President Rolandas Paksas of the Republic of Lithuania arrived to Brussels for a three-day working visit.
On the first day of the visit the President met with President of the European Commission Romano Prodi.
The meeting focused on Lithuania’s integration into the European Union and the course of Lithuania’s accession negotiations. President Paksas and Mr. Prodi also shared their views on the issue of Russia’s Kaliningrad region, and discussed energy and transport infrastructure projects.
The President underlined that Lithuania is committed to further pursue the strategic course of its foreign policy: integration into the EU and NATO and development of good neighbour and regional relations.
While discussing the course of Lithuania’s European integration, President Paksas emphasised that the accession negotiations between Lithuania and the EU Member States are over. However, the head of Lithuania underlined that as a full member of the EU, Lithuania will have to co-ordinate on a regular basis its position with the EU Member States on different issues, the number of which is likely to grow in the future.
The President expressed belief that Lithuania will be an equal partner of the community of European countries after its joins the EU.
Mr. Prodi said that Lithuania has achieved great progress in integrating with the EU.
The participants of the meeting also discussed Lithuania’s preparation for the referendum on EU membership, which will be held on May 10-11.
Having noted that membership in the EU will bring benefits for the people of Lithuania, President Paksas pledged to take action to ensure a high rate of participation in the forthcoming referendum. He also said he would work to ensure the broadest possible participation of non-governmental organisations, business associations, and the outstanding figures of culture and science in the campaign.
Mr. Prodi expressed hope that the referendum on EU membership will be successful in Lithuania.
While discussing the importance of implementing energy and transport infrastructure projects, the participants of the meeting said that carrying out these projects will allow ensuring a more effective functioning of the energy system of Lithuania and forming a single transport network.
In the context of discussion about Kaliningrad region, President Paksas underlined that Lithuania’s position on the issue remains unchnaged.
In the meeting with Lord George Robertson, NATO Secretary General, the President discussed Lithuania’s integration into NATO and the topical international issues.
President Paksas said that he had already stated at the meeting with Lord Robertson in Vilnius that Lithuania’s foreign policy goals remain unchanged: integration into the European Union and NATO, and good neighbour and regional relations.
President Paksas underlined that while seeking to join NATO, Lithuania will take on and meet political commitments regarding the ongoing reforms in the political, economic, military, defence and law area. A timetable of the tasks for Lithuania within NATO integration framework was approved at the sitting of the State Defence Council on March 17.
The President also emphasised that Lithuania will consistently fulfil the commitments regarding defence spending and further adapt its defence capabilities to NATO standards.
The head of Lithuania underlined that close attention will be allocated to fighting corruption in such areas as customs, public procurement, public health care and law enforcement institutions.
In the words of President Paksas, Lithuania seeks not only to join the transatlantic community but also to make a substantial contribution to the fostering of democratic values and ensuring global stability.
NATO Secretary General said that Lithuania made a considerable progress in the area of defence and expressed hope that Lithuania will be a reliable partner in the Alliance.
In the context of discussion about the Iraq crisis, the President underlined that Lithuania always sought to contribute to the efforts of the international community to reduce the threats to international security. The head of Lithuania emphasised that our country is prepared to further take an active part in the action of the international community against international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The United States-Europe partnership must be maintained irrespective of how the Iraq crisis is resolved, President Paksas said.
On March 20, the President met in Brussels with President of the European Parliament Pat Cox.
The meeting focused on Lithuania’s preparation for the referendum on membership in the European Union, scheduled for May 10-11, as well as the future of the EU and the topical international issues.
The goal of Lithuania is to achieve that each and every participant of the referendum understood that he or she is voting not only for the well being of their family but also for the future of their country in the long decades to come, President Paksas said.
Mr. Cox voiced belief that the referendum would be successful in Lithuania.
The President underlined that Lithuania not only seeks to take the advantages of EU membership but also to make a substantial contribution to the fostering of democratic values in the world.
In the context of discussion about the recently voiced opinions that the date for signing the Accession Treaty could be postponed, the head of Lithuania asked the President of the European Parliament to take every effort to ensure that the Treaty is signed according to the original schedule.
Mr. Cox shared the President’s opinion that the signing should not be postponed.
President Paksas once again underlined at the meeting that the strategic foreign policy goals of Lithuania remain unchanged: integration into the EU and NATO, and good neighbour and regional relations.
While discussing the Iraq crisis, the President emphasised the importance for the United States and Europe to maintain unity in the face of the crisis as well as to preserve the transatlantic link in searching for solutions to strategic issues.
After the meeting the head of Lithuania observed the opening of the European Parliament’s extraordinary session on the issue of Iraq and viewed an exhibition at the European Parliament.
Continuing his working visit to Brussels, President Paksas met with Co-Chairman of the European Union-Lithuania Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), Gordon Adam.
