Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Ukraine

Lithuanian Minister Says EU Must Be More Proactive In Eastern Partnership

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius
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Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius
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By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has said the European Union has to take into account the situation in Ukraine and show more initiative when dealing with other member-states of the EU Eastern Partnership program.

"[The EU] should influence the situation in a more pro-active way and now, studying the lessons [of Ukraine], it is really necessary to assist such countries as Georgia and Moldova," he said. "They have plans to sign the EU Association Agreements and we have to help them in what we can."

Speaking to RFE/RL in Vilnius on February 5, Linkevicius said the EU has misjudged Russia and the methods it has used against former Soviet states that seek closer ties with Europe.

"I would say that [the EU] underestimated Russia's role," he said. "Because we have gotten used to the democratic and free processes that develop normally. Meanwhile, some methods used [by Russia] against the member states of the EU's Eastern Partnership program were beyond all possible limits. That had not been taken into account."

Answering a question about Ukrainian pro-EU activist Dmytro Bulatov, who was kidnapped and tortured by unknown men in Kyiv and is currently being treated in Lithuania, Linkevicius said that such cases should be thoroughly investigated and challenged by the West.

"We also cannot stay on the sidelines," he said. "We think that not only the European Union should discuss [torture and violence in Ukraine]. We have come out with an initiative that also says that the European Council, the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], and the UN [should be involved]. Because at the end of the day there is the Convention against Torture and Ukraine is a member of that convention. And we think that all doubts about Ukraine's possible violation of that convention must be dispelled."

Linkevicius added that sanctions, such as travel and banking restrictions, may be introduced by the EU against key officials in Ukraine, who might be responsible for the ongoing violence.

Fuele Underlines Need For Talks On Constitution

Meanwhile, in related news, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele has said that negotiations on the Ukrainian constitution are of particular importance at the moment.

Addressing the European Parliament on February 5, Fuele said that serious engagement is needed on both sides to find a negotiated solution out of the political crisis in Ukraine, and that a new government will need to enjoy sufficient trust on all sides.

He noted that the opposition must distance itself from radical elements, but added that authorities have done too little to protect freedom of speech, assembly, and media.

Fuele said kidnappings and torture continue unpunished.

He added that the EU would be ready to extend assistance but underlined that Brussels' strategy towards Kyiv isn't centered around sanctions. Fuele said he would go to Ukraine next week.

With contributions by RFE/RL's Brussels correspondent Rikard Jozwiak

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