VILNIUS - Lithuania's dialog with Russia must be a principled one, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Monday, commenting on the Russian ambassador's call for "improving the atmosphere of bilateral relations" between the two countries.
"If parliamentarians communicate with one another, the fact per se is a good one. The question is what they are speaking about, but the process as such must take place. Parliamentarians are free to discuss, set up groups and meet, but what is very important is that this dialog is a principled one and that we are not defensive because we have nothing to defend," he told reporters.
"All contacts are valuable when they are value-based, principled. I do wish and hope that this will be how it goes," he added.
Russia's State Duma should set up a group for inter-parliamentary relations with Lithuania in the near future and the two countries' lawmakers should start with improving the atmosphere of bilateral relations,
Alexander Udaltsov, the Russian ambassador to Vilnius, said after meeting with Seimas Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis earlier in the day that Russia's State Duma should set up a group for inter-parliamentary relations with Lithuania in the near future and that the two countries' lawmakers should start with improving the atmosphere of bilateral relations.
"The Seimas and the State Duma are structures that have a significant impact on the atmosphere of our relations. We all understand that these relations are not at their best now and, therefore, perhaps we should start by thinking about the atmosphere, improving it and creating more favorable conditions for mutual dialog," he told reporters.
The ambassador said that Russia wants to have a reliable, predictable and well-wishing partner and neighbor.
"We agreed that we have a certain reserve for contacts between members of our parliaments. There have been no such contacts for a long time for obvious reasons," Udaltsov said.
"I was informed that the Group for Interparliamentary Relations with the Russian Federation had been established at the Seimas. We welcome the establishment of such a group. I will tell Moscow that we should expedite the establishment of an equivalent group at the State Duma and organize a meeting between our parliamentarians, which is what I believe we have agreed on," he said.
The ambassador said that such a group could be set up at the State Duma in the coming weeks or months.
Udaltsov underlined that contacts are necessary for normal relations between the states.
"People-to-people contacts and contacts among diplomats, deputies, and officials would help us to better understand each other's position and find common ground," he said.
Pranckietis expressed concern to the Russian ambassador over nuclear safety and different nuclear safety standards applied to facilities that Russia's state corporation Rosatom is building in Hungary, Finland and Belarus, Kestutis Kudzmanas, the Seimas speaker's foreign policy advisor, said.
"We are concerned about the power plant that Rosatom is building close to our border. This is an issue not only of regional security," the advisor said.
Pranckietis and Udaltsov also discussed the situation in Eastern Ukraine, the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the EU's sanctions on Russia.