Baltic states call on the EU to take firm measures if Russia does not release Navalny

Source: Republic of Lithuania

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Urmas Reinsalu, Edgars Rinkēvičs, and Gabrielius Landsbergis sent a letter to the High Representative Josep Borrell calling on the EU to step up its efforts to pressure Russia to release Alexei Navalny. 
The Foreign Ministers also prompted the Foreign Affairs Council to address the issue at the meeting on 25 January and to consider the possibility of introducing restrictive measures.

The Russian opposition leader Navalny and several of his supporters were detained on politically motivated charges on 17 January.
On 18 January, the EU collectively condemned this as a violation of international human rights and a breach of the rule of law. 

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Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry calls for the immediate release of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained in Moscow today

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 17 January, the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after flying to his home country from Germany.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania strongly condemns steps taken by the Russian authorities and law enforcement agencies that undermine the general principles of the rule of law recognized by civilised nations, and violate the human rights norms enshrined in the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Human Rights, and calls for the immediate release of Navalny.“Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry believes that the actions of the Russian law enforcement agencies are a part of the Moscow-initiated official persecution and liquidation campaign against Navalny. As seen through Moscow’s eyes, it seems that Navalny, who dared to challenge the government, has made another most unfortunate mistake. He remains alive. More than that, he has said who was behind the attempt on his life. Thus, we call for the immediate release of Navalny. We also call on the Russian government to bring the perpetrators of the poisoning of Navalny to justice,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis. Landsbergis also noted that Lithuania would immediately raise issues concerning the EU’s possible response to the detention and persecution of Navalny, and new sanctions against Russia.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis announced the winner of Global Lithuanian Awards 2020 for lifetime achievements

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 14 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis announced the laureate of Global Lithuanian Awards 2020 for lifetime achievements.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania has given the award posthumously to the sociologist, educator, social activist, Honorable Chair of the Lithuanian Community in Germany, founder of the Lithuanian Cultural Institute in Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld, Germany – Dr. Vincas Bartusevičius (1939-2020).“It is my pleasure to posthumously recognize Dr. Vincas Bartusevičius with the award. This year, we celebrate the outstanding contributions of a person of extraordinary intellectual power, who has dedicated his life to Lithuania, to the preservation of the Lithuanian identity, and to the perpetuation of a historical, diasporic memory,” said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister.  Established in 2012, Global Lithuanian Awards aim to promote the idea of Global Lithuania and to create the atmosphere of appreciation for international experience exchange and diaspora engagement.The awards are given under the auspices of the President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda. A non-profit and non-governmental organization ‘Global Lithuanian Leaders’ organises every year an award ceremony in cooperation with the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ona Bartusevičienė will receive the posthumous award on behalf of her husband.

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Lithuania asks for allied solidarity regarding Russia’s actions against Lithuanian justice officials in January 13 case

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 13 January, at the North Atlantic Council meeting, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania to NATO Ambassador Deividas Matulionis raised an issue of Russia’s actions against Lithuanian justice officials in January 13 case and asked for Allied solidarity.

Ambassador informed 29 NATO Allies that on 14 December 2020 the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation brought criminal charges in absentia against three Lithuanian judges who had been investigating the January 13 case and intended to put them on the international wanted list.
„Such criminal proceedings by Russia against Lithuanian officials is an act of open pressure on Lithuania and its judicial system, and a serious assault on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary“, said Ambassador Matulionis.
The Soviet military attack on the TV tower and National Radio and Television building in Vilnius on 13 January 1991 resulted in 14 civilian deaths and left more than 800 people injured. Following thorough investigation and trial, in March 2019, Lithuanian court found 67 former Soviet officials guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their role in the January 13 Soviet aggression.
The verdict has been challenged in the Lithuanian Court of Appeals, which concluded the consideration of the matter in November 2020. The sentence in this case is expected to be passed in March 2021.

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Ambassador Audra Plepytė elected as the President of the UNICEF Executive Board Bureau

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 12 January, the Ambassador Audra Plepytė, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the United Nations, was elected as the President of the Bureau of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Lithuania’s Presidency will focus on protecting children’s rights and well-being, mitigating the negative consequences of COVID-19 on children worldwide, as well as distance learning, the use of new technology and innovations to promote children’s well-being, prevention of bullying, keeping children safe in cyberspace, and ensuring equal opportunities for girls and children with disabilities.

Lithuania will hold the Presidency of the UNICEF Executive Board during this particularly difficult time. Due to the pandemic, worldwide school closures sent tens of millions of children home. Millions do not have access to digital or broadcast remote learning opportunities, lack food and health services, including access to vaccines against other diseases. In addition, there has been a significant increase in domestic violence against children.

The Ambassador Plepytė will serve as the President of the UNICEF Executive Board a one-year term. The President and four Vice-Presidents (Costa Rica, South Korea, Morocco and New Zealand) will constitute the Bureau.

