Adamkus lashes out at Belarus policy

VILNIUS - Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has been forced to defend her friendly position toward Belarus after a week of deteriorating relations caused Former President Valdas Adamkus to call the approach a "catastrophe".

"I think we have overreached ourselves trying to please Alexander Lukashenko. Simply speaking, we have made fools of ourselves. Our foreign policy towards Belarus has been struck by a catastrophe," Adamkus said in an interview with Lithuanian-language daily Lietuvos Rytas.

Grybauskaite has been a staunch supporter of open dialogue with Belarus. Her spokesman defended her position, pointing to a number of democratic initiatives taken by the country in regards to Belarus and to the common EU stance.


The exchange comes at the end of a week of high tension between the neigboring countries as Belarus ended its OSCE representation just as Lithuania took over chairmanship of the organization.

President Dalia Grybauskaite and Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis, the new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office as of Jan. 1, both condemned the decision, saying that Belarus still has a long way to go to fulfill the OSCE's democratic development standards.

"The president believes that the OSCE office is one of the institutions and measures that would foster cooperation with the Belarusian authorities, and expresses her regret that its activities have not been renewed. This step will not: contribute to the development of democracy in Belarus," presidential spokesman Linas Balsys said after the president's meeting with Azubalis on Jan. 3. The Lithuanian foreign minister calls on Minsk to review its decision and continue the activities of the OSCE office.


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