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‘Our battle for independence paid off’: Polish parliament speaker in Lithuania

Speaker of the Polish Lower House (Sejm) Elżbieta Witek visited Lithuania on the occasion of the country’s Day of Restoration of Independence.

Ms Witek stressed at a press briefing that she and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda discussed the upcoming NATO summit which will be held in Vilnius. “We expect a lot from it, not only Lithuania but also all the other countries, especially from the Central and Eastern European area.”

Since December, the Polish Air Force has been in command of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission – Polish fighter jets from a base in Łask are stationed at a base in Šiauliai, Lithuania, taking part in patrolling and protecting the skies over the Baltic States. This proves, Elżbieta Witek added, that Polish and Lithuanian security interests are the same.

“We have the same past, we have a lot in common – including that tragic history when we were under Soviet influence,” the Speaker of Sejm stressed at the press conference. She noted that the struggle for independence, which sometimes cost the loss of lives, paid off. “Today we are free nations, but there is a war going on beyond our eastern border,” she added.

🎥Mauzoleum Matki i Serca Syna na wileńskiej Rossie. Marszałek Sejmu @elzbietawitek wraz z posłami @IwonaArent, @k_matuszny, @TAziewicz i @Tomek_Glogowski oddali hołd marszałkowi Józefowi Piłsudskiemu i jego matce.

— Sejm RP🇵🇱 (@KancelariaSejmu) March 10, 2023

She also talked with the Lithuanian president about a more significant diplomatic presence on the African continent “because the disinformation about the war in Ukraine that is spreading on that continent is unimaginable.”

“I hope that together with Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, but also with the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, we will undertake this diplomatic expansion to the African continent,” she added.

The Speaker of the Sejm also noted that leaders of the parliaments of these countries are actively working to deepen cooperation.

Lithuania declared independence on March 11, 1990, as the first of the republics of the disintegrating Soviet Union. In response to the declaration of independence, Soviet troops entered Vilnius. A symbol of the struggle for Lithuanian independence became the defense by civilians of the Vilnius television tower, which broadcasts Lithuanian programs, and the parliament building in January 1991, mentioned by Marshal Witek. As a result of the assault by Soviet soldiers, 15 people were killed, including 14 defenders, and more than 600 were wounded. The Soviets finally left Lithuania in August 1991.

Over the past three decades, Poland’s relations with Lithuania have been turbulent, due to many differences of opinion about the history of both countries. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there was a breakthrough and relations warmed considerably.

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