On 16 October 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš, made a working visit to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he met with the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Ingrida Šimonytė, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis.
At the meetings with the Lithuanian officials, views were exchanged on bilateral relations and topics of high importance for regional cooperation and the international agenda. In a conversation with Ingrida Šimonite and Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Latvian Foreign Minister Karins also underlined the need in the current complicated geopolitical situation to jointly work as part of continued international effort in support of Ukraine, who keeps on fighting against Russia’s military aggression.
At his meeting with the Lithuanian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, Krišjānis Kariņš reaffirmed: “Latvia and Lithuania share common interests; close cooperation and coordination between them as neighbouring countries is currently of particular importance.”
The development of further cooperation was discussed both in economy and regional infrastructure projects, with Rail Baltica being a priority. Latvia is prepared to expand cooperation with Lithuania in the fields of energy, transport, information and communication technologies, research and innovation.
Given the damage caused to the Balticconector gas pipeline and the telecommunications cable, the Ministers discussed safety of critical infrastructure and agreed that the matter should be on the agenda of the European Union (EU) and NATO. The results of the NATO summit in Vilnius and current NATO issues were then reviewed. The Latvian Foreign Minister also welcomed the successful cooperation between Latvia and Lithuania in international organisations.
The security situation at the EU’s external border with Belarus was discussed with both the Lithuanian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, in view of a significant influx of illegal migrants to the Latvian-Belarusian border. Krišjānis Kariņš thanked Lithuania for assistance it had been providing to Latvia in order to ensure order at the border, and he also emphasised the importance of a regionally coordinated approach.
The officials also discussed current developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine, provision of support to Ukraine, and its integration into the EU.
During the visit, in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of both countries, a ceremony was held for the presentation of the annual Balts’ Award of the Latvian and Lithuanian Ministries of Foreign Affairs. This year, the award went to Edmundas Trumpa, who has been working as lecturer in the Department of Humanities at the University of Latvia for more than 20 years, as well as being a senior researcher at the Latvian Language Institute and Director at the Centre for Lithuanian Studies of the University of Latvia. Edmundas Trumpa has made an outstanding contribution to the research of the Baltic languages – he has studied the dialects of Latvian and Lithuanian and is the author of a considerable number of scholarly articles and publications, while also working as a translator. Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš thanked Edmundas Trumpa for his remarkable work in the field of the Baltic language studies and maintaining of ties between the two countries.
The Balts’ Award bestowed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and Lithuania to recognize excellence and achievement in research, fostering and strengthening of the Balts’ heritage was first presented in 2018. Since then, the award has also been received by the linguist Prof. Laimute Balode; a long-standing head of the Latvian Studies Centre at Vytautas Magnus University, Prof. Alvydas Butkus; the diplomat and linguist Alberts Sarkanis; the President of the Baltic Centre at Siauliai University, linguist and lecturer Dr Regina Kvašyte; and the translator Dace Meiere.
Photo: Katrīna Laura Tkačenko