In the context of the intensification of political debates on the European integration of the Republic of Moldova, IPN News Agency asked a number of resident EU ambassadors in Chisinau to state their views and recommendations related to the state of affairs, starting from the experience of the own countries on the road to the EU. Our interlocutor today is His Excellence Ambassador of Lithuania to Moldova Rimantas Latakas.
Lithuania will continue to support the European integration aspirations of the Republic of Moldova, said Lithuania’s Ambassador in Chisinau Rimantas Latakas, who spoke about the advantages of this process enjoyed by this country. “From the experience of my country, I can say what the European Union offered us. I don’t know if it is important to mention all the statistical data, but I will refer to the essential things that are of interest to society. For example, after the integration into the EU, the average salary of Lithuanians rose two times in all the sectors of the economy. Another important indicator refers to the consumer basket, which represented 50% of the European level before integration into the EU and now represents more than 74% of the EU consumer basket,” said the Lithuanian diplomat, noting that Lithuania managed thus to outstrip a lot some of the states that integrated into the European Union before it. On the other hand, Lithuania learned from the positive experience of the EU, implemented high standards, etc.
Rimantas Latakas noted that Moldova’s rapprochement with the EU should be the decision and wish of the people. In Lithuania, this process started in 1995 and there was no common recipe for this process. “It depends on you, but I can assure you that we will always support the European aspirations of the Republic of Moldova and I stated this not only once, as the ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania. This thing was also highlighted at upper level, by our President, our minister of foreign affairs. If such intensions exist, you should know that you have such friends as Lithuania, which will always be ready to offer the Republic of Moldova the assistance it needs,” said the diplomat, noting that the choice of the course and the initiative should belong to Moldova. Also, the priorities and problems that need to be solved should be fixed.
Rimantas Latakas said that the process is different for each state apart and each state has different problems. Lithuania enjoyed consensus about the country’s European course. All the political parties supported the European integration option, which coincided with the wish to have the same living standards as in the EU. That’s why the Lithuanians didn’t have doubts about this process. “But this thing never prevented us from having commercial relations with the East. We have always been for maintaining relations with both of the sides, but are very glad that we joined the European family and that the national economy flourishes as a result of this process,” stated the ambassador.
According to Rimantas Latakas, the population’s enthusiasm for the European integration process should be maintained with sufficient information about the content of this process and when its results could be felt. Before integrating into the European Union, the Lithuanian politicians travelled through the country to plainly explain what this process consists of and what its advantages and disadvantages are. Thus, at the moment of integration into the EU, 60% of the country’s population was for, while now Lithuania is one of the most pro-European countries among the EU member states. Figures speak for themselves. 70% of the Lithuanians say they are satisfied with the living standards. Also, 64% of the citizens of Lithuania say they know what the European Union means, how it works and what its advantages are and this is important. The television and Internet are the main source of information in Lithuania, as in the Republic of Moldova, and this is different from the situation in the EU, where the print media, radio and television are the main sources of information.
In Lithuania, which has been a member of the Europa Union for 13 years already, the number of supporters of the European integration has always been on the rise. A curious element is that the farmers, who opposed the most the integration into the EU, now, after 13 years of the entry into the EU, support this process the most. The explanation is that the information is not always sufficient and the benefits of the EU should be explained because the integration into the European Union does not mean only possibility of obtaining money, but also improvement of the leaving standards. This is possible by meeting the EU standards, together with the signing of the Association Agreement, which enables also to review the own standards in the social sphere, production, etc.
The citizens have the right and should put questions to the authorities about the utility and impact of the implemented reforms or reforms that are to be implemented and about what has been done until now and what will be yet done in the European integration process. And when answers to these questions are provided, the people’s enthusiasm for this process will be maintained. The people’s enthusiasm for the European integration can be also maintained by questioning them about the utility and impact of the reforms done by the authorities. In conclusion, the ambassador of Lithuania said the dissemination of as much correct information about the European Union as possible will bring only advantages.