Lithuanian PM: Vilnius sees Israel as strategic partner in world

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is not "oblivious" to Iranian threats, but unimpressed by them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) with Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Vilnius.     (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) with Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Vilnius.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Lithuania sees Israel as a “strategic partner not only in the Middle East, but in the entire world,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Tuesday before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
While Netanyahu often tells European leaders that Israel is at the frontline of the defense of Europe against Islamic radicalism, this time it was a European leader – Skvernelis – who broached the subject. He said that he is “very glad that Israel is at the frontline defending Europe” from threats such as terrorism and cyberattacks.
Netanyahu met Skvernelis last August in Vilnius – the first Israeli prime minister ever to visit any of the Baltic states – at a summit with the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Attending that summit was part of Netanyahu’s policy of creating sub-alliances inside the EU with groupings of countries to offset what he believes to be an anti-Israeli bias in Brussels.
Skvernelis, on his first visit to Israel since becoming prime minister in December 2016, said that Netanyahu’s visit to Vilnius gave a great impetus to ties between the two countries and pushed cooperation across a wide range of fields to a different level.
Netanyahu, in his welcoming remarks, said that Israel and Lithuania have a “brilliant future,” but also noted the tragic past where 95% of the Lithuanian Jewish community “was murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.”
“That has changed,” he said. “Israel is now, as you know, a secure and powerful country. It is not that we lack enemies – Iran again called for our destruction yesterday. We are not oblivious to these threats, but we are not impressed by them either because we know our powers of defense, and our powers of offense, and these are geared to safeguarding not only our state, but also our common civilization, common freedoms and our common values.”
Prior to meeting Netanyahu, Skvernelis met President Reuven Rivlin, toured Jerusalem’s Old City and visited Yad Vashem.
Rivlin, during his meeting with the Lithuanian leader, thanked him for his “brave leadership in recognizing Lithuania’s role in the Holocaust and for protecting Jewish sites in his country,” according to the president’s office.
Rivlin also said that Israel appreciated Lithuania’s support in international forums and its opposition to decisions that unfairly discriminate against the Jewish state.


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