French President Emmanuel Macron arrived on an official visit to Lithuania on Monday evening.
The following are the key seven quotes from his joint news conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.
Praise of Lithuania’s progress: “The last official visit by a French president in a bilateral format took place with Jacques Chirac in July 2001 – 19 years ago. That was indeed too long ago, but that long period of time lets me talk about the long way which Lithuania has come. Your expectations of freedom, peace, security, economic and social welfare have become a reality. Since then, Lithuania has joined the EU and NATO, the Schengen area and the euro area and lived through an excellent process of economic convergence.”
Visit during Covid-19: “I am grateful for such a warm welcome at this time, which is very difficult. The wave of Covid-19 is on the rise again, but we are living with this virus and trying to find solutions in places where the virus is getting stronger… Mr. President, I’ve arrived with a delegation that, despite the ongoing health crisis, includes several ministers, also a delegation of the members of parliament, several friends of your country, my family, which proves that the relations between France and Lithuania are very important for us, as is our cooperation in a bilateral format.”
Dialogue with Russia: “I know that this country suffered very painful wounds. Here, the 20th century was different from what we had. You perhaps felt left on your own and that time after the Second World War dragged on too long for you. I know what it means for you to talk about a strategic dialogue with Russia… that dialogue, which we are building, we are doing that with utmost respect for our European partners and everything is very transparent. I think we are capable of creating the 21st century with many conflicts related to our neighbourhood resolved.”
Pressure on Russia over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny: “It is an attempted killing, an act of aggression conducted in Russia against a Russian opposition politician using a Russian chemical material. Hence Russia has to provide an explanation over this situation. International community has to ask for these explanations and then make decisions [...] An investigation is ongoing. There were national examinations performed and France, Germany and Sweden provided the results of their tests. And it is crystal clear to us that this case involves the use of a chemical weapon with prohibited chemical materials. Technical work will be performed now and decisions will be made and then we will have to take measures. First and foremost, a clarification is required.”
Mediation in Belarus: “We have proposed that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should make a commitment, also, France will spare no effort to ensure this mediation so that we could move forward... Our priority today is condemnation and sanctions. What we need to avoid is the geopolitisation of this conflict. That transition has to be peaceful and should not involve other countries.”
Support for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: “She acted very bravely, both personally and as a member of her family. I therefore want to thank her for her courage and for all people who have mobilised in Belarus... Our stance has been very clear from the very beginning – we do not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as the president of Belarus.”
Efforts to protect elections from foreign interference: “We have adopted a joint declaration of France, Lithuania and Latvia on the protection of democracies. This declaration aims to strengthen European mechanisms in fthe ight against cyberattacks and various forms of information manipulation. […] We are committed to that and it is very important for us.”