|Updated: 21-Nov-2002||NATO Speeches|
by H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to express my deep appreciation for the decision taken today
by Heads of State and Government of the NATO Member States to invite Lithuania
to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. This historic
decision brings us closer to our common vision of a Europe whole and free,
a Europe with a strong and sound transatlantic link. As the last round
of NATO enlargement demonstrated, a stable democratic Europe is the best
neighbour anyone can have. Security and stability benefits all.
Today you have recognised Lithuania's transformation to an open society
and market economy. You have sent a powerful message to the Lithuanian
people, who have been striving to reach their integration goals. You have
acknowledged my country as a credible ally. This historic recognition
not only consolidates our democracy, but inspires us to keep working shoulder
to shoulder -as a true ally - in the interest of peace in Europe and the
We fully understand that today's decision marks not the end, but rather
the beginning of a new era. No matter how convincing our achievements
are to date, there is still much to be done. Let me reassure you that
internal reforms will continue and they will be matched by strong political
will and adequate resources.
Lithuania wants to become a member of a strong and effective Alliance.
We will make sure that our membership strengthens the Alliance's capability
to perform present tasks and take on new ones. This remains the focus
of our defence reform. We are committed to developing more flexible, adaptable
and mobile forces, which will be part of the future NATO Response Force
and will continue to contribute to the full spectrum of Alliance missions.
We recognise the importance of NATO's transformation efforts, including
the "Prague Capabilities Commitment". We support the implementation
of this initiative, which will give the Alliance the tools it needs to
adapt to new security challenges, to respond to new threats, to create
new capabilities and to project stability wherever it is needed. Lithuania
stands ready to contribute.
Finally, allow me to underline the political importance of the open door
policy. It is in our strategic interest to increase stability and security
in the Euro-Atlantic area. We look forward to co-operating with countries
aspiring for membership and sharing the experience and spirit of solidarity,
which served us so well in the Vilnius Group.