State Visit from Lithuania
In keeping with tradition, Karl Johans gate and the hill leading up to the Palace were adorned with flags, banners and flowers in the visiting countrys official colours. The second half of the welcoming ceremony took place inside the Palace, with official photographs in the Bird Room and an exchange of gifts.
Following the official luncheon, King Harald and Queen Sonja accompanied President Grybauskaitė to Akershus Fortress where she laid a wreath at the national monument commemorating the Norwegians who lost their lives in the Second World War.
Meetings and official signing ceremony
Following the wreath-laying ceremony, the King and Queen accompanied President Grybauskaitė to the Storting (national assembly), where she met with Acting President of the Storting Per Kristian Foss. The President subsequently met with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, after which they attended an official signing ceremony for:
- A Memorandum of Understanding on the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014
- An agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons
In the evening the King and Queen gave a gala banquet at the Palace in honour of President Grybauskaitė. In his speech to the President, King Harald described Lithuanias struggle for freedom from the Soviet occupation, and the sympathy that many Norwegians felt for Lithuanias cause. Norway officially recognised the independence of Lithuania in 1921 and never withdrew this official recognition. Formal diplomatic ties were re-established between the two countries in August 1991. The King noted that 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of this important event.
Shipyard in Ålesund
On the morning of 6 April, King Harald and President Grybauskaitė travelled to Ålesund in northwestern Norway for the second half of the State Visit. The day commenced with a company visit to Fiskerstrand BLRT AS. The shipyard is a joint venture between Fiskerstrand Verft AS in Ålesund and Western Shipyard in Klaipeda, Lithuania.
Tour of the art nouveau city
Ålesund is renowned for its art nouveau architecture. After a fire in 1904 which destroyed the city centre, the city was rebuilt in the prevailing art nouveau style. This gave the city a unique character.
King Harald and President Grybauskaitė were formally welcomed by Mayor of Ålesund Bjørn Tømmerdal, and were given a guided tour of the city by Sidsel Waage Aurdal. The tour included a visit to the Art Nouveau Centre (Jugendstilsenteret).
Aalesund University College
Following an official luncheon hosted by President Grybauskaitė, the King and the President visited Aalesund University College, where they were greeted by Rector Geirmund Oltedal. After a general introduction to the university college, the King and the President were given a more detailed presentation of the schools programmes in ship design and a demonstration of various ship manoeuvring simulators.
The visit to Aalesund University College concluded the President of Lithuanias State Visit to Norway.
Facts about Lithuania
Capital city: Vilnius
Largest cities: Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda
Total area: 65 300 km²
Population in 2011: approximately 3.35 million
Official language: Lithuanian. Major minority languages: Russian and Polish.
Form of government: Republic
Head of state 2011: President Dalia Grybauskaitė
Diplomatic relations between Norway and Lithuania were re-established in 1991 when Lithuania gained its independence from the Soviet Union. Norway never officially recognised the Soviet occupation.
Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja conducted a State Visit to Lithuania in 1998.
There is extensive cooperation between Norway and Lithuania at the political level, as well as collaboration and exchange in the spheres of health, education, transport and communications, and culture. Trade between the two countries has grown in recent years, and several Norwegian companies have a presence in Lithuania.
Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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