GITANAS NAUSĖDA, President of Lithuania, noted that 2021 marked his country’s thirtieth anniversary as a United Nations Member State. He recalled that, in 1992, the world united at the United Nations in favour of a complete withdrawal of foreign military forces from Baltic States, in a “powerful manifestation of global solidarity” of the type that is still needed today. Recent years have shown that no country can address emerging challenges alone, he said, noting that in the struggle against the pandemic “the fight is not over”. The way forward runs through the widespread use of safe vaccines, provided through a global mechanism that leaves no one out. Voicing concern about a rapidly spreading “dangerous infodemic”, he praised the United Nations for its efforts in fighting misinformation and disinformation and called for a holistic approach to get better in exposing these threats.
Meanwhile, he cited the deteriorating security situation in many parts of the world, which are closely linked to rising authoritarianism and crackdowns on political opposition, free media and civil society. “We refuse to accept such behaviour as the new normal,” he stressed. Deploring efforts by the Russian Federation to exert pressure on Lithuanian judges and prosecutors seeking to investigate crimes committed by occupying forces in the 1990s, he went on to express support for the genuine protest movement that followed a “rigged” recent presidential election in Belarus, as well as the hijacking and forced landing of a RyanAir flight in May, in clear violation of international law. “Such actions should be treated as an act of State-sponsored terrorism,” he stressed.
He further went on to call for efforts to prevent countries from using irregular migration as a weapon to put pressure on other States. “People should not be used as tools,” he emphasized, also drawing attention to commercial exploitation of an unsafe nuclear power plant close to the Belarusian border with Lithuania. Meanwhile, the world is still seeing the Russian Federation’s violations in Ukraine, he said, urging the global community to pursue a policy of non-recognition of Moscow’s occupation of Crimea and calling for the establishment of an International Crimean Platform.
Spotlighting several other frozen conflicts, he declared: “We must show restraint on international matters and implement our obligations and commitments.” International and regional treaties remain crucial, and the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, should prevail in the face of new global challenges. Noting that an effective Security Council is required to protect the multilateral system, he strongly supported the initiative to limit the use of the veto in cases of genocide, war crimes and other atrocity crimes. As it runs for a seat on the Human Rights Council in 2022-2024, Lithuania would be paying special attention to the situation of human rights defenders, as well as the rights of the child, persons with disabilities and women and girls in conflict areas.
Turning to the threat posed by climate change, he echoed calls of the Secretary-General “for urgent and bold steps to address the triple crisis of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution that are destroying the planet”. Against that backdrop, States should come to the upcoming COP26 prepared with strong and ambitious proposals, he said, outlining Lithuania’s own target of reducing carbon emissions by 70 per cent and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
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