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Baltic Presidents spoke out on NATO, friendship, and digital economies with US President Trump.

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As a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council at the United Nations, the United States has supported the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia during 50 years of brutal Soviet occupation and never recognized their incorporation into the Soviet Union. Shown here on the left is US President Donald J. Trump, a member of the UN Security Council, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Presidents of the Baltic States were recently invited to the White White House. UN Photo by Rick Bajornas.

As a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council at the United Nations, the United States has supported the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia during 50 years of brutal Soviet occupation and never recognized their incorporation into the Soviet Union. Shown here on the left is US President Donald J. Trump, a member of the UN Security Council, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Presidents of the Baltic States were recently invited to the White White House. UN Photo by Rick Bajornas.

During his introductory remarks to the Baltic leaders at the White House recently, US President Donald J. Trump said: “To all three Baltic leaders with us, thank you again for helping us to celebrate. And this is really a very great celebration because it’s a historic milestone. Our friendship will continue to grow closer, and our cooperation will continue to bring about greater security and prosperity for our citizens.”

President Trump added: “And you have done terrific jobs as leaders, as Presidents of your countries. and we tell you that, for your citizens, we are there for you. President Trump also stated: “As we begin the next 100 years of our partnership, the Baltic republics can trust the United States and we will remain a strong, proud, and loyal friend and ally.”

Lithuanian Dalia Grybauskaite was the first of the Baltic Presidents to make a statement at a joint press briefing at The White House. Here’s what the Lithuanian President had to say in her own words:

“So, of course, we’re very thankful for the possibility to be here, especially and not only because of the anniversary in our region. but because of the alliance which we are reaffirming today with the United States by adopting the declaration where we say that Article 5 is iron-clad for all of us, and the collective issues are important to all of us.”

Blooming red tulips were seen in the gardens of the South Lawn of the White House when the Baltic Presidents of Lithuania. Latvia, and Estonia visited Washington, D.C. recently. Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian.

The Lithuanian President went on to say: “We understand how important NATO is for all of us, and why we, during our discussions talked so much about the reforming of NATO and the investment into our defense. And Lithuania is with the United States on fighting the terrorists through all the world. We’re back in Afghanistan. We’re in Mali. We’re in the Central African Republic. We’re in Kosovo. We’re in Ukraine together. So we are partners, allies, and trustful allies.”

As the Lithuanian President stated: “And because of that, we are sure that the reforms of NATO, which we are investing in together, and preparing together, will be resultative as it was before, but especially now because we are seeing United States leadership. We’re seeing the willingness of the United States to see a different NATO, a different quality of NATO.”

The Lithuanian President also remarked, “And I can be, probably, open. We talked to the President and I joked about needing leadership sometimes for decision-making, even unpredictable leadership, to make enough leverage and pressure for the rivals to believe that we can make a decision. And that is we think is the kind of leadership we see in President Trump.”

Shown here is US President Donald J. Trump (right) joined by the Presidents of the Baltic States, from left to right, namely, Raimonds Vejonis of Latvia, Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia, and Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania during a joint press conference hosted in the East Room at the White House recently by US President Donald J. Trump in Washington, D.C. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

The Lithuanian President added: “And this is good because without the leverage and pressure. there will be no additional spending in our defense in NATO. There will be no additional decisions for rotating military forces of the United States in our countries. There will be no willingness to look into the matter of air defense which we need very much. So from all these points of view, we trust that our partner and ally is investing seriously in the future of our defense, not only our regions, but NATO’s territory defense, and in the peace and security of the world as it was before.”

On the subjects of business and economic cooperation, this is what Lithuanian President Grybauskaite stated: “Of course, the businesses are coming together. Ally in military cooperation, in those with economic cooperation. And I am very happy that today in our business forum we will sign two agreements with two American companies on the liquid gas cooperation. As the President explained, “Lithuania has a liquid gas station and factory, a so-called ‘floating boat’.”

“But we can be independent”, the President added, “all three Baltic States on the gas supply because of that. And this gives us strength and the possibility to make our own decisions, and not to depend on one supplier. And American liquid gas will come on time, and this will make us more independent in our decision-making and diversifies our gas supply.”

 

Shown here on the left are the three Baltic Presidents seated in the Cabinet Room at the White House, namely, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, and Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia listening to remarks made by US President Donald J. Trump. Official White House Photo.

In her closing remarks, Lithuanian President Grybauskaite talked about Lithuania and its friendship with the United States. The President said: “And this is about a real friendship, about real cooperation between our region and the United States And this comes also together with trade matters, where today we see some discussions on the wealth level between the United States and the European Union.” She added: “We are together with the decisions that trade needs to be useful and equally fair to all sides. There is no sense to go to war. But decisions –if there are disbalances, need to be found. And this we will support as an ally of the United States. “

The Lithuanian President further stated: “So, together, with international obligations in military, either with cooperation in the economy, together with the United States and the European Union in solving the trade disputes and issues, we are standing with and together. And we hope that, as the President said, the next l00 years will be even better, closer together, and we will be able to achieve and make more.”

 

Pictured with US President Donald J. Trump on the right during a recent news conference with the Baltic Presidents of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania in Washington, D.C. are Raimonds Vejonis (Latvia) Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonia) and Dalia Grybauskaite (Lithuania). Official White House Photo.

