L. Linkevičius: EU needs to join efforts to repatriate EU citizens from third countries
On 23 March, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius participated in a video conference of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, who exchanged views on the international response to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) with a particular focus on the repatriation of EU travelers stranded abroad. Foreign Ministers also discussed how to step up international cooperation in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today it is crucial to ensure the safe return of our citizens looking to come home. We must all join efforts to help each other to repatriate EU citizens from third countries, especially from those where the country does not have an embassy or consulate. We need to use all the EU instruments available to us fully. It is also important that EU member states shall permit transit through their territory to the citizens of other EU member states returning to their countries of origin," said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, who also stressed the need to coordinate the continuous supply with pharmaceutical products and other medical devices, as well as the possibility of carrying out joint procurement procedures.
The Minister L. Linkevičius expressed his solidarity with Italy and other Europe's worst affected countries, and highlighted the importance of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission’s active involvement in providing consular assistance to those EU citizens, who cannot return home from third countries.
Foreign Ministers also discussed attempts to discredit the European Union through disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fake news must be analyzed and evaluated. All the necessary measures must be taken to stop the spread of fake news. It is essential that we communicate clearly and proactively to EU citizens about the actions taken by the EU and its member states," said the Minister L. Linkevičius.
Foreign Ministers also discussed pressing issues on the international agenda, such as developments in Syria, Turkey and Libya.