Central and Eastern Europe, Diplomacy

100 years diplomatic relations between Lithuania and the Netherlands

On October 6 the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania organized a reception at the Sound and Vision Museum in the Hague to celebrate the 100 years of diplomatic relations between Lithuania and the Netherlands.

The reception was attended by many Dutch and Lithuanian guests who were welcomed by H.E. Vidmantas Purlys.

In his speech Ambassador Vidmantas Purlys presented in short the history of relations between the two countries.

Lithuania restored an independent state on 18 February 1918. On October 6 1921 the Netherlands recognized re-stablished state of Lithuania. First ambassador of Lithuania to the Netherlands – Jonas Aukštuolis – was appointed the same year.

Bilateral ties began to expand in economy, science, culture and other areas in 20s and 30s. In 1923 The Netherlands was Lithuania’s eighth largest trading partner. Lithuania mainly exported timber and horses, imported clothing and cocoa. In 1924 the first trade agreement was concluded, which regulated business and shipping relations. In 1937 the famous Philips company started installing radios in Kaunas.

Soviet occupation of Lithuania terminated the bilateral co-operation for 50 years.

In June 1941, ambassador Aukštuolis was deported to one of the concentration camps in Siberia where he died from tuberculosis and malnutrition. Many Lithuanian diplomats shared his fate. It was the end of Philips in Kaunas, which was nationalised by the Soviet regime. Refugees from Soviet-enslaved nations, including Lithuania, escaped to the Netherlands.

In 1990-1991 relations started to be rebuilt. Mr Ambassador continued in his speech that at that early stage, many people offered their help and wanted to contribute to strengthening ties between two countries.

”I would like to acknowledge the presence today of our honorary consul Herman de Lange who is the greatest friend of Lithuania. He was tremendous help since early 90s organizing assistance, contributing to first high level visits and so on. I am happy that Ms. Nijolė Galinienė is also among us today. She together will Herman and others established Holland House in Vilnius in 1995 to foster co-operation, when there was still no official Dutch representation in Vilnius.

Of course, I cannot mention all people who were building these bridges. Dutch government provided valuable technical and other support. Just one example. Dozens of today’s high-ranking Lithuanian diplomats, civil servants and politicians graduated various training programmes from Clingendael institute in the 90s. In my view, our current partnership is a remarkable achievement of these last 30 years.”

The relationship between two countries is based on the shared values of freedom and democracy. The Netherlands and Lithuania are close partners in the European Union and reliable NATO allies. Dutch soldiers have been part of NATO eFP in Lithuania since 2017. Also the cooperation in the fields of economy is more than satisfactory. Countries cooperate in science and technology. There are Dutch companies who availed of favourable business climate, settled and invested in Lithuania. The Netherlands is a major destination for Lithuanian students and there is a strong Lithuanian community in the Netherlands.

H.E. finished his speech by elaborating that ”We have a very positive agenda and are keen to develop further our great partnership in many areas and on many levels.”

Images: Embassy of Lithuania in the Netherlands

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