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Thursday, 16 April 2009

The President in Lithuania: strategic partnership is crucial


On Thursday, the President and the First Lady paid a state visit to Lithuania. After they were greeted at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius, the presidents of Poland and Lithuania went to a tête-à-tête discussion. Afterwards, the President met with the Lithuanian Prime Minister, Andrius Kubilius, and the Speaker of the Seimas (the Lithuanian Parliament), Arūnas Valinskas.

During their talks, the presidents signed a Joint Declaration that emphasizes the importance of political and economic cooperation in such key areas as security, energy, transport and minorities. “We have managed to establish very good relations with Lithuania,” Lech Kaczyński summarised.

The presidents also exchanged state distinctions – Lech Kaczyński decorated the President of the Republic of Lithuania with the Grand Cross of the Order of Poland Reborn and was himself decorated with the Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Collar.

During the press conference of both presidents, Lech Kaczyński said that they discussed matters such as cooperation with regard to energy, the spelling of Polish surnames, the Polish Charter and cooperation of the two countries within EU and NATO. The Polish President emphasized that the Polish Charter, the subject of numerous disputes in Lithuania, is not a document granting Polish citizenship. He added that he is glad that a Polish-Lithuanian working group consisting of six members has been appointed to solve this arguable matter, as well as the issue of Polish names for streets in the regions of Lithuania where there are large Polish minorities.

The President announced that Poland supports the plans for building a new nuclear power plant that would replace the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which is to be closed, as well as the plans for establishing an "energy bridge" between Poland and Lithuania: “The bridge is very much needed,” he said, at the same time pointing out that Poland wants to obtain a guarantee that it will receive a certain amount of power from the new plant for its north-eastern part.

In his speech, the President pointed out that there are certain problems affecting both countries. These problems include the issue of spelling Polish surnames in Lithuania and matters connected with Polish names of streets in the Vilnius region. He emphasized that, for the sake of the common interests of the two countries, these problems need to be resolved.

Towards the end of his visit, the President met with representatives of Polish organisations in Lithuania, including deputies of the Electoral Action for Poles in Lithuania for the Lithuanian Seimas.

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