On 4th May President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with King Philippe of Belgium who came to Lithuania to visit Belgian soldiers serving in the NATO forward presence battalion.
The President and the King discussed bilateral cooperation within NATO framework as well as additional security and deterrence measures in the region.
The President underlined that the security of the Alliance begins in the Baltic states. Intensive and concentrated militarization at NATO's eastern borders, offensive military exercise Zapad 2017 directed against the West, medium-range missiles deployed in Kaliningrad, Russia's attempts to influence election results in Western Europe through cyber and information attacks - all this poses a serious threat to the people of Europe.
According to the President, Lithuania and Belgium are well aware that the main threat to continental security comes from Russia. Europe will only be as secure as the Baltic states. Deterrence measures built on real military capabilities must therefore be in place.
The President said that the presence of troops from Belgium and six other allies in Lithuania sent a strong deterring message that NATO was ready to counter any threat to the security of the Baltic states.
She further underlined that Lithuania highly valued the solidarity demonstrated by Belgium and its decision to send logistic support troops to join NATO's enhanced forward presence in Lithuania. Belgian soldiers were the first to arrive in Lithuania and stage the ground for the redeployment of allied troops and heavy military equipment.
The President emphasized that Lithuania had always felt the strong helping hand extended by Belgium. Belgian fighter jets were the first to start policing the skies over the Baltic countries after they joined NATO, conducting many subsequent rotations in Zokniai and at the Ämari Air Base in Estonia.
The President and the King also discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in business, economy, research, and student exchange. They exchanged views on the expanding contacts between the Nordic and Baltic countries and the Benelux.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė will meet with King Philippe of the Belgians tomorrow, Thursday, May 4 at 12 noon. The President and the King will discuss bilateral relations as well as cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries and the Benelux.
At 14:30, following their meeting at the Presidential Palace, President Dalia Grybauskaitė and King Philippe will visit Belgian soldiers serving in the NATO forward presence battalion in Rukla.
The meeting will focus on safeguarding security in the region and across NATO’s Eastern flank. The implementation of deterrence measures alongside preparations for the NATO summit to be held at the end of May in Brussels will be discussed.
According to the President, given Russia’s increasingly unpredictable and aggressive behavior, Lithuania highly values direct support from NATO allies and the presence of their troops in our country.
Some 100 logistic support troops from Belgium with their weaponry and vehicles are presently deployed in Lithuania. They have staged the ground for the arrival of German and Dutch soldiers and heavy military equipment. The NATO forward presence battalion in Lithuania will also be manned by Luxembourg, Norway, France, and Croatia.
Belgium actively contributes to NATO’s Baltic air policing mission in the Baltic states. Belgian fighter jets were the first to start patrolling the skies over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 2004. Since then, they have conducted four rotations in Zokniai and at the Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Belgian troops with military equipment took part in several international exercises in Lithuania.
In terms of trade, Belgium is Lithauania’s tenth largest economic partner. Active business contacts are maintained with the Flemish Region. The ports of Klaipėda and Antwerp have also established business ties. Universities are implementing joint projects in life sciences. Klaipėdos Nafta signed a memorandum of understanding with Belgium’s Fluxys to collaborate on the development of LNG projects and infrastructure. Special grants are paid by the Walloon Region to Lithuanian French-language students and lecturers
On the 6th of December a meeting with the Migration Information Centre „Renkuosi Lietuvą“ was held at the Embassy with the presence of Ambassador Gediminas Varvuolis and representatives of Lithuanian Community in Belgium.
During the meeting, the project „Renkuosi Lietuvą“ was presented. In this project, MIC provides free consultations (related to work, social, educational, foreign family members’ integration and other issues) at one location for all the Lithuanian emigrants who already returned or are thinking about coming back to Lithuania.
For more information about the project - renkuosilietuva.lt and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RenkuosiLietuva/).
On the 14th of November a special evening was held at the Embassy. The Lithuanian community had an exceptional opportunity to hear a live performance delivered by the opera singer Edgaras Montvidas as well as getting to know his unique personality from close.
After the welcome speech made by the Ambassador Gediminas Varvuolis, the opera singer performed songs written by famous Lithuanian and foreign composers. The packed audience were moved by the performance and accepted it with loud plaudits. As the singer himself, he mentioned that there is no better way to end his time in Brussels as to perform for Lithuanians at the Embassy. For the past two months the opera singer was intensively performing at the famous La Monnaie Opera house.
Following the impressive performance there was an honest interview with Rasa Pakarnaite during which Edgaras Montvidas shared memories about his early career, achievements, and mentioned about his hopes for the future and upcoming roles. The evening ended with an informal reception where members of the Lithuanian community had a chance to chat with the performer personally.
On the 12th of November Ambassador Gediminas Varvuolis met the World Lithuanian Youth Association (WLYO).
During the meeting Central European leaders from the World Lithuanian Youth Association shared their experiences with the Ambassador and were pleased to hear about the close cooperation between the Embassy of Lithuania and the Lithuanian community in Belgium.
On 27th October Ambassador Gediminas Varvuolis attended the presentation of the sociolinguistic survey “Social value of languages in Lithuania and Finland – is there anything to worry about?“ by the Departments of Baltic Studies and Finnish Studies situated at the University of Greifswald. The presentation took place at the Embassy of Finland and was followed by the discussion during which Ambassador of Lithuania Gediminas Varvuolis, Ambassador of Finland Timo Ranta and the researchers analysed the attitudes of Finland’s and Lithuania’s populations and how people in Finland and Lithuania really think of the mixture of official and minorities’ languages in their countries.
The detailed documentation of the survey will be published in the summer of 2017.
The event was jointly organized by the Lithuanian and Polish Embassies, the Jewish Secular Community Center, the Polish Institute and Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund.
The opening words by Jewish Secular community centre director Henri Gutman, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania H.E. Gediminas Varvuolis and Ambassador of the Republic of Poland H.E. Artur Orzechowski were followed by the presentation of the Lithuanian Jewish culture and heritage project “Lost Shtetl” by Sergey Kanovich. The project led to the restoration of the old Jewish cemetery in Šeduva, the dedication of three monuments at the town’s mass murder sites and one in the town centre. Program director of the Core Exhibition for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett presented her unique narrative chosen to tell more than a millennium covering Jewish history in Poland. The participants had an exceptional opportunity to see the trailer of the documentary movie by Saulius Beržinis and Sergey Kanovich “Petrified Time”. The event ended with Yiddish songs performed by Rafailas Karpis (tenor) and Darius Mažintas (piano).