President of the Republic of Lithuania

Strong and renewed NATO is our common interest

2017-05-25

Thursday, 25 May, Brussels – President Dalia Grybauskaitė, together with the leaders from 27 NATO member countries, discussed further enhancement of the Alliance’s defense capabilities, adequate funding for defense and fight against the growing threat of terrorism.

At the beginning of the Summit, a new NATO headquarters building and the Berlin Wall and 9/11 memorials, symbolizing transatlantic unity, were unveiled in the presence of King Philippe of the Belgians. After the 11 September 2001 terror attack in New York, Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, enshrining the core principle of NATO’s collective defense, was invoked for the first and only time.

Heads of state and government of NATO member countries supported the decision for the Alliance as an organization to become part of the coalition fighting against ISIS. According to the President, the tragedies in Manchester, Paris, Brussels, and other cities of Europe have clearly demonstrated that the threat of terrorism was very close to the people of Europe and defeating it requires concerted efforts of NATO and of entire international community.

In the discussion on further strengthening the Alliance’s defense, the President underscored that a strong, well-prepared and rapidly acting NATO was a common goal. Russia continues intensive militarization at NATO's eastern borders, deploys tactical weapons and practices scenarios against the West. A wide scale offensive military exercise Zapad 2017 is planned for this coming autumn. Russia’s aggressive and unpredictable behavior makes it necessary for the Alliance to respond adequately to the emerging threats and strengthen its military readiness and defense capabilities.

Dalia Grybauskaitė said that it was paramount to regularly update NATO's defense plans, develop military scenarios and reform NATO’s decision-making process by speeding it up and delegating some of the powers to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

According to the President, the second task is to ensure that the Allies’ assistance reaches the Baltic states if the need arises. This requires establishing regional air defense and finding solutions precluding possible military isolation of the region.

Since the main conventional threat to the security of the Alliance comes from the East, the President said, NATO forces and heavy equipment need to be geographically relocated accordingly. Currently, NATO military forces are positioned according to the outdated Cold War logic – mostly in Europe’s West and South. It is necessary to ensure a permanent deployment of allied troops and the prepositioning of heavy equipment to be used by NATO’s rapid response force if needed.

According to the President, Lithuania highly values solidarity demonstrated by the United States and other NATO allies as well as their direct contribution to the security of Lithuania. The first NATO forward presence battlegroup shift is under final stages of formation in Lithuania. American troops and heavy equipment continuously rotate in the region. The U.S. is increasing funding for the European Deterrence Initiative by one third to reach 4.8 billion dollars next year. 

At the meeting, the President underscored that every member’s commitment is to make its contribution to enhancing NATO through appropriate defense funding and modernization of military forces. Lithuania’s defense spending will exceed two-percent   of its GDP already next year. In the area of modernization, Lithuania is among the leaders and substantially exceeds NATO’s benchmark of 20 percent of defense spending for modernization, keeping it at 30 percent.

According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, it is necessary to enhance the role of NATO in fighting unconventional threats, countering cyber and information attacks. The President also underscored that NATO has to maintain its open door policy for nations that aspire and are ready for membership. The President expressed support for Georgia’s and Ukraine’s aspiration to become the members of the transatlantic community. 

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2017.05.26 08:48

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