Lithuanian Foreign Minister: What is more important: human rights or freight traffic in Klaipeda?
Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius presented his own opinion on the Lithuania-Belarus relations in an interview on Morning Topic programme on 10 January.
The minister thinks that “Belarusians are our partners. Both
Lithuania and the EU can and should talk to them.” “Only in this
case we will be able to see changes,” DELFI new agency quotes
“When it comes to the question of what has more importance: human rights or freight traffic in Klaipeda, we should not regard it as the black and white situation. Everything is important. We are not going to place economic interests above human rights. But freight traffic in Klaipeda is important both for Lithuania and Belarus. Economic cooperation unite nations, makes them have a more constructive dialogue and makes pragmatic people think about obstacles for cooperation. These obstacles are political prisoners, human rights abuses and other things. Some think Belarus should be surrounded by the “wall”, isolated and punished, but I personally have another opinion. We should not build walls. We should find a way to influence our colleagues, talk and cooperate more. I feel we can talk to them,” the new minister said.
The MFA chief agreed that Lithuania is the gateway to the West for Belarus. “We give about 1,000 visas per day for Belarusians. This is a factory of issuing visas. As a former ambassador, I can say that almost one third of visas are free. I mean visas for sportsmen, young people, businessmen, let alone accidents and so on. We do our best for Belarusians to see the world and Europe more easily. They can go to Europe through us.”
Linkevicius was an ambassador to Belarus from 24 July to 28 November 2012. He was relieved of his duties of the ambassador and appointed minister of foreign affairs of Lithuania.