Lithuanian foreign minister doesn’t rule out EU sanctions against Ukraine

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BNS

Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevičius | Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevičius | Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius stated on Monday he cannot rule out that the European Union (EU) may in the future consider sanctions against Ukraine, if the country’s administration resorts to violence against protesters.

“Should violence and brutality take place, the actions will definitely have consequences, and we cannot rule out that sanctions will be considered. This is not on the agenda now but this does not mean that this cannot happen in the future,” the Minister told BNS. He is attending the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

The Ukraine issue is not on the official agenda of the meeting of EU ministers, but Linkevičius said the ministers intend to raise it in discussion.

In his words, “it is crucial to urge all confronting sides to avoid outbreaks of violence” in response to the disturbances in Kiev. Nevertheless, Linkevičius emphasised that the tensions were caused by the January 16 laws that “are a big step backwards in terms of democracy and EU standards.”

Linkevičius said negotiations in Ukraine could be triggered by the withdrawal of security forces from central Kiev and revision of the laws.

“The responsibility for the possible use of violence falls upon the government,” said the Lithuanian minister.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt | DELFI, Photo by K. Čachovskis

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt | DELFI, Photo by K. Čachovskis

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Monday also didn’t rule out the possibility of sanctions: “I wouldn’t exclude it, but I wouldn’t put in on agenda today. We’ll see what happens.”

On Sunday, anti-government protesters attempted to break the militia cordons around government buildings, casting Molotov cocktails at the militia.

Main opposition leaders behind the two-month protests against President Viktor Yanukovych have said they have nothing to do with the acts of violence.

The militia used rubber bullets, water bombs and tear gas.

Ukraine’s administration and opposition should sit at a table of negotiations on Monday.

Mass protests in Ukraine broke out after Yanukovych refused to sign the historic association and free trade agreement with the EU during the Vilnius summit in the end of November.

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