Israeli President: Lithuania is very close to our hearts


2010 12 21


Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius continues his official visit to Israel. This morning, the Lithuanian Prime Minister has been welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

During the meeting, President Peres has said that Lithuania is very close to Israel, and its heart. "Lithuania is important for our country's history. Vilnius with its warm Jewish community is very important for our nation."- said President S. Peres.

Prime Minister Kubilius has agreed that the Lithuanian history is unimaginable without the Lithuanian Jewish community that has left a deep imprint on our history and our lives. Since the times of Vytautas the Great, it has always been an integral part of the Lithuanian society, closely involved in the development of science, economy and culture. "Today, many Jewish emigrants from Lithuania - Litvaks - are internationally recognized artists, scientists and influential politicians. We are also proud of the fact that Litvaks were actively participating in building the State of Israel. Do many of us know that the first Israeli Presidents, several Prime Ministers, and the Speaker of the Knesset are Lithuanian-descent builders of the State of Israel? I assume the following phrase in Hebrew is not for nothing:"mi Lita -"b"elite" (from Lithuania to the elite)”. – said the Lithuanian Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Kubilius has pointed out that Lithuania having been deprived of many of the Litvak community by the Holocaust today is trying to restore their role by launching a virtual project: world Litvaks’ heritage.

President Peres, born in Ašmena, a town on Lithuania-Belarus border, in his meetings with representatives from Lithuania, always refers to his roots as a Litwak. The President has asked the Lithuanian Prime Minister to tell about Kaunas, Vilnius and Lithuania as they are today.

Part of the discussions has focussed on scientific achievement and importance of science. According to the Israeli leader, the number of researchers in a particular country is more important than the area of the country in square kilometres. "The coming 20-30 years will be marked by revolutionary changes, caused by scientific achievements. It is extremely important to combine them with morality, responsibility and wisdom, "- said the 88-year old Shimon Peres, noting the growing importance of education.

Prime Minister Kubilius has pointed out that Lithuania has the ambition to build a knowledge economy, and has been quite successful in investing in high technology, the IT sector, nano-biotechnology, laser development. According to the Prime Minister of Lithuania, the researchers are really strong and globally competitive, but Lithuania still lacks what Israel has been successful in, i.e. translating scientific achievements and results into an attractive export commodity. “Your expertise in this respect would be very useful for us," – said the Head of the Government of Lithuania.

Israeli President has thanked Mr Kubilius for the consistent position of the Lithuanian Government on the property restitution for the Jewish religious communities as well as for the efforts in bringing a new quality to the bilateral relations. The President has invited the Lithuanian Prime Minister to attend an international conference to be held in June: "Tomorrow", involving presidents and prime ministers of 25 countries.

“I am very pleased that despite the distance and time the Litvaks are proud of their origin and keep contacts with the land of their parents and grandparents – Lithuania or Lita, and they call Vilnius Jerusalem of the North, said the Prime Minister while presenting the Israeli President with an amber Menorah and a national hand-made sash.