In the meetings with the Leaders of Congress, Lithuanian Speaker Discusses Security and NATO Commitments
On 28 June 2017 in Washington DC, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, together with the Speakers of the Parliaments of the Nordic and Baltic countries, met with Paul Ryan, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader and the members of the Congress Alcee Hastings, Jim Costa, Lois Frankel, Gregory Meeks, Randy Hultgtren.
At the meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the importance of transatlantic relations and reinforced inter-parliamentary cooperation was noted and a focus was placed on the emerging security challenges as well as the potential for developing trade relations.
The Speaker of the Seimas briefed the participants on Lithuania’s commitment to enhance its defence capabilities and public resilience. He also highlighted the decision made by the Seimas to increase the defence spending and spending for NATO next year up to 2.07 % GDP. Mr Pranckietis called on the US to continue paying attention and providing support to the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood countries and expressed his appreciation regarding the increase in funding for the European Reassurance Initiative.
“In matters of security, cooperation plays a pivotal role. A clear and unified approach to tackling common problems; an exchange of views and search for solutions with due regard to the challenges faced by Europe, the Nordic and Baltic countries; adequate attention to the constantly changing security environment; as well as considerations in view of the situation in Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea, are crucial elements to this,” Mr Viktoras Pranckietis said at the meeting.
Mr Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, briefed the Speakers of NB8 Parliaments on the internal political challenges the US Congress is faced with in view of the pending adoption of legislation on taxes and public health. He also expressed his satisfaction with his recent visit to the Baltic region.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives made assurances that the US would honour their commitments in NATO. The resolution in support of the North Atlantic Alliance and Article 5 adopted by the House of Representatives almost unanimously a day before was yet another sign of this.
In Mr Pranckietis’ view, the meeting with Mr Ryan was very warm and open, comparable to a friendly encounter between people sharing the same values.
The meeting with Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, was also attended by other representatives of the Democratic Party, including Congressmen Alcee Hastings, Jim Costa and Lois Frankel. At the meeting, the congressmen also confirmed the validity of the US obligations to NATO. They pointed out that NATO is a guarantor of security and that this position is clearly shared by both Republican and Democratic Parties in Congress. During the meeting, the focus was on the common understanding of the current security challenges by the US, the Nordic and Baltic countries. The participants came to an understanding that it is necessary to strengthen the transatlantic cooperation as well as the trade relations between the US and the European Union.
At the meeting with congressmen Gregory Meeks and Randy Hultgren, Speakers of the Parliaments of NB8 discussed cyber security, nuclear safety, hybrid threats, and the importance of promoting resilience of societies to hostile propaganda.
Participants of meetings with the US officials on 26–28 June 2017 consisted of the following Heads of Parliaments: Pia Kjærsgaard (Denmark), Eiki Nestor (Estonia), Maria Lohela (Finland), Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir (Iceland), Ināra Mūrniece (Latvia), Olemic Thommessen (Norway), and Urban Ahlin (Sweden).