Lithuania and Norway foster similar foreign policy objectives and aim to intensify bilateral political and economic relations. This was agreed on 8 March in Vilnius, by Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
Minister A.Ažubalis stressed that Lithuania attached great importance to relations with Baltic and Nordic countrie, and mentioned this year’s events marking the twentieth anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Nordic countries. Norway never officially recognized Lithuania’s occupation and was among the first countries that re-established diplomatic relations with Lithuania in August 1991, after Lithuania regained Independence.
“Lithuania and Norway’s approaches to many foreign policy goals are the same, therefore, we strive to intensify economic relations and political dialogue between the two countries even more,” the Minister said.
During the meeting, foreign ministers discussed the importance of bilateral and regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, the support of Vilnius-based Belarusian European Humanities University (EHU), current issues of energy and international security, etc.
The new intensive stage of cooperation between Nordic and Baltic countries was launched at diplomatic efforts of Lithuania and Latvia in 2010. The Wise Men group of the so-called NB8 –the Nordic and Baltic cooperation format - was created. The Wise Men prepared a report on the Nordic-Baltic cooperation with recommendations towards a stronger, more balanced and more efficient development of the region. This is the first document of its kind in the NB8 history since 1992.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister thanked Norway for its support, provided through the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norwegian financial mechanisms.
Lithuania received 63.2 million EUR in 2004-2009 through the EEA and Norwegian financial mechanisms. This support was allocated to health care, cultural heritage and children’s care. Last year, a new agreement was signed, the parties to it agreed that Lithuania will receive 84 million EUR in 2009-2014. Currently, negotiations are going on with Norwegians regarding the distribution of money to individual sectors.
Minister A.Ažubalis acquainted Minister J.G.Støre with objectives of Lithuania’s Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and planned key events of the chairmanship.
The agenda of the visit of the Norwegian Foreign Minister to Lithuania on 8 March includes meetings with President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. The Norwegian Foreign Minister will also deliver a lecture at the EHU, will visit the Vilnius University Hospital Santariškių Clinics, and will take part in the Shrove Tuesday celebration.