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Lithuanian Foreign Minister: Ukraine is test for Europe and EU can't sit back

Linas Linkevičius
Luko Balandžio nuotr. / Linas Linkevičius
Šaltinis: BNS

Ukraine's choice between the East and the West is a test to Europe, and the European Union (EU) cannot sit back, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says.

"Ukraine is like a test for us. A test when it comes to superiority of law, human rights, the state has to implement a lot and achieve a lot. Nevertheless, I think we should not close our eyes before what's happening, let's help this country. I sometimes feel that some of our colleagues live by the approach of wait and see what happens. I think we should do more than just decide who can be members of our club. It is not the only center of gravity, there are also other centers that raise certain questions," the minister said at an interparliamentary common foreign and security policy conference at the Lithuanian parliament on Thursday.

He said the EU should be active and help Ukrainians make the decision.

Ukraine expects to sign the Association and Free Trade Agreement with the EU during the EU's Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius this year. Some politicians in the West maintain the EU shouldn't take the step until Ukraine releases jailed ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

"We have to be active and help them decide. They should implement the requirement on the legal reform, elections, furthermore, they have to clear any doubts we may have in connection to selective justice. Let's help the country, then others will follow its example, for instance, Moldova," the Lithuanian diplomacy chief stated.

In his address to the MEPs attending the conference, Linkevičius restated his understanding that not all prioritize EU Eastern Partnership. On the other hand, he emphasized that the EU should not miss the opportunity to implement the idea of an open and free Europe.

"For some countries, Eastern Partnership is not a priority, and I can understand that. Please be assured, in discussions of other regional programs and other regional conflicts – both in Africa and other regions, that the situation in Europe is also very important and that the European idea is not fully implemented yet," the minister said.

"We now have an opportunity to get closer to our Eastern partners, which are very different countries with different agendas, different ambitions and probably different expectations. There are six of them. We should seek to ensure a convenient dialogue for them, we have to encourage them to get involved in the process. It is not just the result of the dialogue that is important, the process is also important," Linkevičius said.

He stressed that the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius this November would also be important, urging to use all the opportunities it provides.

The Eastern Partnership program includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Lithuania currently holds EU Council presidency.

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