News2019.08.14 09:00

I see no point in meeting with Putin – Lithuanian president

President Gitanas Nausėda is on an official visit in Berlin on Wednesday where one of the issues to be discussed with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials is relations with Russia.

In an interview with LRT TV on the eve of the visit, Nausėda said his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was unlikely and would be pointless.

“What could I be talking about with Mr President Putin at this point? As long as we have the situation in Ukraine, as long as escalation of tensions continue in the entire region, I see no point in exchanging diplomatic pleasantries and, importantly, I haven't got the moral right to do so – there is nothing to celebrate, tensions are felt throughout the region,” Nausėda said.

He noted that the European Union was divided on how to treat Russia.

“Being on the border with Russia, we can see the true danger, the true risks,” the Lithuanian president said. “Today, there is simply no place for jokes or diplomatic pleasantries.”

He added, however, that he had always argued against provoking Russia or using aggressive rhetoric.

“We talk like leaders of civilized countries, but first, in order to talk, we need to have an object,” Nausėda told LRT TV, adding that he would have plenty of topics to discuss with German officials during his visit to Berlin.

Soon after his election in May, Nausėda told BBC Russian Service that he regarded Russia as an aggressor in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

“One can hardly have good relations with a country that is now, unfortunately, an aggressor in Ukraine,” Nausėda said in late May.

He added, however, that ordinary Russians should not regard Lithuania as a hostile country.

“One would like to avoid words that are unpleasant to the Russian people. If we are using harsh words, then they will be presented by the Russian media in a way that makes Lithuania look like an enemy,” he told BBC Russian Service.

Nausėda added that he welcomed contacts between Lithuanian and Russian people, and wanted to see more Russian theatre and music in his country.

LRT has been certified according to the Journalism Trust Initiative Programme