VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Wednesday presented Lithuanian state awards to Mark Thomas Esper, a former US secretary of defense, and Antonio da Silva Ribeiro, who has just completed his service as Portugal's chief of defense.
Both of them were awarded the Cross of Commander of the Order for Merits to Lithuania on the occasion of February 16, the State Restoration Day.
Esper, who served as secretary of defense in President Donald Trump's administration from July 2019 to November 2020, was awarded for his contribution to strengthening strategic defense cooperation between the US and Lithuania and for his efforts to reinforce security commitments in Lithuania.
Ribeiro, who has recently retired as the Chief of the General Staff of the Portuguese Armed Forces, was awarded for his special merits in fostering and developing relations between Lithuania and Portugal, and for his professionalism and personal contribution to the formulation and implementation of Lithuania's security policy.
State awards are usually presented on February 16, but not all the recipients are able to attend the ceremony in Vilnius.