Foreign relations of Lithuania

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Coat of arms of Lithuania
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Lithuania is a country on the south-eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, a member of the United Nations Organisation, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the World Trade Organisation. Currently, Lithuania maintains diplomatic relations with 182 states[1] Lithuania became a member of the United Nations on 18 September 1991, and is a signatory to a number of its organizations and other international agreements. It is also a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,[2] NATO and its adjunct North Atlantic Coordinating Council, the Council of Europe, and the European Union. Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization on 31 May 2001.

Lithuania's membership in the EU[edit]

EU flag square.PNG

On 1 May 2004, Lithuania became one of the 28 Member States of the European Union. The EU activities affect different spheres of politics, from consumer rights to national defence matters. In the second half of 2013, Lithuania took presidency over the EU Council. Membership in the Union has strengthened the domestic economy, giving it access to the wide pan-European market. Foreign direct investments in Lithuania are growing. The country is poised to become energy-independent. The accession to the Schengen space in 2007 has opened up possibilities for the free movement of both citizens and goods across 25 European states. Lithuania's citizens enjoy equal social guarantees while working, travelling, or studying at the Community's countries. The country now benefits from additional EU fund and programme funding in the field of education and science. As an EU citizen, every citizen of Lithuania has the guarantee of consular assistance of EU representative offices in countries where Lithuania has none.[3]

Lithuania's membership in NATO[edit]

Flag of NATO.svg

On 29 March 2004, Lithuania became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation[4]It is a defensive union based on political and military cooperation of sovereign states. Its members are committed to protecting freedom, guarding shared heritage and civilisation under the principles of democracy, individual freedom, and superiority of law. According to Article 5 of the agreement, all NATO states are obliged to defend one another. Lithuania entered into cooperation with NATO in 1991. Five years later, Lithuania launched its mission to the organisation, and in late 2002, Lithuania and six other states was invited to start negotiations over membership in the Alliance. Today Lithuania sees NATO as the key and most effective collective defence system, one that ensures the security of the state and stands to defer potential aggression, and employs every measure available to strengthen trans-Atlantic relations to contribute to the strengthening of the EU-U.S. relations.[5]

Lithuania's membership in the United Nations[edit]

Small Flag of the United Nations ZP.svg

On 17 September 1991, Lithuania became a member of the United Nations. This global international organisation has 193 states for its members. The United Nations Charter anchors the goals of the organisation, which are to maintain international peace and security, stop aggression under the principles of justice and international law, regulate or resolve international disputes. Lithuania's interests at the United Nations are presented by the permanent mission of the Republic of Lithuania in New York, the permanent mission to the United Nations office and other international organisations in Geneva, and the permanent mission to international organisations in Vienna. In 2013, Lithuania was elected non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and to the Security Council in February 014 and May 2015. In 2007, Lithuania presided over the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Lithuania in international and regional organisations[edit]

Currently, Lithuania is member to nearly 50 international cross-governmental organisations, joining many of them after it had regained its independence, and having its membership in inter-war organisations restored. In 2015, Lithuania was elected to the UNESCO Executive Council for a third time. Right now, Lithuania is a member of the International Telecommunications Union and the World Tourism Organisation. Lithuania is also actively involved in regional organisations. In 2001–2002, Lithuania took presidency over the EU Committee of Ministers, in 2012, over regional formats of the Baltic Sea such as the Baltic Council of Ministers and the NB8. The 2011 presidency over the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe was also a success.

Lithuania–Poland relations[edit]

