Lithuania and Norway are united by regional defense and progress
President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway who came to Lithuania on an official visit.
The President underlined that this first visit by the royal couple to our country demonstrated close friendship and partnership between Lithuania and Norway.
"Back at the beginning of the 1990s, when Lithuania struggled to free itself from the Soviet occupation, the Norwegian people helped us to overcome informational isolation. Objective information about our fight for independence was transmitted to the world via a satellite antenna donated by Norway and through the Lithuanian Information Bureau in Oslo. The world got to know about the tanks that attacked our parliament, the TV Tower and unarmed people. Therefore, the name of Norway will always be in our hearts as a token of deep gratitude to a nation that extended us a helping hand when few countries dared to recognize our independence,” the President said.
According to the President, the two countries maintained strong ties across many areas throughout the 28 years of Lithuanian independence. One of these areas is defense. Norwegian soldiers were among the first to join NATO's enhanced forward presence in Lithuania. Lithuania is buying the Nasams air defense system from Norway, while Norwegian navy ships are part of NATO's anti-missile shield aimed at preventing possible hostile actions, which could isolate Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from their allied partners.
Lithuania and Norway stand in the same line on military threats. Like Lithuania, Norway has a border with Russia and understands the threat to international security posed by Russia's aggressive and unpredictable behavior and its wish to establish military dominance in the Baltic Sea region and the Arctic.
Dalia Grybauskaitė stressed that Norway was a strategic energy partner of Lithuania. According to the President, it took a lot of hard effort for Lithuania to break away from dependence on Gazprom. Norway’s Hoegh LNG helped Lithuania to build an LNG terminal’s vessel, named Independence, in a record short time. Since 2015, Lithuania is no longer dependent on a single gas supplier and in case of emergency it can also help Latvia and Estonia.
The President underlined the importance of this victory: energy independence means political independence to Lithuania because previously energy was used as an instrument of political influence.
Two bilateral memorandums on Norway's grants under the EEA financial mechanism for 2014-2021 were signed at the Presidential Palace. Norway's support to Lithuania over this period will amount to more than 115 million euros and will be used to promote and develop social dialogue, civil society, health care, environmental protection, business, innovation, and research.
In earlier periods, Norway’s grants were used to establish child daycare centers, regional open youth spaces, complex service centers for underage victims of sexual violence, to improve child and youth health care, to enhance preventive oncological examinations and early diagnosis, to fight bullying and violence at school, to improve the efficiency of the court system, to implement a penitentiary reform, and to promote green innovation in business.
According to the President, Norway is an excellent example of sustainable, ethical, responsible and innovative business. As a major gas supplier to the European Union, including Lithuania, Norway is the leader of renewables in Europe. It emits the smallest amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and effectively uses its natural resources. Norway has placed a strong focus on the development of innovation, especially in IT, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies, opening new attractive prospects for bilateral cooperation and for the welfare of both countries and the whole of Europe.
The President and the Norwegian royal couple exchanged official gifts. Dalia Grybauskaitė presented a photo album about Lithuania by Vidas Kaupelis and Algimantas Deikus and a work of art by Saulius Milašius. The Norwegian royal couple presented their official photo and a glass vase.
Later in the day, the President and the royal couple climbed up to the Bell Tower of the St. Johns’ Church, viewed the Act of independence of February 16 in the House of the Signatories, met with students of Scandinavian studies and members of the local Norwegian community.
Tomorrow, the President and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will open a bilateral business forum.
During their visit to Lithuania, the royal couple are accompanied by the Norwegian defense minister and a high-level business delegation.
Source: Press Service of the President of the Republic of Lithuania