RUKLA, LITHUANIA – German-Lithuanian relations could not be better than at this moment, given cooperation within NATO as well as close bilateral ties, President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday while visiting German troops serving at NATO battalion deployed in Rukla, central Lithuanian region.
“Our bilateral relations can hardly be better than they are today,” said the president.
The president has welcomed the decision regarding Germany’s leadership in forming the NATO battalion in Lithuania, calling it a fair and necessary change in the security situation in Europe.
The German president emphasized Germany’s historic responsibility towards the Baltic States and noted that Germany has to “better understand the Baltic States, because we ourselves have been on the dividing border between the West and the East”.
Presently, 450 German soldiers serve at the Alliance’s forward presence battle group, deployed in Lithuania. Germany has assumed responsibility to lead this group.
Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s President, who was visiting the German soldiers at NATO forward presence battalion in Rukla together with his German counterpart, underscored that Lithuania highly appreciated Germany’s decision to play the key role in ensuring security of the Baltic countries.
“Germany, which has the greatest political and economic weight in Europe, has repeatedly assumed responsibility in resolving complex crises in the EU; presently, Germany demonstrates leadership in ensuring security of NATO’s eastern flank and that of the entire Alliance,” Grybauskaite was quoted as saying in a statement released by the presidency.
Meanwhile, Saulius Skvernelis, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, noted that Germany has been among the most important partners of Lithuania in Europe, the EU, NATO and other international organizations.
“The government and I personally are very happy with the very close bilateral relations, strong political, economic, cultural and other ties,” Skvernelis was quoted as saying in a statement.
According to the head of cabinet, Germany is also among Lithuania’s most important trading partners.
“I believe this trend will continue, gaining ever greater momentum in the future; just like the interest of the German people in our country, which has been witnessed by the growing number of tourists”, said the Prime Minister.
Germany is the second largest trade partner and the third largest foreign investor of Lithuania.
The German president has been visiting all the three Baltic countries this week.