On March 27 new Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis began a three-day official visit to Tbilisi. On Saturday he met Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze and discussed the further intensification of the relations between the two countries in various international formats and the participation of Lithuanian observers at the forthcoming Georgian local elections.
“Through this visit to Georgia at the commencement of his term of office Audronius Azubalis demonstrates the priorities of his foreign policy. He is interested in intensifying relations between our countries and helping us integrate with NATO and restore our territorial integrity. His visit is a sign of the political significance conferred by Lithuania and the Minister personally on relations with Georgia as a strategic partner,” Bakradze stated at a briefing after their meeting.
Azubalis stated that the strategic partnership between Georgia and Lithuania will continue for many years. He added that by participating in peace operations in Iraq and Afghanistan Georgia has proved that it not only needs aid itself but provides aid to others, and this is the core principle of NATO and of providing mutual security. Both sides agreed that strategic cooperation for security is important because it establishes stability throughout the world.
The two Ministers also commented on the Pentagon’s recent decision to provide Georgia with funding to help it prepare troops for NATO's Afghanistan operation. Both sides welcomed this, as this funding will also bolster the military forces of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Croatia and Hungary.
“Our American partners, with whom the Georgian battalion will serve in Afghanistan, want to make the mission as efficient as possible and improve the compatibility between Georgian and US units. Therefore it is natural that these units will undertake particular training and preparation. There is quite legitimate basis for doing this - the US-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership. Moreover, this is an international mission and all countries involved in it will enjoy the assistance NATO member countries provide to their partners,” Bakradze said.
“American servicemen are going to help strengthen the forces of Georgia, Lithuania and four other countries. Since regaining our independence we have always had good military relations with the US. We have also received support from that country. We were in Iraq and now our troops are in Afghanistan. With this we are trying to reinforce our security and stability,” the Lithuanian Foreign Minister stated.
Azubalis was due to hold meetings with President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, State Minister for the Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili and Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze as part of his visit.