Lithuanian foreign minister expresses support to Turkish government under EU criticism
Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has expressed firm support to Turkey's government which has come under severe criticism from European Union (EU) officials for purges of suspected participants and supporters of the recent coup.
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At a meeting with Turkey's ambassador to Vilnius on Wednesday, the minister said Turkey was a candidate for EU membership and a key partner whose Euro-integration efforts were consistently supported by Lithuania.
In his words, as a member of NATO, Turkey plays a significant role in ensuring the Transatlantic security and significantly contributes to addressing key international threats, such as terrorism and illegal migration.
"Turkey faces some immense challenges and is currently undergoing a particularly difficult period in coping with the consequences of the failed military coup. We strongly support our ally and are ready to help," said Linkevičius.
At the same time, the Lithuanian diplomacy chief stressed the need for Ankara to ensure the rule of law.
"We underline the importance that the steps to eliminate the consequences of the coup attempt are taken in accordance with the rule of law and international law," the minister added.
The Lithuanian stance may be viewed as an attempt to counterweight the strong criticism from some other EU nations, which have been criticizing Ankara for the post-coup purges. Austria recently threatened to block Turkey's EU accession negotiations, while EU officials have warned about rejection of the Turkish application for visa-free travels, if it fails to ensure the protection of human rights.
Meanwhile Turkey says that the EU's failure to meet its financial commitments and approve visa-free travels may cause Ankara to not implement the agreement to halt refugee flows from Turkey to Greece. Collapse of the deal may lead to a new migration wave to Europe. Turkey has lately been seeking to improve its relations with Russia.