Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius, who is now part of the country's delegation in the United States of America, spoke to Robert Siegel of the National Public Radio (NPR). He thanked Americans for taking the initiative to coordinate Western response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.
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Minister Linkevičius said that Lithuania made a right decision when it joined NATO in 2004.

"Now we can see that it's really very important and crisis in Ukraine now show that countries which are not belonging to these structures, they cannot be certain," he said.

Asked by the host if he was personally nervous about possible Russian aggression against Lithuania, Linkevičius said he was not nervous, but nor was he relaxed: "I'm not relaxed, I'm focused."

He said that the United States had been more efficient in reacting to Russia's aggression in Ukraine because Washington did not need to coordinate its position with two dozen other national governments, as was the case in the European Union.

"We need and value and, I would say, really value a leadership of the United States, which is desperately needed. And the biggest effect in strength when we are doing that is the coordination, in regard to the sanctions, for instance, which are now introduced by EU and United States. This is really efficient. It's not efficient if we are split," Linkevičius said.

Asked about the soon-to-be-launched LNG Terminal in Klaipėda, Minister Linkevičius conceded that the new facility would not make Lithuania instantly independent from Russian energy, but it was a step in the right direction in breaking Russia's monopoly.

The five-year LNG supply contract recently signed with Norway's Statoil will cover 20 percent of Lithuania's gas needs, Linkevičius said, "but we need really more. Including, we will anticipate and expect the liberty of the gas from United States. That would be also a big contribution to the creation of a gas market, which is desperately needed in the region."

Meanwhile Russia, although still a major player in the energy market, "will play as an equal player. But if Russia will not have a monopoly, there will be more transparency - will be more competition, more efficiency. Which of course, those who have monopoly, they're reluctant to give up, you know, these rights. But this is not our problem."

Linkevičius said that having Russia as a reasonable and reliable partner was in Lithuania's interests.

"Look at the map. Look at Lithuania - our size and this big, big neighbor. Definitely, we are those who would like to have normal, good relations. We do not have anything against Russia except when they're considering that something - some more decisions. For instance, joining NATO was against their national interest. Well, they should - used to know that there are rules in the world. Big values shouldn't be for the big guys and small values for the small guys. They should be really equal. So a big country definitely deserves to be an equal player, but on the foundation of that is some commitments."

The full interview is available here.

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