Lithuania and Poland cherish strategic partnership

  • 2000-12-07
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
LISKIAVA - Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his delegation arrived in two helicopters on Dec. 1 at the spa resort of Druskininkai, which is a twohour drive southwest of Vilnius.

Kwasniewski and Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus went to the nearby town of Liskiava where in the baroque monastery they discussed mutual cooperation, further enlargement of NATO and the European Union.

"Lithuania will remain our strategic partner. We want to see Lithuania joining NATO in the second wave of the alliance's expansion [in 2002]," Kwasniewski told journalists following the meeting.

Kwasniewski, whose country joined NATO in 1998, urged for developed military cooperation-operation between both countries and spoke about a plan to send joint a Lithuanian-Polish battalion on a peacekeeping mission to Kosovo next year.

Kwasniewski said that Poland expects an invitation to join the EU in 2003, while Lithuanian officials were speaking of their plans to join in 2004. "Maybe, we are less optimistic, but we believe that Lithuania and Poland will be members of the EU," Adamkus said.

The presidents also discussed building an electric power bridge from Lithuania to Poland. Lithuania has an overproduction of electricity while some regions of Poland have a shortage. Lithuania also would like to export its electricity further to the west via Poland. Both presidents agree that such a power bridge should be built next year.

"It is enough to discuss and study projects of a power bridge. It is time to act. I think that construction work will start in the spring," Adamkus said.

While both pre-sidents were negotiating in Liskiava, their wives, Jolanta Kwasniew-ska and Alma Adamkiene, were visiting Druskininkai. Later, Kwasniewski and Adamkus joined them and they visited the monument of painter and composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis and the former house of Jozef Pilsudski, a Polish leader of Lithuanian origin, who played a key role in re-establishment of Polish independence in 1918. Kwasniewski himself has family roots in Vilnius.

Kwasniewski is a regular guest in Lithuania and met with former President Algirdas Brazauskas many times.

Adamkus and Kwasniewski have had some 30 meetings already, but this was Kwasniewski's first foreign visit since he won a second term as president on Oct. 8.

It has been a tradition since independence for the newly elected Polish president and prime minister to pay their first official foreign visits to Lithuania.

The same rule applies to newly elected Lithuanian leaders. Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas traveled to Warsaw on his first foreign visit on Dec. 5.