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Lithuania on its Way to NATO

On 17 November 1990, the Baltic Information Bureau started functioning in Brussels (after the restoration of the independence of Lithuania, while the international community had not recognised it, Lithuania could not have official diplomatic representations and these representations were being established unofficially, under cover of ”information bureaus”). Newly established diplomatic services from Lithuania worked in the Information Bureau in Brussels – representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Belgium and the European Community Rimantas Morkvėnas, who only had authorisation signed by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Algirdas Saudargas, because, having such a status, the official diplomatic accreditation was impossible. However, the Information Bureau in Brussels was exercising diplomatic functions; its activities were devoted to international relations and to relations with the European Community, as well as to relations with NATO. The Information Bureau in Brussels functioned until the recognition of Lithuania’s Independence and, afterwards, it was reorganised into a diplomatic representation.

On 31 May 1991, for the first time in history, an unofficial visit of the Lithuanian delegation, headed by chairman of the Supreme Council Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, to NATO headquarters took place. Inasmuch as the arrangement of an official meeting was impossible at that time, the Danish Mission at NATO mediated the visit of the Lithuanian delegation.

On 20 December 1991, Lithuania together with Latvia and Estonia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC).

On 13 January 1992, the Ambassador Adolfas Venskus was appointed as official representative of Lithuania for relations with the European Community and for NATO issues.

On 5 October 1993, political parties of the Republic of Lithuania addressed the President regarding the integration of the Republic of Lithuania into NATO.

On 29 November 1993, opposition parties of the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania concluded a memorandum for the key principles of Lithuania’s national foreign policy.

On 4 January 1994, President of the Republic of Lithuania Algirdas Brazauskas sent a letter to NATO Secretary General Manfred Worner expressing the desire of Lithuania to become a NATO member. The letter stated the position based on the agreement on Lithuania’s aspiration to become a member of NATO signed by all parliamentary parties.

On 27 January 1994, Lithuania joined the Partnership for Peace (PFP) programme.

On 19 December 1996, Law on the Basics of National Security was adopted, which defined integration into the European and transatlantic structures as the priority goal of the Lithuanian foreign policy and the measure for safeguarding national security.

On 8-9 July 1997, at NATO Summit in Madrid Baltic States’ progress in ensuring security and stability in the Baltic region was noted. 

On 1 August 1997, the Lithuanian Mission to NATO was established.

On 9 October 1997, the former Minister of National Defence Linas Linkevičius was appointed as Ambassador of Lithuania to NATO.

On 23-25 April 1999, at the NATO Summit in Washington efforts and progress of Lithuania in aspiring for NATO membership were acknowledged. At the same Summit, NATO leaders launched the Membership Action Plan, designed to assist Lithuania in preparation for NATO membership.
On 18-19 May 2000, a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the nine NATO aspirant countries was held in Vilnius, during which the Vilnius Statement was made, undertaking the commitment to the creation of a Europe, whole and free in an alliance, including the countries of Europe, the United States and Canada. As a result of this meeting, the Vilnius Ten group was established after the joining of Croatia.

On 17 November 2000, by decree of the President, Ambassador Giedrius Čekuolis was appointed chief co-ordinator of Lithuanian integration to NATO.

On 25 January 2001, by decree of the President, Gintė Damušis was appointed the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Western European Union (WEU).

On 27-31 May 2001, NATO Parliamentary Assembly held its spring session in Vilnius.

On 21 November 2002, in Prague, seven NATO candidate countries – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – were invited to start accession negotiations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

On 26 March 2003, Protocols to the Washington Treaty on the accession of the invited candidate countries were signed.

On 10 March 2004, the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania ratified the Washington Treaty.

On 29 March 2004, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania Algirdas Brazauskas, during his visit in Washington, together with his Bulgarian, Estonian, Latvian, Romanian, Slovakian and Slovenian counterparts presented to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell ratification instruments  of the Washington Treaty. On this historic day Lithuania became a full-fledged member of NATO.

On 2 April 2004, the Lithuanian flag was raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Antanas Valionis together with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia attended the official ceremony and the celebratory session of the North Atlantic Council.

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