The comments about a recently (October 11) held symposium „EU Eastern Partnership and Security Situation in East Asia” are descending. Therefore, it is about time to look at this event from a secure position in terms of time.
First of all, it has to be mentioned that the symposium was dedicated to security—both economic and political. This may be the reason why the title of it was composed of two, seemingly different topics: Eastern Partnership, and security in East Asia, with “East” as the binding factor. In this context, the metaphor for “East” could be Japan, because its representatives gave speeches in both parts of the symposium. Noteworthy is the fact that Japan and EU have organized similar symposiums since 2002, and they are held in the countries which have the presidency of the Council of EU. This initiative was started in order to promote the development of civic society, to enhance cultural exchange and direct communication among the people of both sides.
The first part of the event was dominated by the European affairs. Norio Maruyama, Japan MOFA’s (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Head Assistant of Political Section Mission of Japan to the EU and ambassador, stressed out Japan’s contribution to the development of economy of GUAM countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) using ODA (official development assistance). Although ODA is an economic program, some political aspects may not be omitted, because ODA is possible only if these conditions are met: freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law. Here we can see a threefold importance of ODA: promotion of free and democratic society, economic aid, and enabling to create economic security from the regional power—Russia. Lithuanians may ask: if ODA is so good, why don’t we get some aid? The answer is simple: we used to receive ODA, but since Lithuania became a developed country, aid cannot be given anymore.
Other presentations in the first part were devoted to the analysis of political situation between EU and Russia. Laurynas Kasčiūnas, analyst of East European Studies Center, and Tomas Janeliūnas, professor at Vilnius University IIRPS (Institute of International Relations and Political Science) paid most of their attention to the rising tensions between EU and Eurasia Union, which is dominated by Russia.
The second part of the symposium was dedicated to Japan matters and topicalities of security in East Asia. Associate professor Dr. Ryo Sahashi of Kanagawa University of Law delineated the course of the second part by naming the top priorities in terms of security in East Asia: North Korea, China rising, maritime security, natural disasters, and cyber security. These priorities are logical from Japan’s point of view (stressing out the natural disasters), but the other positions are important in the global context as well. Needless to mention the ambivalent stance of North Korea, which is threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world with a hypothetical nuclear weapon. Numbers may not say much, but they are impressive: according to different sources, the portion of North Korea’s budget devoted to military may be as high as 1/5. Japan’s proportion, on the other hand, is only 0,9%. Great dependency on China’s economy in global context is also an extremely important topic, because the collapse of it may result in devastating consequences.
The second part of the symposium was well accompanied by Lithuanian specialists: Jonas Daniliauskas, Daivis Petrauskas, and Konstantinas Andrijauskas, lector of VU IIRPS. Their good insights about the region showed that Lithuanian scientists and government officials are well aware of distant, yet important region of East Asia.
Nevertheless, the event had a few drawbacks, and all of them were organizational ones. First of all, the connection between the two parts of the symposium was too artificial. In my opinion, two separate events for both topics would have attracted more attention from specialists in respective fields. Secondly, it is obvious that Japan’s role in Europe is only contributive in terms of economy. The ODA as a tool to lessen Russia’s influence in GUAM countries’ economy is only hypothetical, because such outcomes were not mentioned during presentations. Moreover, Dr. Sahashi pointed out these priorities in Japan’s foreign policy: USA, Australia, South Korea, India, and Vietnam (in the future). Apparently, neither EU, nor any European country was mentioned. So one can only wonder of what could be the outcomes of a tighter Japan-EU partnership. Therefore, I should say, the making of one instead of two events was not the best decision for the audience, but may have been a good one in terms of budget.
On the other hand, the symposium allowed to broaden the knowledge about the less known regions: specialists of Asia had an opportunity to deepen their comprehension of issues of Eastern partnership, while experts of European matters could know more about the ‘insecure’ region, ‘prevailed’ by China and North Korea. All in all, we are expecting more similar events with slightly different schedule in the future.
Written by: Arvydas Kumpis
Edited by: Monika Dvirnaitė