Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis and Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre, who could not come to Lithuania due to the cancelled flights in Europe, discussed issues of bilateral relations, cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, economy and international security during a teleconference that was held on 19 April.
During the conversation, Minister A.Ažubalis stressed the advantage of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norwegian Financial Mechanism that functioned successfully in Lithuania for the period 2004-2009. The Minister expressed trust that a similar agreement would be signed for the period 2009-2014.
“Norwegian Grants 2004-2009 were very popular in Lithuania. The number of applications was twice as big as the amount available for Lithuania. These projects are important to us not only economically, as they also strengthen the relations between Lithuania and Norway,” the head of Lithuania’s diplomacy said.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister thanked J.G.Støre for the support of Norway to the European Humanities University based in Vilnius, and asked for continuous Norway’s support to this University.
Ministers A.Ažubalis and J.G.Støre discussed bilateral trade and decided that the Lithuanian-Norwegian economic relations could be intensified even more in the future. The Ministers agreed that it would be efficient to organize information campaigns and to use high-level bilateral visits for holding business missions.
In 2009, the Norwegian and Lithuanian trade turnover amounted to 1.233 billion Litas. The trade balance was positive and reached 803 million Litas. Lithuanian exports to Norway in 2009 amounted to 1.018 billion Litas, and imports reached 215.69 million Litas.
The Ministers also discussed the Nordic-Baltic cooperation. Minister A.Ažubalis suggested considering to launch a group of wise men, which would be comprised of representatives from eight countries (NB8). This group would set further Nordic-Baltic cooperation guidelines on common identity, foreign policy, energy, environmentally friendly technologies, etc.
“The Nordic-Baltic cooperation needs to find fresh inspiration and ideas to become more effective,” Minister A.Ažubalis said.
The Ministers discussed Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), prospects for the organization’s activities in the future, Lithuania’s preparations to chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2011. The Ministers discussed ways to make the OSCE activities more effective and the OSCE-anchored dialogue on the future of European security (the Corfu Process).
Minister A.Ažubalis conveyed an invitation to the Norwegian Prime Minister to attend the Summit of the Baltic Sea States due on 1-2 June in Vilnius.
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Lithuania holds the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States since July 2009. In June 2010, Norway will take over the Presidency from Lithuania.
The Ministers discussed preparations for the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on 22-23 April in Tallinn, and NATO’s new Strategic Concept. The ministers agreed that NATO had to remain an effective transatlantic defence organization.
During the conversation, the Ministers agreed to decide in the short run on the date of J.G.Støre’s visit to Lithuania.