Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis Visits Vienna

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: December 11, 2022; 23:23 ♦ (Vindobona)

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis came to Vienna for a visit, meeting his counterpart in Austria, Alexander Schallenberg. In addition, Landsbergis met with IAEA Chief Rafael Mariano Grossi and OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid. The exchanges focused on the Russian war in Ukraine, in particular European support efforts against the backdrop of the approaching winter, as well as the prosecution of war crimes. In addition, the two foreign ministers discussed current developments in Iran and increasing migration pressure.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis paid a working visit to Vienna, Austria. / Picture: © Lithuanian and Austrian crossed flags by Vindobona

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg began by underlining the excellent relations between Austria and Lithuania and reiterated his wish to further intensify them by expanding trade relations and reciprocal visits. Lithuania has become an important player in the European security debate, he said. Given its history and geographical proximity to Russia, this was also the case with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and his Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis have declared winter aid and the prosecution of war crimes to be joint priorities in the Ukraine conflict. Schallenberg pledged further humanitarian assistance to Kyiv, as well as support in building and equipping forensic units. Schallenberg sees the two countries generally standing "shoulder to shoulder."

With winter approaching, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg agreed with his Lithuanian counterpart that the provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine is more essential than ever. Foreign Minister Schallenberg pointed out that Austria had already provided humanitarian aid worth more than 87 million euros, including the delivery of more than 300 power and heating generators, to Ukraine and directly affected neighboring states.

Lithuania, he said, was at the forefront - both geographically and politically - in supporting Ukraine and was doing its part by supplying weapons. Those countries that could not support Kyiv directly would provide electricity generators, for example, Landsbergis said, referring to Austria's neutrality. Landsbergis also thanked Austria for being one of the first countries to help Lithuania with its expertise in the face of increasing migration pressure from Belarus.

Furthermore, both Foreign Ministers spoke out in favor of the necessity of a complete clarification and legal prosecution of the war crimes committed by the Russian side in Ukraine. The fact that the independent international commission of inquiry set up by the United Nations to investigate Ukraine is based in Vienna is a sign of Austria's commitment in this regard.

"If we want international law to prevail at the end of the day, accountability is of paramount importance," Foreign Minister Schallenberg said. Vilnius is calling for the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the war of aggression on Ukraine, as underscored by Lithuania's Foreign Minister Landsbergis.

The two foreign ministers also agreed on the brutal crackdown by Iranian security forces on demonstrators in Iran and called for an independent and credible investigation. The excessive use of force against peaceful protesters was unacceptable.

Finally, the two foreign ministers exchanged views on current challenges in the area of migration. Austria, like Lithuania, is currently facing increased migration pressure in the form of rising arrival figures. Foreign Minister Schallenberg stressed that given the current situation, the issue must be at the top of the European agenda. The Action Plan for the Western Balkans recently presented by the European Commission is a first positive signal, but further concrete steps must now follow.

Meeting between Lithuania's foreign minister and SPÖ leader Rendi-Wagner

SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner also held a working meeting with Landsbergis. Rendi-Wagner stressed the importance of humanitarian support for the people in Ukraine and addressed the issue of inflation, a statement said afterward. A European gas price cap would relieve Europe's households and companies in the short term and curb inflation, she told the Lithuanian foreign minister.

EU energy ministers are expected to find a compromise on a gas price cap at a meeting on Dec. 13. Lithuania favors a cap, while Austria has reservations and most recently joined Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia and Luxembourg in a letter to the Czech EU presidency expressing concern about lowering the possible cap. The skeptics fear that with a lower price cap, gas suppliers would preferentially supply other regions and bottlenecks could occur.

Landsbergis at OSCE

Landsbergis spoke to the OSCE Permanent Council about Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.

Speaking about the responsibility of international organizations, Landsbergis noted: “We have to decide whether the Helsinki Final Act principles are guidelines or rules. If we have committed to a set of rules, there should be no more ambiguity when these principles are violated. Either we stand by those principles, or we don’t. If the tools are less comprehensive than we have thought, let us strengthen them. If there is not enough political will to act – let us build it. If states constantly abuse the consensus rule – let us figure the way out, too.”

Landsbergis meeting IAEA Chief Grossi

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“We talked with the IAEA Director General that Russian missile attacks, weapons, and soldiers at the largest European nuclear site in Zaporizhzhia posed a serious threat to Ukraine and the entire continent,” Landsbergis said after the meeting with Grossi.

Furthermore, Landsbergis emphasized that international sanctions should be enforced against Russia if it continues to violate nuclear treaties during its conflict with Ukraine.


Foreign Ministry of Lithuania