VILNIUS - Sweden's NATO membership would be the first element of success of the NATO summit to be held in Vilnius in July, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.
"I would define being here in Stockholm that I cannot go anywhere without saying the first parameter of success is being able to raise the Swedish flag among other 31 flags of NATO members," he said on Thursday, speaking at the "Road to Vilnius" conference organized by Atlantic Council, a US think-tank, in Sweden, in partnership with the Lithuanian, German and Portuguese Embassies in Sweden.
"I am going to devote my time from now as foreign minister until Vilnius (summit – BNS) to move around and talk with other governments and foreign ministers to maintain the Swedish case high on the agenda and show the good case that we have (...). We have high hopes prior to Vilnius that we will become members," Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said.
Finland and its neighbor Sweden ended their decade-ling policy of military non-alignment and decided to join NATO in May after Russia invaded Ukraine.
NATO allies Turkey and Hungary – each for their own reasons – long delayed Finland's accession and are still blocking Sweden's membership. Finland joined NATO on April 4.
The Lithuanian minister also stressed the importance of defining Ukraine's political path towards the Alliance during the summit.
"I would say that one of the parameters of success in Vilnius is to able to say that Ukraine is moving on its path towards NATO," Landsbergis said.
As Ukraine seeks NATO membership, the country's President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the country understands that it will not be able to join NATO while still fighting Russia.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has noted that the NATO summit in Lithuania in July will set out plans for a multi-annual support program for Ukraine.
"The next parameter of success in Vilnius, if we measure what we managed to achieve in Madrid, is the security of the eastern flank," he added.
The agenda for the NATO summit in Vilnius includes ways to strengthen NATO's collective defense and deterrence and increase support to Ukraine. Allies will discuss defense investment priorities and need to ensure that NATO remains the strongest defense alliance.