Readiness in focus during NATO Secretary General visit to Lithuania and address to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday (29 May 2014) thanked President Dalia Grybauskaité for Lithuania’s strong commitment as it marks ten years since it joined the Alliance. During a visit to Vilnius, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said: “We are grateful for your contributions to NATO operations, particularly in Afghanistan, for your role in Smart Defence projects for key capabilities such as surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance, and for your leadership on energy security.”
Describing Russia's aggression against Ukraine as a "game-changer," the Secretary General stressed: "What does not change is NATO’s core task: to defend and protect our Allies against attack. And make no mistake: NATO will defend every part of the Alliance. No Ally stands alone." He highlighted the measures already taken to reinforce collective defences, with a strong focus on the Baltic region, and stated: "Every single plane, ship and exercise shows that NATO is serious about defending our Allies. And today I can announce that every single Ally is contributing in different ways. One for all, all for one. 28 for 28. This is true solidarity in action."
Asked by Lithuanian media if he had seen signs of a Russian withdrawal from Ukraine's borders, the Secretary General said: "We have seen some signs of a start of Russian withdrawal. Actually, maybe around two thirds have now pulled back - and of course we welcome that. However there are still quite a number of Russian troops ready to take action if a political decision is taken. So we continue to call on Russia to stop supporting armed pro-Russian gangs and seal the border, so that we don't see arms and fighters crossing into Ukraine."
During the visit, President Grybauskaitė granted the NATO Secretary General one of Lithuania’s highest honours, the Order of Vytautas the Great.
The Secretary General also addressed the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Spring Session in Vilnius on the long-term implications of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on Alliance security. “Next week, with Allied Defence Ministers, we will discuss a readiness action plan in preparation for our Summit in September," he said. "This includes a review of our defence plans, of our force posture, of the size, scenarios and schedule for our exercises, and of the possibility of additional deployments.” The Secretary General stressed that these measures are entirely defensive, in line with NATO's duty to defend and deter against any threat, and with the Alliance's international obligations and commitments.
At the end of the visit the NATO Secretary General will be awarded the title of the Honorary Doctor of the Kaunas University of Technology.