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Open or closed to the European Union? The Construction of Lithuanian collective identity in the public sphere

Open Panel

Abstract

The process of europeanization as the spread and internalization of common political norms of the European Union is often seen as depending on how these European norms are consistent with national collective identities of the member-states. On the other hand, national collective identities are constantly constructing and re-constructing by public discourses in the mass-media. Common national values and threats are raised and debated in this public field by various public figures, including politicians, intellectuals, public commentators etc. The task of the paper is to explore how in the Lithuanian public sphere (national newspapers and major internet portal) it is constructed national identity in association with the European Union. What values are considered as European, as in conformity with European cultural tradition and with the political norms of the European Union? Or what European political-legal principles are supposed as challenging the national cultural-moral heritage? More specifically, the paper looks at the signs of euroscepticism in the Lithuanian public sphere looking for the reasons of this phenomenon that presumably constructed on the grounds of national cutural exceptionalism. On this point the paper makes hypothesis on transitional state‘s identity: entering the European Union (and NATO, actually) has been a fundamental task that the Lithuanian elites and public sphere have always been unanymous to achieve for, because of national security concerns have taken priority among the others. But after the goal has been gained in 1 May, 2004, the monolithical support for European integration ends in the public sphere, since the national identity considerations presents the European Union not merely in positive terms.