President Dalia Grybauskaitė will meet with Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the throne of Norway, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit on April 24. The Royal couple accompanied by the Minister of Defense of Norway and a high-level business delegation will pay a two-day official visit to Lithuania.
The President and the Crown Prince of Norway will discuss bilateral relations, cooperation in NATO and regional security as well as deepening mutual relations in the areas of economy, energy and culture.
Lithuania and Norway enjoy especially close and strong bonds in most areas. From the very beginning, Norwegian troops, with their military equipment and tanks, joined NATO enhanced forward presence battalion, deployed in Lithuania. They have repeatedly served in the Baltic Air Policing mission and actively participated in organizing exercises for the Special Forces and for enhancing combat skills of the troops.
The role of Norway is also very important in relation to air defense as Lithuania buys medium range air-defence systems “Nasams” from Norway. Norwegian navy is part of NATO ballistic missile defense in countering possible Russia’s actions aimed at isolating the Baltic countries from NATO‘s military reinforcement.
Norway is a strategic partner of Lithuania in ensuring energy security. The Klaipėda LNG terminal, vessel “Independence”, which has prevailed over Gazprom‘s monopoly, belongs to Norwegian company “Leigh Höegh“ while Norwegian state company “Statoil” is one of the main gas suppliers to Lithuania and other Baltic states.
At the Presidential Palace, two memorandums on the implementation of the European Economic Area financial mechanism for the period 2014–2021 will be signed. Although Norway is not a member of the EU, it is part of the European Economic Area and provides financial assistance to Lithuania aimed at reducing social disparities from the beginning of our membership in the EU. In the new period of financial assistance, Norway will grant Lithuania over 115 million euros for business development, innovations, promotion of scientific research, health care, social dialogue, environment protection and enhancing energy efficiency.
The President and the Royal couple will visit the House of the Signatories to view Lithuania’s Act of Independence on public display.
Lithuania strongly felt the support of Norway and the Norwegian nation when fighting for its freedom in the 1990s. With the effort of members of the Norwegian Parliament (Storting), a satellite antenna was delivered to the Supreme Council that became the only means of communication with the rest of the world on January 13. Lithuania’s information office in Oslo was very active and provided objective information on the developments in Lithuania. In protest of granting the Nobel Prize to Mikhail Gorbachev, Norwegian people donated funds for the alternative peace prize to Lithuania.
During the official visit, President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will open a bilateral Business Forum. The Royal couple is accompanied by the business delegation of 20 companies. The Business Forum will focus on innovations, information, cyber security and defense technologies.
Norway is among the ten biggest foreign investors in Lithuania. As many as 250 Norwegian companies operate in Lithuania. Respectively, Lithuania is the largest Norway’s export market in the Baltic countries.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit focus on innovation, youth education and reducing social inequality. The Crown Prince is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP. The international efforts of the Crown Princess include fight against HIV/AIDS and women’s issues. She is also a Special Representative for UNAIDS.
This is the first visit of the Royal couple to Lithuania.