President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. The purpose of the President’s visit to Kyiv is to demonstrate support to Ukraine. It is the first visit of a country leader after Russia’s illegal seizure of Ukraine’s naval ships in the Kerch Strait.
The two Presidents attended the 11th Meeting of the Council of Presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine. Security situation in eastern Ukraine and the Sea of Azov as well as Lithuania’s and international community’s support to Ukraine were among the key topics of the meeting.
The President emphasized that illegal seizure of Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, imprisonment of crews and the blockade of the ports of Mariupol and Berdiansk clearly shows Russia’s attempts to legitimize annexation of Crimea and to turn the Sea of Azov into its internal waters and use it as a bridgehead for further military actions against Ukraine as well as efforts to discredit the forthcoming presidential elections.
Lithuania firmly supports Ukraine and has introduced sanctions to people in charge of the aggression in the Kerch Strait and the Black Sea. Lithuania also stepped up its military support to Ukraine by additionally supplying more munitions, sending more military instructors and cyber security experts who would help countering hybrid attacks, especially during the elections.
Our country has also increased humanitarian aid to Ukraine and allocated additional 30 thousand euros. This year Lithuania’s humanitarian support to Ukraine amounts to 140 thousand euros. Over the period of four years Lithuania has allocated approximately 13 million euros in support to Ukraine.
The meeting also focused on strengthening bilateral relations. Four important bilateral documents have been signed: roadmap of the development of strategic partnership between Ukraine and Lithuania for 2019–2020, intergovernmental protocol on agreement between Ukraine and the European Communities on readmission of persons, the Protocol of the 11th Council of Presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine, and intergovernmental agreement on employment and cooperation in the area of labor migration. The later document will allow to effectively fight against illegal work and will help to defend citizens of Ukraine and Lithuania in cases of exploitation and discrimination.
European reforms is yet another important topic. According to the President, implementation of reforms is a lengthy and complicated process, but they are very much needed for successful development of the state and welfare of people. Although Ukraine had to defend its pro-European choice with a weapon, like no other country, but it managed to remain focused and make a great progress. However, improvements are still needed in fighting corruption, reforming law enforcement institutions, energy sector and improving business environment. Efforts should be made to counter illegal takeover of property which some of Lithuanian businesses operating in Ukraine had to face.
The President also highlighted that bilateral economic cooperation is becoming stronger. It has been enhanced by association and free trade agreements between Ukraine and the EU which came into force a couple of years ago. Bilateral trade grew by 15 percent over the recent years. IT, innovation and logistics sectors offer many new opportunities. A bilateral Ukrainian-Lithuanian business forum which is attended by over 30 representatives of Lithuanian enterprises and business associations also takes place in Kyiv during the President’s visit.
The Presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine also exchanged the highest state decorations. President Dalia Grybauskaitė was awarded an Order of Liberty for special merits. Only a few prominent global leaders have received this award, including former French President Francois Hollande, former German President Joachim Gauck, former US Vice-president Joe Biden, Senator John McCain and former Lithuanian leaders Vytautas Landsbergis and Valdas Adamkus.
President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine was awarded with the Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great for strengthening bilateral relations and his personal contribution to promoting partnership between Lithuania and Ukraine.
The Presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine will also welcome the participants of the 2nd Ukrainian Women’s Congress. The event will be attended by 500 women politicians, business women, and civic society representatives from the whole of Ukraine.