VILNIUS - Minister of National Defense Rasa Jukneviciene and her Swedish counterpart Karin Enstrom met in Stockholm and agreed on a common Swedish and Lithuanian vision of security - countries that surround the Baltic Sea must be together responsible for security and peace in the region, reports ELTA.
“Sweden abandoning its neutral policy and the Declaration of Solidarity are very important to us. We have to solve emerging challenges together. We will not be passive if a neighbor is in trouble and we expect the same from neighboring countries,” Enstrom said.
Both ministers emphasized the necessity to maintain a strong transatlantic relationship and strong NATO collective defense commitments to the region.
In addition, the ministers praised increasing Nordic-Baltic cooperation and discussed Lithuania’s opportunities to join the EU Nordic Battlegroup in 2015. Swedish Defense Minister Enstrom also said he appreciates Lithuania’s efforts in drawing the EU’s attention to the Eastern neighbor policy by naming it as one of the priorities of Lithuania’s presidency of the EU.
The ministers also discussed the situation of security in the region. Jukneviciene drew attention to the military reform currently being introduced in Russia.
NATO operations in Afghanistan were also discussed during the meeting.
Jukneviciene invited Sweden to use its country’s transit services while transporting cargo from and to Afghanistan.
On May 3, Irena Degutiene, Speaker of the Seimas, met with Senator John McCain, member of United States Senate Committee on Armed Services and former Republican presidential candidate, on his visit to Vilnius. The focus of the meeting was on bilateral Lithuanian-U.S. relations, regional security, and an initiative to sign an accord among the Lithuanian parliamentary political parties on adequate defense spending.
Degutiene underscored that she had already initiated discussions among the leaders of the parliamentary political parties on guaranteeing adequate defense spending, which was the commitment of Lithuania undertaken upon its accession to NATO.
“The strengthening of NATO visibility - regular military exercises, training, and the air policing mission - in the Baltic States is the Alliance’s appropriate response to military buildup of NATO non-member states in the region. Of course, Lithuania should also fulfill its commitments; I hope that in the near future our parliamentary political parties will likewise succeed in reaching and signing an accord on adequate defense spending, the discussion thereon having been initiated by me some time ago,” she said.
The U.S. Senator hoped that the parties would successfully sign the accord and expressed his appreciation of Lithuania’s contribution to the mission in Afghanistan and of military competences of Lithuanian troops.
The discussion also covered the situation in Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine as well as the Eastern Neighborhood and other countries of the region.
Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Azubalis met with McCain to discuss preparations for the Chicago NATO Summit and the promotion of democratic values in Eastern Europe. The conversation also focused on the NATO air police mission in the Baltic countries, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) cargo transit via Lithuania to Afghanistan, relations with Russia, promotion of democracy in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.
Azubalis thanked McCain for his personal long-term support for Lithuania’s aspirations.
According to the minister, the senator is a dear and faithful friend of Lithuania, who consistently supported the country’s aspirations for statehood consolidation and transatlantic integration.
“Now we will make use of the experience that we have gained and in cooperation with the international community we will try to find ways to increase support for democracy in Belarus and Russia, and to provide the backup for the Euro-integration aspirations of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia,” Azubalis said.