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Published: 2 july 2013 08:52

Lithuanian Foreign Minister: EU-US ties should not be damaged by spying scandal

Linas Linkevičius
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Linas Linkevičius

Media reports about alleged spying raise concern but the scandal should not damage strong political and economic relations between the European Union and the United States, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius says.

The minister called for putting emotions aside and underlined that EU-US talks on a free trade agreement will be one of the priorities of the Lithuanian EU presidency during the upcoming six months.

"The EU speaks out for respect of human rights and personal privacy of citizens. It is understandable that the information which recently emerged raised concern. However, allies have to clear up all issues thoroughly," Linkevičius said on Monday.

He believes that "it is very productive to discuss media reports or classified documents that nobody has seen in public."

He reminded the fact that soon after the information emerged, High Representative Catherine Ashton turned to US institutions in both Brussels and Washington DC, asking them to verify facts and provide explanations as soon as possible, and, he believes, it will be done.

"Both strong political and economic EU-US ties should not be damaged. And the preparation of the TTIP agreement is one of the key future tasks and, with no doubt, one of the priorities of our presidency. It will provide direct benefit for our economies and will add 0.4-0.5 percent to GDP growth in the EU and the US. It would be best to let emotions die down and to deal with arising problems constructively," the Lithuanian foreign minister told BNS.

The EU demanded explanations from Washington following a recent report in German weekly Der Spiegel, which said that the American intelligence had spied on the Community offices in Brussels, New York, and Washington DC.

Phones and computer networks at EU offices in Brussels were bugged as part of the US National Security Agency's PRISM program, according to the German magazine, citing new documents leaked by runaway ex-intelligence officer Edward Snowden.

Some European politicians have said the EU-US talks on the free trade agreement might collapse in the wake of the spying scandal.

BNS
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