The meeting focused on the results of Lithuania’s EU accession negotiations, preparation for the referendum on EU membership and the issue of the Russian Kaliningrad region.
Mr. Gordon congratulated President Paksas on his election as the head of Lithuania.
Having inquired about preparation for the referendum on EU membership, to be held in Lithuania on May 10-11, the Co-Chairman of the JPC expressed hope that the referendum would be successful.
Discussing the results of the accession negotiations, the participants of the meeting allocated great attention to the closure of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP).
The President underscored that following the closure of the INPP and rehabilitation of thermal power plants, Lithuania’s dependence on one energy source will not be reduced. The electricity network of Lithuania is still connected to that of neighbouring countries, and the country still has neither a gas-main nor an oil-pipeline directed to the West, President Paksas said. He therefore underlined the necessity to interconnect the power grids, especially those of Lithuania and Poland. During his visit to Warsaw, President Paksas discussed the issue with the Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and agreed on holding in the near future a joint meeting of the ministers of respective countries.
In the context of discussion about transit to and from Kaliningrad, President Paksas underlined that the issue concerns not only Lithuania but also the whole of the EU and the Schengen area.
Lithuania has taken all possible measures to ensure timely and proper implementation of the EU-Russia joint statement on Kaliningrad transit of November 2002, President Paksas said.
The issues of transit should not overshadow Lithuania’s initiatives on long-term co-operation with the Kaliningrad region, as these initiatives could be a significant contribution of Lithuania to the development of the Baltic Sea region, the President said.
At the meeting with the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt President Paksas discussed the future of the European Union, the situation in Iraq and Lithuania’s preparation for the referendum on the European Union membership.
The head of Lithuania also visited on the same day the Lithuanian Embassy in Brussels and met with Lithuanians living in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
On the last day of the visit, March 21, President Paksas met with Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Vladimir Spidla.
The meeting focused on bilateral relations in the area of politics, economy and defence as well as on the process of transatlantic integration. President Paksas and the Czech Prime Minister also discussed possibilities for stepping up economic co-operation and for drawing up joint projects in the energy sector.
In the context of discussion about Lithuania’s integration into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, President Paksas expressed hope that the ratification of NATO Accession Protocols would meet no obstacles in the Czech parliament.
President Paksas extended an invitation to the Czech President Vaclav Klaus to attend the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the crowning of King Mindaugas of Lithuania on July 6th this year.
During the meeting with the Maltese Prime Minister Edward Fenech Adami the head of Lithuania discussed Lithuania’s preparation for the referendum on the European Union membership, bilateral economic co-operation and development of tourism.
President Paksas underlined that Lithuania is preparing very responsibly for the referendum on EU membership, which will take place on May 10-11. The head of Lithuania inquired about the course of the referendum in Malta and about the arguments that encouraged the major share of the Maltese population to attend the referendum and vote for their future.
According to Mr. Adami, the political parties of Malta made a substantial contribution to promoting active participation of the population in the referendum. Great attention was also allocated to communication with the people and explanation of the benefits of EU membership.
Having noted that membership in the EU will bring benefits for the people of Lithuania, President Paksas pledged to take action to ensure a high rate of participation in the forthcoming referendum. He also said he would work to ensure the broadest possible participation of non-governmental organisations, business associations, and the outstanding figures of culture and science in the campaign directed towards the supporters of EU membership and also rural residents.
In the context of discussion about prospects for economic co-operation, the President underlined the importance of a more active development of bilateral business ties and exchange of business delegations.
The participants of the meeting also touched upon the development of tourism in both countries.
President Paksas extended an invitation to the Maltese President Guido de Marco to attend the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the crowning of King Mindaugas of Lithuania on July 6th this year.
On the same day the President attended in Brussels a working luncheon of the heads of state and government of the European Union member states and candidates.
Over the past decades, the European Union achieved great progress towards unity, the President said. The EU has established the internal market, achieved the monetary union, and formed the Schengen area. However, the head of Lithuania noted the lack of political will for developing a foreign policy of the EU that would translate into reality.
“I have no doubt that the difficulties which the current EU member states have faced in the context of Iraq crisis will serve as yet another stimulus to present in the Convention proposals on adjusting the mechanism of the common EU foreign policy,” said the President.
President Paksas spoke against any attempts to juxtapose America with Europe. A strong transatlantic link, as well as a Europe strong and united, is extremely important in ensuring European security, the President said.
In reference to the referendum on EU membership that will take place in Lithuania on May 10-11, the President said he is convinced that the people of Lithuania will cast a yes-vote for membership.
The head of Lithuania also underlined the importance of the Lisbon process. In his words, an all-round economic co-operation is impossible without the development and interconnection of energy, transport and telecommunications infrastructure in an enlarged EU.
“This would create favourable conditions for our co-operation with the new neighbours,” said the head of Lithuania.
After the working luncheon the President departed for Lithuania.
Press Service of the President