VILNIUS/WARSAW – Lithuania’s PM backs Warsaw in rule of law dispute with Brussels

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has vowed to support Poland in its ongoing rule of law dispute with Brussels, adding that Vilnius could follow Warsaw’s example to “de-sovietise our justice system”.

Skvernelis and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, held a joint government meeting in Vilnius on Thursday (17 September), the first since 1989 Polish-Lithuanian intergovernmental consultations, which Skvernelis called a historical event in Lithuanian–Polish cooperation.

With the improvement of Lithuanian–Polish relations in recent months, the Commonwealth period is seeing renewed attention by the countries’ politicians.

Asked by reporters about Lithuania’s position regarding the EU’s plans to sanction Poland over its judicial reforms, Skvernelis said “we will never support or agree to that”.

In 2017, the European Commission launched legal action against Poland, saying its judicial reforms undermine the rule of law in the country, but it has not resulted in any punishment for Warsaw so far. Meanwhile, Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government has argued it is trying to rid the country of the communist legacy in its court system.

At the same time, the European Parliament said on Thursday (17 September), the situation surrounding the rule of law in Poland has seriously deteriorated, adding to pressure on Warsaw amid an EU investigation that could lead to Poland losing voting rights in the bloc.

“Many countries, not just Poland, have done reforms in various areas they inherited from the Soviet regime,” said Skvernelis, adding that Lithuania has more understanding for Poland than Western European countries due to their Soviet history.

“Perhaps we [Lithuania] haven’t done enough to de-sovietise our own justice system,” Skvernelis said.

During the meeting, Skvernelis also agreed to back the Polish proposal for a €1 billion economic rescue plan for Belarus, while Poland agreed to support Lithuania’s opposition against the EU’s mobility package.

The talks in Vilnius were another move by the Polish government towards the coordination of international activities on Belarus.

(Benas Gerdžiūnas | LRT.lt/en; Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

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