Pictured with US President Donald J. Trump on the right during a recent news conference with the Baltic Presidents of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania in Washington, D.C. are Raimonds Vejonis (Latvia) Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonia) and Dalia Grybauskaite (Lithuania). Official White House Photo.

In his remarks during the joint press briefing, the President of Latvia, Raimonds Vejonis stated, “the Baltic-US President Summits are a reaffirmation of our shared commitment to fundamental values, our long-lasting friendship, and the steadfast partnership that we have enjoyed for nearly a century.” He called the United States of America “our closest friend and ally” and said that “I appreciate that we have each other’s mutual support in our endeavors, as well as in the security challenges we are facing.”

What’s ahead for the future? “Today,” the Latvian President said, “we reflected on our many achievements and set a course for our future undertakings. We have agreed to enhance our defense policy in the Baltic region and the military assistance provided to our forces. We will continue to commit 2 percent of GDP towards the development of our military capabilities for the purposes of both strengthening NATO’s posture in the eastern flank and contributing to international security.”

President Vejonis wrapped up his remarks at the recent joint press conference with the following statements: “The Baltic States and the United States acknowledged the need to continue the successful existing cooperation we have encountered in modern-day security threats such as terrorism, cyber, informational warfare, and nuclear proliferation.

Raimonds Vejonis, the President of the Republic of Latvia, is shown speaking in the UN General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak.

Raimonds Vejonis, the President of the Republic of Latvia, is shown speaking in the UN General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak.

He went on to say. “Today, all of us are committed to placing greater emphasis on advancing our economic and trade investment relationship. We recognize great potential in areas of innovation, modern technologies, and the digital economy. And we will explore possibilities for forging new partnerships to this end.”

He added: “I am particularly proud of the successes of Latvian companies that have generated more than 2,000 jobs in the U.S. — in Georgia, in North Carolina, in California. It just shows how important is this economic cooperation. And finally, the Baltic States and the United States agreed to continue promoting closer people-to-people contacts because these contacts are very important for every member of our society. And let me stress that President Trump was an outstanding host today. Thanks for hosting us in this very important event when we celebrate the 100 years anniversary of our statehood.”

Kersti Kalijulaid, the President of the Republic of Estonia, is pictured addressing the UN Security Council during an open debate on reform of UN peacekeeping. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Kersti Kalijulaid, the President of the Republic of Estonia, is pictured addressing the UN Security Council during an open debate on reform of UN peacekeeping. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

In addition, here’s what the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, had to say at the Joint press conference recently. She started out by thanking “President Trump and his administration for his political leadership in our region and for the very visible commitment which has been demonstrated through a number of high-level visits also in our region. “ The Estonian President went on to say: “This year, we do celebrate, indeed, our centennial anniversary. Of these l00 years, for 50, we were occupied by the Soviet Union. And people in our country got up every morning knowing that there are democratic countries, led by the United States, who have never recognized the occupation of the Baltic States.”

She added, “Our national flag – the blue, black. and white -was waving here in America throughout these years. It couldn’t have been done at that time in Estonia. It was heartwarming. It was a true sign of friendship. We knew it back then, and we remember it, and we are still grateful for it. Will be forever.”

“Today”, she said, “we agree the declaration also reminds us about the foundations of our relations. My friends here spoke a lot about what we do. It’s always worthwhile to remind why we do this. We believe that peace, security, and prosperity depend on strong sovereign nations that respect their citizens at home and cooperate to promote peace abroad. Our partnership is based on principles of democracy, and individual liberty, and the rule of law.”

“These things are extremely important”, the Estonian President said. “Today we stand together, like-minded partners and allies. Yes, the Baltic States are quite small, but they are important because of their location, but not only because of what we do as contributing partners to the global security.”

“We find it very important to contribute in the counter-terrorism fight”, the Estonian President said. “We find it important since 2011 to spend 2 percent of our GDP on defense. We find it extremely important to remember that we stand together and we form something which we call in my office ‘an axis of good.” May it be for you all.”

“Yes, Estonia and the United States are very different by the size of their economy”, she added. “but when we are speaking about digital economies, then this doesn’t matter anymore. Estonia is one of the world’s leading nations of digital governance. And our companies are working with companies in your country to make sure that people elsewhere could benefit.”

As the Estonian President said, “This cannot come without cybersecurity. There is a NATO Centre of Excellence on Cybersecurity in Estonia because we have been attacked on cyber long before anybody else. We still work together, we contribute, and we hope that we are really helpful to all of our partners.”

“Yes, we have also more conventional trade which we do together. People in Walmart going for their pre-ordered packages in a couple of years will see them delivered by Estonian-made package delivery robots. We are proud of this.”

The Estonian President also pointed out: “We’re also proud of our legal environment in Estonia which invites business to try and test new ideas in our place which is tiny, and then upscale when it makes more sense to upscale. This way, we work together both on defense matters, economic matters, and always stand on our common value base. This is the foundation of our relations. Thank you for today, for making this visible…. this axis of good” the Estonian President concluded.

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

Presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia marked 100 years of Baltic independence at the White House

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