Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta took part in the Lithuanian President’s Annual meeting with Ambassadors

Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta took part in the Lithuanian President’s Annual meeting with Ambassadors

Lithuanian President H.E.Gitanas Nausėda has met foreign Ambassadors on February 15th. H.E. Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Lithuania Christoph Count Calice took part in this meeting.

Here are the excerpts from the Lithuanian President’s Address to the Ambassadors:

It is an honor and a privilege to address you on the eve of the Day of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania. It provides an excellent opportunity to sincerely reflect on the existential importance of statehood for every nation around the globe in these very turbulent times.

Today, many of us are asking a fundamental question: Will the world manage NOT to cross the decisive point beyond which geopolitical processes would run out of control or become even irreversible?

I doubt anybody has a simple answer to that question. But I do believe that wisdom will carry us all through. In the meantime, the international community – individually and collectively – has a lot of urgent work to do. In terms of preparedness, resilience and unity.

Russia’s unprovoked, full-scale war in Ukraine has lasted for two years now. Russia’s pattern of behavior won’t change. It will remain the most significant and direct threat to Euro-Atlantic security. Russia will continue meddling in the Sahel, Middle East, Latin America – you name it. No illusions about that. Unfortunately, nothing can guarantee the success of joint international efforts not only to end Russia’s war in Ukraine but also to ensure that military aggression does not repeat in the future. Again, I firmly believe that this is not a hopeless job if done together.

Ukraine will remain the top priority of Lithuania’s foreign policy. We cannot allow war fatigue to spread across the international community. Personally, I am devoting a lot of effort to consolidate that attention.

Nevertheless, empathy and moral support alone are not enough to win this war. Clear strategy and commitment to Ukraine’s victory are needed throughout the international community. We must understand that Ukraine is keeping our countries away from the horrible destiny of Bucha, Mariupol, Bakhmut.

We welcome and strongly support the initiative of Volodymyr Zelenskyy – the Ukraine Peace Formula. I always emphasize the importance of its implementation as the only realistic plan for restoring a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace in Ukraine. It is of utmost importance to get the broadest possible international support for this Peace Formula.

To help others, we need to make sure our own security is strong, and our deterrence and defense credible. I wholeheartedly thank all Allies for strengthening our security and contributing forces and capabilities. I thank Germany for its decision to permanently deploy a brigade to Lithuania. We are ready to fulfill our commitment to build the necessary infrastructure by 2026. I thank the U. S. for their persistent presence in Lithuania. I devote special attention to our relations with Poland. We work united to strengthen regional security by holding joint military exercises, ensuring military mobility and strengthening the defense industry.

We must ensure that NATO remains THE strongest. The NATO Summit in Vilnius last July contributed significantly to this task and brought tangible results. For the first time in history, Lithuania hosted over 40 Heads of State and Government and their delegations.

At the Vilnius Summit Allies approved the new defense plans. A rotational air defense model was agreed. We committed to a new baseline for defense spending with 2 percent of GDP as a floor, not a ceiling. But our aim must go beyond that if we are serious about our defenses. Lithuania already allocates 2.75 percent of GDP for defense.

The perspective of Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance was confirmed. In this regard, the Vilnius Summit has opened a strategic opportunity. It is now up to us to agree on how to use that opportunity in a mutually beneficial way ahead of the Washington Summit.

I firmly believe that a strong transatlantic bond is an irreplaceable pillar of European security. There is no alternative to it. Of course, Europe must do more and become stronger in all its dimensions – especially in security and defense. But Europe cannot be separated from the transatlantic link with the United States. Unknowns and uncertainties of political cycles in Europe and across the Atlantic should not become an obstacle to developing our irreplaceable bonds. We must further build a trusted partnership with the U.S. We need to boost the EU-NATO cooperation. We simply have no other alternatives.

This year we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Lithuania’s membership in the EU and NATO. In 2027, we will preside over the EU for the second time. With all responsibility and determination, preparations for this important task have already started. The European agenda is of utmost importance to us.

Until June, European leaders should agree on the EU strategic agenda priorities for the next political cycle. Support for Ukraine, EU enlargement, defense and security, competitiveness and partnerships in the world, energy security, and fighting illegal migration will remain top priorities.

