VILNIUS – Foreign Policy Coordination Council under the Lithuanian presidential office has proposed going back to the idea of developing Lithuania’s long-term strategy on Belarus, Asta Skaisgiryte, chief adviser to President Gitanas Nauseda on foreign policy issues, has said.
“The Council held a more in-depth discussion on the issue of Belarus as Lithuania’s long-term interests in relations with this country are very important for us. Experts who took part in the discussion shared their insights and it was agreed that support to Belarusian civil society, to democratic processes is very important. Also, we went back to the idea of developing Lithuania’s long-term strategy on Belarus,” she said after the meeting.
According to the adviser, the participants of the meeting also discussed the issue of Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravyets. Skaisgiryte pointed out that “the safety of Astravyets has become a pan-European issue and not just Lithuania’s headache”.
“All European Union’s (EU) leaders agree that the European Commission should look at legal aspects, how to prevent access to the EU market for Belarusian electricity. If Lithuania bars [direct] access, it does not mean that it [Belarusian electricity] will not reach [the country] through other countries. We have to make sure that some sort of a solution is found at the EU level and we hope that the European Commission will soon provide the parameters of its analysis and proposals what could be done in this respect,” Skaisgiryte noted.
Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that, once possible, he would go to Latvia to continue talks on a trilateral methodology of electricity trade with Russia as Lithuania seeks to bar market access for electricity from the Astravyets nuclear facility. Lithuania is the only Baltic country that has not yet approved a new methodology of electricity trade with third countries as it does not prevent trade in Belarusian electricity.
“Our stance is very clear: the methodology has not yet been agreed. Now we have invitations from Latvia’s prime minister and [energy] minister to come to Latvia for a meeting once possible, and we intend to do that … and I believe that we will lay the foundations for further talks during the first meetings,” he said.
“We emphasize that the methodology is one of the essential and strategic elements we have to have an agreement on. Lithuania’s infrastructure must not be used for selling electricity from Astravyets,” Landsbergis added.
The presidential office on Friday hosted the first ever meeting of Foreign Policy Coordination Council convened at the initiative of President Gitanas Nauseda to discuss the formation and implementation of a unified plan for foreign policy based on national consensus.
According to Skaisgiryte, this particular format had been initiated since “President Nauseda pursues the foreign policy protecting Lithuania’s interests and based on national consensus”.
“For this purpose, he proposes to enhance coordination between the institutions acting in the area of foreign policy, to improve their common work and discussion of stances. Hence, he has mobilized an informal foreign policy coordination council, which acts as a platform for foreign policy discussions both among policymakers and experts,” the adviser said.
During the first meeting, the council focused on the situation in Belarus and also addressed the issues pertaining to national security as well as policy agendas of NATO, EU, Eastern Partnership and the program aimed at managing the threat posed by the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravyets, the presidential office said in a press release.
In the future, such meetings will be convened based on the necessity and foreign policy priorities.
In addition to the president, the remote meeting of the Foreign Policy Coordination Council was also attended by Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas Zygimantas Pavilionis and Chair of the Committee on European Affairs of the Seimas Radvile Morkunaite-Mikuleniene.
Experts on the Eastern European policy also took part in the debate, including Head of the Eastern Europe Studies Centre Linas Kojala, Director of Institute for International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University Margarita Seselgyte, Dean of the Faculty for Political Science and Diplomacy of Vytautas Magnus University Sarunas Liekis.