Lithuania in the News
2nd September 2018
Important Historic Visit by Israel PM Netanyahu to Lithuania
(L-R) Israel Ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon,
Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė.
Photo courtesy Robertas Dačkus
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has completed a historic 4 day visit to Lithuania August 23-26, 2018. He met with Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and took part in a high level summit with the three prime ministers of the Baltic States. This is the first time that an Israeli Prime Minister has visited Lithuania. The importance of this visit is shown by the fact that, in spite of his undoubtedly very busy schedule and heavy workload, Prime Minister Netanyahu felt it important to spend 4 days in Lithuania.
Lithuania has become an important mediator in the relations between Israel and the European Union. In Lithuania, Netanyahu thanked Lithuania numerous times for its support for Israel in various EU forums. He said Israel is badly misunderstood in the EU, while Israel’s intelligence services are saving European lives, and he stated that “it is time that Europe understood this.”
In Prime Minister Netanyahu’s discussions with Lithuania’s President and Prime Minister, strengthening mutual relations in many areas was raised - in defence, economy, cyber security, science and innovations, culture and tourism. This year, Israel took part in the military exercise “Saber Strike” in Lithuania for the first time. The ties between Israel and Lithuania are expected to get stronger and stronger.
Many Israeli citizens are Litvaks – descendents of Lithuanian Jews – including Yetanyahu himself, who is a Litvak from both sides of his family and also traces descent from the very famous Vilna Gaon, an outstanding rabbi and scholar in 18th Century Vilnius. Israeli Litvaks are now showing great interest to visit their historic homeland. From October there will now be five flights a week between Israel and Lithuania.
During the visit, preserving the memory of Holocaust victims and promoting Litvak culture were high on the agenda. PM Skvernelis stated, that “Holocaust is among the most painful and horrible tragedies in the history of Lithuania”, when most of Lithuania’s Jews were massacred. PM Skvernelis together with PM Netanyahu took part in ceremonies at the Paneriai Memorial in Vilnius to commemorate Holocaust victims and also to honour as “Righteous Among the Nations” Lithuanians who had risked their lives in saving Jews. In Europe, Lithuania has the largest number of its citizens per capita recognised as “Righteous Among the Nations”.
PM Netanyahu thanked the Lithuanian government for its strong stance against anti-Semitism and for the extraordinary love and respect shown to Israel. He left very impressed by what he had seen and experienced in Lithuania.

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