Updated: 26-Mar-2003 NATO Speeches


26 March 2003


Address of H.E. Dr. Antanas Valionis
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania
Signature of Accession Protocols

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nine years ago, former Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas sent an official letter to NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner, expressing the will of the Lithuanian people to join the most cohesive and successful Alliance in history. Today, I am proud to welcome the signature of the Accession Protocols and to congratulate all NATO Allies and invitees on behalf of the Lithuanian people. A decade of hard work is finally turning our common vision into a reality.

Thanks to NATO, the security climate in Europe has improved consistently over the years. For Lithuania, membership in NATO means joining a strong defense organization of democratic nations, with Article 5 guarantees at its core. This gives us a strong sense of security. And we all know that investment and prosperity flourish best in a secure environment. At the same time, we realize that the Alliance must adapt to the new challenges looming ahead, including taking on new roles and missions. Only an organization able to transform in a changing environment will be able to complete the historic mission of creating a Europe whole and free, united in peace, democracy and common values.

The strength of NATO is based upon the solidarity of its members and its strong transatlantic link. Lithuania is keen to become a member of an Alliance that unites two continents and brings us to the table when crucial decisions are being made. We are equally keen to shape and strengthen Euro-Atlantic security more broadly. And we are determined to contribute – politically and militarily.

In order to make this possible, Lithuania has committed itself politically to implementing our Individual Timetable for the Completion of Reforms. It envisages sustained reform efforts in the political, economic, defense, security and legal fields.

Today’s signing of the Accession Protocols launches the process of national ratification of our membership in NATO countries. I would like to express my strong hope for a smooth ratification process in the 19 Allied capitals.

As we prepare to enter NATO, our intentions are clear. We intend to work through the Membership Action Plan and thus strengthen our ability to make a meaningful contribution to the Alliance. Lithuania plans to implement domestic reforms with parliamentary involvement. We will continue to give high priority to defence reform and our vision of the future of our armed forces. We will share our experience in implementing political, military and other reforms, and meeting NATO standards, with other countries, and thus contribute to building an enduring Euro-Atlantic community.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all those whose dedication and efforts made today’s historic event possible. The past decade, and in particular the past 18 months, have made it clear that our security cannot be taken for granted. There is no better way to face new threats and challenges than as part of a community. We look forward to continuing to work together, across two continents, for the security of current and future generations.

Thank you.

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