Lithuanian Minister of National Defence J. Olekas welcomes the consent of European leaders to enhance European Security and Defence

Source: Lithuanian Presidency of the EU i, published on Friday, December 20 2013.

„Conclusions of the European Council have reflected the fundamental consent that European countries should exercise greater responsibilities in enhancing European security and defence,” Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said while commenting on the conclusions of the European Council on the future of the European Defence adopted on 20 December. “I hope that the opinion of the European leaders will also help promote awareness among our people that defence matters.”

At the same time Minister J. Olekas underlined the key challenges the European Council identified in further developing the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP): changing security environment, fragmented European defence markets and constrained budgets, as well as the urge from the Heads of State or Government to maintain sufficient level of investments on defence if Europe was to seek a bigger role in international arena alongside NATO and UN partners.

The Lithuanian Minister of National Defence also welcomed the fact that Lithuanian presidency priorities in CSDP had also been reflected in the conclusions of the European Council among other measures for strengthening European defence.

“I am very glad that the European leaders have underscored the importance of transatlantic relations and cooperation with global and regional partners in building security within and outside European borders. The ambition to bring closer cooperation between the European Union and NATO in security and defence and to achieve greater interoperability between the two organisations by further enhancing their strategic partnership are very important”, the Minister said.

The Minister also pointed out the conclusion of the European Council to extend EU assistance to partner countries by strengthening their crises response capabilities through training, advice and other means as a particularly important deliverable of the European Council to finalise Lithuania’s term of Presidency.

„I hope that the political consent expressed at the highest level will open new ways for closer cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries and partners in other regions in the area of security and defence,” the Lithuanian Defence Minister said.

J. Olekas also underlined the focus of the European Council on the changing security environment and emerging security challenges and the call of the Council for an EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework and the adoption of an EU Maritime Security Strategy and strengthen cooperation of energy security.

„Cyber threats, dependence on energy supplies - these are daily challenges posing a real threat to the security and welfare of the Europeans. I do believe that inclusion of such challenges into the political EU agenda will open new opportunities for a closer collaboration among the countries in the field of military energy security area while a better energy efficiency and independence from external energy supplies in operations would not only facilitate saving but also cut the risk of soldiers’ lives”, the Minister said.

“I am very happy that the conclusions of the European Council have also reflected the aspiration to improve the EU rapid response capabilities through more flexible and deployable EU Battle groups,” Minister J. Olekas said.

“All the challenges I have mentioned require for a better coordination among the member states, new smart ways of collaboration, better standardisation and joint initiatives in pooling and sharing resources and capabilities ”, Minister J.Olekas said.

The European Council of 19-20 December in Brussels was the first to address once again European defence issues since signing the EU Treaty of Lisbon in 2008.