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Europe should make a larger contribution to stronger defence capabilities, Minister R. Karoblis says


“European contribution to the enhancement of defence capabilities should be bigger. It is also important to complement NATO but avoid overlapping,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said at the informal European Union Defence Ministers meeting held in Valetta, Malta, on April 26-27. The National Defence Minister stated Lithuania’s support to the European initiatives that enhance defence capabilities in Europe and sharing the Trans-Atlantic burden, with a focus on sufficient defence financing in Europe.


The Ministers discussed new EU initiatives for strengthening the EU Common Security and Defence Policy, such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD),enhancement of the rapid response EU crisis management, and establishment of the European Defence Fund proposed by the European Commission. The Fund would be used to finance defence research and capability development projects in Europe, with part of the finance coming from the European Commission.


At a working session which was also attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Under Secretary General of the Department of Peacekeeping at the United Nations Jean-Pierre Lacroix the Ministers addressed the gravity of situation in the Mediterranean an prospects for the Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED) - Sophia tackling illegal migration. The discussion featured the situation in Libya: the ministers urged to enhance NATO-EU cooperation in the Mediterranean and to join forces for tackling hotbeds of illegal migration and weapon smuggling in the sea and on land.


On the first day of the meeting the Ministers were briefed on the challenges and main aspects of Operation Sophia aboard its flagship ITS San Giusto by commander of the operation Admiral Enrico Credendino.


Lithuania has been contributing to EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia since 2015. Apart from the deploying Vessel Boarding Team, two officers are serving aboard the command ship of the operation - Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi, and one more officer serves at operational headquarters in Rome (Italy).


The first 12-strong Vessel Boarding Team of Lithuania serves aboard FGS Rhein of the German Navy. Vessel Boarding Teams identify, detain, search and interrogate ships and crews suspected of smuggling weapons or migrants. The second Lithuanian VBT is expected to leave to take over from the first one in the area of operation after two or three months.


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