Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz thanked his host, Lithuanian President Nausėda, for the invitation to Vilnius because, he said, “it’s particularly vital to engage directly with friends and partners when faced with political challenges on a scale we could never have imagined just a few months ago”.
In addition to the head of state, the Federal Chancellor also met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in Vilnius. Scholz said at the press briefing after the talks that they had been able to arrive at a “very close, trusting and concrete agreement”.
Appeal to Putin: end the war immediately!
During Scholz’s trip to the Baltic States, the focus was once again on Russia’s war against Ukraine. “Our common goal is clear: Russia must not and will not be allowed to win this war,” said Scholz. He called on Russia to end its war of aggression against Ukraine and withdraw its troops.
As the Federal Chancellor stated unequivocally: “We stand firm, united and in solidarity with Ukraine and will support it in preserving its independence and territorial integrity.” Ukraine would survive this terrible, brutal war being waged by Russia’s President Putin, he added.
Sanctions: pressure on Russia to be stepped up further
Federal Chancellor Scholz emphasised that Ukraine would continue to be supported with arms supplies so as to secure its defence capabilities in the medium term. “At the same time, we will continue to step up the pressure on Russia. That’s why I’m glad we were able to agree on the 6th package of sanctions at the European Council meeting last week.”
Germany to expand its presence in Lithuania
During his visit to Lithuania, Federal Chancellor Scholz announced a further gradual expansion of Germany’s military presence in the country. According to Scholz, the Federal Government is prepared to take its existing commitment a step further and “seek to establish a robust combat brigade”. The Federal Chancellor said he was pleased that the other leaders welcomed this clear and substantial sign of German solidarity.
Energy: freedom has its price
The Federal Chancellor also addressed the issue of energy policy. Scholz praised the “joint show of strength” that was paving the way for the EU to become independent of Russian oil imports as quickly as possible. “This will require enormous efforts from all member states and will involve sacrifices, too. But we are prepared to make these because we owe it to Ukraine – and we are well aware that freedom has its price,” said the Federal Chancellor. Now it was important to continue along the chosen path and end dependence on Russian imports in the gas sector as well, said Scholz. “Germany is acting as fast as its can to do everything necessary to achieve this aim.”
Russia responsible for food crisis
Federal Chancellor Scholz said it was crucial to bear in mind the global consequences of the Russian war of aggression and that quick and targeted action was required in response. “The fact that Ukrainian food cannot be exported, resulting in a dramatic increase in food prices in many countries, is solely the responsibility of Russia – a consequence of its war of aggression and the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure,” he said. Together with the United Nations and international partners, efforts were currently being made to enable Ukrainian wheat to be exported in spite of the Russian blockade of the sea route in the Black Sea, said the Federal Chancellor.
Belarus: put an end to the repression of the population
In addition to the war in Ukraine, the situation in Belarus was also discussed, said Federal Chancellor Scholz, adding that the Belarusian leadership was expected to respect its international obligations. “This includes putting a stop to any support for the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine as well as to the unspeakable repression and violence being inflicted on civil society in Belarus itself,” said Scholz.
Migration: Germany is providing assistance
As a result of the Russian war, Ukraine’s neighbouring countries are currently facing particular challenges due to migration, said Federal Chancellor Scholz. He gave his assurance that Germany stood “in solidarity with our partners”. For example, Germany is financing support measures for the care of those seeking protection through the German Red Cross.
Trip concluded with a visit to the Federal Armed Forces in Lithuania
The Federal Chancellor ended his trip with a visit to the German-led Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania, where he was impressed with the capabilities of the multinational unit and thanked the soldiers for their work on behalf of the entire Federal Government. This state-of-the-art battle group has contributed to securing NATO’s eastern flank since 2017.