Lithuanian president: Swedish royal visit is consolidation of bonds between the countries
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden who are on a three-day state visit in Lithuania. During their meeting, the president and the Swedish royal couple discussed the results and prospects of long-standing and close bilateral cooperation. This is the second state visit by the King and Queen of Sweden in our country after 23 years, the presidential press service said.
"Lithuania has made a well-considered decision to take on the Nordic direction as a model of progressive, responsible and European path of development. During the first Swedish royal state visit, we were in the process of building our statehood. Today Lithuania has successfully established itself in one of the most advanced European regions. We are equal partners with Sweden, we work together for the security and good of our people," the president said.
As much as 62 percent of the population supports the Nordic direction in Lithuania's foreign policy. According to the Lithuanian leader, the Swedish royal visit will strengthen our people-to-people and country-to-country contacts and open up new prospects for cooperation.
Sweden has been the biggest foreign investor in Lithuania for eight years now. Two hundred Swedish capital companies with more than 11,000 Lithuanian employees on their staff list operate in our country. Close business relations between Lithuania and Sweden, the president said, not only create new jobs and enhance the competitiveness of the Lithuanian economy but also promote the development of innovations and socially responsible business in our country.
Sweden has linked Lithuania to the Western electricity market, emerging as a security and independence guarantee for the whole of the Baltic region. The NordBalt power link, which will connect Lithuania and Sweden and open up the European electricity market to Lithuania, will be completed by the end of this year.
Grybauskaitė pointed out that Sweden - although not a NATO member-state - well understood the need to respond to the geopolitical threats emerging to our region. Sweden and Lithuania stand united on providing assistance to Ukraine and take a firm and principled position on Russia's aggression in Europe. After Lithuania regained its independence, Sweden helped to equip and train our military forces. Today Lithuanian and Swedish servicemen take part in joint exercises, training and international missions.
The president and the Swedish royal couple also discussed the refuge crisis facing Europe at the moment. Grybauskaite noted that Lithuania and Sweden together searched for and found ways to help refugees; however, the two countries emphasized the necessity to strengthen the protection of EU external borders and fight against illegal migration. The Swedish Migration Agency estimates that this year 80,000 persons will apply for asylum in this country.
Among the other issues discussed at the meeting was the Baltic Sea which connects Lithuania and Sweden, its ecology and protection. The King of Sweden takes an active interest in environmental issues. He is the honorary chair of the World Wide Fund for Nature and has founded the Royal Colloquium - an international environmental symposium held in Sweden every year.
Lithuanian-Swedish cooperation in science is also growing stronger - scientists from both countries are implementing over one hundred joint research projects with a value of more than EUR 2 million.
During the meeting between Grybauskaitė and the Swedish royal couple, it was underlined that close bilateral relations are further strengthened by people-to-people contacts. There is a large 10,000-strong Lithuanian community in Sweden, which organizes Lithuanian Sunday schools and youth gatherings. Swedish films, music and literature are highly popular in Lithuania.
The president awarded state decorations to the royal couple. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was presented with the Order of Vytautas the Great with the golden chain and Queen Silvia was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. The Swedish King presented Grybauskaitė with the highest Swedish decoration - the Royal Order of the Seraphim.
During the meeting, state gifts were also exchanged. Grybauskaitė presented the royal couple with a work of art by Lithuanian artists - a ceramic dish - and the photo album Splendid Country. A blue glass vase created by Swedish designers and a photo album with the images of Swedish cities and nature - such was the gift from the Swedish royal couple.
After the meeting in the Presidential Palace, the president together with King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden greeted schoolchildren who had gathered in Daukantas Square. The King of Sweden takes an active role in the scouting life and is the honorary chair of the World Scout Foundation.