Speaker of the Seimas in Prague: ‘Parliamentary actions are a litmus test for our determination to defend democratic and European values’
Press release, 23 April 2023
Photo by Ilona Šilenkova, Office of the Seimas
When addressing the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments in today’s main session titled Russian aggression against Ukraine and the EU response in a broader geopolitical context, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, called on the countries to maintain their strategic patience, accelerate the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, actively support Ukraine’s reconstruction, and bring Russia to account for the crimes it committed.
‘Actions by Parliaments in the face of the Russian aggression are a litmus test of how determined we are to defend democratic and European values. I therefore reminded my colleagues that it is very important to continue to maintain strong contacts, show leadership and be active in the political processes’, said Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen.
According to the Speaker of the Seimas, at this tense time, it is crucial to patiently support Ukraine and help it to achieve EU membership as soon as possible.
‘If the European Commission’s report identifies any shortcoming in the preparation of Ukraine, this should not be the reason for us to postpone the negotiations but rather serve as an incentive to double our efforts and help Ukraine bring its legal, economic, political and social systems in line with the EU’s accession criteria as soon as possible Let us not forget that Ukraine is harmonising its systems in a challenging situation of invasion, in a war where people are dying for their European and democratic future,’ noted Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen.
The Speaker of the Seimas is convinced that support for Ukraine must be continued if we want to reduce the amount of losses, ‘After all, the EU has all the means to help Ukraine and we must make full use of them. Lithuania welcomes the adopted initiative to accelerate the supply and production of ammunition to Ukraine. This attests to the fact that we are fully capable of adapting to Ukraine’s needs’.
When referring to the reconstruction of Ukraine, the Speaker of the Seimas said that ‘the burden of reconstruction of the country should not fall on the shoulders of Ukrainians or the supporting international community. It is important we find ways to use Russia’s frozen assets and implement the principle of ‘aggressor pays’. It is equally important to ensure that Russia is held accountable for the crimes it committed’.
Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen went on saying, ‘the arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin issued by the International Criminal Court is a historic decision and a positive step, but our goal is the Special International Tribunal for the investigation of the crime of aggression. In 1990, we missed the opportunity to investigate the Communist crimes committed by the Soviet Union; we therefore cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity now’.
Concurrently, the Speaker of the Seimas added that Russia was committed to a long-term strategic confrontation with the West and it was bringing in other countries, such as Belarus. The Belarusian regime remains existentially dependent on Moscow.
Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen is convinced that, ‘Putin’s recent announcement on the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus is an attempt by Russia to intimidate and fuel doubts in the west over support to Ukraine. We must not give in to such intimidations’.
On 23–24 April 2023, the Speaker is attending the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments in Prague. Tomorrow’s session is going to focus on the Role of the EU in global cooperation of democracies and the issue of EU member states’ dependence on totalitarian regimes (information warfare, disinformation, security of supply chains, strategic autonomy etc.).