“A fragile truce in Ukraine is not peace. The ceasefire agreement is being constantly violated, heavy military equipment has not been withdrawn, and Ukrainian control over its border has not been restored. Russia continues to undermine international law in Ukraine, and the fight against terrorism that Russia is demonstrating is hardly convincing. The security of Europe and Ukraine is not a bargaining chip,” Grybauskaitė said.
Grybauskaitė emphasized that Lithuania and the whole of Europe strongly support Ukrainian people who are defending their freedom and building a transparent and open state. Sanctions against the aggressor must remain intact until the Minsk agreements have been fully implemented.
Lithuania consistently supports the European choice of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s aspiration to have a visa-free regime with EU countries. Therefore, the presidents discussed the implementation of the reforms necessary for that.
Ukraine has already taken important steps to reform its police patrol service, establish anti-corruption prosecutors and improve public finance management. According to the Lithuanian president, it is now essential not to stop and to implement other critical reforms in the judicial system, prosecutor’s office and energy sector, all of which are important for the general welfare of the Ukrainian people.
The meeting between the Lithuanian and Ukrainian leaders takes place one month before the EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement comes into force. According to Grybauskaitė, this is yet another step that will bring Ukraine closer to Europe, giving it access to a transparent and competitive market, as well as reducing its economic dependence on Russia. Therefore, this agreement must be implemented without delay and without new derogations.
Lithuania helps Ukraine to implement key reforms by providing expert and financial assistance. Lithuania’s support for reforms in the Ukrainian public sector and for education, as well as humanitarian aid delivered by our country account for EUR 1.5 million this year alone.
Lithuania also works together with Ukraine to strengthen and modernize its military forces. Ukrainian servicemen are provided with opportunities to study at the Military Academy of Lithuania, while the first exercises of the tripartite Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade will be held early next year.
The Council of the Presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine signed a cultural cooperation program for 2016-2020, which will further strengthen bilateral contacts in the arts and education, promote the exchange of experience in preserving cultural heritage and increase the visibility of Lithuanian artists in Ukraine.