Last December, the European Council decided to start negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova and granted Georgia candidate status. Attention to Eastern partners and the Eastern Partnership policy will remain among Lithuania’s priorities. The success of European integration of the Western Balkans countries is also an important part of Lithuania’s foreign policy.

Strategic decisions must be followed and supported by relevant resources. I commend the European Council’s step to approve a 50 billion EUR macro-financial support package to Ukraine. I firmly believe that other countries will follow this excellent example, providing all necessary political, financial and military support to Ukraine.

The EU must continue to put pressure on Russia by strengthening sanctions. Also, by combating circumvention of sanctions, raising the issue of accountability of the aggressor and using frozen assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

It is important to adopt the 13th package of EU sanctions by 24 February to send a strong message to the Russian leadership.

Accountability for war crimes and the crime of aggression must be the focus of our efforts, too.

I commend the progress made by the G7 and the EU in discussions on the income generated from Russian immobilized assets to be transferred for the reconstruction of Ukraine. We should also continue working on finding ways to use Russia’s public and private assets for this purpose.

We must strengthen the capabilities of the EU defense industry. It is necessary to ensure both the sufficient supply of military equipment and ammunition to Ukraine, as well as the defense needs of the EU.

As an open economy, Lithuania is focusing on strengthening the EU single market, investing in innovations and building new international partnerships.

Economic diplomacy remains very high on my agenda. Lithuania is a very well-known name worldwide in laser technologies, life sciences, ICT, especially in cyber security, renewable energy, LNG development, fintech, and agriculture. The favorable business environment and highly skilled and experienced business professionals in Lithuania offer plenty of opportunities for cooperation. I invite all your countries to explore and use them.

Lithuania has become a leader both in the digitization of economic sectors and in energy security. We have eliminated energy dependence on Russia and cut imports of Russian natural gas, oil and electricity since 2022. Lithuania has transformed itself from total dependence on gas imports from a monopolistic supplier to a reliable regional gas hub, which provides competitive gas to other countries. Our plan is to become a self-sufficient green energy producer in electricity by 2030.

Lithuania proudly holds the Presidency of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) – a vibrant regional cooperation format of like-minded countries between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas. On April 11, Lithuania will host yet another highest-level event – the 9th 3SI Summit. It will be accompanied by the 3SI Business Forum and International Transport Forum. The 3SI is part of wider European and global efforts of democratic countries to drive the market and investments into trusted connectivity regionally and globally.

Recently the Indo-Pacific has also become an important element of Lithuania’s economic and foreign policy. Lithuania has approved the Indo-Pacific Strategy with the overarching goal to enhance Lithuania’s engagement in the region. Our regions are becoming more and more connected also in terms of security. Broadening like-minded partnerships is beneficial to all of us. Hosting the leaders of Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand at the NATO Summit in Vilnius was an excellent proof of this.

The increasing number of global crises and conflicts is coupled with a diminishing effectiveness of multilateral cooperation. In this context, Lithuania stands firm in its belief that effective multilateralism offers a credible response to the diverse challenges of today’s world. I would like to emphasize the critical necessity for both multilateralism and international organizations to adapt appropriately to effectively operate within shifting parameters.

Lithuania will further strive to promote multilateralism by exercising its role as an elected member of the Human Rights Council and by actively applying for positions in multilateral bodies. In May, Lithuania will assume the Presidency of the Council of Europe. Lithuania will focus on promoting and safeguarding democratic values and principles, with a particular emphasis on supporting Ukraine and ensuring Russia’s accountability. It is imperative that Russia’s accountability is made unavoidable.

The very fact that so many conflicts have recently broken out in the world shows that geopolitical empathy – between neighbors, partners and allies – is drastically diminishing. This is a very dangerous tendency that brings no one any good.

But that is why the whole concept of diplomacy was designed and developed throughout the centuries.

We all know the healing power of cultural diplomacy. In 2024, the voice of Lithuania’s culture will resonate loud and inviting. In March, the Lithuanian Season in France will be opened.

In July we will be marking a unique anniversary – the centenary of the Lithuanian Song Festival, which is recognized as heritage by UNESCO.

We have to find ways for all varieties of attitudes, concepts, choices, principles, deliberations, philosophies, and beliefs to co-exist. And to find necessary solutions. No matter what. We must empower diplomacy to the maximum, along with the readiness to defend universal values and principles. We have a moral obligation to stay on the right side of history.

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