Following Moscow visit, Lithuania calls on Estonia to coordinate actions

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius.
Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius. Source: Reuters/Scanpix

Speaking the day after President Kersti Kaljulaid met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius called on Estonia to coordinate its actions and exercise caution in dialogue with Moscow.

"It's always more effective whn we usually coordinate things and act in a more united way /.../ as there will always be attempts to divide us and test the unity of European countries or the Baltic countries," Linkevičius told BNS Lithuania on Friday.

According to the Lithuanian minister, Tallinn did not provide any information about the topics the two heads of state were to discuss ahead of Ms Kaljulaid's visit to Moscow. Nevertheless, he expressed hope Estonia would provide more information about the meeting.

Mr Linkevičius said he is not willing to assess visits by officials from other countries, but noted that " is important for Russia to demonstrate that there is no isolation, and perhaps to create the impression of typical cooperation, to which such visits contribute."

He added that "neither actions nor the rhetoric change" following meetings between Western countries' representatives with Russian officials. "After all, Russia does not regret the fact that it annexed 20% of [Georgia's] territory in 2008, or the fact that it annexed Crimea in 2014."

Following her meeting with the Russian president, Ms Kaljulaid said that they "talked at length about complicated topics, while demonstrating mutual respect even during the most difficult moments."

The Estonian head of state was in Moscow on Thursday to formally reopen the renovated Estonian Embassy in Moscow. She expressed hope that it would breathe new life into Estonian-Russian relations, and that her presence there was a sign that Estonia was ready to work with its neighbour.

Ms Kaljulaid also said that the time had come to resume the EU-Russia cooperation programme.

Mr Linkevičius refrained commenting on this statement, saying that he first wanted to wait for more information.

Mr Putin, meanwhile, said on Thursday that a lack of official relations between neighbouring countries was "not normal."

Normal relations encourage Russian aggression

Major Western ccountries maintain ties with Russia on the presidential or prime ministerial level. Eastern European countries more critical of Moscow, however, interact on the ministerial or deputy ministerial level.

Lithuania is currently the only EU member state with no ties with Russia beyond the diplomatic level. Lithuanian officials have said that a return to normal relations would encourage Moscow to continue its aggressive policy.

"One of Russia's goals is to create a so-called state of 'new normal,' where everything that has happened is a fact already, and let's move on and cooperate," Mr Linkevičius said. "The legitimisation of this 'new normal' by committing illegal actions in international law is one of the goals. Of course, dialogue and the impression of cooperation consolidate the position that everything is happening the way it should be, and that things are going the same way. We need to be cautious about that."

Russia is currently subject to EU sanctions imposed in response to the annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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