Dr. Arunas Molis, Vytautas Magnus University
Dr. Arunas Molis has been a member of atlantic-community.org since 2009 and works as an associated professor at Vytautas Magnus University and lector at Vilnius University. His range of expertise includes energy security, international relations, European integration and the Baltic States. Before moving to Lithuania, Dr. Molis was affiliated with the Department of Political and strategic studies at Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia.
He describes "selfishness and indifference" as the greatest challenge to transatlantic security in this interview with atlantic-community.org. He shares his views on Russia-EU energy relations and the role of the Baltic States in transatlantic relations.
1. What are your current priorities in your work as Associated Professor at Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy?
I teach international relations, European integration, subjects related to the Baltic Sea region and energy security at several universities in Kaunas, Vilnius, Bremen and Tallinn. I also work for a few think-tanks where I focus on the research in the field of energy security. First and foremost I try to educate the audience, to capture their interest and to enhance their understanding of recent processes and events in the Baltic States, Europe and the world.
2. What is the greatest challenge to the transatlantic security today?
It is selfishness and indifference. I am concerned about the tendency which appeared and got stronger during the time of economic crises and the rise of untraditional, asymmetric threats (such as cyber attacks, energy blackmailing, illegal migration, organized crime, arms proliferation, failing states, etc.). All these challenges could be overcome, but transatlantic partners are losing interest, patience and motivation to work on the problems together. Even if common strategies, action plans, declarations, other important documents are “jointly” drafted and formally adopted, their implementation is hindered by states’ different approaches, national priorities and pure economic considerations. This process has a negative impact on the development of a stronger regional, continental and transatlantic partnership. As history shows, it is a huge mistake to undervalue the role of multilateral cooperation and to rely on the effectiveness of bilateral cooperation or national capabilities. I presume that partners on both sites of the Atlantic Ocean often only simulate cooperation, tend to forget their commitments and choose to tackle the problems on their own.
3. How would you describe the role of the Baltic States in transatlantic cooperation?
The role of the Baltic States in transatlantic cooperation is minor. Formally, the Baltic States are among the most enthusiastic promoters of transatlantic cooperation. This comes as no surprise: politically they are dependent on the EU, their security is granted through NATO membership, both Europe and the US play an important role in the future of the Baltic States. Therefore, the Baltic States adopted a considerably active role in proposing new practical cooperation mechanisms, launching and promoting value based initiatives, providing a fresh look towards the most pressing security challenges. On the other hand, as a result of shrinking defence budgets the Baltic States return to the stance of security consumers rather than constructive security providers. Transatlantic partners, in response, are losing interest in the Baltic States. This may have negative consequences both for the partners and for the development of transatlantic cooperation.
4. Can you evaluate the current stance of Russia-EU energy relations and outline the way they might develop in future?
Russia-EU energy relations are constantly worsening. Naturally Russia and the EU are strategic partners in energy affairs, sharing their compatible interests and being dependent on each other’s wishes and ability to develop crucial cooperation for both sides. However, the problem is that the traditionally stronger side (Russia, as the supplier of energy resources) wants to preserve the influence over the consumer, and the later (the EU) wishes to mitigate the risks associated with overdependence in energy supply sector. As a result, both sides concentrate on their import or export markets diversification, on diminishing each other’s “negotiation power” and the implementation of “disciplinary” measures. This leads to the adoption of instruments, which trigger external conflicts and internal divisions (both in Russia and the EU) rather than strengthening cooperation and closer partnership. Undoubtedly, both sides do have arguments, motivation and explanation of such policy, but this certainly does not lead to a closer, sincere and mutually beneficial partnership.