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Hand in hand with NATO we are stronger than ever in our history, Minister of National Defence J. Olekas says


Video report (by Eugenijus Žygaitis)


On March 29 Lithuania celebrated its first decade in NATO. On Saturday at noon prompt a celebratory ceremony of hoisting Lithuanian and NATO flags took place in Simonas Daukantas Square, the Honour Guard Company presented a demonstration programme, gun salute was fired, and the U.S. Air Contingent currently deployed on NATO’s Air Policing mission in the Baltic States saluted Lithuania by a flyover.


At the event President of the Republic of Lithuania and Commander-in-Chief of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Dalia Grybauskaitė, Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas and Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius delivered congratulatory addresses to the nation.


“Ten years ago today Lithuania became a member of the most powerful defence Alliance worldwide. Today the Lithuanian Armed Forces are a part 2,000,000-strong NATO force. That is a tremendous power that deters even the most unregenerate aggressor,” Minister of National Defence J. Olekas said at the ceremony.


According to Minister, the Lithuanian Armed Forces had become professional, reliable and prepared for national defence in its own right and as well as alongside NATO allies better than ever before.


“Our soldiers hardened in international operations are the strength and treasure of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. We have become stronger through their dedication, the security of our nation and each and every one of us has become greater,” Minister of National Defence said.


“The ten-year running NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission is not only a security assurance but also a splendid example of the commitment to collective defence. As unrest have broken out in the close vicinity of Lithuania, our allies have strengthened the Baltic Air Policing mission by deploying additional fighter jets and now they stand ready to take any military measures that might be necessary to ensure the security of our country. That is an evident proof of the Alliance solidarity and the Alliance meeting its commitments,” Minister said stressing that NATO membership was one of the greatest Lithuania’s political achievements that we could justly be proud of, however, we also had to remember the responsibility for our decisions and the imperative to pay proper attention to national defence matters.


In a congratulatory address to the Lithuanian nation on the 10th anniversary of NATO membership Minister J.Olekas thanked the Lithuanian Armed Forces for their honourable service and the people of Lithuania for their support and understanding because NATO strength came not only from concerted activity of its 28 member states, but also from the solidarity of Lithuanian nation and military. “Together with NATO we are strong,” Minister of National Defence J.Olekas said.


The ceremony was also attended by members of the Parliament and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, Ambassadors of NATO and EU member states in Lithuania, Defence Attachés, and representatives of the Ministry of National Defence and the Lithuanian Armed Forces.


Lithuania became a member of the world’s strongest defence alliance when ratification documents of the North Atlantic Treaty were deposited in Washington (U.S.A.) on 29 March 2004. NATO membership is the foundation of Lithuania’s security policy. As a NATO member we are a part of a collective security system where allied solidarity, collective defence guarantees and commitments to one another are the underlying principle.


From the very first day of NATO membership NATO allies began protecting the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by deploying their military air assets and personnel on NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. Over the decade of membership as many as 14 NATO member states have rotated their air contingents 34 times to ensure that the Baltic airspace in protected.


Our allies respond immediately to the changes in security situation. The United States of America have sent additional 6 fighter jets to augment the Baltic Air Policing mission currently conducted by a U.S. Air Contingent, while Denmark, the United Kingdom and France have expressed an intent to do so in the future. Lithuania is ready to render all the necessary Host Nation Support for incoming forces in the event of necessity.



Photo credits: Alfredas Pliadis


Video presentation: „Lithuania – 10 years in NATO“ (by SGT SPC Lukas Kalvaitis )


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