News2023.03.10 17:03

Lithuanian, Turkish presidents discuss security in Baltic, Black Sea regions

BNS 2023.03.10 17:03

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Friday to discuss security issues in the Baltic and Black Sea regions and preparations for NATO's upcoming summit in Vilnius.

The two leaders also discussed prospects for developing bilateral political and economic relations between Lithuania and Turkey, as well as support for Ukraine, the Lithuanian president's office said in a press release.

"Lithuania highly appreciates Turkey's solidarity and contribution to strengthening our security in the Baltic region. Turkey is also a key factor in ensuring security in the Black Sea region," it quoted Nausėda as saying during the meeting.

"Turkey's support for Ukraine, which is under Russia's attack, is also of utmost importance, especially in dealing with Ukraine's grain exports through Black Sea ports. This is important not only for Ukraine's economy, but also for the global food market," he said.

The Lithuanian and Turkish presidents discussed further NATO assistance to Ukraine, the enlargement of the Alliance, and preparations for the Vilnius summit scheduled for July 11–12, according to the press release.

Nausėda told Erdogan that a key objective of the gathering is to ensure the implementation of the 2022 Madrid summit decisions to bolster NATO's eastern flank.

"We have to ensure that new regional defence plans are adopted before the Vilnius summit, as well as to increase NATO's forward presence to brigade size and to strengthen air defence in the region," he said.

The Lithuanian president said that the alliance must seriously assess and be ready to respond to all threats, including terrorism, on NATO's southern borders.

Turkey's role on the international stage has increased since Russia launched the war in Ukraine.

The NATO member brokered talks between Moscow and Kyiv on Ukrainian grain exports and prisoners of war.

Ankara's voice is also important for Sweden and Finland in their NATO membership bids, as Turkey and Hungary remain the only members to have failed to ratify the Nordic countries' accession documents.

Ankara has said it is ready to accept Finland into NATO but accuses Sweden of harbouring what it calls terrorists, including members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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