Prime Minister Skvernelis, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to NATO and to the new NATO HQ and the new building.
We have just had an excellent meeting where we talked about the security situation we face and how NATO continues to adapt.
So Prime Minister, I really appreciate your strong personal commitment to NATO. And I also want to thank Lithuania for its valuable contributions to the Alliance.
Your troops help build security in Afghanistan and in Kosovo. Lithuania is host nation to NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Lithuania, boosting our defence and deterrence. And you share expertise on energy security through the NATO Centre of Excellence in Vilnius.
Lithuania also leads by example on defence spending. Investing in major equipment. And committing to spend 2% of GDP on defence this year.
So Lithuania’s support for NATO is strong. And NATO’s support for Lithuania is just as strong. Allied jets keep your skies safe. Allied ships keep the Baltic Sea secure. And NATO’s battlegroups in the region prevent conflict and preserve the peace. This shows the strength and unity of our Alliance. Forces from Europe and North America standing together, defending each other.
Today, Lithuania is leading exercise Iron Wolf. Bringing together thirteen Allies, providing training for one of our four battlegroups in the region. I want to thank you for hosting this exercise, giving NATO troops the chance to train together and to test our military mobility. Such exercises are part of the Alliance’s strengthened defence and deterrence.
We are also working to raise the readiness of our forces. To increase our ability to move them across the Atlantic and within Europe.
And to modernise our command structure. So that it will remain able to deal with the threats we face.
Prime Minister, this year, Lithuania celebrates one hundred years of independence. And as we see, Lithuania is in NATO, and NATO is in Lithuania.
NATO safeguards your independence and your security. As it does for every Ally.
So once again, welcome, it’s a great honour to have you here and it’s great to be able to show you the new NATO Headquarters.
[Remarks by the Prime Minister of Lithuania]
Q (Belarus TV): Some days ago, the former head of NATO, Mr. Rasmussen, said that after Ukraine and Georgia, NATO is ready to admit Belarus, but for this it’s necessary to change the power and leadership in this country…for democratic. Does NATO share this position? How do you comment on this statement?
Secretary General: I will not speculate about that. We are now in a very close partnership with Georgia and Ukraine. Georgia is a close partner we have worked with for many years. Also Ukraine. And I will not speculate about what may happen after we have addressed the issue of membership related to these two countries. We have strong statements and positions on that from several NATO Summits and I don’t have anything to add to what we have said about that earlier.
Prime Minister of Lithuania: I believe that this is the matter of self-determination of each sovereign state. Georgia and Ukraine have made up their minds to follow this direction and we have to support this independent aspiration of these sovereign states to become members of NATO. As regards Belarus, if the state makes up its mind at any time, then probably it would apply and then we would consider.