Aleksander Kwasniewski and Valdas Adamkus

Lithuania and Poland have a long history of mutual relations: from a common state to the period when all diplomatic ties were cut. Currently, the Lithuania-Poland relations are excellent. Poland recognised Lithuania's independence on 26 August 1991, and the two countries entered into a diplomatic relationship on 5 August 1991. To promote cross-border relations, an agreement on friendly relations and good neighbourly cooperation between the Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Poland[6] was signed on 26 April 1994. The agreement regulates the underlying principles that support the cooperation between the countries, waiving any territorial claims, and defines the rights of ethnic minorities. In February 1995, the first official visit of the Lithuania's president to Warsaw took place. To ensure a more efficient cooperation between the countries and to facilitate the implementation of bilateral projects, in 1997, three joint institutions – the Advisory Committee of the Presidents of Lithuania and Poland, the Lithuanian-Polish Interparliamentary Assembly, and the Lithuanian-Polish Council of Intergovernmental cooperation – were founded. Bilateral cooperation became very close and intensive with the election of Valdas Adamkus and Aleksander Kwaśniewski presidents of the two countries. Poland was an important ally to Lithuania in the country's bid to attain EU and NATO membership, both presidents acted as mediators during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the countries still agree on foreign political threats and the importance of energy independence. Later, there has been some tension in the relations due to the controversy over the situation with ethnic minorities and the disputes over the spelling of Polish personal and place names and Polish schools in Lithuania. Difficulties in education are a challenge that the Lithuanian minority in Puńsk and Sejny is facing. With the changes that occurred in the geopolitical situation of the region in 2016 and energy and transportation infrastructural projects underway, the relationship between Lithuania and Poland is recovering, Poland is actively involved in ensuring the security of the Batic region, its troops are continuously participating in NATO military training exercises in Lithuania.

Lithuania–Latvia relations[edit]

Lithuanian Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis and Latvian Prime Minister Māri Kučinski in 2016.

The diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Latvia date back to 1919. On 12 February 1921, Latvia de jure recognised Lithuania. Throughout the entire period of independence of the two states between the two world wars, efforts were being made to strengthen cross-border and international cooperation by establishing new unions and partnerships. This did not produce any significant results. After the two countries restored their statehood, their diplomatic relations were resumed on 5 October 1991, when an agreement on the reconstruction of the state border, promotion and protection of investments, air service, and other matters, was made.[7] Today, Latvia ranks second on the list of Lithuania's export partners, and fourth in terms of imports.[8] Currently, the relations between Lithuania and Latvia in different fields are regulated by 23 bilateral agreements.[9] and 22 tripartite agreements, which involve Estonia[10]

Lithuania–Belarus relations[edit]

Lithuania entered into an international relationship with Belarus in 1991, when, on 20 December, the Supreme Council of Lithuania recognised the independence of the Republic of Belarus, with Belarus recognising the independence of Lithuania a week later, on 27 December. On 30 December 1992, an agreement to enter into diplomatic relations was made in Minsk.[11] In 1995, the presidents of the two countries, Algirdas Brazauskas and Alexander Lukashenko signed an agreement On Good Neighbourhood and Cooperation. Top-ranking governmental officials have exchanged visits. Since 2007, the heads of the governments of the two states have been meeting on regular basis. Belarus is an important economic partner to Lithuania,[12] yet Lithuania supports the stance of the EU and other international organisations on this state. Recently, the nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets, Belarus, which is considered by Lithuania unsafe, has been escalating tensions. On top of that, Belarus's growing energy, economic, and military dependence on Russia is forcing Lithuania to exercise caution in measuring the political decisions of the country. Currently, there are 27 bilateral agreements regulating the relationship between Lithuania and Belarus in different areas.[13]

Lithuania–Russia relations[edit]

Lithuania-Russia agreement signed in 1991

On 12 July 1920, Lithuania signed a Peace Treaty with the Soviet Russia, whereby Russia recognises the sovereignty and independence of the State of Lithuania[14] without reservations and with all of the resulting legal implications, and in good faith abandoned all of Russia's national and territorial claims for all times.’[15] On 27 July 1991, Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement On the Grounds of Cross-border Relations.[16] By this agreement, the countries recognised each other a full-fledged subject of international law and a sovereign state. On 9 October, of the same year, representatives of the two states exchanged notes that signified ultimate recognition of the independence and sovereignty of the state of Lithuania. Russia's troops took a little longer to withdraw from Lithuania. The last of the Russian military deployed in Lithuania left the territory of the country on 31 August 1993.[17] Lithuania supports the stance of the EU and other international organisations towards this state and approves the policy of sanctions. The country does not recognise the annexation of part of Georgian and Ukrainian territories to the Russian Federation. The country also takes active steps to protect its information space. Currently, there are 39 bilateral agreements regulating the relationship between Lithuania and Russia in different fields. Lithuania has an embassy in Moscow.[18] Russia has an embassy in Vilnius, with consulates in Klaipėda.[19]

Lithuania–U.S. relations[edit]

Valdas Adamkus and George W. Bush in Vilnius in 2002.

