On 5 September, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius met with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, who came to Vilnius. They discussed opportunities for strengthening bilateral cooperation, relevant issues on the European Union and NATO’s agenda, the situation in eastern Europe, preparations for the future withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, as well as other related challenges.
“Lithuania and Ireland maintain close ties and cooperation on various issues. Our countries are also enjoying strong economic and cultural ties. Recently, our bilateral political contacts have intensified. The Irish President’s visit to Lithuania in June is great proof of this. We should make good use of this positive impetus and expand our cooperation to new areas, such as education,” said L. Linkevičius.
The head of Lithuania’s diplomacy welcomed intensive bilateral political and cultural relations, the ever-increasing trading volume. He noted that the like-minded countries – Lithuania and Ireland – were facing similar challenges and agreed on most important issues.
In the meeting, L. Linkevičius expressed his solidarity and agreed with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs that a political and legal solution to the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was a priority in the Brexit talks that had to be addressed in the Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union rather than postponed for the future. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister emphasized that Lithuania’s main priorities included: the EU’s strength, the preservation of the integrity of the single market, our commitment to secure the rights of EU citizens, and new trade agreements between the EU and the United Kingdom that would not be concluded at the expense of the integrity of the EU’s internal market.
“We must make sure that the slowly developed, well integrated and efficient EU internal market should be further strengthened and its four freedoms would remain indivisible. It does not contradict to the preservation of a close relationship with the United Kingdom or a search for advanced solutions across customs clearance for the border crossing between Ireland and Northern Ireland,” said the Minister L. Linkevičius.
L. Linkevičius also stressed that the United Kingdom was a very important partner of the European Union and Lithuania. Thus, after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, Lithuania would be interested in building close and mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of economy and trade, social sphere, and, especially, on foreign and security policy.