Visa-free regime, situation in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, elections in Belarus, prospects of bilateral relations and energy security discussed by Lithuanian and U.S. Presidents

Press Release
Office of the President
The Republic of Lithuania
September 29, 2008

Monday, September 29, Washington – President Valdas Adamkus on a working visit to the United States of America met with U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss bilateral relations, international security and developments in
Eastern Europe – Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus.

President Adamkus noted in the meeting that thanks to Lithuania’s and U.S. Administration’s efforts bilateral relations were, and are, very close, intensive and friendly and that Lithuania and USA were close allies in securing peace and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Lithuania’s President, visa-free regime would bring the two nations still close together.

“It is very important and symbolic that the last legal document which will open up a possibility for Lithuanian citizens to travel freely to the USA was signed today. I thank President G. W. Bush for his leadership and for the consistent efforts of his administration. I have no doubt visa-free regime will bring our people still close together and will open up new opportunities for economic and cultural cooperation,” Mr. Adamkus said.

The agreement between Lithuania’s State Security Department and the U.S. Terrorist Screening Centre on the mutual exchange of information on known or suspected terrorists was signed today, 29 September, in Vilnius. This was the last agreement to be signed before visa-free regime can be granted to Lithuania for travels to the U.S. Such agreements have also been signed by other EU Member States.

The agreement will contribute to the implementation of national security interests of the two states in the fight against terrorism. It lays down the procedure for the exchange and use of information on terrorists.

On 26 September, an agreement between Lithuanian and U.S. governments on closer cooperation in preventing and combating crimes was initialled in Washington. By this agreement, the two partner states seek to strengthen cooperation between their law enforcement institutions so that safety of travellers and travels is ensured by exchanging information on persons who can pose a threat to security.

During their meeting, Lithuanian and U.S. presidents also discussed the situation in Ukraine and Georgia, the elections in Belarus, and relations with Russia.

U.S. President George W. Bush thanked President Adamkus for his important role and firm leadership in upholding democratic reforms in Lithuania’s and European Union’s eastern neighbourhood.

President Adamkus noted that Lithuania like all other Baltic states wanted good and constructive relations with Russia built on mutual respect and international legal principles. However, as noted by Mr. Adamkus, Russia’s treatment of its neighbours raises concerns.

President Adamkus underlined that political instability and crisis in Ukraine did not add to the country’s aspirations for faster euro-atlantic integration. Mr. Adamkus expressed hope that Ukrainian politicians guided by the principles of democracy, transparency and political responsibility would manage to go through the situation and to focus for joint efforts. “The Euro-Atlantic community must strengthen its support for Ukraine”, President Adamkus said.

According to President Adamkus, there may be no compromises regarding Georgia’s territorial integrity and the international recognition of Georgia’s borders may not be ignored.

“I am happy that European and U.S. heads of states managed to stop the aggression by their joint effort. Now we have to help Georgia and its people to recover after the damage and shocks. The unity of the U.S. and European states with respect to Georgia is very important, “ Valdas Adamkus said.

President Adamkus emphasized that Lithuania shows much concern for the people of the neighbouring Belarus. Talking about the elections in Belarus held yesterday, the President of Lithuania noted that the elections were not democratic and that further ways to strengthen democracy in this country need to be looked for.

“Nothing new happened. The elections held yesterday did not come up to the requirements to be met by democratic elections, despite efforts to the contrary. The future will show if these efforts were genuine. Meanwhile, we have to continue dialogue with Belarus and consider different options such as facilitation of visa regime for Belarusian people and removal of economic sanctions,” Lithuanian President said.

In the meeting, President Adamkus recalled the U.S.–Baltic Partnership Charter signed a decade ago. “This was, and is, an important document expressing the commitment of our states to develop close and strategic cooperation. Marking the Charter’s 10th anniversary we have to admit that this document has surely helped Lithuania and other Baltic countries on their way of euro-atlantic integration. The Charter is still important and I hope Lithuania and the new U.S.
Administration will be guided by the spirit of the Charter and develop a yet deeper and wider dialogue in various fields,” Valdas Adamkus said.

Lithuanian and U.S. presidents also talked about energy concerns and the issue of strengthening European energy security.

This topic was also covered in President Adamkus’s meeting with the U.S. Vice-President Richard Cheney. Lithuania’s President and U.S. Vice-President exchanged views on the developments in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus and discussed U.S. and European cooperation with Central Asian countries in the field of energy.

Vice-President Dick Cheney shared Lithuanian President’s opinion that a closer energy dialogue between the European Union and Central Asian countries, particularly Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, needs to be promoted.
Lithuania’s leader noted that the U.S. has played, and plays, a very important role in helping to build alternative energy supply routes from South Caucasus and Central Asia to Europe.

“In recent years, Ukraine, Poland, Azerbaijan and other countries of the region have been making efforts to build new gas and oil supply corridors to Western Europe. The U.S. contribution in this field is especially important for Europe,” noted President Adamkus.

According to the President, oil and gas supply must be ensured by fully respecting transparency and market principles laid down in the European Energy Charter. “It is only through these principles that we can eventually guarantee that energy supply stops being a political and pressure-making tool,” President Adamkus said.

Lithuania’s President also visited the memorial opened recently in commemoration of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to honour memory of the victims.

Press Service of the President