Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda is open to a dialogue with Belarus but will not cross the red lines and will not make concessions to Minsk on the Astravyets nuclear power plant and human rights, his adviser Asta Skaisgiryte says.
Gitanas Nausėda
Gitanas Nausėda
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

On Tuesday, Nauseda met with the country's other leaders, several ministers, chairs of parliamentary committees and representatives political groups and discussed Lithuania's relations with Belarus and Ukraine.

"He (the president – BNS Lithuania) reiterated that there's an open dialogue but, of course, the dialogue will be continued without crossing Lithuania's red lines," the Lithuanian president's top adviser on foreign policy issues told journalists after the meeting.

"The red lines are the Astravyets nuclear power plant and human rights," she added.

Since Nauseda became president, Lithuania has been making effort to resume its dialogue with Belarus, and the Lithuanian and Belarusian foreign ministers met in New York in September.

Despite the resumption of the dialogue, there will be no concessions over the Astravyets nuclear power plant, the presidential adviser said. "The president has no plans to modify that position in some way," she said.

Asta Skaisgirytė
Asta Skaisgirytė
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Asked how specifically the Lithuanian-Belarusian dialogue would be developed, Skaisgiryte said that Belarusian Deputy Premier Igor Petrishenko will attend the burial of the XIX uprising leaders in Vilnius later this week.

"We have plenty of topics, historic topics, economic, cultural and many different topics," the presidential adviser said.

In her words, however, the Lithuanian president will not meet with the Belarusian deputy prime minister.

"The Belarusian deputy prime minister will spend only one day in Vilnius, and the Lithuanian prime minister will meet with him, which is supposed to be done under the protocol, and the president will see him during the funeral," Skaisgiryte said. "Of course, they will say hello and exchange some words. The president will not avoid him in some way."

Astravyets fear

Issues related to the Astravyets nuclear power plant are the key sticking points in the Lithuanian-Belarusian bilateral relations, with Lithuania claiming that the power plant, set to come online next year, is unsafe, which Minsk denies.

During the meeting at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Lithuania's attitude towards that power plant has not changed but the lack of a dialogue with Belarus "does not meet our national interests".

"We should talk. How much that will affect the situation is another question," the head of Lithuania's diplomatic service said.

In his words, Lithuania will try to preserve as much of Belarus' independence from Russia as possible. "We see the pressure it is coming under from the eastern neighbor. A dialogue with Lithuania could probably help this country as much as possible," Linkevicius said.

Juozas Bernatonis, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, expressed hope that politicians would not produce election campaigns for the next year's Seimas election to frighten people with the Astravyets nuclear power plant, adding that it would be cynical.

President adviser: Nauseda won't cross red lines opening dialogue with Belarus
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

"I hope parties will find the common denominator on ways we could communicate with neighbors as no isolation has ever given anything good, just as the ongoing isolation of Belarus," the said.

Meanwhile, the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats are against any dialogue with Belarus until it ensures human rights and makes the Astravyets power plant safer.

"As far as I understand, there are different attitudes. One thing is to speak about and have red lines in mind, and the other one is to set red lines as a precondition for speaking," HU-LCD MP Radvile Morkunaite-Mikuleniene said.

Belarus held a parliament election last weekend and only politicians loyal to Alexander Lukashenko got into the country's parliament.

"To our standard, it was not a completely free election. We have that situation in Belarus for many years, and the situation around this election did not change," Skaisgiryte said.

Ukraine support

Lithuania's support to Ukraine was also discussed during the Tuesday meeting at the Presidential Palace.

According to Skaisgiryte, the president wanted to hear opinions on ways to strengthen ties with Ukraine and in what other forms Lithuania could support this country and its European integration aspirations.

Lithuania is now helping Ukraine to carry out reforms in its public sector and is also providing humanitarian and military assistance.

President adviser: Nauseda won't cross red lines opening dialogue with Belarus
© AFP / Scanpix

Vilnius will host the Ukraine Reform Conference in July.

"It's one in the line of important conferences, started in London and later held in Copenhagen and Toronto this year, involving financial institutions, the European Central Bank, the Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank, and donors," the foreign minister said.

"We want it to be not just another conference but some comprehensive reform process. We believe reforms would be a response to skeptics who do not wish stability and something good for this country," he added.

Lawmakers also agreed that Lithuania should help Ukraine.

"We are friends of this country and wish for that complicated situation Ukraine is in to be resolved as successfully as possible," Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, leader of the opposition Liberal Movement, said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to pay a visit to Lithuania next week.

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