Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: EU must have a response plan for Russia's possible provocations in the EU’s neighbourhood
On 20 July, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis discussed challenges posed by flows of illegal migrants from Belarus to Lithuania and thanked our EU partners for their solidarity and support at a meeting with the EU Ambassadors, who are residing in and accredited to Lithuania.
“The EU's coordinated action is of great importance, when talking to the third countries of origin and transit and pursuing an effective readmission policy. We expect greater involvement of the EU institutions in the facilitation of the return of irregular migrants from Belarus. It is important for the EU to send a clear message that irregular migrants will be returned to their countries of origin," said Landsbergis, who also stressed that Alexander Lukashenko’s policy towards the EU was not only becoming more aggressive, but also repression against civil society and independent media in Belarus continued to grow.
According to the Foreign Minister, the EU’s response must be strong and clear. We are starting discussions and preparing to expand economic sanctions on Belarus.
As regards EU-Russia relations, the head of Lithuania's diplomacy said that the EU had to adopt a unified position on Russia’s aggressive actions in the EU’s neighbourhood and on repression against opposition representatives.
“The Kremlin's systematic effort helps prevent the opposition from participating in the upcoming Duma elections, while repression is instrumental in removing all critics of the regime. The EU should prepare a response plan for Russia's possible provocations in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood or those during the Zapad 2021 Russian-Belarusian military exercise,” said the Foreign Minister. In addition, Landsbergis, noted that the risk of potential provocations was quite high in the context of the migration crisis.
When discussing the priorities and objectives of the EU policy with Ambassadors, the Foreign Minister stressed the importance of paying special attention to strengthening the EU’s resilience and the post-COVID-19 crisis smooth recovery.
“The EU faces multiple challenges, ranging from the coronavirus pandemic, irregular migration, security crises and conflicts in the EU’s neighbourhood to the growing ambitions of Russia and China on the global stage, as well as disinformation and cyber-attacks. The EU must be prepared for possible future crises and ensure a rapid economic recovery from the global pandemic based on a digital and green transition," said Landsbergis.
According to the Foreign Minister, having officially withdrawn from China's "17+1" format, Lithuania is awaiting a joint European debate on the future prospects of EU-China relations. Our country is interested in the EU's engagement with China, staying true to European values, and wishes its voice to be heard in the "27+ 1" format.
The meeting was organised by an Embassy of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Poland, which is also accredited to Lithuania.