Source: Republic of Lithuania
On 22 February, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis participated in the Foreign Affairs Council, which focused on the EU-Russia relations, the human rights and democracy situation in Belarus, Myanmar, Hong Kong, and the EU initiative to strengthen a common European security and defence culture.
EU ministers of foreign affairs agreed that despite the unconstructive and hostile behaviour of Russian officials towards the EU, it was necessary to strengthen the the EU and its partners’ support for civil society, independent media, youth and the democratic opposition in Russia. In response to the ongoing criminal proceedings against Alexei Navalny, the Foreign Minister Landsbergis suggested reacting quickly and unanimously, imposing targeted sanctions against officials responsible for systematic human rights abuses.
Landsbergis called on the EU to maintain a values-based policy toward Russia, first of all, to think about the people of Russia and then to deal with the regime accordingly. According to the Foreign Minister, Russia has undermined democracy, human rights, and the sovereignty of neighbouring countries long ago. Therefore, the EU should give up the illusion that Russia’s behaviour might change and soberly assess its actions, as well as lessons learned.“Let us give Vladimir Putin the opportunity to hold a free election to the State Duma this autumn with the participation of the opposition. Until then, let us stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister.