2023.06.26

A. Kubilius. What will be the next act of the “Russian drama”?

There is a well-known classical genre as “Greek drama”: well-studied, well-researched, and a huge influence on today’s theatre.

In recent days, we have been observing what is worthy of being called the genre as “Russian drama”. Many of us have been watching it as if it were a good Hollywood action film, demanding new servings of popcorn for ourselves.

Many of us must have been confused after the end of the first act of the Russian drama (Prigozhin’s “turn”) – what does this mean, what will happen next? 

But this is the mark of a good theatrical drama: the first act is an act for dramatic intrigue; the second act is an act of speculation and doubt; the third act is the denouement, when everything becomes clear. There are also intermissions between the acts, when the audience can take a break, stretch their legs, sip champagne and speculate on the plot of the drama in the next act. As you know, the main characters may change during the play, the drama may turn into a comedy, and even into a tragedy in the finale, but one thing remains the same during the play: its main director.

As viewers of the Russian drama, we have to state that at the end of the first act we are now either still listening to the Entrance and sipping our refreshments in a state of confusion, or we are already watching the second act – an act of speculation and doubt. We have seen Prigozhin, the ‘hero’ of Act I. But who will play the role of the ‘hero’ in Acts II and III, we still do not know. Nor do we know the name of the play’s chief director.

For a viewer who does not know the entire script of the play, it is a futile effort to analyse what has just happened in the first act and what will happen in the upcoming second and third acts. The imagination of a good dramaturg and director can always surpass the imagination of any spectator, even if that spectator considers himself to be a great theatre expert.

As I write these lines, I am passing the time in Brussels and Frankfurt airports. I am flying to Croatia to attend a conference on European and regional security. Although I realise that speculating about the second and third actions is a futile exercise, as the ‘Russian drama’ may take a completely different turn, I have nevertheless decided to spend my time at the airports putting together my own analysis of the first and future actions. It makes it less boring waiting for the plane.

I have put together my analysis of the past and future actions of the Russian drama in the form of different scenarios, each of which seems to me to have its own causal links and internal logic. The scenarios are radically different, but each one is plausible enough. I am not yet in a position to judge which of the scenarios I am discussing is the most likely, because the reality of the ‘Russian drama’ has every chance of surpassing all the heights of my fantasy. I have given each script an individual dramatic title and tried to guess who the dramaturg and director of the script is.

Script I: Prigozhin is a lonely, not very wise adventurer.

Yesterday, at the very beginning of the so-called ‘revolt’ and ‘march towards Moscow’, I wrote that such a ‘revolt’ was probably long and planned by Prigozhin and his allies or ‘masters’. This seemed to be the case until the unexpected “twist” in the plot. Now I have less faith in such pre-planning. It is also possible that Prigozhin is simply a not-so-wise adventurer who personally decided to call Moscow’s bluff with his “rebellion” in order to be allowed to continue to deal freely with the Wagner group. Having gone as far as to Moscow, he realised that the bluff might have gone too far, and in the meantime the Kremlin might have discovered how to frighten Prigozhin himself (threatening his family or his wealth), and the adventurous Prigozhin realised it was better to turn around. That was the end of the rebellion, and we shall continue to see nothing but Prigozhin’s whining and await Putin’s inevitable and final revenge on the deluded adventurer, who did, after all, publicly humiliate Putin by instigating his rebellion. In this scenario, the dramaturg and director of the first act is Prigozhin himself; the director of the following act, “revenge” act, is Putin.

Scenario II: Prigozhin’s “master” has achieved what he wanted.

It is entirely possible that Prigozhin did not act alone, that a “master” representing some power structure from the Kremlin’s milieu (a part of the military leadership dissatisfied with the desperate war, FSB leaders worried about Russia’s existential crisis) planned to exploit Prigozhin’s revolt to, to show publicly, and thus to Putin himself, how weak Putin is, that nobody – neither the army nor the public – is going to defend him, that Prigozhin, with his slogans against the war in Ukraine, is being greeted joyfully by the people of Rostov (and perhaps by the people of Moscow as well). To a frightened Putin, Prigozhin’s ‘master’ could have issued a substantial ultimatum, which Putin was forced to accept (in order to prevent Prigozhin from taking over the Kremlin and Putin from being completely ruined), but we will find out much later. What that ultimatum might be we can only speculate, e.g. Putin resigns after a few months “due to a rapidly progressing illness”; Putin announces after a while that he will not take part in the presidential elections in 2024; Putin stops the war in Ukraine a few weeks later, announcing that he has achieved his goal and starts negotiations with the West for “peace” in Ukraine. In such a scenario, the second act of ‘speculation and doubt’ in this spectacle could be a long one, so we must be patient. It is clear that in the second and third acts, Prigozhin will no longer be the protagonist, but will be relegated to the ‘shadows’ for a while, in order to save Putin’s ‘face’ at least to some extent, until he delivers on the agreed ultimatum. Thereafter, Prigozhin will be duly rewarded. In the following acts of the play, the protagonist may become someone we cannot even see today, someone from the “master’s” milieu, who will be more courageous in saying that radical change is needed, that the war is a mistake, that Russia must be saved. This could be the new ‘hero’, whether portrayed as ‘ura-patriotic’ or ‘liberal-patriotic’. It is high time that the current Prime Minister, Mr Mishustin, appeared in such a role. The dramaturg and director of such a scenario may be the often-mentioned FSB chief N. Patrushev (Soviet Union’s “perestroika” was launched by KGB chief Y. Andropov), but it may also be one of the generals who can see what a desperate adventure Putin has led them into in Ukraine.

Scenario III. The West needs to be frightened by a “weak” Putin.

This scenario can be constructed on the assumption that Putin himself is beginning to realise what a desperate adventure he has gotten himself into in Ukraine.  He therefore urgently needs “peace” talks with the West on terms acceptable to Putin. This can only be achieved if the West is seriously frightened by the chaos that Russia may find itself in if the West does not agree to talks with Putin in the short term.

Putin may have realised that he was involved in a hopeless adventure already when he did not take Kyiv in 3 days and was then forced to retreat from Kyiv, Kharkov and Kherson. He realised even then that in the long term, there would be a growing dissatisfaction with such a war, both in Russian society and in the Russian army. Putin therefore appointed his loyal ‘chef’ Prigozhin as the accumulator and channel of discontent among the troops and the wider population. He allowed him to criticise the generals and the Shoigu, so that Prigozhin would gain some sort of reputation amongst the discontented people that he was his own man in the trenches, that he was with the common people. It is better for the Kremlin if the loyal Prigozhin is the leader of the discontent of the common people than if he is some more intellectual and independent general staff officer. In parallel, Putin has been sending signals to the West all this time that it is necessary to negotiate on Putin’s terms. In the name of this, he has periodically threatened the West with a nuclear strike, and then lobbied the leaders of China, India, Brazil and some African countries, who have come in repeated waves to offer the West and Ukraine new peace plans, but all according to the ‘Putin formula’. So far, this has not produced the result Putin wants. And Putin is becoming increasingly desperate because he realises that the Russian army will not be able to withstand the Ukrainian counter-attack. That is why he has taken both actions at once: Firstly, Karaganov, who is close to Putin, has published an article arguing that Russia must launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Europe in order for the West to finally “wean” itself away from Russia (some Western experts consider Karaganov’s doctrine to be the most serious nuclear blackmail yet formulated); secondly, Putin deliberately allowed his loyal cook to organise the “revolt” in order to scare the West with how weak the Putin regime is, how easily it can be overthrown by some criminal, aggressive, sabre-rattling, almost crazy Prigozhin (or Kadyrov), and how nuclear weapons will immediately fall into their unpredictable hands. This scenario of a ‘weak’ Putin must frighten the West, and it must either immediately agree to the terms of a ‘Putin peace’ or stop supporting Ukraine with weapons that would allow Ukraine to crush the Russian army, and therefore Putin. Because the West must believe that such a total victory of Ukraine will only mean that the unpredictable Prigozhin will take power in Russia. Putin is desperate for the West to adopt precisely this view of the situation in Russia. There have been examples of this Western thinking so far, and it will radically increase after the ‘revolt’. Yesterday, the Ukrainian portal “24 kanal” published a text quoting a “senior defence bureaucrat from a NATO country”, who says that “we do not need a Russia that is too strong. But we don’t want a too weak Russia either. We don’t want Russia to be a failed state because it is a nuclear state after all’.

So a ‘weak Putin’ is a threat to the West. Similarly with Gorbachev, a “weak Gorbachev” was also considered a threat to the West. This was also the focus of President George H. W. Bush’s “chicken Kyiv” speech. Perhaps even the August 1991 “revolt” against Gorbachev. The problem of a “weak” Gorbachev was then “solved” by Yeltsin and Russian civil society. Now these factors are absent, which is why Putin or his entourage can scare the West with a “weak” Putin. Prigozhin’s “rebellion” is very suitable for this. At some point Putin will pay him back properly, but for now he needs to be removed, because according to Putin, the West should negotiate with Putin, not with Prigozhin. The dramaturg and director of such a scenario is Putin himself and his inner circle. He will continue it right up to the end. Whether we will see Putin negotiating with a frightened West in the aftermath, we shall see in the near future.

My plane is about to take off. It is up to you to decide which scenario you think is most realistic. I lean towards scenario III.

But popcorn is still needed. And at the end of the day, Ukraine’s victory is crucial, because it destroys all the Kremlin’s scenarios, no matter how clever the directors and writers of the ‘Russian drama’ think they are.

 

2023.06.14

A.Kubilius. Lukashenko to the Hague Tribunal for the sufferings of the opposition! Putin will follow!

On June 12th, Vilnius hosted an important international conference on “Responsibility of Lukashenka’s regime for crimes against humanity and migrant crisis: prospects for international justice”, organised by the Ministry of Justice and the Justice Hub/Law and Democracy Centre, headed by Professor Dainius Žalimas.
Last year’s first Vilnius Conference was the place where the road was paved towards an International Tribunal against Putin for the crime of war aggression. Such a Tribunal is now being established. This year, the second Vilnius Conference is paving the way towards an international tribunal against Lukashenko for crimes against humanity. Such a tribunal for Putin would follow. 

I also have had the opportunity to address the conference. My main theses:

The main conclusion we must draw from the last decades is that if the international democratic community does not stop an authoritarian regime at the very beginning, when it is just beginning to violate human rights and democratic norms, then in the long run it will evolve into an international aggressor (Russia, Belarus).

At the same time, over the last few years it has become clear that the known instruments of international law and policy, such as personal sanctions or instruments of universal jurisdiction, which have traditionally been aimed at stopping the violations of human rights and democratic norms by authoritarian regimes, unfortunately do not have the desired effect – regimes do not suspend their criminal activities.

It must therefore be stated that the international democratic community has so far demonstrated its inability to stop the crimes that authoritarian regimes are committing against their citizens. The question is whether there are any instruments of international law that have not yet been used that would help the democratic community to protect the human rights of the Belarusians persecuted by Lukashenko? Can ordinary Belarusians receive international justice and can Lukashenko face international criminal responsibility for the crimes that he has committed against the Belarusian people? The same would apply to the protection of rights of Russians who are being persecuted by the Putin regime, as well as to Putin’s international criminal responsibility: not only for the crime of war aggression, not only for the criminal deportation of the Ukrainian children, but also for the crimes of persecution of the Russian opposition and of civil society, for the crimes against Alexey Navalny, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Ilya Yashin, Alexei Gorinov, who are currently in jail, for the murders of Boris Nemtsov, Galina Starovoitova, Alexander Litvinenko and the other regime critics.

Under international law, if a regime’s crimes against the human rights of its own citizens reach such a level of mass scale and deliberate criminal policy that it is recognised by the international community as amounting to crimes against humanity, the regime’s crimes must be investigated by the International Criminal Court, commonly referred to as the Hague Tribunal. If the Hague Tribunal does not have the mandate to investigate such crimes in the case of a particular country (e.g., because the country has not ratified the Rome Statute, as is the case with Belarus and Russia), a Special International Tribunal must be established.

The international community has already agreed to do so in relation to the investigation of the crime of war aggression committed by the Putin regime: a Special Tribunal will be established to investigate this crime.

A Special International Tribunal to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by Lukashenko against the Belarusian society would be a strong step by the international community in giving the Belarusians the right to international justice. At the same time, it would also be a signal to Lukashenko’s elite that it is time to make up their minds whether they really want to go to The Hague Tribunal together with Lukashenko.

In order to go down this road and establish a special Tribunal for Lukashenko, it is first of all necessary for the international community to declare that Lukashenko’s criminal actions amount to crimes against humanity (ideally by the United Nations General Assembly). This is how the road to the establishment of the Special Tribunal to investigate the crime of Putin’s war of aggression began last year: at the start of the war, the General Assembly declared that Putin’s military action was not a special operation, but a criminal act of war of aggression in breach of all the rules of international law laid down by the UN.

The journey towards the international community recognising Lukashenko’s actions as amounting to crimes against humanity has already begun. I recently wrote that the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights has published an investigative report in which he has found that Lukashenko may have committed crimes against humanity by persecuting people who protest against his regime.

The way forward: A resolution of the United Nations General Assembly confirming the conclusions of the same UN Commissioner for Human Rights’ investigation that the crimes committed and being committed by Lukashenko against the people of Belarus amount to crimes against humanity. This would open the door to the creation of the Special Tribunal to investigate such crimes.

Putin’s crimes against Russian citizens should be treated in the same way. Putin’s crimes are of the same nature and scale as Lukashenko’s crimes. Therefore, the path of international justice should be similar: firstly, a thorough investigation by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, which is likely to recognise that such crimes amount to crimes against humanity, then a special resolution of the UN General Assembly and then a special tribunal.

Thus, Putin (and Lukashenko) are facing three tribunals: a Special Tribunal in The Hague to investigate the crime of war aggression (Lukashenko as an accomplice in the aggression); an ICC Tribunal in The Hague to investigate the crime of the deportation of the Ukrainian children (an arrest warrant has already been issued for Putin, and Lukashenko’s involvement in the crime is under investigation); and we are now proposing the establishment of Special Tribunals to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by Lukashenko and Putin in the persecution of their own nationals.

Democracies must learn to defend themselves and defend human rights where they are criminally violated. Autocrats must know that democracies are not toothless and that tribunals await autocrats. Lithuania can play a very important role in this process.

2022.07.07

R. Juknevičienė, J. Lenaers. War crimes in Ukraine: create a special tribunal for Putin and Lukashenko

Since the war began in Ukraine, more than 10,000 incidents of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been registered and 600 suspects identified. Amnesty International said on 25 February that the Russian attacks on the cities of Vuhledar, Kharkiv Uman, Mariupol and many more places were likely to constitute war crimes. We all saw the horrific pictures of Bucha where more than 400 civilian corpses were discovered. A court in Ukraine has sentenced a Russian Tank Commander to life imprisonment for killing a civilian at the first war crimes trial since the war of aggression began. Nevertheless, the Russian Government denies it has been targeting civilians.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already sent investigators and forensics specialists to the country. In addition, the responsible authorities of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania have set up a Joint Investigation Team, which is supported by Eurojust and the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC in the Hague, to collect evidence on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine with a view to prosecuting them.

Europe has failed on its promises of “never again”. Similar atrocities that we witnessed in Hitler and Stalin times are happening now on the European continent, in Ukraine. Serious offences such as murder, rape and the torture of children, men and women, forced deportations, and mass persecutions have been repeatedly reported. The list is long: rape, torture, taking hostages, bombing residential areas and civilian infrastructure, forcibly deporting civilians to the territory of the Russian Federation, including Siberia – the area to which millions were deported by the Soviet regime. The atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Ukrainian cities are shocking. It seems that the Kremlin is deliberately seeking to exterminate people because they are Ukrainian. We cannot accept this in Europe today. What can we do to stop this suffering?

Of course, it is important to charge a soldier for committing a war crime but it is of the utmost importance to hold accountable the political leader who ordered this illegal and unprovoked war as well as the military Commanders and their allies. President Putin and his proxy Lukashenko must be held accountable and tried.

It is clear that the current legal instruments are not enough to punish those who started this unprovoked war of aggression. The democratic world must find a way to bring perpetrators to justice, as was done in Nuremberg after World War II.

Today, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Russia’s war against Ukraine are being investigated by the ICC. Unlike other core international crimes, the ICC is facing objective difficulties in gaining jurisdiction over the crime of aggression – and this is for a variety of reasons. Therefore, we need to fill the gap and establish a Special Tribunal which would have specific jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

Negotiations are continuing on how to actually set up such a tribunal so that it has comprehensive legitimacy. This could be done either through an international body like the United Nations or under the auspices of a collection of individual states, as was the case with the Nuremberg tribunal, which was established after World War II by the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

The European Parliament voted to extend the mandate of Eurojust, the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, and gave it new powers. These new powers will allow the agency to preserve, store and analyse evidence related to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Due to the ongoing hostilities, there is a risk that evidence relating to war crimes or crimes against humanity cannot be safely stored on the territory of Ukraine and therefore it is appropriate to establish central storage in a safe location.

Under the new rules, Eurojust could also process data related to these types of crimes and share the data with the ICC and other international organisations, as well as EU Member State authorities.

However, the extension of the Eurojust mandate covers only three of the four crimes recognised in the Rome Statute, the cornerstone of the ICC, therefore, we also need to adjust the Eurojust mandate to include the crime of aggression.

There cannot be any impunity for war crimes in Ukraine. The people that are responsible for this must face justice. The international community has to take all possible actions in order to punish the perpetrators and restore justice so that “never again” doesn’t remain an unfulfilled promise.

2022.06.21

Andrius Kubilius. Ukraine and a Europe tired of being itself

The war has been going on for more than 100 days. And it could go on for hundreds more. It is time to change from sprinting to marathoning. Victory requires not only physical strength but also the right emotional state, long-distance thinking, and even breathing.

And above all, Europe needs this. Not Ukraine, not the United States, not Britain, but the European Union (Europe) needs to get its long-term thinking right and its eyes on victory. In a long marathon. Because Europe is the weak link that Putin is targeting: maybe Europe will falter, maybe it will continue to be more concerned with saving Putin’s face than Europe’s own.

Europe is heterogeneous. There is the Old Europe, which has created a zone of comfort through its work after that war and which sees today’s war not as a security challenge but as an irritant, as an assault on its familiar comfort. For such a Europe, Ukraine is somewhere far away and outside that comfort zone. And there is the New Europe: still unaccustomed to success and comfort, seeing Ukraine as “one of us” and seeing the war as an assault on the existential foundations of its new life built over the last 30 years.

In the near future, Old Europe will inevitably have to wake up from its comfort zone. And together with New Europe, seek answers to the familiar questions posed by this war: who is to blame and what to do? And to agree on answers.

The most important question for Europe in the next decade will be the question of Ukraine. Because therein lies the answer to the other two important questions: What will be the Europe of the future (in what environment will it exist?), and what will Russia be like, even after Putin?

Without an answer to these questions, Europe will return to business as usual, not only in its relations with Putin but in all the other geopolitical failures of the EU in these decades, which led to war. Such business as usual will only mean that the threats to European comfort will only accumulate and grow.

Therefore, Europe must first of all correct its mistake, which has been ongoing for decades: Europe must finally have its own “Ukraine Strategy”. For only in this way can both important questions be properly answered.

We know that Putin has his own “Ukraine Strategy”, which is simply to destroy Ukraine to prevent it from becoming a successful state. The example of Ukraine’s success could inspire ordinary Russians, which would be deadly for the Kremlin regime.

We know that thanks to Putin’s aggressiveness, the Ukrainians have acquired and have their own clear “Ukraine Strategy”: to defend themselves against Russian aggression and, as quickly and as far as possible, to escape geopolitically to the West.

Meanwhile, what is the “Ukrainian Strategy” of the West and, in particular, of Old Europe? This is still not clear either to Old Europe or to Ukraine. When there is no strategy, there are no solutions.

However, it is hoped that a prolonged war will force Europe to finally get its strategy into its own thinking and implement it ambitiously.

This will require Europe to realise its mistakes to date and to set about correcting them strategically. New Europe will have the difficult task of helping Old Europe understand its mistakes and propose how they should be corrected. But, more importantly, it will have to do all this in such a way as to reach an agreement with Old Europe.

What should be a European “Ukraine strategy”?

The answer could be very short: Ukraine must be a full member of the European Union in 2030. And fully rebuilt after the war.

Some may start explaining, like the Dutch prime minister, that the process of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union will take much longer, perhaps even several decades. But this will only show that anyone who talks like this has still not grasped the mistakes Europe has made so far and still has no “Ukraine strategy”.

Why is Ukraine’s membership of the European Union and the rapid reconstruction of Ukraine important for Europe itself?

Because this is the only way in which Europe can influence the transformation of the European continent into a peaceful and secure continent, which today is most threatened by the authoritarian, fascist regime of the Kremlin. Because Ukraine’s membership in the European Union will radically expand the space for success and democracy on the European continent, this will ultimately lead to the transformation of Russia and Belarus.

For these reasons, Ukraine’s membership in the European Union is necessary first and foremost for the European Union itself, not just for Ukraine.

And this is the first fundamental mistake of the European Union, which it must correct immediately. Democratic Europe must regain its hunger for expansion, for the expansion of the democratic space, because this is the only possibility of preserving and expanding the space of European prosperity.

Otherwise, on its fringes, a space of oriental decadence, chaos and authoritarianism, which is degenerating into fascism, will only expand, and this will be an ever-greater threat to Europe itself.

It is, therefore, high time for the European Union to change its philosophical approach to the neighbourhood and to enlargement because this is the main cause of Europe’s geopolitical mistakes to date: until now, in Old Europe, it has been assumed that countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, or the Western Balkans are some kind of foreign beggars asking to be admitted to the club of the rich, but that the club itself is unwilling to admit such beggars, and it has invented a hundred criteria and excuses to justify itself publicly in order to justify this. That is why Old Europe is arguing about whether such countries deserve to be called candidates. And if they do, they then look for any reason to indefinitely delay the so-called accession negotiations. This is the philosophy of “geopolitical laziness”, which has been cultivated by Old Europe over the last decades that, and ultimately led to war.

This European philosophy of “geopolitical laziness” must be replaced by a philosophy of “geopolitical courage and development”. The European Union has no choice but to repeat the history of the 19th-century expansion of the United States into the Wild West. This is how the current greatness and prosperity of the United States were created, as European Anglo-Saxon culture spread boldly across the North American continent. Only unlike the history of the United States, Europe today does not need to fight and conquer Indian lands in the Wild West. Because Europe’s neighbours to the East do not want to resist the expansion of the European Union; on the contrary, they want to become members of it. They themselves are fighting for this right and opportunity. Therefore, the very philosophy of enlargement of the European Union should be renamed from the “process of accession to the European Union” to the “process of reunification with the European Union”, in which both sides want to be united because they see in this a huge mutual strategic purpose and benefit.

When Europe and Ukraine start to look at how to simply “reunify” and not just integrate, apply for candidacy, etc., then all the processes of Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union will make the right geopolitical sense. Then the real European “Ukraine strategy” will be born – a strategy for realising such reunification.

But for such a European “Ukraine strategy” to become a reality, we need to talk not only about the need to change the development philosophy. In the last few decades, Europe, committed to the philosophy of “geopolitical laziness”, has developed a whole series of pseudo-arguments to justify its laziness and the supposed loss of its “appetite for development”. Some of these arguments are made in public, some are not, but still influence the political decisions of old Europe. Even after the war. These arguments deserve to be named and also to be refuted in an argumentative way because only this will allow Europe to return from “laziness” to a philosophy of “geopolitical courage and development”.

In what follows, I will try to list some of the arguments that have become part of the Old European lexicon and have become clichés as to why Ukraine cannot become a member of the European Union within the next decade. Such clichés have to be destroyed by their own arguments by showing that they are completely unfounded

– The enlargement of the European Union will provoke Putin’s aggression. It should be noted that the “non-expansion” of the European Union, the fear of offering Ukraine a much more ambitious prospect of membership in the European Union, has provoked the Kremlin’s military aggression. The Kremlin believed that Ukraine, left in a “grey area”, was easy prey.

– Ukraine’s membership in the European Union, and its reconstruction, will cost European taxpayers dearly. On the other hand, the enlargement of the European Union has brought many economic benefits to Old Europe. The reconstruction of Ukraine will create many new jobs, not only in Ukraine but also in Europe itself. Ukraine is a resource-rich country, and becoming part of the common European economy will enrich Europe rather than impoverish it.

– Ukraine is not in line with the European value system: corruption is rampant, and the rule of law is broken. No one disputes that Ukraine has major problems to overcome. However, transparency in governance and a functioning legal system are not the only European values on which Europe rests. In these difficult days, we can clearly see that Ukraine, with its European values of solidarity, leadership, honesty, and decency, is closer to the classical European virtues than many other European countries or their leaders. It is possible that in Europe, in addition to the “Copenhagen Criteria” of values, which are applied to those countries that wish to become members of the European Union, we will have to introduce a new “Kyiv Criteria”, which would define the European virtues of political leadership, honesty, decency, solidarity, and by which the citizens of Old Europe could judge the performance of their political leaders.

– The institutions of the European Union are not ready for enlargement. It is clear that Europe is still facing major governance problems. Consensus-based decision-making was not a problem when it came to an agreement among ten or a dozen EU members. When the number of members reaches several dozen and may approach 40 with the new wave of enlargement, such a decision-making mechanism will become completely inadequate. The further we go, the more Hungaries and blackmailers will appear in Europe. Therefore, there can only be one answer to this argument of the opponents of enlargement: let us change institutions and decision-making, but let us not stop enlargement. Peace on the European continent, which can only be guaranteed by further enlargement, is more important than the inability or unwillingness to change any rules.

– European voters are “tired of enlargement” – to the contrary, recent polls show that, in the wake of the war, a majority of European voters support Ukraine’s membership of the European Union. Only the political leaders of individual countries are unwilling/fearful. The leaders do not dare to openly state their arguments as to why they are afraid of it, so one has to guess that there are no serious arguments. There is only a psychological fear that Ukraine’s membership in the EU will create serious competition for the leadership of Old Europe in the EU. And to the political comfort and geopolitical laziness of Old Europe.

These are the arguments of a Europe that are tired of being itself and why it no longer wants to expand. Moreover, they are easily refutable arguments. Between the 1990s and the 2000s, Europe was not afraid to expand. And it was not tired of being itself: of expanding the space of democracy and prosperity to the point where it became the continent of Europe because only this can guarantee lasting peace on the European continent.

After the 2000s, Europe became tired of being itself. It got lazy. Or it got scared of Putin’s Russia and shrank away.

That is what led to today’s war.

Europe’s lazy days are over. The time for lazy comfort is over. Europe will not be able to get out of the geopolitical crisis by Ukraine’s efforts alone. It will have to change its own philosophy. Enlargement is the right response to the challenges of this crisis. Only in this way can Europe become itself again.

2022.06.07

R. Juknevičienė. The future of Europe’s security will depend on the democratic world overcoming the brutal Kremlin regime

The EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy after the Russian invasion of Ukraine (plenary debate)

Mr President, I would like to thank my colleagues for this report and their efforts.

The future of Europe’s security will depend on the democratic world overcoming the brutal Kremlin regime and Russia becoming a normal, non-aggressive state. This requires, first of all, acknowledging the fundamental mistakes that have been made so that we do not repeat them again. The Western world has not taken seriously Putin’s plan to destroy democracies. The biggest mistake was engagement with Putin’s regime. Lessons must be learnt.

Secondly, those who say that Russia under Putin must not be humiliated as Germany was humiliated after Versailles are misleading. Today we face Hitler’s analogy, who grew out of Stalin’s unacknowledged crimes and evaluated crimes. The situation now is similar to that of Hitler’s and Stalin’s war in Europe. So we must now defeat Putin as Hitler was defeated.

Eliminating the main threat to the security of the entire European continent is our most important task. This requires helping Ukraine to defend its territory and not being afraid to believe that Russia can be different. The war criminal Putin must be isolated. To have a different Russia, the current regime must be defeated. I have a feeling that some countries of Europe are frightened of Ukraine’s victory and intend to repeat the same mistakes. If they continue to save the face of the brutal Kremlin regime our efforts to build up our own security capabilities will never be enough.

 

2022.06.06

Open letter to the Georgian people supporting Georgia’s path to the EU

2021.06.14

The names of the deportees will be read nearby the European Parliament for the first time

At the initiative of the European Parliament member Rasa Juknevičienė the commemoration of mass Soviet deportations from Central and Eastern Europe will take place on 15 th June,3:00-7:00 p.m.,in Brussels (Solidarity square by the European Parliament). The event will take place on the occasion of the 80 th anniversary of the start of Soviet deportations in the Baltics.

During the commemoration the names of those forcibly deported by the Soviet regime from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Ukraine and Moldova will be read for the first time.

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, Members of EP, representatives from the embassies and diaspora communities of the countries will participate in the event.

All those, who have registered will be able to participate and read the names of deportees (registration form: http://bit.ly/CommemorationEvent).

“The wave of mass deportations which started on 14th June, 1941 was a hugetragedy for a lot of families, that lived in Soviet occupied states – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Romania and Belarus. Therefore, on the occasion of the 80thanniversary of mass deportations, I invite to remember and commemorate all those who did not survive deportations, as well as those who survived in horrible conditions and returned to their home states. The crimes of communism – deportations and gulags are also a part of EU history. It has to be evaluated and told to all – in the South, North and East of Europe. The crimes that are not evaluated and untold give birth to totalitarianisms of today. We witness XXI century Stalinist-type regime right at the EU border”, – MEP Rasa Juknevičienė, the initiator of the commemoration says.

On 14 June 1941, the first wave of mass deportation swept across Soviet-occupied Baltic states, resulting in forced mass relocation of tens of thousands of people to the far corners of USSR.

The commemoration of the 80th anniversary of mass Soviet deportations is organized by the informal European Parliament group on European Remembrance, Platform of European Memory and Conscience, Lithuanian Embassy in Belgium and Permanent Representation of Lithuania to EU together with the Latvian, Estonian, Polish, Ukrainian and Moldovan embassies and local communities in Brussels.

2021.06.11

Commemoration of 80th anniversary of mass deportations

2021.06.02

Belarus: Four-action plan

After the past few weeks’ events pertaining to Belarus, everyone is naturally left with the question, ‘what next?’ What can the West do for the Lukashenko regime to be finally stopped, and the Belarusian people have restored what Lukashenko stole from them – their free and democratic elections?

How can we finally halt a regime, which, if it is not stopped in time, will turn from authoritarian to terrorist? How are Putin’s plans to realise a “creeping” annexation of Belarus, which would be no different to the Crimean occupation, to be stopped? All these questions demand clear answers, as well as clear actions, from the West. It is good that immediately after the aircraft hijacking, the European Union demonstrated atypical resolve, unity and effectiveness, and it is also good that new sanctions packages are in the pipeline. But it is worth considering further leverage, which could help finally resolve the Belarusian crisis.

In the short-term, I see four little-discussed key measures, which are described very briefly here:

– International tribunal against Lukashenko: It is entirely evident that Lukashenko’s actions, both the terrorist aircraft hijacking and the persecution of the Belarusian people, are in line with all traits of crimes punishable by international law. It is also clear that this will one day be deliberated on at some international tribunal. I International experts are already collecting evidence and testimonies of such crimes; however, the tribunal is needed sooner rather than later because only this can halt the so-far unstoppable crimes. Western democracies must urgently consider how to establish such a tribunal without waiting for United Nations approval, or where the Kremlin will leverage its veto right to block such decisions. Such decisions by Western democracies are necessary now not only to immediately put a stop to Lukashenko’s crimes, but also so that other leaders who are inclined toward authoritarianism and brutal persecution of the opposition are preventatively warned today about what awaits them if they follow Lukashenko’s example.

– “Belarusian sanctions” on Putin: Putin remains the single ally and supporter of Lukashenko, and it is only thanks to his support does Lukashenko continue to commit his crimes against the Belarusian people. Putin makes no effort to conceal his interest in ensuring that in return for this support, the illegitimate citizen Lukashenko will cede to him the remnants of Belarusian sovereignty, allowing Putin to fully realise his illegal creeping annexation of Belarus. Putin’s actions – both his support to the terrorist A. Lukashenko regime, and the plans for creeping annexation, are a severe attempt at Belarus’ sovereignty, which belongs not to the illegitimate Lukashenko, but to Belarus’ people. The West must immediately, clearly, and loudly indicate that it is prepared to impose the strongest sanctions on Russia if the Kremlin refuses to quickly retract its support for the criminal Lukashenko regime, and if the Kremlin does not abandon its plans to realise the illegal annexation of Belarus. Putin must realise that “Belarusian sanctions” will be just as painful as the “Ukrainian sanctions” the Kremlin was met with following the Crimean and Donetsk occupations in 2014.

– J. Biden’s pressure on Putin: On June 16, a meeting is planned between President of the United States Joe Biden and Putin, and this is a good opportunity to relay a unified message from the West to Putin’s regime: hands off Belarus! Also, off Ukraine and A. Navalny! Equally, consequences (sanctions) must be clearly presented in case the Kremlin pretends that it failed to hear or understand the call to cease being an enabler of Lukashenko’s crimes. As of late, the Kremlin has understood the polite talks from the West, the diplomatic manoeuvres and attempts to perceive a soul in Putin’s eyes as a sign of Western weakness, which incites even greater aggression from the Kremlin. It is time for the West to learn to talk to the Kremlin in a firm language of principles, and the Belarusian crisis is a litmus test for the West.

– Western (European Union) leadership: one of the main troubles for the West, highlighted during the protracted Belarus crisis, is a clear deficit in leadership. After reviewing all the European Union institutions in my mind, I cannot find any institutional heads or their subordinates who could be described as leaders who would take to 24/7 solving of the Belarus crisis, and the same can be said of the EU member states. Greater movement only occurs if something special happens in Belarus, such as an aeroplane hijacking. In such a case, leadership, coordination and efficiency surface, however, to solve the Belarus crisis, we need long-term Western leadership, not a one-off. We need joint European Union and US efforts to resolve the Belarus crisis. Even the much smaller scale Georgian political crisis required the personal efforts of European Council President Charles Michel to resolve, and such leadership is also needed to resolve the Belarus crisis. This four-action plan is necessary not only for suffering Belarus. It is also needed for the European Union and indeed the entire West, so that we may finally be freed from torturous political despair.

The article was published in www.15min.lt 

2020.06.19

Euronest Parliamentary Assembly Bureau Message to the Eastern Partnership Leaders

On the occasion of the Video Teleconference of the Leaders of the Eastern Partnership to be held on 18 June 2020, 

The Euronest PA Bureau addresses the following message to the Heads of State and Government, in accordance with Article 18 of the Rules of Procedure of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.

Euronest_PA_Bureau_message_to_the_EaP_Leaders_VTC_in_June_2020

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