June 11, 2023 — Tel Aviv
Lithuania Prime Minister Calls for More Action Against IRGC, Warns Iran Must Be Kept In Check To Thwart Nuclear Ambitions and Aiding Russia in Ukraine
TEL AVIV—June 11, 2023—Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said her nation stands with Israel in stemming the threat posed by Iran’s growing nuclear capability and promised her country would do its part to keep Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check.
Šimonytė, who leads a nation that was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, also warned of the growing alliance between Iran and Russia, which has used Iranian weaponry in its invasion of Ukraine.
“I’m pleased that Lithuania and Israel have always been close allies and partners,” Šimonytė said. “Our countries have shared a common struggle for freedom and independence and we serve as a shining example of resilience in the face of adversity. We understand the importance of remaining vigilant against threats and safeguarding our hard-fought freedom.”
Šimonytė spoke at the opening plenary session of AJC Global Forum in Tel Aviv, where 1,500 Jewish advocates from more than 60 nations and six continents have gathered to discuss key issues facing the Jewish community and Israel.
When it comes to Iran’s spread of terror around the world, Šimonytė said that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ support for terrorism should be countered by “expanding the use of all instruments in the EU toolbox.” She went on to note that Lithuania backed European Union sanctions last year on Iranian entities and generals for providing drones to Russia to use in Ukraine. She also added that Iran’s support of terrorist groups that potentially threaten Israel have not gone unnoticed.
“I want to reassure you we will continue pushing for more sanctions. But at the same time, we all know that Israel's defensive systems remain the best antidote against Iranian weapons,” she said.
Israel has maintained warm relations with Lithuania, which has been a vocal supporter of the Jewish State within the European Union.
Many Israelis can trace their roots to Lithuania, including a grandmother of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More than 90% of the 200,000 Jews living in Lithuania before World War II were murdered by the Nazis and local collaborators.
Šimonytė, who has been prime minister since December 2020, proposed a bill last year that would provide $38 million in compensation for property owned by Jews that was seized by the Nazis and the Soviet Union, when Lithuania was part of the U.S.S.R. Lithuania had approved a similar plan a decade earlier for Jewish communal property seized during World War II.
“It is not enough to repeat never again. It is not enough to wait, hoping everything will work itself out,” Šimonytė said. “Failure to respond to antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia is not tolerance of dissent, but rather cowardice with destructive consequences.”
Šimonytė also condemned the invasion of Ukraine and said Russia must be held fully accountable for its aggression even at the highest levels of government.
”We need to be very clear that future peace shall be defined by Ukraine, not the aggressor,” Šimonytė said. “Indeed, any peace formula must include justice. Only full accountability that reaches even the highest ranking leaders involved can serve justice to the victims and help to break the horrible cycle of Russia's war in the future.”
She warned that silence and neutrality will never prevail in the face of aggression, a lesson she feared is in danger of being relearned if more is not done to help Ukraine.
“No one knows better than Jews the tragic price that humanity pays If these values are trampled.”