Your Excellency President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,
Dear Guests and Participants of the Forum,
It is a great privilege to welcome you all at the Lithuania-Ukraine Business Forum, which is yet another proof of our excellent bilateral cooperation.
There are few countries with which Lithuania has such close relations as it does with Ukraine. Our partnership has been further reinforced by the historical developments of the past decades. We remember that Ukrainian volunteers stood side by side with us to protect our freedom at a time when Lithuania needed help and assistance. And when help was needed by Ukraine, Lithuania did not hesitate to join the ranks of its most active supporters.
I am much delighted that today our bilateral relationship is maintained not only at the political and public levels but through business platforms as well. Regular contacts create conditions to spread ideas and transfer good experiences.
Lithuania worked long and hard to make a political come-back to Europe where we have always belonged. It was not easy to put the reforms in place, but our friends extended a helping hand. Today, we are your friends who are ready to help Ukraine anchor more firmly to Europe.
There is no other way but to move forward together. We have agreed to cooperate in rebuilding the Ukrainian regions devastated by Russia’s military actions and to help secure the needs of local civilians and normal life across oblasts. This should not become a stumbling rock impeding Ukraine’s integration with the European Union.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When speaking about economic relations between Lithuania and Ukraine, I cannot but highlight with great pleasure the consistent growth of trade and investment. I am confident that together we will be able to achieve much in traditional economic sectors – from energy to transport to logistics. We also expect substantial progress in innovative sectors, such as IT and financial technologies.
Improving the investment climate and business conditions remains an important issue on the bilateral economic agenda. A more favorable, predictable and transparent environment created for business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, can hugely contribute to expanding economic contacts and strengthening Ukraine’s competitiveness. I strongly believe that the joint declaration just signed by President Zelenskyy and myself will help us move in this direction.
Today, special focus should be placed on bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, energy security and nuclear safety. We are glad to see Ukraine’s determined steps towards European integration in energy matters, and we will continue to support it on this difficult road. We need to take a united stand on geopolitically motivated energy projects, particularly with respect to Nord Stream 2 and the Ostrovets nuclear power plant developed with disregard to safety standards. Lithuania will never buy Ostrovets-produced electricity and calls on other European countries to do so as well. We ask Ukraine for solidarity in this field.
We know very well that the synchronization of electricity grids with European networks will be one of the most important steps for Ukraine to achieve energy independence. Lithuania is implementing an analogous project and is ready to share its good experience with Ukraine.
We are also ready to offer Ukraine alternative gas supplies via both the LNG terminal in Klaipėda and the Lithuanian-Polish gas interconnection which will be launched by the end of 2021.
Besides, we are ready to continue our collaboration in renewables, energy efficiency and climate change mitigation – across areas which will become increasingly important in the years ahead and which will require our full attention.
We have a huge potential to expand cooperation in alternative energy and energy saving projects, both large and small scale. This past summer, Lithuania opened Europe’s most modern solar park in Ukraine. Today yet another solar park has been launched. The Lithuanian Embassy in Ukraine is giving a very positive example: it is the first Lithuanian diplomatic representation that is energy self-sufficient. Since summer, the Embassy is powered by solar energy generated on its roof.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Information technologies is yet another field for expanding our cooperation in a significant way. In this sector, Lithuania relies on its global level infrastructure and very high cyber security standards, among the best in the world.
I personally strongly support the EU4Digital initiative which aims to harmonize digital markets, develop the digital economy and society, and make full use of the opportunities offered by the new industrial revolution. It is essential that this initiative goes beyond the European Union, extending the Digital Single Market to the Eastern Partner states.
Lithuania has emerged as a regional fintech hub. I am delighted that our central banks collaborate in financial innovation and that our respective ministries have just signed declarations in the vitally important areas of cyber security and digitalization. They will pave the way for new business opportunities and promote the development of innovation.
There is also substantial room for cooperation in transport. We intend to set up a joint enterprise to enhance collaborative work between state-run railway companies. The pilot project could be based on the Viking intermodal train.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All the achievements, current and future, will be worth very little if they are not built on close people-to-people contacts. Although mutual understanding and togetherness are rather difficult to measure in numbers, some figures should inspire our optimism.
We are glad that ten percent of those who have enrolled in Lithuanian higher educational establishments this year are Ukrainians. I am convinced that the bonds of friendship established in college or university will be eventually transformed into a bridge between our two nations for joint projects and general welfare.
Whatever may happen, we Lithuanians will always be loyal friends and committed partners of Ukraine. May the spirit of cooperation resound in your discussions today.
Last updated 2019.11.28 16:13Back