Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend A.Gasimova / Trend's interview with the President of Lithiania, Valdas Adamkus, in the eve of summit of the GUAM heads of state due in Baku on 19 June
Question: How do you assess the current level of relations between Azerbaijan and Lithuania in political, economic and cultural spheres? What are the prospects of this cooperation?
Answer: Lithuania pays special attention to the South Caucasus region. On the one hand, we see there the reflection of our own experience in moving towards European and Euro-Atlantic structures; on the other hand, we consider this region as very important for the security and stability of the whole Europe.
Our vision for South Caucasus: a prospering, Europe-orientated and having good relations with neighboring countries region. The EU role in realizing such a vision is most essential.
Lithuania has recently opened an embassy in Baku. This is an important step for intensifying the dialogue between the two countries. I know that Azerbaijan will soon make the same step and open its embassy in Vilnius.
We should admit that because of mutual understanding, cultural, social and human ties, relations between Lithuania and Azerbaijan should be more intensive and fruitful.
We welcome the signing of the ENP Action Plan for Azerbaijan. This means that the European Neighborhood Policy starts functioning in practice in the region and the EU engagement in all processes becomes more and more inevitable. We consider that the successful implementation of such action plans should lead to deeper integration of Azerbaijan with European structures.
Question: What is Vilnius's official standpoint on ways of further interaction of the GUAM member-countries? What initiatives can Lithuania put forward at the Baku summit of GUAM in June for the development of this international organization? To what extent is GUAM appropriate for your country?
Answer: We welcome and enthusiastically support the determination of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to enhance democracy, stability and prosperity in the region and to work closely through coordinated and united efforts towards achieving these aims.
The initiative of GUAM members to address regional challenges and realize new vast opportunities places them in a role of true leaders of the region.
Lithuania appreciates being involved in the activities of GUAM as the organization tackles questions which are vital to Lithuania and the whole of Europe, such as the consolidation of democracy, energy security, development of transport networks, settlement of frozen conflicts and others.
The Baku Summit provides an excellent opportunity to discuss future cooperation among the GUAM member states as well as cooperation with other states who share a similar vision of the development of this region. For example, the Baku Summit, where the Polish delegation will also be present, could discuss the further implementation of the Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk pipeline project. A continuous supply of Azerbaijani oil to the pipeline could be GUAM's real and significant contribution to the energy security of Europe.
Furthermore, Lithuania is glad to see that GUAM's activities and the ongoing reforms in your countries to bring the EU and GUAM closer to each other.
Lithuania actively seeks that the EU should be open to tourism, business and different exchanges for the citizens of such countries as GUAM. Visa facilitation agreements, EU financial support worth billions of euros, fewer trade barriers - all this delivers added value to the people. GUAM countries should actively promote these principles. If you retain momentum and vigorously continue on the path of reforms, then the EU will further enhance and deepen its relationship with your country as well as other GUAM countries. You can count on our full support in this matter.
At a time when democracy is being stifled in some neighboring countries, when people having different opinions, like Garry Kasparov, are arrested and pressured, GUAM as an organization for democracy should take a clear common stance in such matters, regardless in what country their occur.
I am very glad to note that today GUAM serves as a model for all countries in the region.
Question: What are your views on the resolutions of conflicts in the South Caucasus region? What additional assistance could Lithuania render in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Answer: We stand for deeper EU involvement in the South Caucasus region with respect to most urgent issues. First of all, this concerns the settlement of the so called frozen conflicts.
Within this context, we would consider that an international peacekeeping element could also become an essential part of conflict resolution.
With regard to Nagorno-Karabakh, we hope that a compromise will be reached as soon as possible.
The Lithuanian parliament has recently approved the possibility to deploy our peacekeepers in South Caucasus and we are ready to do so when such a wish is expressed by the sides.
We also support the need to attract more attention by the international community as well as by the UN to the current "frozen" status of the resolution of conflicts in the GUAM area, considering international involvement as one of the main impetuses to the peaceful and real resolution of those conflicts.
We also consider the direct dialogue between the parties of conflicts to be an essential prerequisite to solutions - especially with regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict where the final solution might be reached only through an Armenian-Azerbaijani compromise acceptable to both sides.
The ENP Action Plan - although not directly aimed at conflict resolution - could have a long lasting effect on conflict issues through its successful implementation based on political, social, and economical reforms.