Foreign ministers of European nations failed to agree among themselves how to improve relations with Russia because of objections from Lithuania which first insists that Russia focus on its own demands. Lithuania is ready to compromise, but wants Russia to fix an oil pipeline to a Liithuanian refinery and resolve peacefully issues in the nation of Georgia where Russian troops are aiding dissident factions. The European Union wants to enroll Russia– which badly needs foreign investors and expertise to develop its oil and gas reserves–into a “strategic partnership” covering a range of economic and political issues. Negotiation has stalled over Russian resentment at what it terms “human rights lecturing” from the European Union and the United States.
Lithuania broke away from the Soviet Union and became independent in 1991 which has left a bad taste in the mouths of both Russians and Lithuanians. They have argued over the rights of Russians who remained in the new country of Lithuania, the attempt by Lithuanians to tear down Russian constructed statues in their nation, and Russian attempts to use oil as a weapon in diplomacy.
Perhaps, an excellent first step in the improvement of relations with Russia is for the European Union to announce its opposition to American construction of missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Such an announcement would have a powerful impact on Russian public opinion.