18 January 2018, Thursday, 18:56

Voice of America: Lithuania will not make concessions to Lukashenka


The new government of Lithuania doesn't plan to repeat old mistakes.

After the victory of the centre-left coalition in the country's parliamentary elections in autumn, more talks appeared about re-orientation of Lithuania's foreign policy from the West to the East. Lithuanian politicians forecast if Lithuania's foreign policy course will change.

Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament Vydas Gedvilas spoke about the need to reset the relations with Belarus in an interview with the Voice of America's Russian service. Belarusians are “our closest neighbours” the Lithuanian parliament speaker notes.

“Of course, there are democracy and human rights questions relating to Belarus that need to be solved, but we should improve our relations in economy, culture, sport and business. The well-being of our people in Lithuania depends on these relations” he said.

Nerijus Maliukevičius, a lecturer at Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science, stresses that if Minsk sends new requests regarding bank accounts of Belarusian opposition activists, who moved to Lithuania, Vilnius will “give more attention to the legal aspect of the requests to avoid political blunders as it happens to Mr Byalyatski”.

Ales Byalyatski, the head of Viasna human rights centre, was arrested after the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice had sent information about his bank accounts to Belarus. The Belarusian authorities accuse Byalyatski of tax evasion on an especially large scale.

On November 23, 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a decision saying that the detention of Ales Byalyatski (who was given Lech Walesa Award) violated article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Egidijus Vareikis, a Lithuanian MP and member of the European Union, says the new government will hardly decide to radically change the country's policy in relation to Belarus.

“In fact, we betrayed Mr Byalyatski and made some silly steps. It's not in the interests of Lithuania to repeat them,” the politician is confident. “I think the new government will obey instructions from Brussels and nothing will change in this regard.”

“Of course, there will be some people who will state the relations with Belarus should be improved and that we should be friends with the Lukashenka regime.

You know, the regime doesn't care about our words on human rights and our feelings. The regime representatives want us to trade with them and not to give political asylum to opposition activists. That's all,” Vareikis said.

The announced programme shows that the centre-left government of Lithuania doesn't plan radical changes in the country’s foreign policy.

It should be reminded that Belarus threatens to redirect transit from ports of the Baltic states to ports in Russia's Leningrad Oblast thus blackmailing Lithuania.

“Belarus deserves humane attitude from Lithuania. We give them money, transship our cargo and create jobs for people. We don't say the Lithuanian and Latvian people are bad and we will go to Russians tomorrow. We will look at the foreign policy of Lithuania and Latvia,” the Belarusian dictator said at a recent press conference.

As previously reported, Lithuania doesn't plan to invite Belarusian regime representatives to the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius during Lithuania's EU presidency.