Courtesy NATO (June 22, 2012)
General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, concluded a two-day visit to the Republic of Lithuania on the invitation of the Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius. General Bartels met with Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene, Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis and the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Emanuelis Zingeris. Discussions focused on regional and geopolitical security concerns.
General Bartels and Prime Minster Andrius Kubilius discussed future challenges for global security and for NATO, the furthering of the Air Policing mission in the Baltic region and economical challenges. In this context, Gen. Bartels commended Lithuania’s intention to raise its defence budget, despite the difficult fiscal situation throughout Europe, saying: “This is a demonstration of Lithuania’s ambition and commitment to contribute to common security”.
Defence Chief Lt.Gen Pocius and Gen. Bartels exchanged views on the implementation of the new NATO Command Structure and the future role of Lithuania in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Gen Bartels expressed his gratitude for the country’s contribution to and work achieved in support of NATO’s high priority operation in Afghanistan.
Both the recent NATO Summit in Chicago, and the decision to extend the airspace policing mission in the Baltic States, were high on the agenda of the meeting with Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene. Gen. Bartels reiterated appreciation for the recent Baltic States’ decision to enhance the host nation support to the participating allies in what is a true and a good example of putting Smart Defence in practice.
During his meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis and the Chairman of Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Emanuelis Zingeris issues of regional security and Lithuania’s future participation in Operation Ocean Shield were discussed in depth. Gen. Bartels also welcomed Lithuania’s recent parliamentary approval of a law authorizing Lithuania’s forces to participate in operation “Ocean Shield”.