VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Lansbergis says he doesn’t believe Irish President Michael D. Higgins referred to Lithuania in a negative context when he urged the country to adopt a neutral security and defense policy.
"I wouldn't say (it's a negative context – BNS), I would say it's about the security situation. Lithuania is in a region that is vulnerable and close to aggressive neighbors, and there is a lot of emphasis on defense and the need to strengthen it, and that's why the comparison is being made," Landsbergis told reporters on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Business Post, ahead of the opening of a series of public consultations on defense policy and neutrality, Higgins called such a debate "playing with fire".
In the interview, the Irish president also highlighted the country's "positive neutrality", adding that as the government started to question it, "there’s no difference between you and Lithuania and Latvia".
Commenting on this statement, Landsbergis said that every country has the right to choose its own way of ensuring its security, whether it is a military alliance or maintaining neutrality, and such discussions are a natural consequence of changes in the security situation in Europe.
"I am familiar with the discussion that is taking place in Ireland as the country sees the emerging security challenges, it is a North Atlantic country, although not part of the Alliance, and they are having that discussion, but it is entirely part of their sovereignty to decide how they see their security," Landsbergis said.