The European Union’s dialogue with Russia must not be a “one-way street”, Lithuania's president said ahead of an EU summit in Brussels
“I am also a supporter of dialogue – a dialogue is always better than fighting, but dialogue should be based on fair rules,” Gitanas Nausėda said.
An EU response to the poisoning of the Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is among the issues to be discussed by European leaders.
President Nausėda said that the attempt at Navalny's life brought back the memories of what happened to Anna Politkovskaya, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Kara-Murza.
“Having in mind such cases like the poisoning of Navalny, I have a very strange feeling of deja vu – I remember the names of Anna Politkovskaya, I remember Boris Nemtsov, I remember Kara-Murza and those names show that this regime is not ready to use democratic rules and this regime uses methods of the 20th century,” the Lithuanian president said.
“We cannot tolerate that,” he added.
Sanctions on Belarus officials
Nausėda also said he hoped that EU leaders would reach an agreement on sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.
“I expect very much that today we will find a principal solution regarding the imposition of sanctions on Belarus,” the Lithuanian president said in Brussels.
“One and a half months have passed since the European Council of August 19, but we don’t have a list of sanctions yet,” he added.
The Lithuanian president also emphasized that the EU should consider opening its markets to Belarus after Lukashenko is gone.
“We need to assure the Belarusian society that we are ready to stand with them, that we are ready to facilitate the Belarusian economy and to give more effective access to the European market, to improve access to financial resources and also to extend a visa-free regime for Belarusian citizens,” Nausėda said.
According to him, this “can only be done if the Belarusian society is free and they establish the democratic system in the country”.
The Lithuanian president also pointed out that neither Russia nor other countries should interfere into the domestic issues of Belarus.