Lithuania - US Relations
Since the restoration of Lithuania’s independence, the partnership between the United States of America and Lithuania has been the priority of the country’s foreign policy. Relying on the approach “the more prominent the presence of the US in Europe, the safer Lithuania will be”, Lithuania has always been an active supporter of US involvement in the European security system. Lithuania’s reliance on this partnership is governed by security needs characterised by one specific feature – the search for a positive balance of power in the region. Lithuania’s view is that US involvement is the only factor that could stabilise the security situation in the region and ensure Lithuania’s emergence from the “grey” security zone.
TheUS-Lithuanian relationship dates back to the middle of the 20th century. America was one of the first to recognize the independence of Lithuania in 1920’s. The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on July 28, 1922. The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the Legation to Lithuania on September 5, 1940, but Lithuanian representation in the United States continued uninterrupted. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the USSR. The US Administration’s consistent policy of non-recognition of Soviet occupation enabled the Lithuanian diplomatic representation to retain the status of the Lithuanian Legation to the United States.
In 2011, the United States and Lithuania celebrated the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of Baltic independence. Lithuania has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991.
Since 1992, the United States has committed more than $100 million in Lithuania to economic and political transformation and to humanitarian needs. The United States and Lithuania signed an agreement on bilateral trade and intellectual property protection in 1994 and a bilateral investment treaty in 1997. In 1998, the United States signed a "Charter of Partnership" with Lithuania and the other Baltic countries establishing bilateral working groups focused on improving regional security, defense, and economic issues. In November 2008 Lithuania joined the Visa Waiver Program, which allows Lithuanians short-term travel to the United States visa-free.
Lithuania has greatly benefited from the programs of the US governmental and non-governmental organizations which offered generous assistance in strengthening the young institutions of Lithuania’s democratic government, society and its emerging free-market economy.
The Charter of Partnership Between the Baltic States and the United States of America signed on January 16, 1998 in Washington, D.C. played a key role during the accession of Lithuania to NATO. When NATO membership of Lithuania and two other Baltic states took effect in March 2004, the objective of the US-Baltic Partnership Charter was achieved. Therefore, new forms of cooperation and regional initiatives developed within the Baltic Charter, such as Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (e-PINE).
Lithuania's alliance with the US is rooted in longstanding US support for its independence during the Soviet occupation, shared democratic values, and the personal ties of Lithuanian immigrants to the US. Lithuania particularly values the US partnership, because the Transatlantic relationship, along with EU and NATO membership, are considered key to Lithuania's continued independence and protection from the possibility of Russian aggression or undue interference in the economic, political and social -- as well as security -- spheres.
The US non-recognition policy of Soviet occupation, support in regaining independence in 1990 and theUS crucial role in advocating Lithuania’s membership in the Euro-Atlantic institutions stand as the finest examples of the “special” Lithuania-U.S. relations.
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