Grybauskaitė: Europe not a gift, it is responsibility

  

EXCLUSIVE / Against the backdrop of completing the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė invited Europeans to take note of the protests in Kyiv's Maidan Square ahead of the European elections: “The Ukrainian people want what we have achieved,” she said in an exclusive interview with EurActiv.

“Europe is not a gift, it is responsibility. It takes responsibility to be European. Responsibility to do the reforms which are good for your country. It is fiscal, social responsibility,” she said, adding that it was time to stop taking European peace, prosperity and security for granted.

Lithuania, a country of 3.2 million people, which joined the EU in 2004, assumed its first presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July. It started with a huge number of dossiers and ticked boxes on many difficult legislative files.

Marathon and speedy presidency

The Presidency collided with both the end of the political and institutional cycle and the adoption of the European long-term budget which required the adoption of 74 legislative acts.

“A huge workload was pushed to our presidency, because the next one will have to already prepare for the EU elections,” said Grybauskaitė, who reckoned the workload was two-and-a-half times more than that usually dealt with by previous EU presidencies.

“We made it. We passed 61 of the 74 legislative acts so that the EU budget can be operational as of next year,” she cheered.

But it was not only the EU budget. Many dossiers were left over from previous presidencies: posted workers, the tobacco directive, agriculture, rules for Frontex, CO2 on cars. These and others were all successfully brought to agreement.

The greatest achievement, however, is the banking union, said the Lithuanian president.

“In the recent two years we have been creating a number of instruments to fight the crisis (two-pack, six- pack),  but the banking union is the additional tassel in the architecture,” she said. “It is important for economic recovery and financial stability in Europe.”

Even though critics argue the compromise is clearly imperfect and some say too complex to ever work effectively, she points at the positive of having managed to reach a deal on a very sovereign issue such as banking resolution.

“The Single Resolution Mechanism was proposed in September and in three months we have an agreement. We have never worked at such speed,” she said.

“It is a compromise – she stressed – we can later improve it, if necessary steps are needed. But the fact that we were able to reach a compromise should be saluted as an important step. Optimal or not, time will say,” she added, insisting the new instruments must now be properly implemented.

Perfection from the start is only for utopians, hinted the president. “The job is better done by those who stop talking about doing something, but that actually get the job done,” she said.

Ukraine’s turn not a ‘failure’

On the refusal of Ukraine to sign the association agreement with the EU last month, the Lithuanian president argues it is not a failure but rather delivers positive messages.

It was a wake-up call for EU leaders and Europeans at large, but also for the Ukrainian people.

“The Ukrainian political leadership has shown that they are neither committed towards Europe, neither understand what a future in Europe can deliver to its country and what can they gain from it,” she said.

This reality check for everyone was important. The huge anti-government protests in Ukraine’s capital Kiev have shown that the Ukrainian people had woken up, she explained. “They have taken the future of their own life and their own children in their own hand.”

“Now Ukraine and the people of Ukraine have a real choice on whether to come towards Europe and how rapidly they want to do it.”

The Ukrainian rebuttal has also shed light on the success of enlargement for Europe and all member states, insisted Grybauskaitė.

“Compare Poland or Lithuania's GDP per-capita with that of Ukraine today, it is hugely different,” she said.

“The association agreement and then membership with the EU gave us the eagerness to reform faster. Twenty-two years ago we were at the same level with Ukraine. And now we are not comparable by economic development, human rights, legal basis, modernisation—Everything is different.”

Although Lithuania took over 10 years to make the reforms required to join the European Union, Grybauskaitė said, now it has become one of the fastest growing economies in the 28-country bloc, negotiating its entrance to the OECD and seats as a non-permanent member in  the United Nations Security Council. “Not bad, I would say,” she said glowing with pride.

The success of countries like Lithuania should give hope to Eastern European countries, she added.

Stand up to Russia?

Asked whether the EU had to reshuffle its strategic ties with Russia and how, Grybauskaitė said the EU had to be open, but ‘very direct’.

She said the EU was deeply concerned by Russian behaviour with third countries both on human rights and the rule of law.

“In recent months, we have seen how Russia is misusing its powers and putting pressure over Eastern partners, including Lithuania. This is unacceptable from a country that has signed obligations with the WTO or European bodies. These cannot be just forgotten. But Russia is still our strategic partner,” Grybauskaitė said, insisting the EU and its values had to be respected.

