Germany and Lithuania have wide-ranging ties. However, this year, they both in particular share memories of a peaceful revolution: the Iron Curtain fell 30 years ago, marking a milestone on the path to the unification of Europe. Foreign Minister Maas recalled those events in his talks with Linkevičius:
In Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, on the 23rd of August 1989, hundreds of thousands of Balts took to the streets to demonstrate for independence and democracy – forming the longest human chain in history.
Shortly afterwards, starting in early September 1989, more and more people in East Germany, too, took part in the Monday demonstrations, demanding greater participation and more freedom. Soon after, on the 9th of November, the Berlin Wall fell.
Working for defence and resilience: Germany’s engagement in the Baltic region
Germany plays a prominent role in NATO’s presence in Lithuania. In February 2017, in its role as a framework nation, Germany assumed leadership of the multinational enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup, and its soldiers serve alongside those of other NATO partners in the country. With enhanced Forward Presence and the increased protection of the eastern part of Alliance territory, NATO countries are responding to the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia and its continued destabilisation of Ukraine. In his discussions with Linkevičius, Maas emphasised it is important for NATO member countries to send a clear signal of solidarity at their summit meeting in December.
Since 2015, Germany has also been supporting the Baltic countries’ efforts to fight disinformation. The aim of the so-called resilience initiative is to jointly promote media competence in the region and to make citizens more aware of false information, thereby countering targeted political propaganda campaigns.
The critical situation in eastern Ukraine
The meeting between Maas and Linkevičius also focused on the situation in eastern Ukraine. Germany continues to give top priority to efforts towards finding a solution to the conflict – because if peace were to be achieved, this would have a positive effect on the entire region. Germany and France recently campaigned strongly for a summit meeting to be held in the Normandy format. Maas is convinced that such a summit could achieve notable progress for the people in Ukraine. He therefore appealed again today to both sides to finally respect the agreed ceasefire and carry out disengagement. This is the only way to implement the “Steinmeier formula” and to put the Minsk process back on track.