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Published: 4 february 2013 08:47

Lithuanian and Russian foreign ministers meet in Munich

Linas Linkevičius ir Sergejus Lavrovas
URM nuotr. / Linas Linkevičius and Sergey Lavrov

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Saturday and agreed on the need to step up bilateral relations.

According to the Lithuanian minister, starting with issues the two countries agree on, it will be easier to move to the resolution of problematic issues later on.

"We agreed that our agenda, bilateral relations should be stepped up and strengthened. It doesn't mean that we can forget all disagreements which, unfortunately, exist between us, and there are quite a number issues we have different opinions on. But we have to focus on our future relations and try to find the common denominator where we have agreement, try to find positive examples in our agenda and this way later on resolve issues we disagree on. That common understanding on the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation, I believe, was the most important goal of our meeting," Linkevičius told BNS by phone from Munich where he and Lavrov attended the Munich Security Conference.

Among positive examples of Lithuanian-Russian cooperation, the Lithuanian foreign minister mentioned the facilitated transit procedure to Kaliningrad. Since 2003, Russian citizens going to the Russian region of Kaliningrad from mainland Russia via Lithuania need simplified transit documents instead of visas.

"Among positive examples, I mentioned at least a couple of them and one of them is the fact that this year marks 10 years since the introduction of the facilitated transit procedure for going to Kaliningrad and back. As you know, it's a specific situation and at least from Lithuania's point of view, is has been working successfully for ten years," Linkevičius said.

In terms of areas of potential cooperation with Russia, Linkevičius mentioned a project on the destruction of excess explosives in Kaliningrad. "There's such a project on NATO-Russian agenda, which everyone supported, namely, on the destruction of excess explosives in Kaliningrad to do that together with the competent NATO agency. Among NATO countries, Germany and Poland are among countries that are more outspoken here. Of course, it's important for Lithuania, and, I think, it's important for Russia too, so I paid attention that there's such a project where we could work together to have positive results," the Lithuanian foreign minister said.

Talking about Russia's expectations raised during the meeting, Linkevičius mentioned issues related to the gas sector. "The Russian side also voiced a number of its expectations, and there were also issues were progress is expected from Lithuania. I can specify – the Third Energy Package. Here we talk about the gas sector, and our disagreements are that we are separating producers from supplies pursuant to the procedure established by the European Union, and the supply infrastructure are not in the hand of a producer. All that causes certain problems in terms of business for Russian partners. Our aim is to ensure competition, and, in the end, we are doing this not unilaterally but in the framework of the EU's Third Energy Package. I also told the Russian side that its not only Lithuania's policy as it is the EU's policy," Linkevičius said.

Linkevičius and Lavrov's Saturday meeting in Munich was Lithuania's new foreign minister's first meeting with his Russian counterpart.

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