Lithuania’s six-month presidency of the European Union is coming to an end, with Greece set to take the baton from 1 January 2014.
The Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite hosted a summit in Vilnius in November, at which Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych famously spurned an association agreement with the EU.
Euronews interviewed her as the Brussels summit came to a close.
Fariba Mavvadat, euronews:
“Madam President, the EU’s failure to sign a deal with Ukraine is being described as the worst blow in the history of the European Union. What went wrong?”
Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuanian President:
“It’s not a failure of the European Union, it’s a failure of Ukraine – and not Ukraine even, rather the Ukrainian leadership who didn’t sign the agreement.
And I think the opposite; the Vilnius summit showed very clearly that today’s Ukrainian leadership is politically and personally not ready at all to go deeper into the European integration process.
The political class has practically taken all Ukraine hostage for their own personal interests, and now we are seeing awakening of the Ukrainian people.”
euronews: “Now there are those who believe that you didn’t make it worth Ukraine’s while to cut its umbilical cord with Russia, that you didn’t offer enough?”
Dalia Grybauskaite: “Europe is not about buying and offering. Europe is about helping the countries to make their own decisions, free, without pressure, and on their own. Today’s Ukrainian leadership is not capable of making this decision. But every day the Ukrainian people are themselves making this decision by protesting.”
euronews: “You are coming to the end of your presidency of the EU. What are your feelings about it?”
Dalia Grybauskaite: “Oh, very good feelings! (she laughs) I can joke that, of course we prepared a lot, it took almost two years for us to be prepared, and we are also in a pre-European election season, so a lot of practical jobs were pushed to us, not to leave them to the second half of the year, because everybody will be more or less busy with elections.
But of course now it is a relief that we managed – it was not so bad – some would say even very good, but it’s not up to me to say that. And finally, in only two weeks we are handing it over to the Greek presidency.”