Ministry protests EU-Russia talks

  • 2008-11-12
  • By TBT staff
VILNIUS - Lithuania is protesting the resumption EU-Russia talks because the country says that Russia has not adhered to the agreement to withdraw its troops back to their original positions in the war-torn Georgian border regions.
Lithuania will approve resuming strategic partnership talks between the European Union and Russia only if the EU follows its September position to suspend the negotiations until Moscow pulls back its troops from Georgia, a Lithuanian diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

"A common agreement would be acceptable to Lithuania if it remained in the framework of the consensus reached at the European Summit on Sept. 1. Why can't the EU yield in agreements on decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant when it is willing to overlook the terms and conditions for the negotiations with Russia agreed upon two months ago?" the top-ranking official of the Foreign Ministry asked rhetorically.

He said the discussion of the reopening of the negotiations applies not only to the bid to pull back Russian soldiers to pre-war positions, but also to the decline of entry to international observers into the separatist Georgia's regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia that have declared independence.
Undersecretary to the Foreign Ministry Zygimantas Pavilionis said he can't see Russia complying with EU demands.

"By signing friendship agreements with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia demonstrated that it does not intend to follow commitments, therefore there are no guarantees that the events in Georgia will not repeat somewhere else. It is now most important to answer the question how the EU intends to act in the future if Russia continues failing to follow its legal commitments," Pavilionis said
Nerijus Malinkevicius, a political analyst, said that there are two ways to view the situation, inclusively and exclusively.

"Lithuania's strategy is to look at this exclusively. They are saying that we can only do business when everything is in order," he said.
"This raises the question, is this a strategic or pragmatic idea? Should we still deal with them if they don't abide by EU demands?" he added.
Malinkevicius said this could be seen as political activism because Lithuania wants the other EU states to "wake up and see things how it sees things."

"Lithuania has experience with Russia and looking at their current stance with [Russian President Dmitri Medvedev] saying missiles will be put in Kaliningrad and so on, Lithuania is working step by step with an aggressive neighbor, whose behavior it wants to change," he said.
The European Commission has repeatedly urged EU member-states to agree on the resumption of the EU-Russia negotiations that were frozen in the wake of Russia's armed conflict with Georgia. France has also hinted on the reopening of the talks in the nearest future, possibly during the Nov. 14 EU-Russia Summit in Nice.


Russia's government during the week announced that it would be placing short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave in response to Poland's agreement with the U.S. government to host missile defense system elements that would defend against potential missile attacks from Iran.
Arunas Molis, a lecturer at the Baltic Defense College told TBT that the missiles were definitely intended for a strike on either Poland or the Baltic States because their range was only about 400 kilometers.

"This is a direct threat, but the threat of them using it is not a big one. This is a future threat," he said.
Some of the missiles could potentially be fitted with a nuclear warhead, which corresponds to Russia's earlier threat that Poland risked a nuclear strike if they cooperated with the U.S.A.
"Polish and Lithuanian actions always make Russia angry and the government knows this," Molis added.