The Eastern Europe Studies Centre hosted the second discussion in the series Lithuanian Foreign Policy Outlook, featuring the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis. The discussion was moderated by the EESC’s director Linas Kojala. During the event, the minister spoke about Lithuanian foreign policy in the Eastern Partnership region, Lithuania’s relationship with Belarus and highlighted the necessity to form a unified European Union foreign policy.
In regard to the aircraft, which was forced to land in Belarus, the minister said that such events are a problem for all of Europe because this flight carried individuals of at least 18 different nationalities. Events of this sort call for the creation of a unified European foreign policy and, furthermore, Russia’s foreign policy is also no longer solely a regional problem but a pan-European one.
Speaking of the situation in Belarus, the minister noted that the current impulse generated by the aviation scandal and civil society protests is not short term. Furthermore, it does not appear that current Alexander Lukashenko is a useful partner for Russian President Vladimir Putin and so this position might change in the future. The transformation of the European states’ foreign policy toward Belarus and Russia is a long-term process and in resolving this issue, the European Union becomes a player in foreign policy in terms of Russia’s policies as well. At the moment, we must admit that the European Union is increasingly becoming a geopolitical union and so, it should act as befits one.
When highlighting key Lithuanian foreign policy challenges, the minister pointed out a review of relations with Asian countries as a priority. Lithuania Is among the most pro-European countries in the entire EU and the 17+1 cooperation format proposed by China serves to divide Europe and creates tension with countries, which are not part of this format, making it a logical step to exit it. Meanwhile, Lithuania’s relationship with China is currently pragmatic and must continue to be based on the principle of the rule of law and mutual respect.
As Lithuania is one of the Eastern Partnership Policy leaders in the region, one of the goals for Lithuanian foreign policy is to showcase to the EU that Eastern Partnership is a challenge for all of Europe and that this question is also important to other EU countries. It is necessary to prove to other EU countries as to why Eastern Partnership is a European challenge so that a value and idea-based policy in respect to this region would continue, given how a technical perspective on this region has poor prospects. At the same time, Lithuania and other European Union countries must continue supporting the EU and NATO integration prospects of Ukraine, Georgia and the Western Balkan States.
We are glad that the discussion was broadcast by four of the largest Lithuanian news portals: DELFI.lt, LRT, 15min, lrytas.lt and we wish to thank all the discussion’s viewers and those actively posing questions. You can find the full recording of the discussion on the EESC’s Facebook page.