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Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 27 November, the Chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Jovita Neliupšienė took part in an online meeting of Secretaries of State (Chancellors) of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the European Union, which focused on the EU’s top challenges in 2021. According to the Chancellor, the EU must maintain its focus on conflict resolution in the EU neighbourhood when recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A global pandemic cannot limit the EU’s global ambition or action. Even during these difficult times, the EU must regain the initiative in its neighbourhood and firmly defend the principles of democracy. Thus, we expect the EU to actively respond to the political crisis in Belarus and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” said Neliupšienė.When speaking about the priorities of the upcoming Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU,  the Chancellor welcomed Portugal’s strong focus on the EU’s social policies and the European Commission’s proposal on adequate minimum wages for workers across member states. Europe’s economic recovery based on solidarity, a more resilient Europe, the climate action, the digital transition, strengthening partnerships with external partners and social policies will also be at the heart of Portugal’s EU Presidency.In the meeting, Neliupšienė presented Lithuania’s candidacy to host the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre (ECCC) in Vilnius. The ECCC should become the main EU instrument to promote EU cybersecurity initiatives, as well as to develop cybersecurity research and technology.“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that diplomatic work was impossible without secure communication technology. The EU wisely invests in cybersecurity, which is clearly illustrated by its decision to establish the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre. We suggest establishing the ECCC in Vilnius. Moreover, we are ready to share our experience with partners and ensure excellent operating conditions for the centre,” said the Chancellor.The participants of the meeting also highlighted that the EU had responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in a coordinated manner, providing consular support for EU citizens stranded abroad and enabling them to return home safely. The importance of reaching an agreement on a common EU testing system and ensuring easy access to vaccines for target populations not only in EU member states, but also in neighbouring countries was also underlined. In addition, the participants stressed the need for a concerted EU response to a rise of vaccine misinformation.
The meeting of State Secretaries of Foreign Ministries is traditionally held in the upcoming Presidency of the EU Council. The Presidency is currently held by Germany. Portugal will take the helm on 1 January 2021.

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