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Lithuania's president welcomes Germany's role in NATO deployment

Europe
07.02.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vilnius (dpa) - Germany‘s leading military presence in Lithuania is "symbolic and very important," the country‘s president, Dalia Grybauskaite, told dpa ahead of an official troop welcoming ceremony Tuesday to be attended by the German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen.

Germany is to lead a NATO battalion of some 1,000 troops as part of the enhanced NATO presence in the three Baltic States, all of which are seen as particularly vulnerable to potential Russian aggression.

Germany‘s role in the deployment is "a very good signal for NATO, for Europe and for Germany itself," said Grybauskaite, who has been president of Lithuania since 2009.

The stationing of German troops in Eastern Europe is a sensitive issue due to the country‘s World War II invasion and occupation of the region.

"We understand these concerns," Grybauskaite said. "Which is precisely why we see Germany‘s decision so favourably."

"Germany has made many confessions with respect to the consequences of World War II ... But today we are in the 21st century and it is the responsibility of all of us to reflect on the future of Europe and to preserve the peace and security of Europe for the future."

The first German troops arrived at the Lithuanian base of Rukla last week.

The core of the German unit will be armoured infantrymen deployed with a range of infantry fighting vehicles.

Opinion polls indicate a high level of approval for the deployment, with more than 70 per cent of the Lithuanian population backing more NATO troops and equipment and 82 per cent in favour of a permanent presence.

 

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