Lithuania-Artsakh Friendship Group Begins Activities

Lithuanian Parliament

VILNIUS, Lithuania—The Lithuania-Artsakh Parliamentary Friendship group, which includes members from five political factions from the Baltic country’s legislature, began its activities on Thursday.

Last week, Asbarez reported on the establishment of the group, which took place on February 26 following a conference entitled “Lithuania and Armenia: a look to the recent past” dedicated to the 25 anniversary of the democratic movements in Armenia and Lithuania and the National liberation struggle of the Armenians of Artsakh that took place in the Lithuanian parliament, known as Seym.

Despite pressures from Azeri authorities, nine members of parliament signed the agreement to form the group. But on Thursday, the number of Lithuanian parliament members jumped to 12.

The names of participating parliament members were published in the official Web site of the Lithuanian foreign ministry. At the start of the session, the group’s president, Vitaoutas Gabsiz called on his fellow parliament members to join the group.

Former Lithuanian interior minister Audronoyus Ajubalis announced that the creation of such a group would hinder Lithuania’s foreign policy efforts, saying that the Azeri Ambassador to Lithuania had sent a protest note on the formation of this committee warning of the adverse impact on Azeri-Lithuanian relations. He added that such parliamentary groups are only formed with entities that are internationally recognized.

The parliamentary group’s founder Dangutė Mikutienė countered that statement by saying that there were already working groups within Seym that cooperate with unrecognized republics.

“Lithuania is a democratic country and Seym members have a free mandate. They can establish friendly relations with other countries, among them nations that have not been internationally recognized,” said Mikutienė.

“Perhaps I should read the list of countries that have similar friendship groups, which have been approved by your [Ajubalis] party. They are Cuba, Taiwan, Chechnya and Tibet,” added Mikutienė.

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