At Gauck's meeting with the Baltic leaders in Riga on Thursday, Grybauskaitė expressed gratitude to the German leader for his personal contribution to the deployment of German Bundeswehr troops and munition in Lithuania, as well as the decision to take the lead in the formation of NATO's forward presence battalion in Lithuania.
"According to the president, with geopolitical tensions continuing to run high, the fact that the largest political and economic power in Europe takes responsibility for strengthening NATO's eastern flank is a very serious signal," the Lithuanian President's Office said in a press release .
Grybauskaitė underscored that conventional and unconventional threats posed by Russia required not only enhancing NATO's defense and deterrence, but also made Europe assume greater responsibility for its own security. We need to increase defense funding, "upgrade military forces and strengthen the response to hybrid threats," the Lithuanian president said.
The traditional meeting of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian presidents is held annually in a different Baltic states. This year, the meeting took place in Riga at the invitation of the Latvian president. This was the last foreign visit for Gauck in the capacity, therefore, is viewed as a sign of exceptional to the Baltic nations.
At the meeting, t he presidents also underscored the importance of strong transatlantic relations for ensuring international peace and stability. According to Lithuania's Grybauskaitė, the US has always been the guarantor of the Baltic states' security; therefore, the further strengthening of relations with the new US presidential administration as well as closer military cooperation ties are in the common interest of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Next week, the three Baltic presidents are planned to meet with US Vice-President Mike Pence in the framework of the Munich Security Conference.
Germany heads the NATO battalion being set up in Lithuania. The battalions in Latvia, Estonia and Poland area led by Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.