On April 4th of this year, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commemorated its 70th anniversary. In Washington, on April 4, 1949, a unified security and defense agreement was signed by the United States of America and a number of European countries. The anniversary celebration was attended by NATO leaders and representatives of 29 member nations. Various events and meetings were held with US politicians to review the collaborative work of seven decades and to discuss future plans.
At the end of March, Lithuania also celebrated an anniversary – its first 15 years as a member of NATO. On March 29, 2004, ratification papers for membership in NATO were submitted by Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvija, Rumania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
In preparation for membership, Lithuania concerted its efforts to fulfill all necessary requirements, annually increasing defense spending and improving armed forces training. Canada provided a great deal of support in this regard. Lithuanian military personnel of various ranks came for training in Canadian army bases. At the 15 th anniversary celebration, Tacan Ildem, assistant to the Secretary General of NATO, confirmed that from the very beginning of its memberhsip Lithuania proved itself in word and deed as a strong and conscientious member. Lithuania is one of the few NATO countries committed to allocating no less than 2.5% of its GNP to defense until 2030.
Lithuania has a NATO forces integration unit to ensure the deployment of NATO forces in the region, as well as a NATO front line fighter battalion from Germany. The NATO Energy Security Centre performs a very important role as well. Lithuanian soldiers participate in various NATO peace-keeping missions, and military from other NATO countries participate in defense activities in Lithuania. Currently exercises are being held with military from Germany, Holland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Belgium and Iceland as well as the US. Special operations personnel from USA visit Lithuania regularly. At this time, Polish forces control the security of Lithuanian air space, taking their turn among 17 other NATO countries.
Other good news is that Lithuania is 4th among the world’s group of nations which most highly prioritize cyber security, as determined by the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), and ispreceded only by Great Britain, USA and France. The index is established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU ), with a membership of 194 countries.
In Washington on April 4, the Ministry of Defense of Lithuania and the National Defense Department of the US signed a bilateral cooperation agreement as a plan for 2019-2024. According to Katherine Wheelbarger, assistant to the US Defense Secretary, Lithuania is the first country to sign such an agreement with USA.
Since 2014, the US has invested almost $80 million (USD). Lithuania’s acquisitions from the US are still growing and will soon reach $200 million (USD). The defense cooperation agreement states that the US will continue to deploy its forces in the Baltic countries to more effectively repel agression and strengthen the development of national defense in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Ministry of Defense of Lithuania agrees to provide all possible support for US troops in Lithuania.
Defense Ministry Photos