President of the Republic of Lithuania

European security is a common interest of Lithuania and Italy

2018-05-04

Friday, May 4, Rome  President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella. The two heads of state placed particular emphasis on security issues, bilateral cooperation within the European Union and NATO as well as the expansion ties in culture, science and business. At the President’s invitation, Sergio Mattarella.will make a state visit to Lithuania this coming July.

According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Lithuania and Italy are linked not only by meaningful historical, cultural and people-to-people contacts, but also by their strong commitment to the future of Europe and common security. In the face of ongoing aggressive demonstration of military force, hybrid threats, terrorism and migration challenges, both countries understand that they can be overcome only by joint efforts.

Among the other issues discussed was European security and preparations for the upcoming NATO summit. NATO is the pillar of security for Lithuania and Italy. Therefore, a stronger Alliance that operates effectively in all directions is a common objective. Italy is making a considerable effort to reinforce NATO’s southern flank, but it is also well aware of the threats facing the Baltic states and contributes to addressing them. Italian troops serve in NATO's multinational forward presence battalion in Latvia, and the Italian air force has conducted several deployments in the Baltic air policing mission. Lithuania helps Italy to deal with the threats posed in the South. Our country contributes to NATO’s Strategic Direction South Hub, strengthening joint allied response to terrorism and radicalism in the Middle East and Africa. Lithuanian officers serve in Italian-led training headquarters in Afghanistan. These are examples of strong alliance unity - the cornerstone of collective security.

The two presidents reviewed bilateral cooperation within the European Union. Italy, like Lithuania, is a staunch supporter of European integration with a focus on the EU’s future. Both countries stand for strengthening security cooperation between member states without overlapping NATO and take an active part in joint EU defense projects (PESCO). The President invited Italy to join the cyber rapid response force formation initiated by Lithuania.

The presidents exchanged views on migration challenges affecting Italy. 630 thousand African refugees currently live in Italy. Lithuania fulfills its commitments to resolving the challenges of migration and, together with Italy, places special focus on the protection of EU’s external borders. This has already delivered results: the flow of refugees to Italy has diminished by 75 percent compared to the year before. Lithuania is increasing the number of its troops in the EU operation Sophia in the Mediterranean.

The meeting's agenda also covered energy security. Like Lithuania, Italy seeks to diversify its energy sources to the greatest possible extent and understands the actual threats posed by Russia’s geopolitical gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2. Italian experts are engaged in the activities of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence in Vilnius.

The presidents also addressed the further development of business, scientific and cultural relations. Italy is the fourth biggest economy in the European Union and an important trade partner. Bilateral trade has increased by 11 percent over the last year alone. Lithuanian cheese, milk and fish products are gaining popularity in Italy. There is also much potential for collaborative work in high technologies. Lithuania is a newly emerging hub of life sciences. In Italy, this sector generates 50 billion euros.

In Rome, Dalia Grybauskaitė will open the Lithuanian art festival “Flux” held under the joint patronage of the presidents of Lithuania and Italy. The ten-day long event will be present to the public more than 80 Lithuanian artists and performers. Cultural ties between the two countries will be further enhanced by two exhibitions in Lithuania co-patroned by the two presidents: “Masterpieces of the History of the Veneration of St. Casimir: Lithuania – Italy” at the Church Heritage Museum and “Renaissance and Baroque Florence” at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.  

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2018.05.04 14:54

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