Trump with Baltic Leaders Recognizes ‘Brutal Soviet Occupation’ at Centennial of Independence

Baltic Presidents, Trump
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images
Washington, DC

President Donald Trump reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to trade with, security of, and the independence of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia during a Tuesday press conference with those nations’ presidents at the White House.

The U.S.-Baltic summit commemorated 100 years of independence for each of the three Baltic nations. Trump remarked on the many years the Baltics endured “brutal Soviet occupation” and longstanding U.S. support for the sovereignty of the Baltic republics. He reaffirmed U.S. “commitment to the Welles Declaration of 1940 and the U.S.-Baltic Charter of 1998.”

“All three Baltic republics are committed NATO allies,” remarked President Trump, who thanked each country for fulfilling their “full obligation” to contribute two percent of GDP for national defense. He added that the Baltic states are also contributing in the fight to defeat ISIS.

On the economy, Trump said that they are excited about development and growth in “new opportunities for collaboration” between the nations, particularly in science, medicine, and technology. He welcomed “increased bilateral trade with all three nations, based on the principle of fairness and reciprocity.”

Energy security was a final point of cooperation highlighted by Trump. The collaboration contributes to a diversity of energy supplies and routes throughout the Baltic region. One way this is happening is increased U.S exports of liquefied natural gas to the region. President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania later remarked that she would ink two deals with U.S. natural gas companies while in the U.S. She added that this gives her country “strength and possibility to make our own decisions” and “more independent in our decision making.”

Grybauskaite spoke of the importance of peace in the region and spending on national defense. She emphasized a need for “leadership, sometimes for decision-making, even unpredictable leadership, to make enough leverage on Russia,” and that President Trump displays this very kind of leadership. “We see this kind of leadership in President Trump.”

The Lithuanian leader spoke also of increased cooperation on trade and two liquid gas deals that her country will sign with U.S. companies in the course of the days’ meetings.

Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis expressed gratefulness from the Baltic states to the United States for its “commitment to deterrence” and military assistance. He added that these parties are cooperating to fight “modern day security threats” such as terrorism, cyber, and other issues. Vejonis was particularly proud of jobs created through economic cooperation with the United States.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid thanked President Trump and his administration for “political leadership in [the Baltic] region.”

She spoke of what it was like for 50 of the 100 years of their independence, when they were occupied by the Soviet Union. “People in our country got up every morning knowing that there are democratic countries, led by United States, who have never recognized the occupation of the Baltic states.” Kaljulaid spoke of how the United States recognized Estonia’s independence throughout that time.

President Kaljulaid spoke of her country’s strong digital economy, long ago cyber attacks on the country, and the need for excellence in cyber security. She commented that Estonia works with the United States on defense matters, economic matters, and a “common value base.”

Each Baltic President proclaimed his or her country’s own very close relationship with the United States.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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