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Linkevičius said most of the major international challenges of 2016 will remain the same as 2015. The UK’s intention to hold a referendum on secession from the European Union and the possibility of fulfilling the UK‘s conditions for reforms will be an important challenge, he said. Greece and the euro zone crisis, Russian aggression against Ukraine and sanctions against Russia would all feature highly on the international agenda, according to the Foreign Minister.
Linkevičius stressed that the decision to introduce border checks to control immigration by some European countries might jeopardize the free movement Schengen area itself.
“This is a challenge. 2016 will be a really big challenge for the Schengen zone,” he said.
The foreign minister said the EU needs to strengthen external border control and to ensure immigrant registration, because the continuing conflict in Syria and the Middle East would not lead to a decline in migrant flows.
“Some conclude that it is already the end of the Schengen area, but I would say that some of the minimal measures could be introduced temporarily in order to preserve what has been created,” he said.
Lithuania’s advances in the energy sector should be seen with the foreign affairs and security context in mind, he said. “The events late last year marked a milestone in energy independence, especially the completed electrical interconnections – they are just the start. Huge amounts of work still need to be done in the future.”