Picture: A. Rubio.
Audra Plepytè / Ambassadress of Lithuania
Eva Cantón. Madrid
She has been four years in Madrid representing a Baltic country of barely 3 million inhabitants that is about to enter the euro and that assumed with enthusiasm its first duty presidency of the European Union in 2013, perceiving it as a lock to keep the Russian spirit away. Since when has the EU been a threat for anyone?, she tells those who see in the Association Agreement that Yanukóvich refused to seal the spark that set fire to the Ukrainian conflict.
How do you see Ukraine?
We are really worried about the situation in Ukraine in general. Crimea’s annexation was carried out against the international legislation and Lithuania will never recognize it. What is happening in the East of the country cannot be ignored nor tolerated and, in order to solve it, immediate actions are required. Russia has to guarantee the control over the borders with Ukraine to avoid the entry in the country of the pro-Russian militias. Besides, it should help to stop the terrorist attacks in the east of the Ukrainian territory.
Now we live in a new gas war after failing in the negotiation of the Ukrainian debt with Gazprom.
The Russian decision of cutting off the gas supply for Ukraine is part of the same scene. The European Union cannot leave Ukraine alone in this situation. Solutions should be found as soon as possible. It also shows that the EU has to keep working to create a Single Energy Market with the necessary connections, reducing the energy dependence of its members and of the neighbouring countries of a single supplier.
Is that what you are trying to do? Are you trying to reduce energy dependence?
Yes. Until now, the 100% of the gas consumed in Lithuania comes from Russia, but with the Terminal Independence, a floating platform of Liquefied Natural Gas, which will be finished by the end of the year in the port of Klaipeda, we can buy gas in any country. The possibilities of building a gas pipeline through Poland, electrical connections with the countries of the Baltic and underwater pipelines with Sweden are also being studied. Lithuania’s attention is focused on the entire world, because depending on a single supplier [Gazprom] is complicated.
With the terminal “Independence” we will reduce Russia’s energy dependence
Is that attention focused on Spain too?
In this moment, negotiations to buy the first shipment of liquefied gas are ending and we will soon know the result. There will be more purchases in the future and Lithuania will look for the best price. Personally, I would like to see cooperation and agreements between Lithuania and the Spanish companies in this sector in the future.
In which other sectors have the Spanish companies some business opportunities?
In the sectors of energy, transport, big infrastructures and construction. Lithuania has great projects ahead. We are trying to favour investments because, although there are already companies like Iberdrola or Indra, there are opportunities for many other companies in Lithuania, a competitive country where it is easy to open a business, with fiscal advantages, well trained labour force and favourable to the Spanish investment. This is also a good time for the Lithuanians to invest in the Spanish market, as we have seen with the purchase of the supermarket chain Supersol.
Brussels has given them the green light to enter the euro in January 2015. Would you like to see the Spanish Luis de Guindos leading the Eurogroup?
We have an excellent bilateral relationship with the minister Luis de Guindos and we value his exceptional professionalism, experience and responsibility. He is an outstanding minister and, of course, more than able to assume any senior position on the European or world level. However, for the moment, it would be politically incorrect to talk about the Eurogroup, which we will not be joining until January 2015.
Juan Carlos I was instrumental in Spain’s entry to the EU and the NATO
We are going through a period of changes in Spain. How do you value the replacement for the leadership of the State?
In Lithuania this is considered as something very interesting. It is also an opportunity for Lithuanians to know more about the history of Spain and what it meant for the King Juan Carlos I, how important it has been, especially during the transition from the dictatorship to the democracy and for the country’s entry in the European Union and the NATO.
What do they think about Philip VI?
There is great expectation and we hope to be able to work together in the strengthening of the bilateral relations and on the international level. The Prince Philip is very famous in Lithuania. I remember that he coincided with our president, Dalia Grybauskaite, in the European final of basketball celebrated in Lithuania in 2011 that brought Spain and France together.