Amid changes in the United States administration, a group of Lithuanian MPs said after returning from a visit to the US that Lithuania should raise funding for maintaining ties with the strategic partner and making of new contacts. They say the regional priority should be cooperation with the neighboring Poland.
USA congress
© AFP/Scanpix

"We should now strengthen the part of foreign policies intended for the US, as the Trump administration will include 4,000 new people and we should step up all positions to make new contacts, naturally, new people should come here – this applies to cultural attaches, in New York and Chicago, as well as economic diplomats. I believe if the capacities are enhanced and the financing of our embassy is raised, we could improve our relations with the United States considerably," one of the members of the delegation, MP Mindaugas Puidokas of the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union, said after the visit.

Lithuania's former ambassador to Washington, conservative MP Žygimantas Pavilionis, emphasized that good ties with the US Congress were crucial for Lithuania's defence interests, as the possible changes in foreign and security policy of the administration of US President-Elect Donald Trump are still unclear.

"Whatever the changes of the security or foreign policy are, we will always have support in the Congress, cooperation with the Congress will be crucial, and we should hear or at least make minimum investments in the area, as the Congress doors are very open, however, failing to take the step will deprive us of the historic opportunity to defend our vital interests," said Pavilionis.

Speaking of the purpose of the new parliament's visit to the United States, Social Democrat Gediminas Kirkilas, the chairman of the European Affairs Committee, said it was to assure Washington that Lithuania viewed the partnership with the US as strategic.

Conservative MP Emanuelis Zingeris, chairman of the parliamentary Committee for Relations with the United States of America, stressed that Lithuania had to hurry with its commitment of earmarking at least 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for defense needs.

At the same time, the MPs noted that the US viewed the three Baltic states as a single unit, underlining the need to step up ties with Latvia and Estonia, as well as with Poland.

The parliamentary delegation was in the US on December 3–8 and had meetings with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Bob Corker and members of the committee, Senate Armed Forces Committee chairman John McCain, chairmen of the House of Representatives' Baltic Caucus, John Shimkus and Adam Shiff, as well as members of the body.

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