Lithuania and the United States first entered into diplomatic relations on 28 July 1992, thanks to enormous efforts from governmental officials of Lithuania and members of the Lithuanian community in the U.S. During the entire period when Lithuania was occupied, the U.S. pursued a policy of non-recognition of the occupation. After independence was restored, on 6 September 1991 the two countries resumed their cross-border relations. U.S. governmental and non-governmental organisations have lent a lot of assistance to strengthen the public and governmental institutions and market economy of the fledgling democracy.[20] On 2 October 1992, the U.S. embassy was launched in Vilnius. On 22 November 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush paid the first official visit to Lithuania. On 8 May 2003, the United States Senate cast a unanimous vote ratifying NATO membership protocols and opening up a door to NATO for Lithuania.[21] Currently, there are 29 bilateral agreements regulating the relationship between Lithuania and the U.S. in various field.[22]

Lithuania–United Kingdom relations[edit]

The history of Lithuania's relations with the United Kingdom started on 20 December 1921 with de jure recognition of Lithuania's statehood. The UK became a key export partner. When Lithuania lost independence, the UK officially closed Lithuania's embassy in London but allowed the ambassador to act in this capacity. On 27 August 1991, the UK recognised the restored state of independent Lithuania and soon thereafter transferred to the Bank of Lithuania the frozen gold reserves of Lithuania. On 4 September 1991, the two countries resumed their diplomatic relations.[23] In addition to intensive economic, military, social cooperation, Lithuania and the United Kingdom stand in close cooperation in the areas of education, science, and culture. Currently, there are 8 bilateral agreements regulating the relationship between Lithuania and the UK in various fields.[24]

Lithuania–Germany relations[edit]

Vnsdjkf.jpg

Germany was the first state to de jure recognise Lithuania's statehood on 23 March 1918. Even though Lithuania had been trying to build close ties with this country before the Second World War, on 23 March 1939 Germany made an ultimatum and took over the region of Klaipėda. With the Second World War raging on, in summer 1941, Germany pushed the invading Soviet regime out of Lithuania and occupied the country until early 1945. During the period, in 1942, Germany established a self-government reporting to the German authorities. In the wake of the failed coup and the factual collapse of the Soviet Union in August 1991, on 27 August 1991, the Federal Republic of Germany recognised the independence of the Republic of Lithuania and entered into diplomatic relation s with the country on 28 August. On 28 November 1991, Germany supported Lithuania's membership in the EU and NATO. On the basis of the decisions made at the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, as of February 2017, Lithuania hosts a NATO enhanced forward presence battlegroup under German command. Currently, there are 21 bilateral agreements regulating the historically finest relationship between Lithuania and Germany.

Lithuania–France relations[edit]

The first contacts between Lithuania and France were established back in the fall of 1918, and the 1919 Versailles peace conference featured a Lithuanian delegation under Oskaras Milašius. France pronounced de jure recognition of Lithuania on 20 December 1922, becoming a key political partner to the state of Lithuania of the period. During the times of Soviet occupation, Lithuania did not have an official mission to France, even though individual persons were allowed to act in an emissary capacity. The diplomatic relations were resumed on 29 August 1991.

Lithuania–Hole See relations[edit]

The first Pope to de jure recognise Lithuania in 1922 was Pius XI, with Kazys Bizauskas dispatched to represent Lithuania in the Vatican. In 1926, Kaunas ecclesiastical province was established, and a concord with the Holy See was signed in 1927.[25] The latter had never recognised Lithuania's incorporation into the Soviet Union. Lithuania had its embassies to the Holy See in Rome. Full-fledged diplomatic relations were resumed on 30 September 1991 with a bilateral declaration signed in Vilnius.[26] On 11 July 1992, Kazys Lozoraitis became Lithuania's first ambassador to the Holy See.[27] Currently, there are 4 bilateral agreements regulating the relationship between Lithuania and the Holy See in different fields.[28]

Lithuania–Norway relations[edit]

Norway recognised Lithuania's independence on 24 August 1991. On the 27 August, the countries entered into diplomatic relations. Norway is a key partner in the areas of economy, energy security, and defence. Currently, there are 12 bilateral agreements regulating the relationship between Lithuania and Norway in different areas.[29]

Lithuania–Finland relations[edit]

