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Lithuanian Embassy Visit
Date: Monday, 30 November 2015, 16:00-18:00
Venue: 2 Bessborough Gardens, London, SW1V 2JE
Host: Lithuanian Defence Minister
Open to: ACUK Members only
Cost: £10 (including drinks & refreshments)
The Atlantic Council was privileged to take a delegation of its young Members to the Lithuanian Embassy in London, to engage in a Q&A-style seminar discussion with the Defence Minister during his visit.
After being greeting by the Ambassador, the Atlantic Council heard the Minister's reflections on the historic occasion marked that very day when he signed the new Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Lithuania, which covers our two countries' joint contribution to the NATO Joint Expeditionary Force, or JEF.
As the Minister pointed out, this event could not have been more timely, with NATO facing an unexpected strategic challenge on its eastern flank. Russian incursions over the past few years, first into Georgia and then into Crimea and east Ukraine, have revealed stratified rather than united attitudes to the problem within the Alliance. This is hardly surprising: north-west European Allies, relatively insulated from the threat, war-weary and pressed by fiscal austerity, are understandably reluctant to engage with Russian provocations; by contrast, for east European Allies, the immediacy of the geopolitical threat is understandably creating anxiety.
Issues such as energy security were touched upon, with alternatives actively being sought to the vice-grip that Russia currently enjoys over states like Lithuania. One such example is the new power-line running to Sweden, or the increased use of readily-transportable liquid petroleum gas (or LPG), to reduce dependence on Russian fuel imports.
Guests of the Atlantic Council included officials from the UK Ministry of Defence, and postgraduates at the University of Oxford amongst others. After a very lively off-the-record question and answer session with the Minister, the evening's proceedings were called to a close by our Chairman, Mr. Dennis Hartshorne, and special thanks was given to both the Minister himself and the Lithuanian Defence Attaché, Colonel Valdas Šiaučiulis, who was indispensible with all the assistance he offered in setting up the Masterclass.
The delegation afterwards retired to a local haunt in Pimlico to enjoy some well earnt refreshments after a very engaging session.
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