Saturday, July 13, 2024

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna, Latvian Foreign Minister KrišjāNis Kariņš, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis before Their Meeting

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna, Latvian Foreign Minister KrišjāNis Kariņš, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis before Their Meeting

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good morning, everyone.  It is a great pleasure to welcome my colleagues from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia here today – our close Baltic allies, our close Baltic partners. 

It’s very fitting that we come together today in a number of ways.  We’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their accession to NATO, something we very much look forward to, as we also have the 75th anniversary celebration of NATO itself coming up in Washington in just a few months’ time. 

But as important, these three allies have been leaders in NATO, contributing significantly to their defense budgets, leading the way in NATO, and also leading the way in support for Ukraine at a time when that support is absolutely vital.  And I think it’s a recognition on the part of all three countries, as well as the United States, of what the stakes are when it comes to our support for Ukraine – stakes that go beyond even Ukraine itself and to the basic principle that people around the world and countries around the world deserve to chart their own futures, not have some other power try to do it for them. 

So it’s with gratitude that we have our partners here.  We have a lot of work to do together, both in terms of sustaining support for Ukraine but also in continuing to plan out the future of the Alliance that joins us together – an Alliance that is now stronger and bigger than it was, and one that has a future over its next 75 years that will be as important as its first 75. 

So with that, let me turn it first, I think, to Gabrielius to get us started.  My friend. 

FOREIGN MINISTER LANDSBERGIS:  Thank you so much.  It’s a great pleasure to be here and really to – and to use this – the opportunity to thank United States for decades of cooperation and decades of making Baltic states and Lithuania more safer and more secure. 

Today is also a date where we commemorate 75 years of sad history, because 75 years ago that Soviet Union started their mass deportations from the Baltic states, where tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of our compatriots were deported to the wilderness of Siberia and had to spend their lives there.  Many of them would not be able to return to their home countries. 

And this memory serves us and makes us better understand what we value today: the security, the safety, the prosperity that we managed to get through the decades, and also looking to the future so that it does not happen again – not in our countries, not in other countries that are fighting for their security and their freedom today, such as Ukraine, and Moldova looking for accession to EU, and Georgia that has been attacked in 2008.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Margus. 

FOREIGN MINISTER TSAHKNA:  Thank you.  Thank you for receiving us.  And as you mentioned as well, this week we are celebrating the 20 years of full membership of NATO.  And I can say, I think very honestly, that probably without that membership we couldn’t stand here as three foreign minister of three independent countries, because Russia is not following the understanding of international law and rules.  So we are very happy about this transatlantic relations, what we have, and our meeting will focus on that as well. 

But as our good friend Gabrielius said, today is a sad day.  Thirty-five years ago, 100,000 of our people were deported, and exactly the same thing is going on in Ukraine at the moment when we are meeting.  So it is very crucial that we will support Ukraine during the war, so that what we are doing all together.  So thank you for listening.


FOREIGN MINISTER KARIŅŠ:  Thank you very much, Tony.  It’s a great pleasure to be here.  The United States, Latvia, and the Baltic countries, we’re separated by very many kilometers.  But we are deeply united in our basic values: freedom, democracy, the rule of law.  And we see that our basic values that our societies share are being directly challenged around the world. 

Notably in our region, it’s Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.  We’re going into the third year.  And it’s up to us, with our combined efforts, with NATO’s combined efforts, to stand up against that and to not only say “this is bad,” but to make sure that that evil does not have a chance to spread.  Deterrence, long term – a long-term strategy also with dealing with an aggressive Russia, this is what we have to strive towards.  And it’s only by democracies and likeminded nations and societies working together that we can make the world a safer place. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thanks, everyone. 

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