Lithuania Tests Its Anti-Authoritarian Mettle

Lithuania Tests Its Anti-Authoritarian Mettle
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, right, at a press conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Aug. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Mindaugas Kulbis).

The government of Lithuania caused a stir this summer when it announced that it would allow Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the capital, Vilnius, with plans to open a reciprocal Lithuanian representative office in Taipei. China responded by withdrawing its ambassador to Vilnius and demanding that Lithuania do the same. And in May, the Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution labeling China’s treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang as a “genocide.”

China is not the only authoritarian power that Lithuania is facing off with. Vilnius hosts the Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled her home country last year after running against the dictator Alexander Lukashenko in a rigged election.

This week on Trend Lines, Edward Lucas, a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and a former senior editor at The Economist, joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman to discuss the roots of these recent moves by Lithuania, and how the country always finds itself leading the charge against powerful authoritarian states.

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Trend Lines is edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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