Last week MEP Leonidas Donskis appealed to the members of his group in the EP in order to personally inform them about the conflict between Lithuania and Austria, which arose after Austria released a Russian citizen, a former KGB officer Mikhail Golovatov, a suspect in the January 13th case, and seek their support for Lithuania in this situation.
“I am deeply convinced that such things when a person suspected of war crimes is released as a result of intervention by a third country should not be possible in the EU. Austria`s conduct in respect to Lithuania has set a dangerous precedent, which undermines the foundation of the solidarity between EU member states and their common values. Therefore, this event and its outcome are important not only to Lithuania, but also to the whole Community, as a test of our commitment to each other” - wrote Donskis to his colleagues in the group.
In his letter the MEP also reminds ALDE members of the events of January 13, 1991 and their importance to the people of Lithuania, M. Golovatov’s role in the organization of an attack on unarmed Lithuanian people, who were defending strategic objects, and the tension between Lithuania and Austria that arose after July 14, when Mikhail Golovatov, detained at the Vienna airport, was released within less than 24 hours.
“These events have caused repercussions and provoked displeasure in Lithuania as well as other EU countries. There is no doubt that M. Golovatov’s hurried release was due to political rather than legal motives, possibly due to Vienna giving in to pressure from Moscow – says Donskis in his letter.
According to L. Donskis, now that MEPs are on summer holiday, and therefore there are no group or committee sessions during which a position regarding the tensions could be accepted or the political assessment of the situation offered take place, it is extremely important to inform colleagues in the group about why Austria’s act has caused such a sharp reaction in Lithuania, and why the consequences of this conflict are important not only to bilateral relations between Lithuania and Austria, but also to the EU as a whole.
L. Donskis hopes that his group colleagues will use their authority, political parties’ influence and available instruments in their countries, as well as holiday time when most of the MEPs are in their home countries to contribute to expressing other EU member states’ solidarity and support for Lithuania.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE – is the third largest EP group, uniting 85 liberal MEPs from twenty European Union countries. Leonidas Donskis is a member of the Bureau of the ALDE Group and the coordinator of the EP Human Rights Subcommittee.
Leonidas Donskis` colleagues in the EP ALDE Group were quick to respond to the letter by the Lithuanian MEP. British MEPs have approached the Austrian ambassador in the United Kingdom with a letter about the release of M. Golovatov, also sending a copy of the letter to the British Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice.