Lithuania in the News
18th August 2013
An Impressive Start to Lithuania’s Presidency of the EU Council
President Dalia Grybauskaitė (centre) with EU Council President
Herman van Rompuy (left) and EU Commission President Jose
Barroso on a tour of Vilnius University Library. Photo courtesy
Lithuania has made an imposing start to its Presidency of the European Union (EU) Council. Its presidency formally began on July 1, 2013 and immediately Lithuania was thrust into centre of European affairs, hosting an impressive list of opening functions, which then ushered in a concentrated series of high level meetings. It had to deal with some highly contentious issues straight away. Lithuania has demonstrated that it can handle the presidency with competence and assurance, receiving much praise in the process.
Some 200 high level delegations have already come to Lithuania in July. With so many important visitors in Lithuania, it has truly become the centre of Europe, not just geographically. The first high-level meeting was on July 5 at the National Gallery of Art when members of the European Commission met Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė and members of the Government. The formal presidency launch took place later that day with a grand concert in the Great Courtyard of Vilnius University. Next day July 6, being Lithuania’s National Day, served as the occasion to formally open the newly reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes with another gala concert.
Many eminent guests were at the concerts. Among the distinguished guests were the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, and President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. “Lithuania’s presidency comes at an important juncture for Europe” - declared Herman van Rompuy. He congratulated Lithuanian on being the first Baltic state to take over the rotating EU presidency and the first member state to preside over an enlarged Community of 28 member-states. Referring to Lithuania’s breaking away from Soviet rule he said - “Yours is a remarkable achievement that can inspire others”.
Germany’s President Joachim Gauck (right) with Lithuania’s
President Dalia Grybauskaitė (left) on the Baltic Sea shore at Nida.
Photo courtesy
Jose Barroso stated - “It shows how far you have come since the Iron Curtain came down and Europe was redefined” and that “I see (you) ... as a member state that also shapes responsibility for pushing our European project in a constructive and self – confident manner”.
In parallel with the EU activities Lithuania hosted visits by a number of international statesmen and officials. July 11-13 saw the State Visit by Germany’s President Joachim Gauck, while the President of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde visited on July 17-18 and praised Lithuania’s success in overcoming the global financial crisis. The President of Israel Shimon Peres made a State Visit July 31 – August 1. Shimon Peres himself is of Litvak heritage. Litvaks are Jewish people, whose ancestors had been living within the boundaries of the historic Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Among the important achievements of the Lithuanian EU presidency to date has been the reaching of consensus for 2014 budget and the chairing the discussions between the EU and the USA on data security following the NSA leaks scandal. One of the most politically significant events to come will be the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius November 28 – 29. A lot will be riding on its outcomes. Some important future conferences that could be mentioned are the conference on “European Higher Education in the World” September 5 – 6 and the 6th International Conference “Innovative Information Technologies for Science, Education and Business” (IIT-2013) November 14 – 16.

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