by Mr. Antanas
Valionis, Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr. Secretary General,
Cooperation within the framework of EAPC is being successfully explored
in the areas of political consultations, information exchange, expertise
sharing and confidence building in its broadest sense. All these cooperative
activities enhance confidence and indeed strengthen security we all in
the EAPC community share.
The most visible advantage of EAPC has always been its flexibility as
well as its practical focus. The best example of such creativity is the
importance our Council attaches to regional cooperation. We fully share
the idea that regional cooperative efforts contribute to the stability
and security of all European countries.
Lithuania belongs to the Baltic Sea area that is one of the most dynamic,
vibrant and open regions in Europe. Indeed, all partners in the region
have established and developed the whole set of cooperation patterns,
ranging from cross-border cooperation, people to people contacts, education
and economic-social projects to a number of confidence and security enhancing
measures. Moreover, we are happy to share the experience of trilateral
Lithuanian-Estonian-Latvian cooperation through the so-called BALT projects
with our partners in the South-Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.
Lithuania has an extensive and productive bilateral agenda with Poland.
One of the results of our co-operation in the military field -- and it
is a perfect example of regional cooperation to be mentioned here -- is
LITPOLBAT - a joint Lithuanian-Polish Battalion formed for NATO-led peace
We also very much value the ongoing regional cooperation among the other
states of the Baltic Sea area. Here I reffer to the Danish, Polish and
German military cooperation. We appreciate the invitation to send Lithuanian
staff officers for on the job training at the Multinational corps North-Eeast
headquarters and to take part in the corps' exercises.
Regional co-operation within Euro-Atlantic area is instrumental in maintaining
both political momentum and real interest of those directly concerned.
At the same time, while fully using the advantages of regional cooperation,
we should not lock ourselves exclusively into it. The Balkan experience
proves that regional problems and conflicts can only be tackled and hopefully
solved in a broader context with leading role of NATO, European Union
and, indeed, EAPC community.
The NATO's active and extensive political and operational engagement
in the Balkans has been and will continue to contribute highly to the
stabilisation of the region. It is important, however, that NATO's activities
continue to be carried out in well co-ordinated manner with the goals
of the Stability Pact for South East Europe, and with all other efforts
of International Community.
Such joint efforts undertaken in co-ordinated action already produced
a major shift -- the democratic election of Mr. V.Kostunica as the President
of FRY. Now the challenge is to establish credible and self-sustainable
democracy there. Primary responsibility lies with all of us -- NATO, EAPC,
the countries of the region.
Lithuania contributes to these efforts by taking part in SFOR, KFOR and
United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The situation in Caucasus is yet another issue of concern for Lithuania
and the EAPC as a whole. The OSCE commitments are to be implemented and
all the countries of the region would profit from involvment into the
regional dialogue to enhance confidence and better understanding among
their respective interests. The work of EAPC Ad Hoc Working Group on Caucasus
has been instrumental in this regard. Lithuania welcomes the current activities
and will be vocal supporter of any new forms of EAPC further engagement
in the region of Caucasus.
By concluding, I would like to express my strong belief that sound regional
policy should be based on mutually beneficial practical cooperation, equality
and the spirit of good neighbourliness.
EAPC framework, given its co-operative nature and inclusive format, makes
an important contribution to enhancing the Euro-Atlantic stability through
regional cooperation. We also believe that further enlargement of NATO
will play a key role in making regional security sustainable as it will
contribute to the stability of Euro-Atlantic area as a whole and advance
the interests of all European states. In this context Lithuania will further
vigorously pursue its preparations for membership, and we believe that
our efforts will help the Allies to reach a historic decision to be made