BERLIN – President Gitanas Nauseda says that Chancellor Olaf Scholz and he have agreed on the gradual deployment of a German brigade in Lithuania and that he will seek its presence in the country "as early as in 2026".
"We agreed that the process should be gradual and that Germany is committed to increasing its military presence in Lithuania, depending on the steps we take in terms of infrastructure implementation," he told BNS in Berlin after Thursday's meeting with the chancellor.
The two leaders last year signed a communiqué on the deployment of a German brigade in Lithuania. However, Vilnius and Berlin differ on the extent to which the military unit should be deployed.
Vilnius is seeking the permanent presence of a full-sized brigade in the country, but Berlin has so far only deployed its forward command element and says that part of the brigade will be stationed in Lithuania and part will stay in Germany.
"I like the formula that I proposed and the chancellor agreed: Lithuania does its homework, takes steps and is rewarded for it with a corresponding German reaction, in other words, an ever greater military presence on Lithuanian territory," said Nauseda.
"Infrastructure is not built to stand idle," he added.
The president expects the infrastructure needed to host the German brigade to be in place in by 2026.
"We on our part will do the most to create the conditions required for the deployment of a German brigade as early as in 2026," his office quoted him as saying in a press release.
Nauseda said that Scholz and he had agreed that Germany's commitment to deploy the brigade and Lithuania's steps to create the necessary infrastructure "must be parallel processes".
"No doubt, these processes have to be parallel, so in this sense I do not see any major contradictions and I hope that we will be able to move forward step by step," he said.
The president said that he had briefed the chancellor on Lithuania's projects, such as the construction of the Rudninkai military training area and "other places that we have identified".
Lithuania estimates that the construction of the 17,000-hectare training area and the necessary road infrastructure will cost 260 million euros.
As part of preparations to host the brigade, Lithuania also plans to expand barracks in Rukla, where the German-led multinational battalion is currently based.