Timeline: 
  • 1 January - 30 June 2014: Greek Presidency
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Comments

Alberto Rodrigues 's picture

i am Alberto Rodrigues from the International Foundation for research and innovation Europe union must concentrate his atenttions in the following aspect
1) Majority of EU businesses need energy friom Russia and digital economy depends on USA tools Because of this EU must recommnet all the 28 countries to ask his researchers and universities to identify businesses which can be done in EU and which do not need energy from Russia and tools from USA
2) Up to now EU had bloched money in different projects which take so long time to be concluded and which do not create enough jobs EU must recommend all EU countries to invest with priority in businesses which bring more than 25% profits in less than 75 days If Eu will concentrate a part of his attention in thos two issues in less than 7 months in EU it will be created more than 7 millions jobs I had been making researches about this specific issue and i can demontrate this in any time

Journalist's picture

There are continuing Lies being told by the European Union, and they are continuing their attempts to destabilize Ukraine.

We have seen how the European Union is Lying when it says that it stands by family member Ukraine at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25467738 .

If the European Union thought that Ukraine was a family member, then it would have given Ukraine Visa Free Arrangement, because People in the same family can easily visit each other.

The Truth of the matter is that the European Union, like the Evil Monster that it is, is trying to break up a Relationship between brothers.

The European Union as Unprincipled as ever, is now Making what they are hoping appears as a Virtue, because it is Acting Only out of Necessity to cover up their Despicable Dealings against Ukraine.

The European Union are trying to Revise Recent History with their Lying Narrative.

The Facts are that Ukraine approached closer relations with the European Union with genuine friendship based on proper motives, but Ukraine was Only treated with Callousness and Disrespect.

This was designed to both Humiliate Ukraine, and to Overthrow a Democratically Elected European Government.

The Association Agreement with Ukraine would have cost 160 Billion Euros to implement, and the European Union was Only giving one Billion Euros, not as a gift, but as a Loan with Interest.

Ukraine could not take on such a Debt Burden, and the Democratically Elected Legitimate Government of Ukraine could not do that to their own People.

These things did not go Unnoticed by Russia, who saw their Brother in Desperate Need, and so Russia offered to help Ukraine through its difficult times.

The European Union is using the word Family, and yet they want Russia which is a Real family Member with Ukraine to act callously and look the other way, and to pretend that they do not know that their Brother is need, especially after Russia saw its Brother treated Shabbily by the European Union who are only Pretending to be Ukraine’s Friends.

Russia took the Initiative, and said invited Ukraine for talks on how to help, and even suggested giving Ukraine Observer Status at the Customs Union in order to introduce Ukraine to potential Investors.

This is the way that the European Union acted because it has Ulterior Motives, which its Actions and Continued Inactions have Proved and are Continuing to Prove.

This is because the European Union has not even granted Ukraine a Visa Free Arrangement, because they Secretly Consider Ukrainians to be Second Class Europeans.

There are Many People who find the use of saying that Ukrainians should be Europeans, because they are Europeans, and Russians are also Europeans.

Ukraine is a European Country with a Complex Set of Circumstances, which would be solved with the simple and compromising solution of having Ukraine with closer Economic Integration with the European Union Trading Bloc, and at the same time, Ukraine should have closer Economic Integration with the Customs Union.

It is said that the European Union functions by Consensus, which is built on Compromise, and so Ukraine’s Situation needs a Compromise.

There are People who are saying Ukraine is in the West Europe, and others are saying that Ukraine is in the East, and this is why Ukraine needs this common sense solution of having closer links with both Western and Eastern Economic Blocs.

Ukrainians want to have a job, and the Democratically Elected Legitimate Authorities are looking to have Observer Status at the Customs Union, and hope that something similar can be negotiated with the European Union.

We have Already Noticed much Insincerity, and this is because of the Criminal Conspiracy against Ukraine was so Obvious to Voters who will Vote at the European Parliament Elections.

The Ukrainian President and the Ukrainian Government know that the European Union will not remain Neutral as far as Ukraine’s Elections are Concerned, and so they know that it will be difficult to Convince the European Union to do anything for Ukraine.

If the European Union did something for Ukraine, then it would Only do because of the European Parliament Elections, and when those Elections were over, then they would be back to their usual tricks.

An Example is how Britain is saying: UK no longer advocates for EU enlargement, and this is a Lie because of the European Parliament Elections at http://www.euractiv.com/enlargement/uk-longer-strongest-advocate-eu-news... .

Ukraine would want to be assured by the European Union that they were granting Ukrainians Visa Free Arrangements as First Class European Citizens, because they see Ukrainians as part of the European Family, and not just as a Convenient Deception to be Revoked after the European Parliament Elections are over.

This is because the European Union knows that this will help them in the European Parliament Election, and it will help the Opposition in the Elections if the First Class European Citizen Visa Arrangement was revoked next year, if it was implemented in the first place that is.

