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Grand Officer Cross with Swords pro Merito Melitensi awarded to Chief of Defence of Lithuania


The oldest Christian charitable organisation, more than 900 years old Order of Malta has bestowed the Grand Officer Cross with Swords pro Merito Melitensi on Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius. Lithuania's Chief of Defence was honoured with a high decoration for a long-lived logistic support to the campaign of the Order of Malta "Maltese Soup" which aims at calling the attention of the society to the old, impoverished or ill lonely people.


"Although this honourable award was given to me, it really is a merit of soldiers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. We, soldiers of Lithuania, are an inseparable part of the society, therefore helping our socially vulnerable countrymen is our duty," said LTG A.Pocius upon accepting the decoration.


„Lithuanian Armed Forces have proved by deeds that it cares for the weak in the society - the impoverished, the deprived, the old," said Ambassador of the Order of Malta in Lithuania baron Christian von Bechtolsheim. "Both, the leadership and ordinary soldiers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces assisting in the "Maltese Soup" campaign do it actively and with goodwill. These men are not just strong and brave but also kind-hearted and sensitive."


The Lithuanian Armed Forces have been with the Maltese campaign since its outset in 2006. Soldiers help transporting huge military tents to the locations where the soup is distributed, help to put them up, stay on guard in such locations, help transporting the soup. The "Maltese Soup" campaign has already become traditional in Vilnius and other cities of Lithuania - hot soup is distributes to people, they are invited to donate for the impoverished and seniors, public music performances are held. The money raised is put to the Maltese fund and is used for paying for care and food for senior people.


According to President of the Maltese Order Assistance Council Romas Abunevičius, another instance of cooperation with the Lithuanian Armed Forces is the money raised by the community of the Military Academy of Lithuania in Vilnius for providing food for homeless people. The community is constantly donating their personal income for buying food and for other Maltese support activities. The most recent instance of such cooperation is a social campaign "Maltese Easter". The money collected for coffee sold at the canteen of the Academy was dedicated for buying food for impoverished seniors. The money raised during Social Days for post cards made by children and bought by military personnel were also used for that purpose.


The Assistance Council of the Order of Malta was established in Lithuania 1991. Currently it is implementing social projects in 28 towns of Lithuania and unites over 800 volunteers.


Spokesperson to the Chief of Defence of Lithuania Captain Tomas Pakalniškis, mobile phone no. 00370 657 61271, 00370 682 25359, Email: [email protected]


Photo credits: A.Pliadis

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