Angela Merkel in Lithuania
Strong partnership with the Baltic states
During her talks with the Lithuanian President, Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised the relations between the two countries. She also met with the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and visited German troops serving with the multinational NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) battlegroup.
Germany and Lithuania maintain cordial relations. The two states have close economic links and cooperate within NATO, said Chancellor Angela Merkel in the capital, Vilnius.
This year, Lithuania is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its declaration of independence. The Chancellor stressed that this was another reason for her trip to Lithuania. For Germany it was "very moving that we were able to hand over the document to Lithuania". This reflects the close cordial relations, said Angela Merkel, "in bilateral relations, but also in terms of discussions of international topics".
Close economic partnership
The economies of the two states are closely interconnected, as can be seen by the large number of German companies operating in Lithuania, and creating new jobs there, said the Chancellor. "But it is also a matter of young people, especially in Lithuania, receiving sound vocational and technical training and thus gaining the opportunity to take charge of their own lives in this country."
Good relations with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
Following her meeting with the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, the Chancellor also met with the Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, before coming together with Latvia’s Prime Minister, Māris Kučinskis, and Estonian Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas. Following the talks, Angela Merkel underlined the excellent bilateral contacts - "economic and cultural links, links between the people of our countries, but also links at political level."
Germany and the Baltic states agree, she said, "that only a strong Europe can play its part in the world, only a strong Europe can defend its values and we must work together to help ensure our defence and our security".
Visit to the NATO command
Following her political talks, the Chancellor visited the NATO command of the Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup that is stationed in Lithuania, where she also met Lithuania’s Defence Minister, Raimondas Karoblis, and the commander of the German troops, Lieutenant Colonel René Braun.
During her visit to the multinational NATO battlegroup in Rukla, Angela Merkel was able to gain a first-hand impression of the work and challenges on the ground. She talked to the German soldiers stationed there. She noted that the troops are "accepted and appreciated". The Chancellor thanked them for their work. "I know that even under the best possible conditions it is always hard to be away from home and from the family for a period of several months."
Angela Merkel said the stationing of German troops in Lithuania is another symbol of the close relations that exist. "As a framework nation, Germany is ready and willing to make NATO’s forward presence here in Lithuania clear," she added.
The deployment of the NATO Battlegroup in Lithuania is a response to the Ukrainian crisis and events in Crimea. Germany leads the multinational battlegroup. The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Norway and Iceland are also currently involved. Some 550 German troops are stationed in Lithuania as part of the multinational battle group, which has a total strength of over 1,200 soldiers. The focus is on joint training, which culminates in joint manoeuvres.