Lithuanian diplomacy achieved a victory over the EU-Russia Partnership Agreement
Lithuania was the sole of 27 EU member states, represented in the European Union’s (EU) General Affairs and External Relations Council’s (GAERC) session in Luxembourg last week to dissent to the proposal to begin talks with Russia over the new partnership agreement.
The countries decided that EU-presidency holder Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Dimitri Rupel arrived to Vilnius to further harmonize stances on the issue. Amongst those who arrived to Vilnius were the Swedish and Polish Ministers of Foreign affairs. However, another issue for the Lithuanians was of another importance, expression of support to Georgia. The plan was that all ministers should visit Tbilisi on Monday and show their support to Georgia.
However, the Lithuanian diplomats had have heard a warning from Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitri Rupel that he would accompany his Lithuanian, Polish and Swedish colleagues to Georgia only if Lithuania abandoned its proposals to the mandate of strategic talks between the European Union and Russia. An anonymous Lithuanian diplomat expressed his disappointment by saying “How can one propose such exchange? It is incomprehensible whether the proposal from the European Union’s presiding country Slovenia indicates the entire EU’s stance on Georgia or is it a lame Slovenian proposal aimed at forcing Lithuania to give up its legitimate requirements in the discussion of the negotiating position of the EU-Russian strategic partnership agreement”.
However, after discussion in the Stikliai hotel the Lithuanians claimed that the EU had agreed with all Lithuanian propositions with some amendments. The Lithuanian FM stated that the EU solidarity exists not only in declarations but also in reality. Still he remained that the positions will have to be agreed with the other 23 Member States. The Slovenian MF noted in the press conference that: ‘All Europeans States and the EU Members understand Lithuanian position. And I can easy tell that I understand the Lithuanian concerns’. So, what are those demands?
As Lietuvos Rytas daily wrote last week, Lithuania decided not to approve the mandate for the EU-Russia negotiations until this mandate reflects Lithuania’s interests. This was the first time Lithuania has dared to fight for its interests in the EU with such fervour.
Vilnius demands to add to the energy declaration Russia’s commitment to observe the requirements provided for in the Energy Charter Agreement.
Moreover, Lithuania wanted the EU negotiations mandate to include the point that Russia should cooperate more actively in the field of renewing delivery of crude oil via the Friendship (Druzhba) Pipeline. This pipeline was closed in 2006 for “political repairs.”
As the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign affairs noted “Druzhba was cut off without an explanation. (…) We are worried that Russia is creating a precedent. Energy security and creating a precedent are issues of interest to the EU. This is not a bipartite issue. And we believe that the question of a precedent, and of how far one can go in not cooperating with one EU state is important to the entire EU as well. We have an alternative for Druzhba, but not one for gas”.
Lithuania also noted that Russia’s attitude toward its neighbours is related to the security of Lithuania and the entire EU. This is why Lithuania proposes a declaration on Georgia and Moldova.
Moreover, Lithuania would like to have a declaration on legal cooperation, which should promote constructive cooperation in the investigations of the 13 January 1991 events in Vilnius and the 31 July 1991 massacre in Medininkai, as well as of the disappearance of EU citizens in Russia. There is also an ongoing case of disappearance of Lithuanian businessmen Mr Jucys in Kaliningrad a year ago.
Lithuanian is also seeking to add an additional declaration to the negotiations mandate to compensate for the damages incurred by the persons deported from the occupied Baltic countries. Ensuring such support to the deported persons was one of the international commitments Russia undertook when it joined the Council of Europe.
Lithuania does not impose demands on Russia. It urges the EU to protect Lithuania’s interests, the same way it protects the interests of other EU members. Lithuania is not trying to change Russia, it is impossible, it simply tries to change the EU attitude towards Russia, in sake of the EU.
The another point is that Lithuania is a Member State, the same as Germany, France, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Poland or Ireland who are also defending their interests by blocking decision making. However, Lithuania is standing not only for the ‘meet’ as the Poles did, but for the values of justice.
Lets see how it will go.