VILNIUS - Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who was attending the NATO Summit in Chicago, underlined that at this summit Lithuania had achieved and reaffirmed all the goals it had sought in order to ensure the security of Lithuania and its people, reports ELTA. Decisions taken at the Summit include the extension of NATO’s Air Policing mission indefinitely, collective defense guarantees (in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty), approved measures to implement contingency plans, no division into missile defense sectors, and the protection of Allies by a full-fledged, effective and independent NATO missile defense system.
“This NATO Summit is the most successful and results-yielding for the Baltic States. The achievements over the recent three years are really impressive. Lithuania’s membership in NATO becomes real and full-fledged. At last, we have clear and specific security guarantees that we will be protected and defended. The Lithuanian people can feel safe,” Grybauskaite said.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in his speech at the North Atlantic Council, also voiced strong support for the Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States. At the NATO Summit, this mission was designated as one of the most successful examples of NATO solidarity. For their part, the Baltic countries announced that they were increasing their contribution to the mission.
The Alliance also supported at the highest level Lithuania’s aspirations to have the Vilnius-based Energy Security Center (established in 2012) accredited with NATO as a center of excellence and to complete the accreditation process as soon as possible.
The Summit reaffirmed NATO’s focus on the intensifying militarization in Kaliningrad. According to the president, NATO is prepared to strengthen cooperation with Russia, but there must be reciprocity. Grybauskaite stressed that intensive militarization at the borders of the Alliance is in contradiction to Russia’s declared aspiration to develop a strategic partnership with NATO.
On the last day of the NATO Summit, May 22, Latvian President Andris Berzins, Grybauskaite and Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met with Obama for a joint photo session. The Baltic leaders thanked the U.S. president for the Alliance’s decision to make its Baltic Air Policing mission permanent.
Berzins emphasized the importance of the development of the Northern Distribution Network for the Alliance’s current needs in Afghanistan and also post-2014, when security responsibilities will be handed over to the Afghan authorities.
The Baltic countries have resolved to allot more money for the Air Policing mission; however, the mission will still cost much less, and be much more efficient, than if the Baltic countries had to ensure air space patrols themselves.
Fighter planes from various NATO member states have been patrolling the Baltic air space since 2004, operating from a Lithuanian Air Force base in Siauliai.