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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: EU must send a clear message to Russia about possible consequences of aggression

Created: 2021.04.19 / Updated: 2021.04.19 17:38
      Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: EU must send a clear message to Russia about possible consequences of aggression
      Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: EU must send a clear message to Russia about possible consequences of aggression
      Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: EU must send a clear message to Russia about possible consequences of aggression
      Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: EU must send a clear message to Russia about possible consequences of aggression

      On 19 April, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis took part in a video conference of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, which focused on Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine and Alexei Navalny, the state of his health, the situation in Georgia, Belarus, and other relevant foreign policy issues.

      Foreign Affairs Ministers also held an online informal exchange of views with their Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and unitedly condemned Russia's escalation in eastern Ukraine, the military buildup on Ukraine’s border, as well as in the illegally annexed Crimea. Foreign Affairs Ministers also expressed their strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and discussed a possible joint EU response to Russian aggression.
       
      According to the Foreign Minister, Russia amasses troops on the Ukrainian border, violates the ceasefire, carries out a broad disinformation campaign and other provocations. This shows that the country is neither interested in seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, nor in compliance with international commitments.
       
      “We shouldn't fool ourselves. What is happening in eastern Ukraine is not just an attack on this country. It is an attack on us all, our values, and the democratic world. Russia tries to undermine the credibility of our commitments to the partners. It is now very important to keep our eyes on Russia's next steps. Our response is not less important. Sanctions could be a possible way of deterrence," said the Foreign Minister, who stressed that the EU member states must together send a clear message to Russia that its aggression against a sovereign state would have serious consequences. The Foreign Minister also thanked Kuleba for inviting EU Ministers to visit Donbas and urged his counterparts to take the opportunity, show solidarity with Ukraine, and see the situation with their own eyes.

      As regards Ukraine’s reform process, the Foreign Minister highlighted the significant progress made by Ukraine and urged the EU to strengthen its support to the implementation of systemic reforms, particularly anti-corruption and judicial reforms.

      “It is important to ensure the sustainability of long-term reforms, especially those aimed at strengthening the rule of law. The EU must offer Ukraine the incentives provided for in the Association Agreement, take up the initiatives of deepening integration that would lead to Ukraine's gradual integration into the EU's internal market. This is an important stimulus for reforms,” said the Foreign Minister and invited the representatives of the EU member states and institutions to the Ukraine Reform Conference, which is to be held in Vilnius on 7-8 July. Landsbergis stressed the importance of not slowing down the pace of reforms and assured the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba that the EU partners fully supported Ukraine’s European path.

      As regards the consolidation of the occupation of Crimea, Landsbergis drew his counterparts' attention to the strengthening militarisation of the peninsula, the catastrophic human rights situation, Russia's highly worrying threats to close part of the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait for foreign ships and stressed the importance of the International Crimea Platform as an international format to provide long-term vision of de-occupation of Crimea.
       
      On behalf of Lithuania and Estonia, the Foreign Minister expressed concerns over a sharp deterioration in Alexei Navalny's health since his imprisonment by the Kremlin. The opposition leader has been on hunger strike for weeks. Moreover, the regime has ignored his appeals for necessary medical treatment.
       
      “There has been a sharp deterioration in Alexei Navalny's health. Putin wishes to kill both Navalny and the hope of a democratic Russia, as well as turn the entire EU into a powerless witness. We can't allow that. The EU humanitarian mission should transfer Navalny to a European country of his choice for medical treatment," said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, who called for considering additional sanctions against the officials responsible for the continuing assassination attempt of the opposition leader in prison.
       
      When speaking about the solution to the political crisis in Georgia, Landsbergis stressed that the EU must continue its involvement,  help Georgians solve this political crisis and prevent Russia from exploiting the situation to their own benefit. The Foreign Minister also informed his counterparts about his planned visit to Tbilisi next week.

      “I am very confident that the Georgian Government and the opposition will accept the EU-US compromise agreement. This is an important offer of concern and support from the transatlantic partners. During the visit, I will call for an inclusive dialogue between the ruling parties and the opposition, political consensus for the country’s stability and the Euro-Atlantic integration course," said the Foreign Minister.
       
      Landsbergis voiced his support for the Czech Republic that had expelled 18 Russian spies operating under diplomatic guise.

      At the meeting, Landsbergis drew attention to a deteriorating situation in Belarus. The number of political prisoners is growing daily. The Belarusian regime has labelled opposition leaders as terrorists and is threatening to liquidate civil society in the country. Lithuania's Foreign Minister also stressed the importance of maintaining pressure on Minsk and agreeing as soon as possible on a 4th EU package of sanctions against Belarus that was being prepared.

      EU Foreign Affairs Ministers adopted a second set of restrictive measures in light of the continued deterioration of the human rights situation after a military coup in Myanmar/Burma. The Council today imposed restrictive measures on 10 officials responsible for the ongoing repression in the country and 2 legal entities with ties to the military junta.
       
       

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