Official visit to Lithuania
Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess are continuing their official visit to the Baltic states, and arrived today in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Lithuania, like its neighbours Latvia and Estonia, is celebrating 100 years of independence this year.
Her Excellency President Dalia Grybauskaitė welcomed the Crown Prince and Crown Princess at the Presidential Palace. The President and the Crown Prince and Crown Princess had a brief meeting together before observing the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Norway and Lithuania.
The President and the Crown Prince and Crown Princess were in attendance as the Lithuanian Minister of Finance, Mr Vilius Šapoka, and State Secretary Audun Halvorsen of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed two MoUs between Lithuania and Norway. Photo: Lise Åserud, NTB scanpix.
After talks between the two countries’ delegations, the President and the Crown Prince met the press together.
Walked through Old Town to the House of Signatories
Accompanied by President Grybauskaitė, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess walked through the Old Town of Vilnius to the House of Signatories. This is where the Lithuanian Decree on Restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania was signed in February 1918 and where it is displayed today. The exhibit tells the history of the Lithuanian National Revival of the early 1900s to the restoration of national independence in 1918. Lithuania’s president showed the Decree on Restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania to the Crown Prince and Crown Princess herself today.
After an official lunch hosted by His Excellency Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Crown Prince Haakon paid a visit to Antakalnis Cemetery, a memorial site where famous artists and scientists are laid to rest. It is also where Lithuanian freedom fighters killed by Soviet forces in 1991 are buried.
A monument commemorates those who gave their lives in the struggle for Lithuanian independence. Crown Prince Haakon laid a wreath at the monument in a formal ceremony today.
The Child Line
In 1997 the service Vaikų linija (the child line) was established to help children and young people. Financed in part with funding from Norway, the help line service is one of the measures supported under the EEA and Norway Grants.
Children and young people in need of someone to talk to can contact the help line via telephone or online to find someone who can listen and help them to find solutions. The young callers are often encouraged to share their problems with someone near to them whom they trust.
There are currently 200 counsellors associated with the help line, 190 of whom are volunteers. The Crown Prince met some of them today and spoke with them about their thoughts and experiences from carrying out this important work.
Tonight the Crown Prince and Crown Princess are the guests of President Grybauskaitė at an official dinner at the Presidential Palace. Crown Prince Haakon congratulated the President and the Lithuanian people on their centennial anniversary.
"It is a great pleasure for the Crown Princess and me to congratulate you on the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuanian statehood. We have great admiration for all that you have achieved in regaining independence – both in 1918 and in 1990. This is truly impressive. It serves as an example for the whole international community"
Tomorrow the official visit continues with a focus on defence cooperation and business, before the Crown Prince and Crown Princess travel to Estonia.
Facts about Lithuania
Largest cities: Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda
Total area: 65 300 km2 (Norway: 385 203 km²)
Population: approx. 2 823 000 (2017)
Approx. 84 per cent are Lithuanians. Poles and Russians comprise seven and six per cent of the population, respectively.
Official language: Lithuanian
Form of government: Republic
Head of state (2018): Dalia Grybauskaitė
Gained independence: 16 February 1918
His Majesty King Harald carried out a State Visit to Lithuania in 1998. Lithuania’s current president, President Dalia Grybauskaitė, carried out a State Visit to Norway in 2011.
Trade between Norway and Lithuania historically revolved around herring, hemp and linen. Today, roughly 250 Norwegian-affiliated companies are registered in Lithuania, and cooperation is expanding. Some 44 000 Lithuanians live in Norway.
Relations between Norway and Lithuania are good, both bilaterally and in cooperative organisations such as the UN, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, NATO, and the NB8 Nordic-Baltic cooperation.
Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Welfare and winter sports
After their initial days in the city of Dunhuang, Their Majesties The King and Queen are continuing their State Visit to the People's Republic of China in the capital city of Beijing. Welfare development and cooperation on winter sports were on the agenda today.
Visit to the Mogao Caves
To be listed as a world heritage site, a place must fulfil one of six criteria. The Mogao Caves fulfil all six. Today, Their Majesties The King and Queen were given the opportunity to visit this extraordinary place.