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President Adamkus: NATO must constantly review its policy toward Russia

April 4, Baden Baden - Yesterday, President Valdas Adamkus attended a working dinner for NATO heads of state and government and delivered a speech.

President Adamkus underlined that on its road to the Euro-Atlantic structures, Lithuania has well learned the lesson of good neighborliness, but the events that occurred in Georgia last year greatly shocked the people of the Baltic States.

"We do not think that Lithuanian territory is at risk as we trust the credibility of the Alliance. It is the Euro-Atlantic values that are at risk. To tolerate the use of force or blackmailing in the international relations in the XXI century would be a grave mistake," Mr. Adamkus said.

President Adamkus went on to say that having lived in the same neighborhood with Russia for ages, Lithuania spoke out for maintaining a constructive dialogue which would allow creating conditions for a long-term predictable relationship. Yet the dialogue is valuable only if it conveys our unified message, he emphasized.

"The renewal of the NATO-Russia Council is a positive step, as freezing the dialogue with Russia is not a ‘punishment' for Moscow. On the other hand, re-opening of it should not be seen as a reward," he said.

President Adamkus pointed out that in March our ministers clearly identified to Russia the points of our disagreements. He expressed his conviction that the quality of cooperation with Russia and our common goals of such cooperation should depend on Russia's readiness to adhere to its international obligations and clear principles. That could be achieve only by acting united, he added.

"If we are frank to ourselves this time, then we have to admit that Russia hardly fulfilled any of its obligations. Russia did not take any actions after our numerous calls and pleads to regulate the conflict in Georgia according to the international agreements," Mr. Adamkus said.

President Adamkus pointed out that future NATO meetings and efforts to renew its relationship with our neighbor Russia must be based on a new starting point.

"It is evident that today the whole transatlantic community needs to review its policy toward Russia in real terms. Our policy must be well coordinated and streamlined, and it must reflect the interests of all member states. We have to draw clear-cut red lines, including a common transatlantic policy of non-recognition of occupied territories. We also have to tell ourselves very definitely that Russia, although a much needed partner in Afghanistan or Iran, should not be viewed through this prism alone," Mr. Adamkus said.

He further said that we must once again endorse Ukraine's and Georgia's aspirations for membership in NATO and work actively within the framework of NATO-Georgia and NATO-Ukraine commissions to attain these goals.

"NATO's open-door policy is an issue that concerns Allies and candidates countries. We have to create a strong and sound transatlantic strategy, which would also cover the energy dimension, for Europe's East," Mr. Adamkus said.

Today President Valdas Adamkus, together with other NATO heads of state and government, will attend the events held in Strasbourg to celebrate NATO's 60th anniversary, including the North Atlantic Council Meeting and a working luncheon. NATO leaders will be crossing a bridge that connects France and Germany and symbolizes peace among nations.


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