In the run-up to the European Council, President Gitanas Nausėda took part in the remote preparatory session with President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and leaders of Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta.
The remote discussion was aimed at preparing for the 24-25 June European Council on the management of the COVID pandemic, economic recovery, migration, EU relations with Russia and Belarus.
According to the President, as the pandemic situation in Lithuania and the European Union is improving, it is essential to take stock of the lessons learned from the management of the pandemic. Public health is key and is related to the impact on economy and functioning of the internal market. The upcoming meeting of the European Council will be an excellent opportunity to take stock of the European Union’s progress in reaching its January target to vaccinate 70 percent of the total adult population by July.
During the discussion on Russia, President Gitanas Nausėda stressed the need for a united, principled, and value-based EU position in the absence of any change in Russia’s aggressive posture. “Relations with Russia must continue to be based on the five agreed principles, with a particular focus on EU support to Russian civil society and human rights defenders, as well as to our Eastern Partnership countries. The EU must be able to respond effectively to systemic human rights violations using all available instruments,” the President said.
On the situation in Belarus, Gitanas Nausėda stressed the need for the EU to take decisive and concrete steps to extend economic sanctions to key sectors of the regime. It is necessary to plan the sequence of the introduction of restrictive measures and to carry out an impact assessment. Lithuania is in favor of preventing access for electricity produced in unsafe power plants in third countries to the EU internal market and blocking the supply of technological installations to the Ostravets NPP.
Gitanas Nausėda paid particular attention to the problem of illegal migration across the Lithuanian-Belarus border. He noted that the issue of surveillance and control of the EU’s external borders was of particular relevance at the moment. The number of illegal migrants crossing the Lithuanian-Belarus border has increased fivefold compared to 2020. “All available EU instruments must be used to manage illegal migration flows across the EU’s external border,” the President said.