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Prime Minister and Italian Ambassador discuss closer cooperation with Southern Europe

Date

2021 01 21

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Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė has had a remote meeting with Italian Ambassador to Lithuania Diego Ungaro to discuss progress in combating the pandemic and the development of bilateral relations in various fields.

‘The fight against the pandemic is currently at the top of our agenda. We pay a lot of attention to vaccine procurement and the vaccination process itself’, said the Head of Government.

The Prime Minister has also noted the need for closer cooperation with Southern Europe as outlined in the programme of the Government. This is particularly relevant in terms of economic relations. Italy is an important trading partner and ranks 8th on the list, 13th among investors.

Ingrida Šimonytė has emphasised the existing potential for strengthening economic cooperation, particularly in life sciences, engineering industry, defence industry, energy, financial technologies, etc.

On defence and security, the Prime Minister has pointed out Government’s priority to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2025 means permitting.

The Head of Government has thanked Italy for its contribution to strengthening the security of Lithuania and the entire region. The Italian Air Force have already participated in the NATO Air Policing Mission three times. In September 2020 Italy again took over command of the air policing mission from Šiauliai. Italy also has representatives in NATO FIU and NATO ENSEC COE.

Lithuania sees many opportunities to enhance cooperation in the field of defence. Cyber security would be one of the areas. The Prime Minister has once again invited Italy to join the Lithuanian-led PESCO project in the field of cyber security.

The Prime Minister has raised the issue of the Astravyets NPP pointing out its threat to the whole of Europe. It is imperative that all the recommendations for international nuclear safety are implemented, as the Astravyets NPP is a shared responsibility of the entire Europe. Electricity produced from unsafe NPPs must be prevented from entering the European market.

The interlocutors have discussed the Eastern Partnership initiative agreeing that it must remain a priority on the EU’s agenda.

‘Lithuania understands the challenges of the Southern Neighbourhood too. We are sending our troops to international operations in the Mediterranean, we are now in a mission in Mali, and our officer is at the NATO headquarters in Naples. Lithuania is the only country in our region that voluntarily relocates migrants from Italy. We are ready to continue this policy of solidarity. It is also necessary to support the people of Belarus in their struggle for freedom and democracy. The regime is just trying to win more time. Thus, we need to keep up the pressure with the sanctions policy. EU support for Belarusian civil society is crucial here’, said the Prime Minister.