SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. It’s my pleasure to welcome my friend, Linas Linkevicius, the foreign minister of Lithuania, and I’m very, very happy to have him here in Washington. We have worked very closely together in any number of meetings and fora around the world. Lithuania may be small, but let me tell you, they are a very strong and important partner within NATO, one of the strongest partners with respect to holding people to high standards, particularly in the enforcement of the Minsk agreement and the need for Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity to be respected.
They’re a NATO ally and a strategic partner, and I want to particularly confirm here that as an ally in NATO and as one of, frankly, the most thoughtful and outspoken with respect to the obligations of all of the member states, Lithuania is setting the example by increasing their defense spending and by assisting at the same time in other efforts that we have, not just within NATO but elsewhere. They’re helping to train troops in Iraq; they’re providing equipment. And I can confirm here with clarity that our, the United States, Article 5 obligations are firm and solid, and we will continue to work with Lithuania as a partner.
We also appreciate the efforts that Lithuania is making in energy diversification now, which is a very important part of a larger strategic need for countries not to be locked in to just one supplier or two suppliers. There needs to be a diversity, which really bolsters independence.
So I thank Linas for taking time to come here. We have a lot to talk about, and it’s my pleasure to introduce him.
FOREIGN MINISTER LINKEVICIUS: Thank you very much for being able to be here on the eve of our very important event, 25th anniversary of establishing of our independence. Excellent opportunity to express gratitude to United States for non-recognition policy for more than a half century or so Soviet occupation, for staunch support during our accession to NATO, which happened more than 10 years ago. We’re members now of this very important family, which has to do direct influence to the security guarantees of our country. Also, I’m very grateful for strategic partnership now, today, and implementing decisions which were taken in Wales at the NATO summit.
And we’re really trying to cooperate on various fields. Although we are a small country, as was mentioned, but we’re trying to be active and happy and proud that we can share the same priorities with United States, be it in UN Security Council, be it in the other (inaudible) forums, and indeed, we expect and needfurther leadership United States in implementing these assurance measures in our region, also in Lithuania.
Also, we would like to have more leadership of the United States in solving problems around Ukraine, because it actually has to do with not only about the fate of that country in the middle of Europe, but also with our credibility and what we have to do facing this very unusual situation in 21st century during the aggression against sovereign country. And we’re going to have to do the best in order to contain Russian aggression in Ukraine.
We expect as well further support in the accession process, in OECD, which is this year very priority task for Lithuania. And as was said, a lot of issues to discuss and we are looking forward to strengthen even more our ties to do our best because we have the same mission, frankly.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER LINKEVICIUS: Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Welcome.
FOREIGN MINISTER LINKEVICIUS: Thanks.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, everybody.