At the Signing Ceremony After Their Meeting:
March 9, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Welcome, and it’s a great pleasure to have the foreign minister along with his delegation from Lithuania here today. Some of you may remember that the minister was a shining star in the Washington, D.C., diplomatic ferment when he served as Lithuania’s ambassador to the United States. He served for five years, and there was a great regret when he left Washington, so it’s especially nice to have him back in his new capacity. I think he’s been foreign minister since December, if I’m not mistaken.
FOREIGN MINISTER USACKAS: That’s correct.
SECRETARY CLINTON: So he’s been a foreign minister longer than I have been.
During our discussions, the minister and I affirmed our shared commitment to the common principles and common purposes that unite our countries. It is no accident that Lithuania is one of our most dependable partners and allies. Both our countries share a determination to promote democracy, uphold the rule of law, encourage broad-based economic prosperity, and we are deeply committed to NATO’s pledge of collective security.
These principles provide the foundation for our efforts to address a growing array of economic, diplomatic, and security challenges. In order to succeed in these common efforts, we have to cooperate even more closely than we already have in the past.
The instruments of ratification we are exchanging today, which are called for by the 2005 protocols regarding extradition and mutual legal assistance between our two countries, are an example of that increased cooperation. This exchange is the first of the 27 similar sets of agreements that the United States will be undertaking with all EU member-countries. These protocols will enter into force shortly, when the related agreements between the United States and the European Union take effect.
Many of the law enforcement challenges our countries face today have little respect for borders. Networks of computer hackers, financial criminals, and violent extremists often hide behind international borders and use geography to gain impunity. These twin agreements between the United States and Lithuania give our police and our prosecutors the state-of-the-art tools they need to cooperate in bringing criminals to justice on both sides of the Atlantic.
In conjunction with the similar agreements we are pursuing with all of the countries of the European Union, the agreements for which we are exchanging instruments of ratification today will help provide the Euro-Atlantic community with powerful tools to apprehend and prosecute individuals who might otherwise escape justice.
These agreements are only one small facet of the vibrant partnership the United States enjoys with the people and Government of Lithuania.
Now, I have been told that this year marks the 1,000th anniversary of Lithuania’s name. Now, we in the United States cannot claim such a lengthy history, but I am convinced that our strong relationship, cooperation, and shared values can last just as long. I look forward to working with the foreign minister as we go forward from today’s meeting working together as allies to create a stronger, safer, and more prosperous world.
FOREIGN MINISTER USACKAS: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. It’s great to be back in Washington this year, and it’s great to see you again, this time not as a senator but Secretary of State.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER USACKAS: Indeed, United States and Lithuania are bound by many ties, and we are members of NATO, we are – Lithuania is a member of the EU and enjoy very close transatlantic relationship. But most importantly, that we are bound by the human chain, human chain of the people who have been residing in United States for more than one hundred years. And I am coming here to Washington, D.C., straight from Chicago, where we had a celebration of millennium for Lithuania and where many people came to enjoy Lithuanian national music and dance.
I am here today to talk to Secretary Hillary Clinton about the challenges for the Euro-Atlantic community. We talked about energy security issues, which are very important both for Europe and for United States. We talked about our common neighborhood of NATO and the European Union, which stretches from Belarus to Georgia. And we also talked about, very important, a neighbor, Russia, with whom we have decided to re-launch – resume NATO-Russia Council only last week. We believe that NATO has an important agenda before the summit, and we look forward to working with United States so as to prepare NATO alliance for the challenges of the 21st century.
Lithuania is a trustworthy ally of United States. We’re present in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re going to be increasing our military presence in Afghanistan. And we are continuously sharing our experience of democracy building and free market with such countries as Ukraine and Georgia. We strongly – we are strongly committed to the future membership of Ukraine and Georgia. Those countries have a lot to learn from the examples and lessons learned of Central European countries. And I’m looking forward to working with Secretary of State and with her staff to advance our reforms and to share the best lessons learned with the countries I mentioned.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister. And if you will, join me now for the signing of the protocols.
(The Instruments of Ratification are signed.)