The Ukrainian Government would be in a difficult situation, because if they refused, then the European Union would use it against them, and if they accept, the European Union will use it against them, and that will be a decision for the Ukrainian Authorities to make, and i have no suggestions on that.

The only thing I could say is that since the solution to Ukraine’s Economic problems is with being in both Trading Blocs, then all the Ukrainian Government can do is to seek Observer Status in the Customs Union of which their European Neighbours of Belarus and Russia belong, and to try to make Trading Deals with its other European Neighbours, in order to allow them to the Opportunity show that they, along with the Rest of the European Union consider Ukraine to be part of European Family.

Albania signed the Association Agreement over 10 years ago, and it was recently rejected as a European Union Candidate Country http://www.euractiv.com/enlargement/netherlands-vetoes-albania-eu-ca-new... .

We see that joining the European Union is a slow process, and Ukraine will only be ready in 5 years at the earliest.

The current Ukrainian Government, is best suited to Negotiate the best Deal for Ukraine with the European Union.

an european's picture

@Journalist

You'aren't talking for Ukraine's citizen but for Janukovich or Putin like the fastest exterminator!!

Vitali Klitschko as example isn't at your side but merely at the E.U. one, "like the Evil Monster that it is!"

Journalist's picture

This comment is a revised version of a comment that I wrote, and it is as Diplomatic as possible, and Facts and Opinions must figure somewhere in the equation if Europeans are to try to avoid slipping back into their Old Habit of Nazism.

The Facts which I stated about Euro-America are the same as what Euro-America has Slanderously said about others, in order to Justify their Genocides and their Crimes against Humanity, even in Europe.

There are continuing Lies being told by the European Union, and they are continuing their attempts to destabilize Ukraine.

We have seen how the European Union is saying that it stands by family member Ukraine at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25467738 .

If the European Union truly thought that Ukraine was a family member, then it would have give Ukraine Visa Free Arrangement, because People in the same family should be able to easily visit each other.

The Truth of the matter is that the European Union, is trying to break up a Family Relationship between brothers, even as they did with the former Yugoslavia, especially with Serbia, Montenegro, and the Serb Republic which are 3 Serb nations, that were Deliberately broken up by Euro-America.

The European Union are trying to Revise Recent History with their Lying Narrative.

The Facts are that Ukraine sought closer relations with the European Union with genuine friendship based on proper motives, but Ukraine was Only treated with Callousness and Disrespect.

This was designed to both Humiliate Ukraine into begging for crumbs, and to Overthrow a Democratically Elected European Government.

The Association Agreement with Ukraine would have cost 160 Billion Euros to implement, and the European Union was Only giving one Billion Euros, not as a gift, but as a Loan with Interest.

Ukraine could not take on such a Debt Burden, and the Democratically Elected Legitimate Government of Ukraine could not do that to their own People.

These things did not go Unnoticed by Russia, who saw their Brother in Desperate Need, and so Russia offered to help Ukraine through its difficult times.

The European Union is using the word Family, and yet they want Russia which is a Real family Member with Ukraine to act callously and look the other way, and to pretend that they do not know that their Brother is need, especially after Russia saw its Brother treated as Inferior by the European Union who are only Pretending to be Ukraine’s Friends.

This is the way that the European Union acted because it has Ulterior Motives, which its Actions and Continued Inactions have Proved and are Continuing to Prove.

Russia was Motivated by Compassion for their Family Member, and invited Ukraine for talks on how to it could of help, and to introduce Ukraine to potential Investors to help Ukraine’s Struggling Economy.

This is because the European Union has not even granted Ukraine a Visa Free Arrangement, because this will increase the Euroskeptic Vote in the upcoming European Parliament Elections.

It is difficult to see the European Union granting Visa Free arrangement for Ukraine before the European Parliament Elections are over, because this will Increase the Euroskeptic Vote, and that is not what the Euro-American Dictators want.

This is why the Ukrainian Government is asking the Opposition to Act Responsibly, and for the sake of Ukraine’s European Union Ambitions to not Protest until after the European Parliament Elections.

This is because if a Euroskeptic European Parliament is Elected, then Ukraine will have to wait a much longer time for Closer Economic relationship with the European Union.

This needs to be Understood that Ukrainians can protest peacefully to have a Closer Economic relationship with the European Union, but they need to know that it is a Counterproductive action.

There are Many People who find Offensive and Degrading the use of saying that Ukrainians should be Europeans, because they are Europeans, and Russians are also Europeans.

We have Already Noticed much Insincerity, and this is because of the Criminal Conspiracy against Ukraine was so Obvious to Voters who will Vote at the European Parliament Elections, and there are Many People who know that this is a matter for the Voters at the next scheduled Election to decide.

