Prime Minister: diplomatic efforts have contributed to fighting the pandemic


2020 06 30


Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has taken part in a remote meeting with diplomatic representatives and heads of consular offices of the Republic of Lithuania abroad. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of National Defense, Minister of Finance, Minister of Energy, Minister of Health, and Minister of Education, Science and Sports have also attended the meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Prime Minister has thanked the diplomatic corps for the cooperation in solving challenges related to the coronavirus, collecting and sharing information, assisting in the acquisition of important equipment as a matter of extreme urgency, and repatriation of Lithuanian citizens.

According to the Head of Government, the virus, which has confined everyone at home, has been receding; however, there is no certainty that it will not return. It is rational that we had to recur to the lockdown to save health and lives; however, we need to open up in the long run to save the economy. This means that we are forced to look for balance and compromise in our decisions.

In the face of the 93-day-long quarantine in Lithuania, the Government has taken critical measures to preserve jobs and boost the economy. Back in March, an unprecedented stimulus package was approved, focusing on stimulating the economy – preserving jobs and liquidity of companies. 10 per cent of the GDP, or EUR 5 billion, have been allocated to this end.

The Prime Minister has emphasized that thinking about the future, the Government had approved the DNA Plan for Lithuania’s future economy. The Plan identifies five priorities to focus on human capital, digital economy and business, innovation and research, economic infrastructure, and climate change and energy. The sectors targeted are high value-added. EUR 6.3 billion will be allocated to the Plan, which will be implemented by 31 December 2021.

The Prime Minister has underlined that the country is better prepared than ever for a possible new wave of the pandemic; however, Lithuania has to be among the first countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccine supplies. The Prime Minister has asked the diplomatic missions to follow the situation and contact pharmaceutical companies that may be producing the vaccine.

As for COVID-19, Lithuania’s successful efforts have received international attention, and the Baltic travel bubble has become synonymous with the responsible and successful policy.

The important Rail Baltica project was also discussed at the remote meeting. According to the Prime Minister, any hindrance would delay the implementation of this project for several more years, while meeting the deadlines is crucial in geopolitical, economic development, and cost terms.

It has been emphasized that difficult negotiations are under way on not purchasing electricity from the Astravets nuclear power plant. Lithuania’s position is strong and clear: in the negotiations we will seek the result that the law obliges us to seek, and we will not agree with the result that contradicts it. Lithuania’s position is also acceptable to the European Commission and is strongly supported by Poland. Saulius Skvernelis has expressed his conviction that the unity of the Baltic states will be strengthened by concrete decisions.

The Prime Minister has named Lithuania’s relations with Poland as the most important foreign policy result of the present Government: after many years of unnecessary friction and disagreements, the two countries are united by a real strategic partnership.

At the beginning of the pandemic crisis, we missed more active action by the European Union institutions; however, we do not doubt the need for European solidarity. Lithuania has provided assistance to Spain and Italy (EUR 100,000), has joined the vaccine donation initiative by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (EUR 200,000), and has directly contributed specific assistance to the Eastern Partnership countries.

It has been stated that the EU’s economic and financial solidarity works. Lithuania is grateful to the European Commission for its quick response in ensuring the maximum flexibility of the EU structural and investment funds. The proposal submitted by the European Commission in May has earmarked to Lithuania, together with the resources of the Recovery Fund, over EUR 15 billion for 2021-2027, i.e., 18 per cent more compared to the current financial framework. The green economy and digital transformation emphasized by the European Commission are fully in line with the plans of the Lithuanian Government.

In the negotiations on the EU budget, the Government stresses the need to seek adequate funding for the cohesion policy, agriculture, and infrastructure projects of European significance. The central role of the multiannual EU budget in implementing EU economic policies and the necessary structural reforms in the EU member states has also been emphasized.

Saulius Skvernelis has also underlined the vital interest in emphasizing the importance of the transatlantic link to the EU security and the role of the US security guarantees.