Foreign Minister said.

As it has frequently done in the past (see here and here), the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry invokes Yale professor Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands, as the fount of alleged mainstream support for its Holocaust politics.

There is increasing speculation on whether Professor Snyder will on this occasion speak out to set the record straight on the question of whether the Foreign Ministry’s use of his name and work is proper and authorized.

Lithuania’s current foreign minister Ažubalis, spearheading the new initiative with Professor Snyder for use during Lithuania’s EU chairmanship, has himself, like many other red-brown proponents, on occasion expressed antisemitic views, vilified colleagues who genuinely commemorate the Holocaust, and most recently, defended the state glorification of a major Nazi collaborator.

The foreign minister is best known in Lithuanian Jewish circles for his antisemitic outbursts, which resulted in a protest letter by the small remnant Jewish community in Vilnius; his “moustache response” to the Seventy Years Declaration on the Holocaust last January (covered by Roger Cohen in the New York Times); and his more recent support for the reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister who signed orders for incarceration and degradation of his country’s Jewish citizens.

The foreign minister was met by a picket line of Holocaust survivors during his March 2012 visit to Tel Aviv. It was the first time in nearly two decades that Lithuanian Holocaust survivors in Israel, now in their eighties and nineties, found it necessary to organize and turn out for a picket line.

His trashing of his Social Democratic parliamentary colleagues who signed the Seventy Years Declaration prompted UK MP Denis MacShane, author of a major work on antisemitism, to write to each of the MPs attacked by the foreign minister.

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