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Andrius Švarplys

Vytautas Magnus University, Department of Political Science, E-mail:



This paper has been presented at the Third International Conference on Nordic and Baltic Studies in Romania: European Networks: the Balkans, Scandinavia and the Baltic World in a Time of Crisis hosted by the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies and Valahia University of Târgoviste, and sponsored by the Romanian National Research Council, May 25-27, 2012.



‘Europe’ and ‘Russia’ have historically been the most remarkable landmarks, playing geopolitical, cultural, and moral guide-role in the construction of national collective identities in the Central Eastern European countries, including Lithuania. This ‘civilizational identity’ helped to unite Lithuanian political elites as well as society towards the direction to West and Europe after the collapse of Soviet Union. The question article addresses is: does the factual belonging to the European Union after the 1st May, 2004 give the impulse to re-define ‘Europe’ and ‘Russia’


as the old essentials of collective identity of Lithuanians? The article presents the research based on monitoring of national public discourse (five Lithuanian national newspapers) in 2004-2007, i.e. enjoying three years of membership in the European Union and NATO.

The main result is that the role of Russia in the Lithuanian collective identity has not changed and still continues to play the major threat. The membership in the European Union and NATO has not solved Lithuanian security problem. According to the perceived threat, Russia has started to penetrate softly into Lithuania’s economy (especially energy sector) and has silently begun to make an impact to the domestic political parties and political elite. The traditional role of Europe, however, is slowly but gradually shifting from mythical ‘Paradise’ image to more critical understandings about divided Europe and selfish member-states. Already being in the EU and NATO, Lithuania should balance sometimes unfriendly westerners’ reluctance to understand the situation and help against Russia with the economic power that Russia uses as a political instrument against Lithuania on the international arena, as well as in domestic politics. This results in the feelings of „lost and forgotten” between Europe and Russia. Nevertheless, Europe continues to earn a positive meaning in national collective identity of Lithuanians, but all these trends in public discourse show that the state and society have only just started to realize its interests and learn how to handle the major challenges through the cooperation within the European Union, i.e. to build integrational European identity.



„Europa” ?i Rusia au fost, din perspectiva istorica, reperele cele mai remarcabile ce au avut func?ii de calauze geopolitice, culturale ?i morale în conturarea identita?ilor na?ionale colective din ?arile Europei Central-Rasaritene, acest lucru fiind valabil ?i pentru Lituania. Aceasta identitate „civiliza?ionala” a unit elitele politice ?i societatea lituaniana în procesul de apropiere de Occident ?i Europa demarat dupa colapsul Uniunii Sovietice. Problematica pe care o ridica acest articol este în ce masura apartenen?a la Uniunea Europeana de la 1 mai 2004 a avut consecin?e asupra redefinirii Europei?i a „Rusiei” ca vechi ingrediente substan?iale ale identita?ii colective a lituanienilor. Articolul realizeaza o cercetare bazata pe analiza discursului public na?ional din cinci ziare lituaniene din anii 2004-2007, cuprinzând un interval de trei ani de apartenen?a la U.E. ?i N.A.T.O.

Principalul rezultat al cercetarii este concluzia ca rolul Rusiei în identitatea colectiva lituaniana nu s-a schimbat ?i continua sa fie perceput ca principala amenin?are. Potrivit acestei percep?ii, Rusia a început sa patrunda treptat în economia lituaniana (în special în sectorul energetic) ?i pe nevazute a pornit a avea un impact asupra partidelor ?i a elitei politice. Pe de alta parte, rolul tradi?ional al Europei se transforma treptat din imaginea unui paradis „mitic” în direc?ia unei în?elegeri mai critice cu privire la divizarea acesteia ?i la statele membre egoiste. Deja parte componenta a U.E. ?i a N.A.T.O., Lituania trebuie sa gaseasca un echilibru între re?inerea câteodata a occidentalilor nefavorabili de a în?elege situa?ia ?i de a acorda ajutor împotriva Rusiei ?i puterea economica pe care aceasta din urma o proiecteaza ca instrument politic împotriva Lituaniei atât pe arena interna?ionala cât ?i în politicile interne. Aceasta are ca rezultanta sentimentul de „pierduta ?i uitata”între Europa ?i Rusia. Totu?i, Europa continua sa aiba o semnifica?ie pozitivaîn identitatea colectiva a lituanienilor, dar toate aceste tendin?e din discursul public arata ca statul ?i societatea abia au început sa-?i realizeze interesele ?i saînve?e cum sa abordeze principalele provocari prin cooperare cu U.E., constituindu-?i o identitate europeana integratoare.


Keywords: Lithuania, national collective identity, public discourse, Central Eastern Europe, European Union, Russia, civilizational identity, integrational identity

[1]This research was funded by a grant (No. MIP-026/2011) from the Research Council of Lithuania.

11. Svarplys.pdf

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