The Euro-Atlantic Partnership
for the 21st Century
Address by President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania
Mr. Secretary General,
Since its founding at the 1949 Washington meeting, NATO has devoted itself to the defense of shared values, such as Freedom, Democracy, Individual Liberty and the Rule of Law.
NATO achieved this by promoting solidarity and stability and reconciling deep-seated enmities in Europe.
NATO's defense of these values was no less important to the captive nations of Europe, which saw NATO as a testament to the simple truth that violence and injustice cannot suppress a people's determination to create a free and democratic society.
Today we witness a renewed NATO ready for the next millennium.
The inclusion of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic testifies to that.
The Kosovo crisis demonstrates that Europe needs a strong, cohesive and decisive Alliance, which not only protects, but defends shared values.
NATO has no other choice but to act to stop the genocide and ethnic cleansing by Yugoslav forces against the Kosovo Albanians. Lithuania supports NATO's objectives and has joined the international community to ease the suffering of these refugees. We also join EU and NATO in implementing the embargo on petroleum products to Yugoslavia.
The Kosovo conflict reminds us of the contribution that further NATO enlargement will make to the consolidation of stability in Europe.
Further NATO enlargement is essential to consolidate the democratic achievements of the candidate countries.
We welcome the Washington Summit decisions - explicit recognition of aspirant members, the adoption of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) and review process of candidate readiness to assume membership requirements. All this gives substance to the open door policy and reaffirms the openness and willingness of NATO to invite new members.
In preparing to implement the MAP in the most efficient manner, Lithuania has already established a Co-ordination Commission on Integration to NATO, which will allow us to better prepare for membership.
Lithuania will redouble its efforts to be the best-qualified candidate for the second round of enlargement. This obligation, freely undertaken, is a matter of both conscience and honor and we already see ourselves as a serious candidate for NATO membership. We continue to modernize our defense forces and through active diplomacy promote good neighborly relations. This is our contribution to stability in Europe.
I am confident that new NATO will bring further peace, stability and prosperity to Central Europe, as it has been doing for the Western part of the continent for the last fifty years.
This is indeed the direction, which NATO is taking today, through new missions and through the policy of continuous enlargement.