NATO Must Guarantee The Deterrent And Security Of Its Member Countries, Lithuania’s Minister Of Foreign Affairs Says

On 22-23 April at the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn, NATO’s new Strategic Concept that should be agreed on in November during the Lisbon Summit was discussed.

At the meeting, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis spoke up for maintaining Alliance’s ability to guarantee an effective deterrent and security of its member countries.

“It is not enough to declare the principle of defence. This must be implementable in practice through developing capacities, organizing manoeuvres and a variety of training, as well as gradually building a well-balanced NATO infrastructure in all of its member countries. Lithuania understands training not as something that is unique or meant to reassure, but as a necessity of regular military exercises, i.e., joint exercise for NATO forces that would allow for greater interaction of military forces and political alliance of member countries,” the Minister said.

According to Minister A.Ažubalis, Lithuania’s interest in the preparation of NATO’s new Strategic Concept is not limited just to the defence of the Baltic States, because such an attitude would be too selfish and narrow.

“In the new document, Lithuania and its allies aim to set an entirety of the Alliance’s goals and objectives, which would integrally estimate the strategic security environment and perspectives of change, and would outline the directions for building the Alliance’s forces. In any case, Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty must remain the fundamental element of the new Concept,” the Minister stressed.

When commenting on public interpretations of the Baltic Defence plans, the Minister said that this topic should not be discussed in public.

NATO ministers discussed the issues of Alliance’s development. Lithuania once again stressed the importance of the open door principle and the need to aid candidate countries to prepare for NATO membership.

After a longish debate, a short formal session was held during which NATO foreign ministers decided to invite Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the Membership Action Plan, if it achieved the necessary progress in its reform efforts.

When discussing how to take forward the Alliance’s nuclear posture, the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty by the U.S. and Russia was positively evaluated, as well as the process of strategic nuclear arms reduction.

When speaking about this issue, Lithuania’s Minister emphasized the need to maintain a proper balance in nuclear and conventional weapons, to avoid decreasing the security of NATO member countries.

When discussing the Alliance’s relations with Russia, Minister A.Ažubalis said that positive signs in Russia were observable and it would be a mistake to ignore them. However, the Minister pointed out to the ambiguity of the situation regarding Russia’s actions in Georgia, where the country fails to comply with its international obligations and builds its military infrastructure.

In Tallinn, Minister A.Ažubalis had a conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Minister thanked the U.S.A. for the attention that is paid to Lithuania and suggested to discuss in more detail the upcoming Lithuania’s Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), for which the Government of Lithuania is preparing very responsibly.

H.Clinton estimates that in 2011 Lithuania will face difficult work within this organization. She also positively evaluated Lithuania’s Presidency of the Community of Democracies and promised to participate personally in the events of this Community.

Last July, Lithuania took over the two-year Presidency of the Community of Democracies which brings together over 100 democratic countries.
Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Of The Republic Of Lithuania