Lithuania should make contact with Russia - PM
Lithuania should this year make contacts with representatives of the Russian administration, says the country's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, dismissing the current isolation policies as detrimental and unique in the European Union (EU).
"We are a unique EU country with no, I emphasize – absolutely no contacts with the country, although other countries, our neighbouring countries are actively working on economic issues," Skvernelis said in an interview to the commercial LNK television broadcast on Sunday.
In his words, Lithuania should take a pragmatic stance on the bid to resume ties and stick to its strategic stance regarding Ukraine.
"We should be pragmatic here, stick to our very clear strategic boundaries that we cannot step back from, especially when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, implementation of the Minsk accords and the protection of human rights and respect of the international law in general, however, contacts with neighbouring countries is a must, and the next year is good to take the steps," Skvernelis said at the end of 2017.
Since the annexation of Crimea, Lithuania has held no meetings with top-ranking officials of Russia. Lithuania's neighbouring Latvia, Estonia and Poland maintain contacts with Russia on the level of ministers or vice-ministers. The largest European countries communicate with Moscow on the top level – German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Russia last May, while French President Emmanuel Macron received Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Versailles.
Lithuania says that the calls to isolate Russia is due to the attitude that return to usual relations might be viewed as a concession, which would encourage the aggressive policies of the Kremlin. Meanwhile, those in support of dialogue maintain that communication could prevent possible bigger conflicts and have an impact on the country's behaviour.