VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has called on the European Union to immediately respond to human rights violations in Russia and Moscow's aggressive stance in the region, including in the Eastern Partnership countries.
In Friday’s European Council video conference, Nauseda said that the current security situation in Europe "required an adequate and balanced response", because "Russia’s aggressive posture in the region continues, affecting political stability, especially in Eastern Partnership countries".
"Although relations with Russia will be on top of the European Council agenda this coming March, the abuse of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Russia compel the European Union to respond now," he said in a press release.
In a video released after the summit, Nauseda said that he had also raised the issue of the jailing of the Kremlin's critic Alexey Navalny and the persecution of his associates.
"We did receive (...) a message from European Council President Charles Michel that he will raise this issue both at the press conference and, no doubt, during his forthcoming visits to the Eastern Partnership countries," he said.
The Russia issue "has not been forgotten; it has really gained significant political weight", Nauseda said.
In the European Council's video conference, Nauseda "welcomed the renewed EU-Southern Neighborhood initiative and expressed hope it would be built on the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights," according to the press release.
"The president pointed out that Lithuania supported the EU's ambition goals across its entire neighborhood, including Eastern Partnership countries," his office said.
"These countries have received insufficient attention from EU bodies so far, and I am very glad that (...) Mr. Michel is planning to visit all three associate EU members next week – Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine – to discuss not only their reforms, but also possibilities for political de-escalation in Georgia," he said in the video after the session.
Nauseda reiterated that Lithuania was ready to mediate in resolving the political crisis in Georgia, but added that "we must avoid reckless, spontaneous and sometimes unprepared actions, which unfortunately have happened in the past."
At the European Council's session, the president "underscored the need to deepen collaboration with the United States and the United Kingdom", his office said in the press release.
"He expressed hope that the European Union would strengthen ties with the new U.S. administration, particularly in security and defense."
"The United Kingdom, even though no longer a member of the European Union, remains our key security partner. We must cooperate as closely as possible and continue effective cooperation," Nauseda said, adding that strong links with Canada are also necessary for European security.
The president also stressed the role of NATO as the EU's strategic partner that ensures security in Europe, according to the press release.