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Warsaw and Vilnius are now closer allies than ever before, Polish president says

06.07.2023 16:30
NATO allies and neighbours Poland and Lithuania are now closer politically than they have been in centuries, and Vilnius is one of Warsaw’s key partners in the region, the Polish president has said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks at a ceremony to mark Lithuanias Statehood Day, in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Thursday, July 6, 2023.
Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks at a ceremony to mark Lithuania’s Statehood Day, in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Thursday, July 6, 2023.PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Andrzej Duda made the statement during an event to celebrate Lithuania’s Statehood Day in Vilnius on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The Polish head of state is making a three-day visit to the Lithuanian capital, accompanied by First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda

Poland, Lithuania 'closer to each other than at any point in recent centuries'

Speaking to mark Lithuania’s Statehood Day, on the anniversary of the coronation of King Mindaugas on July 6, 1253, Andrzej Duda said: “Today, Vilnius and Warsaw are closer to each other than at any point in recent centuries. Lithuania ranks among Poland’s most important partners and allies in the region.”

He added: “We are together in the European Union and NATO, and we share a similar perception of the challenges facing us.”

The Polish president stated: “We understand perfectly well that the cooperation and solidarity of Central and Eastern European countries, especially Poland and Lithuania, is a guarantee of our collective security, independence and freedom.”

Duda also said: “We feel this even more acutely amid Ukraine’s war effort in defence against the Russian invasion. We see the unchanging nature of Russia’s imperial, colonial policy, its military dominance, assault, violence and conquest. This used to be the case for centuries and it is also the case in the 21st century, even though it seemed imaginable that it would happen today.”

Vilnius summit set to 'offer Ukraine a pathway to NATO'

The Polish president added that in these circumstances, “the decisions made at the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius will be so important.”

Duda stated: “It is my belief that the Vilnius summit will offer Ukraine a pathway to NATO, pledge increased support until Ukraine emerges victorious over the aggressor, and bolster the security of countries located here, on the eastern flank of the transatlantic alliance.”

The Polish president told the gathering: “The capital of the independent, free and sovereign Lithuania, Vilnius, which celebrates 700 years of its existence, is a fitting venue for such decisions."

He added: "From its earliest beginnings, this magnificent city has espoused the values that remain dear to us all today. They are the opposite of tyranny and violence. They are freedom, mutual respect and the co-existence of various traditions and cultures.”

'Together we can do more': Lithuanian president

Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda thanked his Polish counterpart for attending Lithuania’s Statehood Day and stressed the “shared European heritage” of the two countries and their collective past.

Nausėda said: “We continue to go from strength to strength, as close partners and allies. Together we are stronger and braver. Together we can do more.”

Lithuania’s president told the audience: “In today’s times, when danger is looming nearby again, and the brotherly Ukrainian nation must defend its right to a free and independent life, we are in the right place. We maintain a healthy persistence and unwaveringly stand guard over European values.”

Nausėda said he was delighted with the presence of the Polish president. “I am glad that we are not alone," he added.

Earlier in the day, Poland’s Duda laid flowers at the graves of Polish soldiers in Vilnius’ Antakalnis cemetery, the PAP news agency reported.

He also laid flowers at the tombstone of Polish independence hero Józef Piłsudski and the graves of Polish insurgents who took part in the 1863 January Uprising against Russia, at the Rasos cemetery, according to officials. 

While in Vilnius, the Polish president also held talks with Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and parliamentary Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the PAP news agency reported.   

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Thursday is day 498 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, prezydent.pl