Over 25 years of diplomatic relations Ukraine and Lithuania have reached the level of a strategic partnership.
“Lithuania is a reliable partner for Ukraine, especially in the issues related to Ukraine’s strife for its freedom. Lithuania is our strategic partner ready to share its experience of successes and failures. There is a very sincere common understanding between our countries,” said Volodymyr Yatsenkivsky, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine in the Republic of Lithuania at a Skype press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within UCMC and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine project “Diplomacy without borders”.
On December 12, 2016, the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite arrived to Ukraine with an official visit. Within this visit, the 9th meeting of Presidents Council was held. “According to its results, the sides signed a protocol that clearly defines the main objectives of bilateral political dialogue for this year. It is very important that this document includes a list of planned visits for 2017. The most important of them is the visit of Ukrainian President to Lithuanian Republic,” the ambassador noted. In addition, it was agreed that the meeting of bilateral commission on trade and economic cooperation will be held in Lithuania.
In addition, speaker of Ukrainian Parliament Andriy Parubiy had a visit to Lithuania in December and had meetings with the Speaker of new-elected Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis and Lithuanian Prime Minister.
According to Volodymyr Yatsenkivskyi, events in the east of Ukraine remain in the focus of attention of Lithuanian government. The new Seimas issued a statement in support of Ukraine, mentioning that Lithuania’s foreign policy and its priorities related to Ukraine will not change, this support will become even stronger. The Seimas Committee for Foreign Affairs during its last meeting adopted a resolution in support of political prisoners in Russia, calling Russia to respect international law and human rights.
Lithuania is Ukraine’s biggest trade partner among Baltic countries. Free Trade Agreement will contribute to more intense cooperation. According to preliminary results of 2016, trade volume between the countries reached EUR 750 million, including about UAH 250 million of exports from Ukraine. Exports volume has increased by 7,2 per cent last year. “We estimate that volume of exports from Ukraine will be increasing during this year too,” the Ambassador added.
The biggest Lithuanian company in Ukraine is “NOVUS” retail stores network, the biggest investor is “BT invest” company, investing in trade and construction. “Pontem.ua” was the first to enter a new field of cooperation, launching automatic food service in Kyiv school No.62. Volodymyr Yatsenkivskyi said that business representatives often address the Embassy and ask information about perspective areas for investment. Economic forums which took place during presidential visits also contribute to economic cooperation.
On January 13th a TV marathon in support of Ukraine took place in Lithuania under the slogan “Together to the victory”. “EUR 110 thousand was raised to support people from the frontline area in Donbas. Director of an organization which was among organizers of this event has already arrived to Ukraine to transfer this aid,” Mr. Yatsenkivskyi noted.
127 wounded soldiers have underwent treatment in Lithuania since the start of Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine. The program will continue this year, the first group of soldiers is expected to arrive in the second part of February. In addition, five groups of Ukrainian children from the frontline area had holidays in Lithuania.
Nearly 40 students from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions study in Lithuanian universities for funds of the Ministry of Education of Lithuania. In total, nearly 400 Ukrainian students are studying in Lithuania, several universities offer exchange programs.
Cooperation with Crimean Tatars community
The Embassy keeps in touch with Crimean Tatars community in Lithuania which is very active and participates in social and political life of the country. “This is one of our priorities,” noted Volodymyr Yatsenkivskyi. At present the Embassy helps to organize media support for celebration of the 620th anniversary of Crimean Tatars community in Lithuania that will take place this year.