Wednesday, April 20, Berlin – President Dalia Grybauskaitė, currently on a state visit to Germany, met with German President Joachim Gauck to discuss the deepening of bilateral relations, new prospects for cooperation, the threat posed by Russia’s aggressive and provocative behavior and propaganda, as well as a joint response to security challenges. The Presidents of Lithuania and Germany also emphasized the importance of preserving European values and support for the Ukrainian people.
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Germany is Lithuania’s strategic partner and we are bound by very strong historical, political and economic ties as well as common interests in the EU and NATO.
“Lithuania and Germany have never been so close and working so closely together for the good of their people. Germany is not only one of our biggest economic partners but also a strategic ally whose troops help ensure the security of Lithuania. The development of our country would not be so rapid without Germany’s help,” the President said.
Lithuania and Germany maintain successful cooperation ties practically in every area. Germany is Lithuania’s third largest trade partner and investor. Our country is home to around 500 German capital companies with 17 thousand jobs. German business people positively assess the economic situation of and prospects for Lithuania, and nine out of ten of them would again choose Lithuania for their activities. Cargoes shipped to and from Germany at the port of Klaipėda account for the largest turnover.
The two heads of state discussed measures to strengthen Lithuania’s defense: a consistent increase in defense spending, the reinstatement of conscription, the establishment of national rapid reaction forces, and the modernization of military equipment.
The President emphasized the importance of Germany’s contribution to the security of our country. Germany responded rapidly to the threats facing the Baltic countries and sent its rotational forces and military equipment, as well as strengthened the Baltic air policing mission and actively engaged in NATO’s collective defense exercises in the Baltic countries. German troops and military equipment are also currently deployed in Lithuania – a total of 600 German service personnel will be deployed in our country this year.
Dynamic ties are developed in the areas of science, medicine, culture, and regional cooperation. Under a range of EU research programs Lithuanian and German scientists contribute to 50 joint projects. The Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kauno Klinikos and Vilnius University Hospital Santariškių Klinikos cooperate with German medical and educational institutions in the field of medicine. Student exchanges take place.
The February 16 High School in the town of Hüttenfeld with Lithuanian young people from all over the world studying there has been supported by the German land of Hesse for 60 years. There are 7 other Lithuanian schools in Germany, and the Baltic languages and culture are taught in ten centers for Baltic studies at German universities. Lithuanian and German artists carry out joint art and historical projects analyzing historical topics and those concerning Jewish cultural heritage and orphaned German children, the so-called wolf children, in the post-war years. This year Nida will host the 20th international festival dedicated to Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann. Next year Lithuania will be a guest of honor at the international Leipzig book fair. The Goethe Institute in Vilnius promotes German language learning and organizes training courses for teachers.
Dalia Grybauskaitė presented the German President with a folk art wood carving “Pensive Christ” symbolizing inner strength and compassion, as well as the poem “Metai” (the Seasons) by Kristijonas Donelaitis who lived and worked in Karaliaučius. This work is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Lithuanian President also gave the German leader a glass jar of honey from her bee hives and black bread.
President Joachim Gauck is a harsh critic of communism and a respected defender of freedom and human rights who, together with Vaclav Havel and Vytautas Landsbergis, signed the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism in 2008.