Finland recognised Lithuania's independence on 28 August 1991, and the two countries started diplomatic relations the very same day. Finland is a key partner and neighbour to Lithuania, with the countries pursuing active cooperation in the fields of economy, energy, regional, information security, to name a few. Currently, there are 11 bilateral agreements regulating the relationship between Lithuania and Finland different fields.[30]

Lithuania–Denmark relations[edit]

After Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, Denmark's government approved of and lent its assistance to the establishment of the Baltic Information Bureau in Copenhagen in the fall of 1990, to become the first Baltic institution of the kind in Western Europe. On 28 February 1991, the Danish and the Lithuanian foreign ministers inked a mutual protocol, undertaking to reconstruct diplomatic relations whenever possible. The Lithuanian–Denmark diplomatic relations were restored on 26 September 1991. On the initiative of Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, then the Danish foreign minister, an active policy on the Baltics was established and followed until our country joined NATO and the EU. Denmark's tremendous assistance to Lithuania was instrumental to the achievement of our NATO and EU ambitions and the huge inflow of Danish investments in Lithuania. Today, the two countries are cooperating very closely in the fields of defence and economy.

Lithuania as a part of the Northern Europe region[edit]

Lithuania is also an active member in the cooperation between Northern Europe countries. Lithuania is a member of Baltic Council, since its establishment in 1993. Baltic Council is a permanent organisation of international cooperation, located in Tallinn. It operates through the Baltic Assembly and Baltic Council of Ministers.

Lithuania also cooperates with Nordic and other two Baltic countries through NB8 cooperation format. The similar format, called NB6 unites Nordic and Baltic countries members of EU. The main goal of NB6 cooperation is to discuss and agree on positions before presenting them in the Council of the European Union and the meetings of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers.

The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) was established in 1992 in Copenhagen as an informal regional political forum, which main aim is to promote integration process and to affiliate close contacts between the countries of the region. The members of CBSS are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and European Commission. The observer states are Belarus, France, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine.

The cooperation between the Nordic Council of Ministers and Lithuania is a political cooperation through which experience exchange contributes to realization of joint goals. One of its most important functions is to discover new trends and new possibilities for joint cooperation. The information office aims to represent Nordic concepts and demonstrate Nordic cooperation in Lithuania.

Lithuania, together with other two Baltic countries, is also a member of Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and cooperates in NORDPLUS programme committed to education.[31]

Baltic Development Forum (BDF) is an independent nonprofit organization which unites large companies, cities, business associations and institutions in the Baltic Sea region. In 2010 the 12th Summit of the BDF was held in Vilnius.[32]

Europe – other[edit]

Country Formal relations (re)established Notes
 Albania 27 April 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 27 April 1992.[33]

 Andorra 13 May 1997

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 13 May 1997.[34]

 Austria 28 August 1991
 Armenia 21 November 1991
 Belarus 30 December 1992
  • Belarus has an embassy in Vilnius.[36]
  • Lithuania has an embassy in Minsk[37] and a general consulate in Hrodna.[38]
  • Both countries share 680 km of common border.
 Belgium 5 September 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 5 September 1991.[39]

 Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 November 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 6 November 1992.[40]

 Bulgaria 10 September 1991[41] See Bulgaria–Lithuania relations
 Croatia 18 March 1992 See Foreign relations of Croatia
 Cyprus 3 December 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 3 December 1992.[43]

 Czech Republic 6 January 1993[44] See Foreign relations of the Czech Republic
 France 29 August 1991 See Foreign relations of France
 Georgia 16 September 1994 See Foreign relations of Georgia
 Greece 7 February 1992[45] See Foreign relations of Greece
 Holy See 30 September 1991[46] See Foreign relations of the Holy See
 Hungary 2 September 1991 See Foreign relations of Hungary
 Iceland 26 August 1991 See Iceland–Lithuania relations
  • Iceland was the first country which recognised Lithuania's Independence from the Soviet Union on 11 January 1991.[47]
 Ireland 2 September 1991 See Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland
 Italy 30 August 1991 See Foreign relations of Italy
 Kosovo 16 July 2008 See Kosovan–Lithuanian relations
  • Lithuania recognized Kosovo on 6 May 2008.[48] Diplomatic relations commenced on 16 July 2008.[49]
 Liechtenstein 27 March 2001

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 27 March 1991.[50]

 Luxembourg 2 July 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 2 July 1992.[51]

