November 19, 2017

Lithuania and the Netherlands develop strong partnership which could make important contribution to strengthening European security and competitiveness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By H.E. Mr Vidmantas Purlys, Ambassador of Lithuania to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  

Lithuania and the Netherlands co-operate in many areas and at different levels, ranging from security to economy. Both countries share similar values of democratic governance, rule of law, human rights, openness to trade and innovation. Lithuania and the Netherlands are partners in the European Union, including the euro area, and allies in NATO. The intensity of co-operation achieved to this date is remarkable, notwithstanding the fact that it was terminated by the Soviet occupation of 1940, and was only resumed after the re-establishment of the state in 1990.

The Netherlands and other Western nations never recognized Soviet occupation of Lithuania of 1940-1990. It was an important expression of solidarity with Lithuanians who continued resistance to the Soviet rule. It is quite striking, that even during this period the diplomatic network of the independent Lithuania was continuously functioning with diplomatic posts to the Holly Sea, in Washington and London. This represented continuation of the state. Also, it showed dedication of Lithuanian diplomats of that period, and set high moral standard to the colleagues who joined diplomatic community after 1990.

Today the Netherlands is one of leading trade partners of Lithuania. 20 per cent of cargo handled by the Lithuanian Klaipėda sea port is forwarded via Rotterdam. The Netherlands is also second largest investor in Lithuania and second destination for Lithuanian investments. Dutch investors avail of favourable Lithuanian business climate and are increasingly active across number of sectors, including information and telecommunications technologies, pharmaceuticals and others. Also recently a number of innovative small and medium size Dutch technology companies opened up their businesses in Lithuania.

The area of particular interest of co-operation is energy. As legacy of the past, Lithuania was heavily depended of energy supplies from external actors, who also used their monopoly position for political ends. Therefore, diversification of supply sources for electricity and gas, as well as integration with EU infrastructure networks, was national priority since early 1990s. In 2014 LNG terminal was docked at the Klaipėda port.

The construction of this terminal has significantly changed supply situation and was shaping the dynamics of the Baltic regional gas market. This is genuinely regional infrastructure with capacity of supplying also regional needs. A number of enterprises deliver gas to the Klaipėda LNG, most recently also US and Dutch companies. In this context, there are many opportunities for further bilateral co-operation on technological innovation, research and business practices. These venues of co-operation were already addressed at the 3rd Lithuanian-Netherlands Gas Forum in Vilnius this November.

As to the broader EU agenda, in many respects Lithuania and the Netherlands hold similar view on most important issues. I believe that both countries would like to see that the EU develops in consolidated way, effectively delivers on the most pressing priorities by making full use of instruments provided by the current Treaties.

Lithuania favours removing remaining restrictions in the EU internal market, notably for services and energy, and pressing forward with the creation of digital single market. We should also work to complete the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union of the Economic and Monetary Union. We need to continue addressing migration, border protection and security. EU has to pursue effective external policies, especially towards EU’s immediate neighbourhood. In particular, Lithuania and the Netherlands should continue explore ways to join efforts in supporting EU-related reforms of EU Eastern Partners.

In recent years Lithuania and the Netherlands stepped up co-operation in security and defence, especially in NATO framework, in response to security challenges for the Alliance. The Netherlands contributed to the NATO Baltic Air Policing, and since 2017 Dutch contingent is deployed as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence battalion battle group in Lithuania. Countries also work both bilaterally, in EU and NATO, on addressing hybrid security risks, such as cyber, propaganda and others.

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