EC Condemns Crackdown in Lithuania
THE European Community on Sunday strongly condemned the Soviet military intervention in Lithuania, in which Soviet troops and tanks stormed the radio and television center, according to reports from Vilnius. The Army had imposed a curfew and moved to install a new pro-Moscow government in the rebellious republic.
Belgian Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens said the EC should reconsider its billion-dollar aid package to the Soviet Union. NATO held an emergency session in Brussels to discuss the crackdown yesterday, and was expected to issue a statement.
``We must explain clearly to the Soviet Union that our aid is conditional,'' Mr. Eyskens told Belgian television. ``We have a means of pressure,'' he said, adding that the aid program may have to be reviewed.
The EC has already begun delivering emergency food and medical aid to alleviate the Soviet Union's economic crisis. It has also promised technical aid.
Eyskens said he was especially shocked by the crackdown since Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had said last week that force would not be used.
He added that the recent action went a long way toward explaining the resignation of Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, who quit after warning that the country was heading for dictatorship.
``If this threatens the process of democratization, we will in the European Community be faced with the question of whether we will be able to maintain our cooperation,'' Eyskens said.
US Secretary of State James Baker III, reacting to events in Lithuania from a stop in Ankara, Turkey, sharply criticized Moscow yesterday for using force which he said would endanger the US-Soviet partnership.
``Enduring US-Soviet cooperation, indeed partnership, depends on continued reform - for partnership is impossible in the absence of shared values,'' Mr. Baker said.
Baker said the use of force by the Soviet government ``fundamentally and tragically contradicts the basic principles of perestroika [restructuring], glasnost [openness] and democratization.
``Perestroika is based on the rule of law, not rule by force,'' he said.
EC officials in Luxembourg, the country that currently holds the rotating EC presidency, said in a statement: ``In the name of the Community and its member states, the Presidency strongly condemns the use of force.
``The Presidency is waiting for explanations from the Soviet authorities.''
The EC particularly wants an explanation ``about the authorities who gave the order to fire on unarmed civilians,'' the statement continued.
The use of force is contrary to the spirit of the Paris Charter, it said.
In London, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said, ``We cannot allow our preoccupation with the Gulf crisis to blind us to the dangers in the Baltic states.