By Angele Kedaitiene. Lithuanian officials and press have reacted favourably to nomination and then to election of Ursula von der Leyen as the new President of the European Commission. Both Presidents, the earlier Dalia Grybauskaite and the recent Gitanas Nauseda have supported her candidacy as favourable for Lithuania.
Ursula von der Leyen has been visiting Lithuania a few times, last time – in February this year. During her term as the German Minister of Defence, she has sent to Lithuania 500 German militaries who took leadership of the international battalion dislocated in Lithuania with aim at threatening away the possible agression of Russian Federation. Two years ago, while launching the service of this battalion in Rukla, she has said that Lithuania will never be left alone. “Lithuanian freedom and independence will never be sacrificed for the sphere interests of power politics” – she said then.
In February this year during her latest visit to Lithuanian, she has promised German investments of 110 mln. EUR into Lithuanian military infrastructure.
Furthermore, according to social democrat Juozas Olekas, the former Defence Minister of Lithuania, she has been calling him not a single time to enquire on the defence situation of Lithuania and its needs.
In 2017, for all her positive input into defence capabilities of the country, Ursula von der Leyen has been awarded the Order of Merits of Lithuania. She received it then from the hands of Dalia Grybauskaite.
President Nauseda has commented on Tuesday, during his visit to Poland, that “its good candidacy for Lithuania. It is a person who knows the regional situation, has opinion on Russia and on the defence policy as the priority”. He plans meeting Ursula von der Leyen during his visit to Berlin in mid-August.
According to Nauseda, after the vote, Lithuania will start discussions over the portfolio of the new EU Commissioner for Lithuania, and over the multiannual budget of 2021-2027. He has joked, that since Ursuala von der Leyen has won with the margin of number of Lithuanian MEPs, the negotiating position of Lithuanian will be extremely strong here.
Importantly, during his first foreign visit to Warsaw, Nauseda has said the dispute between EU institutions and Poland should be resolved by means of dialogue, not sanctions. Addressing a joint press conference with is Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, Nauseda said Poland’s reforms were aimed at fighting corruption.
“Yes, this decision was deemed unlawful by the European Community, therefore, this law has already been suspended, which means that the Polish side responds and the Polish side is ready to cooperate,” the Lithuanian president said.
“So, before speaking about any type of sanctions, we have to better understand each other, and both sides should continue the dialogue, and we should not take the path of sanctions, but take the path of better mutual understanding,” Nauseda said.
Although, he did not answer directly when asked by BNS Lithuania how Lithuania would vote, in favour, against or would abstain if EU members were to decide on sanctions.