Foreign Ministers of the Baltic states and Canada met in Vilnius
On 16 October, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius met with the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne in Vilnius. The Foreign Ministers discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, and security policy, the state of play in transatlantic relations, as well as the situation in Belarus and Ukraine.
“A strong transatlantic link is irreplaceable. Thus, we particularly welcome Canada’s active political involvement in addressing security issues in our region. We are also glad that Lithuania and Canada share the same views on the region’s security environment," said Linkevičius.
In the meeting, the Foreign Ministers agreed to strengthen support for the Belarusian civil society and to make a joint effort to support reforms in Ukraine. “Our countries strongly support democratic change in Belarus. We will seek to continue defending media freedom and human rights. In addition, we are ready to provide our political support and practically help to pave a way towards democracy,” noted Linkevičius.
During his visit, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs also attended a joint meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Canada. After the meeting, the countries issued a joint statement, underlining their support for the demand of the Belarusian opposition to end violence against protesters and to organise a new democratic election. The Foreign Ministers also discussed relations with Russia, transatlantic cooperation, other important items on the international agenda, and agreed to hold four-party meetings annually.
According to Linkevičius, close transatlantic coordination with respect to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine shows that the countries have a unified position and increases the effectiveness of our actions.
On the eve of the meeting, 15 October, the Government of Canada imposed sanctions on additional 31 Belarusian officials. The second set of sanctions has been adopted in coordination with recent actions taken by the European Union and the United States. In September, Canada adopted its first set of targeted sanctions on 11 Belarusian officials, including Alexander Lukashenko, in response to violence against peaceful protesters in Belarus.
Canada’s Foreign Minister visited Lithuania for the first time in 24 years. The Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy visited Vilnius in 1996.