"NATO membership is the guarantee we will live peacefully and safely in Lithuania, our motherland will be defended and protected. Over the last eight years, we have achieved a lot. We have defense plans, NATO fighter jets protecting the Baltic airspace, and Lithuania is respected as an equal and trusted partner of the Alliance, capable of executing serious tasks," the president was quoted as saying in a statement by the President's Office.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis said the Lithuanian public's support for NATO membership has been and still is very strong.
"The Alliance means security guarantees and also the country's appreciation, self-confidence, acknowledgment that Lithuania is capable of protecting and defending values of the transatlantic community," the minister said in a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ažubalis underlined, however, that these guarantees should not be taken for granted as all NATO allies, including Lithuania, have to contribute to their practical implementation.
"As a reliable and responsible ally, Lithuania has to do its homework – to take care of the country's defense and ensure Lithuania's proper contribution to joint efforts in spreading peace and stability in Europe. As Napoleon once said, an army marches on its stomach. A state needs to invest into its security as only this way it can create favorable environment for a successful development of the state and the public," Ažubalis said.
Lithuania joined NATO on 29 March 2004.