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Lithuanians believe that Latvia is the friendliest country and Russia poses a major threat, a new survey finds

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned the Market and Opinion Research Centre ‘Vilmorus Ltd.’ to conduct a public opinion survey, which found that Lithuanians believed in the importance of foreign policy and diplomacy for security of the country and its inhabitants. Lithuanians essentially agree with the foreign policy implemented by the authorities, advocate for a closer cooperation with the Baltic states and Poland, but they see Russia as a major threat.

Respondents most frequently named Latvia (65%), Poland (62%), Estonia (58%), and Germany (55%) as priority countries for cooperation. An overwhelming majority of Lithuanians (68%) described Russia as an unfriendly country for Lithuania. The respondents are similarly confident that almost all bilateral relations are rather positive than negative, with the exception of a relationship with Russia. The survey showed that 82 percent of respondents assessed the relationship with Russia negatively and only 7% evaluated it positively. The respondents felt that Lithuania’s relationships with Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Germany, and the USA were the most positive ones.

Over the past year, the number of respondents who believed that Lithuania should cooperate with Russia dropped from 32% to 29%, and from 35% to 30% with regard to Belarus. Two-thirds (62%) of survey respondents see the construction of the Ostrovets nuclear power plant (NPP) in Belarus as a threat to the inhabitants of Vilnius and Lithuania.

Despite the slight lack of interest in foreign policy, 46% of respondents speak in favor of Lithuania’s foreign policy that is implemented by the authorities. These include mostly young people (59%), those with a higher education qualification (57%), higher-income groups (64%), and Vilniusites (66%). Just like last year, the quality of services provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions of Lithuania was evaluated well or very well by 57% of those who had benefited from them.

38% of respondents evaluated best the effort of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions of Lithuania to represent the interests of Lithuanian security through the use of bilateral and multilateral cooperation instruments, and the possibility offered by NATO membership. These kinds of activities were selected as “best” also in 2017. Respondents took greatest interest in the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in maintaining relations with neighboring countries (59%), followed by Lithuania’s foreign policy in general (54%), as well as NATO and security issues (47%).

Nearly three out of four respondents (70%) believe that Lithuanians living abroad contribute to a better awareness and attractiveness of Lithuania abroad, help to attract investment to Lithuania, implement various projects planned to help Lithuania prosper, allocate money to charities and support initiatives, support their families and friends in Lithuania, and foster the Lithuanian national identity abroad.

A vast majority of respondents (87%) learned about Lithuania’s foreign policy through television, followed by online media (53%). However, the vast majority of young people (79%) learned about the country’s foreign policy from social networks. This number skyrocketed, if compared to the 2017.

The number of those who follow foreign policy news on the Ministry’s social media accounts is steadily growing.

The representative survey of the Lithuanian population was commissioned by the Ministry and conducted in December 2018.

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