VILNIUS – Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Thursday left for the French city of Brest to discuss the bloc's possible response to China's pressure on Lithuania with his EU counterparts.
At their two-day informal talks, ministers are expected to discuss "EU-China relations, the unilateral use of economic and trade instruments as a means of political pressure, and China's activity in international organizations and the multilateral international system," the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
Lithuanian businesses say they have experienced difficulties in trade with Chinese companies. Lithuanian politicians describe this as "undeclared sanctions" from China in retaliation for the opening of a Taiwanese representative office in Vilnius.
In Brest, EU ministers will also discuss tensions on the Ukrainian border, where Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops, and other regional security issues.
“We are closely monitoring the Kremlin’s attempts to redraw the European security architecture. Russia continues to amass its troops near the eastern border with Ukraine, issues ultimatums to Europe and the United States, rejecting the opportunity to engage constructively in the Normandy Format or in the discussions in the Trilateral Contact Group,” the ministry’s press release quoted Landsbergis as saying.
“In addition, the situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate. Restrictions on fundamental freedoms have continued. The regime continues to violate human rights, to undermine fundamental freedoms and to disregard international law. It also strengthens cooperation with Russia, including military cooperation,” he added.
During the meeting, EU foreign ministers will also discuss the EU's new military strategy document, the so-called Strategic Compass, with their defense counterparts.
Ahead of the meeting, Landsbergis stressed to reporters that, in view of tensions near Ukraine’s border and Russia’s demands, the bloc should “not close the door” to Ukraine in its pursuit of European integration and should not make null and void the results of the negotiations launched eight years ago.
“I think that Europe should not give a false impression that we are reviewing what was achieved in 2014. We have to help Ukraine to follow on the path that it chose in 2014 and keep the door open for Ukraine to join the European community,” he said.
The minister also said that he was ready to ask for European solidarity in Lithuania’s dispute with China.
“The situation where Europe finds itself in now was not chosen by us. China chose the instruments and the way to address this issue. And it chose, what I would say, a way that is not only coercive but is very likely illegal,” Landsbergis stated.
“I am ready to inform my colleagues once again about where we are, what we are facing and ask for European solidarity. Because this is what is needed now,” he added.