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Thursday, 15 February 2018

President starts visit to Lithuania

  |   President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda started a three-day visit to Lithuania on Thursday afternoon President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda started a three-day visit to Lithuania on Thursday afternoon President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda started a three-day visit to Lithuania on Thursday afternoon

Poland's President Andrzej Duda on Thursday begins a three-day visit to Lithuania, where he will meet counterpart Dalia Grybauskaite and join the hosts in celebrating the 100th anniversary of when the Lithuanian state was rebuilt.


At the centenary celebrations, the Polish head of state will also meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.


Other leaders in attendance are set to include Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Estonia's head of state Kersti Kaljulaid, Iceland's President Gudni Johannesson, Ukraine's head of state Petro Poroshenko, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, as well as Donald Tusk and Jean Claude-Juncker, who are in charge of the European Council and the European Commission, respectively.


Moreover, the royal families of Sweden and Denmark are also expected to be represented.


As the Polish President's top aide Krzysztof Szczerski told PAP, Andrzej Duda's visit in Vilnius is designed to demonstrate how much connects Poland and Lithuania today, but also how many problems persist in bilateral relations.


A vital part of these links will always be the situation of Poles in Lithuania and vice versa, the aide noted, as is normal among neighbours with a turbulent past, but these diasporas "represent wealth which we should use and which should unite us."


Krzysztof Szczerski said the three-day presidential visit would have three components. First, Andrzej Duda will meet the Polish diaspora and hear their concerns and expectations regarding Lithuanian policy. The President is also set to talk with Polish investors in the Baltic country, such as the fuel conglomerate PKN Orlen, and meet Polish boy scouts at the Vilnius grave of the mother of Poland's independence hero Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, whose heart is also buried there.


A major reason for these events is Poland's independence centenary, which also falls this year.


The Polish head of state will start the visit by meeting with representatives of the local Polish community in Vilnius on Thursday afternoon. Poland's First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda will also take part in the meeting.


Secondly, on Friday the head of state will join other leaders in celebrating 100 years since the Lithuanian state was rebuilt, which "shows our appreciation and respect for the Lithuanian state," the aide emphasised. See also: Presidential official: Lithuania must respect rights of minorities


This will also provide an opportunity for discussions among top politicians, whether bilaterally or in larger groups, just as the Polish President met German counterpart in Pyeongchang last week, the official added.


Finally on Saturday, President Duda will conduct the working part of the visit. In particular, he is scheduled to meet Dalia Grybauskaite to discuss a wide array of issues, from the situation of Poles in Lithuania, to matters pertaining to NATO and working with Vilnius on economic projects, in infrastructure (as part of the Three Seas Initiative) as well as on investments.


"These talks will be very comprehensive because there are so many common themes," Krzysztof Szczerski commented. (PAP)


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