President Dalia Grybauskaitė

Ireland: an example of responsible policies


Tuesday, June 19, Vilnius President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who arrived on an official visit to Lithuania. The meeting focused on bilateral relations between Lithuania and Ireland, cooperation within the European Union and security issues. The Irish President came to Lithuania together with First Lady Sabina Mary Higgins.

According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Ireland is similar to Lithuania in size, interests and values.  We see Ireland as a model example of responsible policies, successful economic development and ability to bring its emigrants back home.

Thirty years ago, Irish political parties, trade unions and employers’ organizations agreed to work together and deliver programmes for national recovery and social progress. Timely and responsible tax and economic reforms as well as fight against social exclusion paved the way for Ireland’s successful development. Today, it is an advanced, innovative nation with the most rapidly growing economy in the European Union.

Ireland – a country that has suffered a major wave of emigration – is now returning its compatriots from abroad. The country is implementing a special programme to support emigrants, and the Irish diaspora around the world is encourage to attract foreign investment to Ireland. Lithuania, too, is calling on its emigrants to come home. The programme “Choose Lithuania”, initiated by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, has already started to produce results. Over 10 thousand of our compatriots returned to Lithuania in the first five months of this year – more than during the entire last year.

The two countries are also linked by a large Lithuanian community in Ireland, its third largest ethnic group. Active and civic-minded Lithuanians have preserved close ties with their homeland. They have launched many charity initiatives to help Lithuanian children; they foster and promote Lithuanian traditions, language and culture. Fourteen Lithuanian schools operate in Ireland. As of last year, the Lithuanian language has been included into the Irish school programme as an optional second language.

Bilateral relations will be further strengthened by three agreements on cooperation in science and education to be signed during the Irish President’s visit: between the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences and the National University of Ireland, between the teachers’ training centers of Kaunas and Cork, and between the Kaunas Teachers’ House and the Lithuanian School of Cork. Lithuanian and Irish researchers are currently working on 75 EU financed joint projects.

There is also much potential for economic cooperation, especially in IT, FinTech and life sciences. New opportunities are provided by the energy sector. As Ireland prepares to build an LNG terminal, Lithuania is ready to share its experience. Irish investments have created 2000 jobs in Lithuania.

The two presidents also reviewed collaborative work in the European Union. According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Lithuania and Ireland stand in the same line on migration, economic, security, and Brexit-related challenges facing the European Union, and work together to resolve them.  In Brexit negotiations, Lithuania and Ireland stand for closer ties between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Lithuania supports Ireland’s determination not to create new borders in Europe. Both countries share common interests in the forthcoming negotiations on the new multiannual EU budget. It is important for both of them to secure adequate funding for coherence and agriculture policies.

Official gifts were exchanged. Dalia Grybauskaitė gave the Irish President, who is interested in poetry and philosophy, a collection of Lithuanian poems translated into English and a Guide to Lithuanian Culture. Michael D. Higgins presented a wooden bowl by an Irish artist.

The President of Ireland will visit Kaunas where he will receive an honorary doctorate at Vytautas Magnus University.

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2018.06.19 14:24