Linkevičius holds meetings in Geneva, discusses human rights, new European challenges, civil society issues
On 1 March, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius held meetings in Geneva to discuss the situations in Ukraine and Syria, Lithuania’s achievements as a member of the United Nations Security Council, threats to Europe. Linkevičius also attended an informal meeting, dedicated to civil society in the Eastern Partnership region.
The meeting with the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva Michael Møller focused on the ongoing Geneva peace talks on Syria. Linkevičius also called attention to Ukraine, where the ongoing conflict arising from aggression could turn into a “frozen conflict”.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister presented Lithuania’s achievements as a member of the United Nations Security Council. Linkevičius and Møller discussed further cooperation to support implementation within the UN framework of Lithuania’s priority issues, such as the safety of journalists and the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The officials also discussed reforms of the UN system.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Lithuania’s membership of the UN. On this occasion, Linkevičius invited the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva to visit Lithuania and thanked him for the opportunity to digitalise Lithuanian documents stored in the archives of the League of Nations.
In a meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the east of Ukraine and the situation of the Crimean Tatars that remained largely unimproved. The UN High Commissioner thanked Lithuania for its support for the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Miklós Haraszti. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appreciated Lithuania’s principled position on the resolution of conflicts, the protection of civilians, and the fight to end violence against women and sexual assault during the country’s tenure as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Linkevičius met with Espen Barth Eide, Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum to discuss new European threats – a hybrid warfare and refugee crisis. The officials also discussed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and prospects for successful negotiations to reunify Cyprus.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister also opened an informal meeting “How to Widen Civil Society Space in the Eastern Partnership Region”, which was held in parallel to the 31st regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The informal meeting was also attended by the Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, the Secretary General of the Community of Democracies Maria Leissner, and the Director of Research and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Peggy Hicks, actors of civil society from the Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Linkevičius highlighted the role of civil society, interaction with the government in legislative processes and during democratic elections. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister noted that the government, in turn, must be open and respect the rule of law and human rights. “Favourable conditions for civil society have to be created to foster a public and open dialogue between civil society and the government,” said the Lithuanian Foreign Minister.
The informal meeting was organized by the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, an international non-governmental organization The Human Rights House Foundation and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.
Photos: Linkevičius meets with Michael Møller, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Espen Barth Eide, attends the informal meeting “How to Widen Civil Society Space in the Eastern Partnership Region”