The UNICEF Executive Board is made up of 36 member states. It is the governing body of UNICEF, providing intergovernmental support and oversight to the organization. The Bureau serves as a bridge between the UNICEF secretariat and the regional groups represented on the Executive Board, dealing primarily with liaison, administrative and functional matters, such as facilitating the negotiation of decisions at the session, to enhance the effectiveness of the Executive Board.

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 in New York, UNICEF aims to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is committed to ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children: victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation, and children with disabilities.

Lithuania was elected as a member of the UNICEF Executive Board for a three-year term in 2019.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs to call on the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language to change the official Lithuanian name of Belarus

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 12 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis received a letter from Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who requested replacing the official Lithuanian name ‘Baltarusija’ with a form that would be closer to the one in the Belarusian language.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya argues in her letter that by changing the name of the country Lithuania would show respect for the sovereignty of its neighbour and would support the linguistic and cultural identity of the Belarusian people.’‘’Belarus’ means ‘White Rus’, not Russia. Thus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania will call on the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language to consider the proposal and to start revising the official Lithuanian name of the country,” said Landsbergis.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and his Canadian counterpart discussed bilateral cooperation and international agenda items

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 11 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis had a telephone conversation with his Canadian counterpart François-Philippe Champagne. The Foreign Ministers discussed bilateral cooperation, regional security issues, the situation in Belarus, and possibilities of support for democratic initiatives.

Landsbergis thanked his Canadian counterpart for his active effort to advance bilateral ties, as well as for Canada’s contribution to ensuring security in the Baltic Sea region. According to Landsbergis, the transatlantic link and the strengthening of bilateral relations with Canada remain one of the key priorities of Lithuania’s foreign policy.While discussing the situation in Belarus, Landsbergis welcomed the fact that Lithuania and Canada shared views on support for Belarusian civil society, sanctions against the regime, and called on Canada to contribute to the implementation of joint projects and initiatives. The Foreign Ministers also underlined the need to continue supporting the Eastern Partnership countries.Champagne thanked Lithuania for its support and for joining the Canada-initiated Declaration by like-minded countries against the use of arbitrary detention in state-to-state relations. The Declaration aims to achieve an end to the practice by some states of arbitrarily arresting, detaining, and sentencing foreign nationals.

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Lithuanian and Israeli Foreign Ministers discussed opportunities for cooperation

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 11 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis had a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and discussed good relations between Lithuania and Israel. The Foreign Ministers expressed their belief that bilateral political and economic cooperation would be further strengthened.

Landsbergis thanked Israeli officials and the public for taking interest in the events of the Year of the Vilna Gaon and of the History of the Jews of Lithuania. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, these events allowed us to present the rich history of Lithuanian Jews in more detail.“Israel is a priority partner for Lithuania, with which we are linked by a rich history and people-to-people contacts. As we celebrate the 29th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, we must remember that Lithuanian Jews have been an integral part of our society since the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and have made a significant contribution to the development of Lithuania’s statehood, history, culture, and science. We see a great untapped potential for bilateral cooperation also in the future,” said Landsbergis.To close the Year of the Vilna Gaon and of the History of the Jews of Lithuania, the two Foreign Ministers wrote a joint letter, which was published in the Lithuanian and Israeli media: https://bit.ly/3bs01Jn.The Foreign Ministers also discussed the situation in both countries, measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and agreed to further strengthen cooperation in various areas.Lithuania and Israel established diplomatic relations on 8 January 1992. Last year marked the 300th birth anniversary of the most prominent representative of the Litvak culture – the Vilna Gaon. On this occasion, the Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania designated 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and of the History of the Jews of Lithuania. Dozens of events, commemorating the world-famous religious authority and the history of Lithuanian Jews, took place in Lithuania and abroad.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and his Dutch counterpart discussed prospects for bilateral and international cooperation

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 8 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis had a telephone conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Stef Blok and discussed the key issues of bilateral and international cooperation.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister thanked the Netherlands for the country’s contribution to strengthening Lithuania’s security. “We highly appreciate the participation of the Dutch soldiers in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion, Air Policing missions, and joint military exercises. This is a very important expression of solidarity,” said Landsbergis.The Foreign Ministers agreed that it was important to continue supporting democratic processes in Belarus and to make effort to bring to justice those responsible for repression of peaceful protesters. According to Landsbergis, it is in Lithuania’s interest to have a free and democratic neighbour.The Foreign Ministers also discussed relations with Russia. “It will be really difficult to talk about changes in the relationship, until Russia changes its behaviour and takes steps to comply with its international commitments,” Minister G. Landsbergis said.Lithuania’s Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of support for the Eastern Partnership countries. The Foreign Ministers also discussed actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the most important items on the NATO agenda, and the implementation of the principle of the rule of law in the European Union.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis met with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 8 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis met with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whom Lithuania recognises as the legitimate representative of the Belarusian people, and discussed topical issues of further cooperation and the strategy for democratic forces.

“The progress of democracy in Belarus and the right of its people to live in a free and legal country are among the most important priorities of our foreign policy,” said Landsbergis.To view all the photos, please click here: www.flickr.com/photos/mfa_lithuania/albums/72157717782666408 Photos: MFA/J. Azanovas

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