 Macedonia 18 July 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 18 July 1995.[52]

 Malta 7 February 1994[53]
 Moldova 8 July 1992
 Monaco 4 April 2011

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 4 April 2011.[57]

 Montenegro 2 September 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 2 September 1991.[58]

 Netherlands 27 April 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 27 April 1992.[59]

 Norway 27 August 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 27 August 1991.[60]

 Portugal 4 October 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 4 October 1991.[61]

 Romania 13 August 1991 See Lithuania–Romania relations
 San Marino 6 March 2003

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 6 March 2003.[64]

 Serbia 14 December 2000
 Slovakia 6 January 1993[66]
 Slovenia 22 November 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 22 November 1991.[67]

 Spain 27 August 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 27 August 1991.[68]

  Switzerland 5 September 1991

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 5 September 1991.[69]

 Ukraine 26 August 1991[70] See Lithuania–Ukraine relations
 United Kingdom 4 September 1991 See Lithuania – United Kingdom relations

Africa[edit]

Burundi[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 17 May 1993.[75]

Gambia[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 17 February 2000.[76]

Lesotho[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 20 July 2000.[77]

Malawi[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 18 November 2001.[78]

Zambia[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 13 July 2001.[79]

Asia[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Azerbaijan 1995-11-27
 India 1992-04-27
  • India has an Honorary Consulate in Vilnius
  • [39]
  • Lithuania has an embassy in New Delhi and an Honorary Consulate in Mumbai, India.
  • [40]
 Israel 1992-01-08 See Israel–Lithuania relations

Israel recognized Lithuania's independence in 1992. Both countries established diplomatic relation in 1992. Israel is represented in Lithuania through its embassy in Vilnius (previously through its embassy in Riga, Latvia). Lithuania has an embassy in Tel Aviv and 2 honorary consulates (in Herzliya and Ramat Gan).

 Japan 1991 09 06 See Japan–Lithuania relations

Relations between Lithuania and Japan started on 22 December 1922, when Lithuania was recognized by Japan de jure.[80][81] In 1939 the Consulate of Japan, headed by vice-consul Chiune Sugihara, was opened in Kaunas. It was closed in 1940 when Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union. On 6 September 1991, Japan recognized the independence of the Republic of Lithuania from the Soviet Union and on October 10, Diplomatic relations were restored. In 1997, Embassy of Japan was established in Lithuania, in 1998, Embassy of Lithuania was established in Japan. In 2006 May, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Aso visited Lithuania, and Kirkilas, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, visited Japan just three months later. Bilateral relations were strengthen by the official state visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in 2007 May.[82]

 Kazakhstan 1992-06-12
 Kyrgyzstan 1992-07-03
 Malaysia 1994-03-09 See Lithuania–Malaysia relations

Lithuania has an honorary consulate in Kuala Lumpur,[86] while Malaysia embassy in Stockholm were also accredited to Lithuania.

 Pakistan 1994-05-31
 People's Republic of China 1991-09-14 See People's Republic of China-Lithuania relations

PR China has an embassy in Vilnius. Lithuania has an embassy in Beijing. In 1992, Embassy of China was established in Vilnius, in 1995, Embassy of Lithuania was established in Beijing.

 North Korea 1991-09-25 See Foreign relations of North Korea
 South Korea 1991-10-14[87] See Lithuania–South Korea relations
 Tajikistan 1992

America[edit]

Belize[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 30 December 2004.[90]

Canada[edit]

Guyana[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 25 January 2012.[91]

Saint Kitts and Nevis[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 26 September 2012.[92]

Saint Vincent and Grenadines[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 5 February 2007.[93]

Oceania[edit]

Fiji[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 24 January 2014.[94]

Solomon Islands[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 20 September 2012.[95]

Vanuatu[edit]

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 18 November 2001.[78]

Issues[edit]

Illicit drug trafficking[edit]

Lithuania has been a trans-shipment point for opiates and other illicit drugs from Russia, Southwest Asia, Latin America, and Western Europe to Western Europe and Scandinavia.[96]

Anti-terrorism[edit]

Lithuania is a signatory to 8 of the 12 International Conventions related to counter- terrorist activities[97]

Human trafficking[edit]

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that about 1,000 citizens of Lithuania fall victim to trafficking annually. Most are women between the ages of 21 and 30 who are sold into prostitution[98]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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