The Baltic states demonstrate their unity over the release of Golovatov
On 18 July, the Foreign Ministers of the three Baltic countries signed a joint letter over the release of Mikhail Golovatov in Austria and presented it to the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states and to Vice President of the European Commission Viviane Reding. Earlier, Golovatov was detained in Vienna on a European Arrest Warrant. In their letter the three Foreign Ministers – Audronis Ažubalis (Lithuania), Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis (Latvia) and Urmas Paet (Igaunija) emphasize that European Arrest Warrant is issued within the EU as an instrument of mutual trust and is expected to assure an effective rule of law on the occasions when suspects are detained and extradited, particularly when they are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"The decision to release Golovatov impairs the effectiveness of international legal co-operation in criminal cases and lessens the significance of the EU solidarity principle for the member states", is stated in the letter.
The letter by the Baltic Foreign Ministers also accentuates that Golovatov was released 24 hours after he was detained. "Though we understand the principle of judicial independence, we are still concerned about the speed at which the Austrian authorities decided to release the individual", the letter says.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Kristovskis, in solidarity with Lithuania and its people, already on 17 July expressed his deep regret about the decision of the Austria Prosecutor General’s Office to release and not to extradite to Lithuania Mikhail Golovatov, a former commander of the former USSR’s Alpha group. "The crimes performed in 1991 in Vilnius and Riga have no limitation", the Foreign Minister stressed.