Alternative for Germany building connections in Lithuania
Having gained popularity in Germany, the far right party is seeking supporters in Lithuania as well. At the invitation of presidential candidate Arvydas Juozaitis, three MPs from the anti-immigration and recognising the Crimean annexation Alternative for Germany, have arrived in Lithuania. A. Juozaitis says that their view match over immigration and the European Union, but not Russia. Political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas notes that isolated by traditional parties in Germany, the AfD is seeking international recognition, lrt.lt writes.
This is not the first visit by this party's MPs in Lithuania this year. In February, conservative MP Laurynas Kasčiūnas invited its members to Vilnius, however cancelled the meeting upon being met with criticism.
"It needs an international network to increase its legitimacy, trust in it as a normal political actor. Even if they are invited by also radical politicians, who are trying to give momentum to certain emotions," VU TSPMI political scientiststated.
The AfD receives invites from not only the West. AfD representatives visiting the Russian occupied Crimea stated that it legally belongs to Moscow.
"I respect my colleagues' visit to the Crimean peninsula. They visited to find out what is happening. You are where you are, you have a large neighbour – Russia. I know that Russian policy toward small countries was not good in the past. It should be better. But you cannot move your country, you have to understand your neighbourhood," German AfD member Armin-Paulus Hampel said during his visit in Lithuania, seeing no issue with his fellows' visit and statements in Crimea.
Political scientists say that Russia is seeking to exploit the increasingly popular radical powers in Western Europe by not only dividing, but also spreading its own version of events. However, according to A. Juozaitis, shaking hands in agreement on migrants does not mean that his and their views of Russia match.