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Official visit to Lithuania: Business seminar

Speech given by His Royal Highness The Crown Prince at the Business Seminar "Creating Partnerships for Regional Defence" in Vilnius 3 April 2024.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Labas rytas! Good morning!

I am very happy to be back here in Vilnius. The Crown Princess and I were here in 2018 for the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuanian statehood. Once again, we in the Norwegian delegation have been met with warmth and hospitality. I am looking forward to meeting with the President later today.

This year marks the 20th anniversary since Lithuania formally became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004. Since then, Norway and Lithuania are allies in NATO.

We work closely together, not only as allies, but as partners in many areas. Today, I am very pleased to attend the Norwegian-Lithuanian business forum. Its focus on “Creating Partnerships for Regional Defence” is timely and promising. 

Bilateral relations between Norway and Lithuania are excellent. Our partnerships in different fields such as business, culture and politics have steadily developed in a positive direction.

Norway and Lithuania also have a broad cooperation within the Nordic-Baltic regional framework. At this point in time – with Russia’s war on Ukraine raging, and Finland and Sweden as new members of NATO – the importance of defence cooperation is more important than ever before. 

Indeed, a sizeable contingent from the Norwegian Armed Forces has served in NATO’s Forward Land Forces here in Lithuania since its establishment in 2017. And I look forward to spending time with the Norwegian troops in Rukla later today as well as tomorrow. Such multinational battlegroups in Lithuania and other Eastern Allies, show NATO’s readiness to defend the territory of the Alliance and its populations.

Deterrence depends on strong defence. The ongoing horrors of war have reminded us how essential the industrial base is for sustainable defence capabilities. 

In all industries, success depends on innovation and competitive products. In the defence industry, alliances and trust are important for the choice of partners. Norwayand Lithuania already have a proud history of cooperation to build upon in this respect. The delivery of NASAMS medium-range air defence systems from KONGSBERG is one of the most notable examples.

Indeed, Lithuania has donated NASAMS systems to Ukraine. And this is but one important part in Lithuania’s comprehensive support to Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s full-scale invasion. In Norway, our Parliament – Stortinget – stood unanimously behind our long-term support for Ukraine, comprising military and civilian support under The Nansen program for Ukraine 2023-2027. 

To conclude: Defence budgets are on the rise, and they must be digested prudently. Bold decision-makers are called for, and they must act wisely. Creating the right partnerships in the defence industry is part of the solution to enhancing our collective defence.

I hope this business forum will contribute to this, and that it will prove to be fruitful for both Norway and Lithuania.

I wish you all good luck!

Thank you.


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