Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: As Russia steals free elections, the EU should react more resolutely
On 10 May in Brussels, Belgium, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis attended the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, which focused on transatlantic relations, further strained EU-Russia relations, the situation in the Western Balkans, Belarus, and other foreign policy issues.
The Foreign Minister said that while celebrating its Victory Day parade, Russia demonstrated a militarized policy and the situation along Ukraine’s borders may begin to deteriorate at any time.
“The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's organisation has been declared extremist. This has taken away the opportunity to participate in political life and paralysed the only movement capable of opposing the regime before the upcoming Duma elections. As Russia steals the right to vote, the EU should react more resolutely in dealing with these violations of human rights,” said the Foreign Minister, who also stressed the need to reduce the number of representatives of Russian military intelligence in the EU and to increase support for Russian civil society.
According to Landsbergis, if there is no principled EU response to Russia's actions, including staging a terrorist attack in the Czech Republic, which is a member of the EU and NATO, Russia will consider this as an open invitation to continue to stage attacks. “The EU must act strategically. Moreover, our involvement in the Eastern Partnership countries is of geopolitical importance,” said Landsbergis.
As regards the situation in the Western Balkans, the Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of the EU’s political involvement in the region and compliance with the undertaken commitments, as well as stressed that the EU's absence in the region left a vacuum, opened the door to foreign interference, and was not in line with the EU’s strategic objectives.
“A reliable and realistic prospect for the EU enlargement is the best geopolitical investment in the stability and security of the region. I call on those member states that have unresolved bilateral issues to resolve them as soon as possible, so that we could open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia without delay, and waive visa requirements for Kosovo’s citizens,” said the Foreign Minister.
Photos: Foreign Affairs Council