(Bloomberg) -- Lithuania warned that any European Union financial penalties over Poland’s failure to adhere to rule-of-law standards would risk stoking public resentment toward Brussels.

“It would be simple to punish Poland over its decision,” Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Ziniu Radijas Thursday. “But there’s a price for such punishment: further strengthening of anti-European sentiment, perhaps alienation of some sort, maybe not Brexit, but some legal alienation from the EU.”

The EU may trigger its so-called conditionality mechanism to freeze billions of euros in financing for Poland, which it accuses of democratic backsliding. While Landsbergis deems defending EU values as key to the bloc’s “survival,” he said Lithuania wants to preserve its strategic partnership with Poland, with which it shares a border.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said Tuesday that linking rule-of-law principles to financial penalties is “morally wrong.” Warning that the escalating dispute could be “tragic for Poland and tragic for the EU,” he called for mediation to find a compromise.

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