On August 8-9 Chief of the Italian Defence General Staff General Claudio Graziano and a delegation conducted a working visit in Lithuania. Today the guest met with Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis, Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas and Vice Foreign Minister Darius Skusevičius.
“We highly appreciate Italy’s integrated approach to security and participation of Italian forces in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence in the region and the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states, and the comprehensive contribution to the security of the eastern flank of the Alliance,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said.
The meetings also addressed security situation in Southern and Eastern Europe, NATO enhanced Forward Presence in the region, NATO-EU cooperation and fight against terrorism.
At the meeting with Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen J. V. Žukas Gen C. Graziano assured that Italy understood the security situation in our region, therefore it will continue contributing to the NATO eFP in Latvia and the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states. The Generals also addressed cooperation opportunities in the fight against ISIS.
“We have been gradually increasing our contribution to Operation SOPHIA since 2015 with regard to the security situation and challenges in the Mediterranean. We intend to retain the contribution of 15 soldiers of the same size next year too,” Lt Gen J.V.Žukas said.
Lithuania has been taking part in the European Union Naval Force in the Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED/Sophia) since mid-2015: two Lithuanian officers completed a tour of duty last year as part of the operation aboard Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier of the Italian Navy and one Lithuanian officer serves at the operational HQ in Rome, Italy. Also, in March-August 2017 two rotations (3 months long) of the Vessel Boarding Team are deployed to Operation Sophia, the second VBT formed by twelve Lithuanian soldiers is currently serving aboard FGS Rhein.
The NATO Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan includes 5 Lithuanian soldiers serving alongside Italian colleagues at the Train, Advise and Assist Command (TAAC) West in Herat, and the total of 20 Lithuanian soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan.
Lithuanian and Italian militaries have been developing cooperation of different forms and extents for over 17 years.