2020.04.28 10:14

Lithuania ready to breathe ‘new life’ into the Eastern Partnership programme – president

BNS 2020.04.28 10:14

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said the country was ready to instill new life in the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme, aimed at building cooperation between the bloc and six post-Soviet countries – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus and Azerbaijan.

"My goal is to establish contacts with all six countries to find out their motivation on this path, what reforms are ongoing and what ambitions those countries are pursuing," said Nausėda after his phone call with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.

The Lithuanian president already held calls with his Belarusian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian counterparts.

Read more: Lithuanian and Belarusian leaders hold first call in a decade

Nausėda told Aliyev “that Lithuania was prepared to inspire or even instill new life to the Eastern Partnership programme and moderate the discussion, [...] in particular by sharing [Lithuania’s] integration experience with [...] the countries seeking European integration,” the president's office said on Monday.

"The president emphasised that ambitious results hopefully summed up in a declaration were expected, therefore motivation of the Eastern Partnership countries to achieve the European integration goals was highly important," the press release said.

Lithuania supports Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration, territorial integrity

Nausėda held a conference call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday to discuss the Eastern Partnership agenda, the coronavirus crisis, Ukraine's reforms and the situation in the eastern part of the country.

Nausėda said Lithuania supported Ukraine's integration into the European Union and NATO, and its territorial integrity. "Reiterating Lithuania's position on support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, the president emphasized Russia's responsibility in this conflict," according to the press release.

"Expressing strong support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and the ongoing reform process in prosecution and judiciary, banking regulation, and liberalisation of the land market, the president reminded [Zelensky] that Lithuania remained a strong promoter of the Eastern Partnership programme," it said.

"It is necessary to ensure the independence of the Ukrainian authorities and introduce anti-corruption measures," Nausėda said in the press release. "It is very important for citizens, for democracy, for economic growth, as well as for European companies that consider significant investments in Ukraine."

In the conversation, Nausėda underlined "Lithuania's strong position on the safety of the Astravyets nuclear power plant and Lithuania's decision not to buy unsafe electricity from the third countries", and asked Ukraine "to reconsider the issue of non-purchase of electricity" from the Belarusian nuclear plant located 50 kilometres from Vilnius.

Read more: Lithuania hopes to sign ban on Belarus’ nuclear energy with other Baltic states

Lithuania insists the Astravyets NPP is being built in breach of international safety regulations. Minsk rejects all criticism.

Nausėda also said he regretted that the coronavirus pandemic had forced the cancellation of his visits to Kyiv and Zaporozhe, which had been scheduled for March, and the postponement of the Ukraine Reform Conference to a later date.

The next EU Eastern Partnership Summit is scheduled for June 18.