Gitanas Nauseda, 59, has been president of Lithuania since 2019. This economist by training was on Wednesday May 24 in Paris to prepare, with Emmanuel Macron, the next summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that his country is organizing on 11 and 12 July in Vilnius.
What prospects do you see for Ukraine’s integration into NATO?
At the Vilnius summit, the question of Ukraine will largely occupy the discussions. It is still difficult today to find the right formula. Ukraine will not join NATO in the midst of war. But it is not possible to tell him that the door is only open without being more precise. Don’t send him the wrong signal. We cannot remain on a hybrid, incomprehensible solution.
We are therefore preparing various actions. First of all, to better integrate it militarily into the Alliance, because the Ukrainian army accumulates a very important experience on the ground and in combats. There is also a political solution to put in place, which could go through the creation of a NATO-Ukraine council, a body to bring us closer together and consider membership.
At the same time, there is the question of bilateral security guarantees to be granted to kyiv. The subject was discussed between the leaders within the G7 last week, and France plays an active part in these discussions. The ideal would be to obtain proposals by the Vilnius summit in order to discuss them collectively.
The United States has made it known that it does not want to launch Ukraine’s NATO membership, but has it indicated what it wants?
So far, the American position has not been made clear. It will clear up in the coming weeks. However, I see a great energy that animates the leaders of the Alliance to find a solution in collaboration with the Ukrainians.
What does it mean to strengthen the eastern flank of the Alliance, which will also be discussed in Vilnius?
For Lithuania and the Baltic countries, the question of air defense becomes critical. Since 2004, we have benefited from support to secure our airspace, in particular thanks to the help of the allies and especially France. But we have to move on to the next step, the establishment of ground-to-air defense elements. This is not easy, because today the supply of anti-missile defense systems is extremely limited.
Many systems are assembled and sent to Ukraine, which is the priority. We understand that. We suggest setting up ground-to-air defense elements by rotation. Some allies, who still have these elements, could equip us on a temporary basis. Systems could come from the Netherlands, Germany, France. We have made proposals to our allies. We hope that we will come to an agreement.
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Source: Le Monde