Vilnius, March 12th. President Rolnadas Paksas of the Republic of Lithuania met today NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
The meeting focused on Lithuania’s ability to deliver obligations arising from NATO membership, its active participation in the activities of the Alliance, air policing issues as well as Lithuania-NATO-Russia relations.
The Lithuanian President congratulated the high guest on stepping into new office. He further noted the symbolic timing of the visit of NATO Secretary General, which coincides with Lithuania’s full membership of the Alliance. The President of the Republic underlined that Lithuania’s accession to NATO is the pinnacle of all efforts taken to consolidate the regained independence.
The NATO Secretary General noted with satisfaction that he was visiting Lithuania after the historic moment of ratification of the Washington Treaty in the Parliament of Lithuania. At the meeting of foreign ministers of the NATO old and new member states in Brussels on 2 April, Lithuania and the other new countries will be formally declared full-fledged members of the Alliance.
The Lithuanian President underscored that Lithuania’s successful preparation for the membership of NATO could be largely attributed to the consensus of the mainstream political parties on the key goals of the country’s foreign policy and a broad public support.
The President of the Republic assured that Lithuania was determined to continue democratic market, defence and other reforms and prolong the political agreement on allocating 2 per cent of the gross domestic product for defence needs. The President of the Republic gave a strong position on that in his address to the Seimas on the day before the ratification of the Washington Treaty.
“We link our security to membership of NATO that should be effective and united, and capable of dealing with both the old and the new threats,” the President of Lithuania said in his speech. He further assured of Lithuania’s responsibility for a successful work of the Alliance.
President Rolandas Paksas underlined that Lithuania would continue its efforts to further enhance security and stability in the region, and pledged to promote constructive co-operation with neighbours, to strengthen the security of the Baltic region and to contribute to the development of NATO’s partnership with the South Caucasus, Ukraine and its other partners.
The Lithuanian leader expressed support for the open door policy of the Alliance and stated his belief that any European democracy should have a possibility to forge a closer relationship with the Alliance. He also assured of Lithuania’s continued commitment to the spirit and objectives of the Vilnius Ten Group.
Other issues discussed during the meeting included air defence. The President of the Republic supported the need to ensure adequate defence of the air space since the very first day of membership in the Alliance. He thanked NATO Secretary General for a consistent support for Lithuania and the other Baltic countries in this area.
The NATO Secretary General underlined that upon Lithuania’s accession to NATO on 2 April this year, Lithuania’s air space will make part of the Alliance air space, and therefore one should talk about the defence of NATO rather than Lithuania’s air space.
The President ofthe Republic assured NATO Secretary General of the country’s readiness to contribute its share to the development of the necessary infrastructure.
“In the face of new threats and given new needs of the Alliance, Lithuania will focus in its defence reform on the development of mobile and deployable forces,” the President of Lithuania said.
In the context of Lithuania’s participation in NATO-led multinational missions and operations, the President of the Republic highlighted the Alliance’s mission in Afghanistan, and noted that NATO’s role in Iraq could be given consideration.
In reference to the relations with Russia, President Rolandas Paksas stated that enforcement of the Border Treaty with Russia completed the development of the bilateral legal framework. He further added that currently pragmatic relations with Russia will acquire new quality after Lithuania joins the common framework of the development of relations with this country under the two formats of the EU-Russia and NATO-Russia.
A constructive character of the relations with Russia is best reflected by the decisions taken within the triangle talks of Lithuania, Russia and the European Union on travel of Russian citizens to and from the Kaliningrad region.
The President of the Republic noted with satisfaction the unanimous position of the North Atlantic Alliance on the participation of the new allies since their first days of membership in the NATO-Russia Council. “We are committed to be active and constructive members of this Council of 27,” President of Lithuania said.
NATO Secretary General informed of having invited newly appointed foreign minister of Russia to the meeting of foreign ministers of NATO member states due to take place in Brussels on 2 April this spring.
Press Service of the President