A Responsible Opposition should be saying that Ukraine is a European Constitutional Democracy, and if the European Union wants to talk to Anyone in Ukraine, then it should be Only with the Democratically Elected Legitimate European Government of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian President and the Ukrainian Government know that the European Union will not remain Neutral as far as Ukraine’s Elections are Concerned, and so they know that it will be difficult to Convince the European Union to do anything for Ukraine, because the next scheduled Election.

Britain is saying it no longer advocates for European Union Enlargement, and this means that Ukraine should look to other Arrangements until the European Union is prepared to look at increasing their Commitments, at http://www.euractiv.com/enlargement/uk-longer-strongest-advocate-eu-news... .

We see this with Albania who signed the Association Agreement over 10 years ago and it was recently rejected as a European Union Candidate Country http://www.euractiv.com/enlargement/netherlands-vetoes-albania-eu-ca-new... .

We see that joining the European Union is a slow process, and the Association Agreement with did not say anything about joining the European Union.

This Association Agreement Only talks about how Ukraine was going to be Exploited, and the Responsible Ukrainian Authorities could not do that to their own People.

The Opposition Parties would only too ready to Act Irresponsibly, and we have seen this with their willingly being Puppets of Foreign Conspirators and Exploiters who schemed an attempted Coup against a European Constitutional Democracy.

Journalist's picture

There are different opinions by Ukrainians of every Ethnicity regarding this matter, and some percentage of All Ethnicities in Ukraine would agree with what I wrote.

There are basically 4 major groupings, and they are for joining the European Union, for joining the Customs Union, for belonging to both Trading Blocs, and the Status Quo.

I do not know what percentages in each category, but that is not Relevant to this matter.

If we begin with the Basics, then we will know that this matter began because the Ukrainian Government could not in all Good Conscience sign the Association Agreement.

It is of no purpose to put the blame on anyone, even though the Negotiators that the Ukrainian Government trusted to negotiate the 1,500 page of the Association Agreement, which is filled with Problematic Legal Language, and with Complicated Ambiguities must be mentioned for their Major Role in this Regrettable matter.

We should not be overly critical of their poor performance, because we all make mistakes.

It would be unwise to demote these People too much, because they have gained valuable experience with negotiating with the European Union, and may be needed to negotiate a Visa Free Arrangement with the European Union after the European Parliament Elections have taken place.

It is Always easier to be wiser after the event, and in hindsight the Ukrainian Government should not have put all that Burden upon the Negotiators, but should have provided them with more Resources in order to Conclude an Agreement that the Government could Justify to their own Conscience.

If the European Union had shown an Understanding Attitude, then what happened next would not have Embarrassed the European Union.

The European Union should have said that Ukraine is a Constitutional Democratic European Country, and it is up to the Voters at the next Election to decide this matter.

The European Union should have said that this is a Democratic Value, and so it should also be a European Union Value.

One of the Most Basic and Non Negotiable Human Right in a Democracy is that People should be allowed to Refuse to sign anything that they do not want to.

This Most Basic and Non Negotiable Human Right in a Democracy Applies also to the President, and to All the Members of Parliament.

The Parliament and the President are Elected by the Voters to serve in the Best Interests of All of the Citizens, and they are Elected by the Voters to serve their Full Term under the Constitutional Democratic Provisions.

It is not up a Violent Mob in the Street, which could be Manipulated by Foreigners to Deny Ukrainians their Most Basic of Human Rights, and their Most Basic of Democratic Rights to decide matters at Legally and Constitutionally Scheduled Elections.

It is up to the Voters of Ukraine to assess the performance of All Political Parties at Legal Constitutionally Scheduled Elections.

The Legitimate Ukrainian Authorities saw the Coup Attempts, and this did not help the situation.

The Ukrainian Government was now placed in a Position to reconsider its way to deal with Ukraine’s Economic Situation.

Russia and Ukraine have Centuries of History together, and Russia not Only had to help, but Russia wanted to help, and so Russia and Ukraine signed some Trade Agreements with Russia, and Ukraine’s situation looks better because of it.

I wrote comments where I describe my business model concerning financing gas pipelines, and I just read how Ukraine is to make natural gas tankers for Russia and those comments are at http://www.euractiv.com/energy/barroso-hails-final-decision-bri-news-532412 .

We know that gas can be supplied with a Pipeline like the Proposed but problematic South Stream Project, or it can supplied by Insured gas tankers, and I do not know which is cheaper, but I know that gas in Russia is as plentiful and free as water in Canada, and if I could use Water to create jobs, then using my business model, then we know that this will create Employment, and supply gas to Countries.

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