On 24 September 2001 President Valdas Adamkus and the Lithuanian delegation led by him started the official visit in Ireland.
After the official welcoming ceremony, the President of Lithuania and President Mary McAleese of Ireland met to discuss the processes of European integration, international situation, the development of the bilateral relations as well as the issues of economic and cultural co-operation between their countries.
According to Dublin tradition, President Adamkus planted in the Phoenix part an oak from Ireland and, together with Mrs. Alma Adamkiene, Minister of Culture Roma Dovydienene and Ambassador Justas Paleckis, an oak from Lithuania.
In the Garden of Remembrance the President of Lithuania laid the wreath of flowers at the memorial to the fighters for the independence of Ireland.
The meeting with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, which lasted longer than planned, focused on the issues of European integration. President Adamkus underlined that Ireland’s successful integration in the European Union allows Lithuania, who also seeks membership in this organization, to expect joining the Community in the near future. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern commended Lithuania on its success in the accession negotiations. “Lithuania is among the front runners in the accession negotiations,” the Irish Prime Minister stated. He also assured of the Irish Government’s support for Lithuania’s integration in the European Union and confirmed its readiness to share the experience.
According to the Lithuanian President, both states share a number of similarities: similar history, culture and the goal to build a Europe, whole, free and prospering. President Adamkus stated that NATO was not only a defense alliance but also an organization guaranteeing economic security.
Following the meeting with the Irish Prime Minister, when asked by the journalists whether Ireland’s disapproval of the Nice Agreement had not diminished Lithuania’s chances of joining the EU, the Lithuanian leader answered in the negative.
“Our attitude towards it was very pragmatic and realistic. We saw that at that time the country had an opportunity to express its feelings. The whole process of accession into the EU is so dynamic that most probably all its aspects should be taken into consideration”, underlined President Valdas Adamkus.
The President expressed his belief that the agreement on cultural exchange between Lithuania and Ireland, which had been signed during the meeting, would provide the people of both states with a possibility to get to know the rich cultural heritage of their countries.
The meeting with the Chairman of the House of Representatives, Seamus Pattison, and Chairman of the Senate, Brian Mullooly focused on the possibilities of development of inter-parliamentary relations between the two states. The representatives of the Irish Parliament expressed support for Lithuania’s aspiration to become a member of the European Union.
On September 25, President Valdas Adamkus of the Republic of Lithuania had breakfast with Deputy Spokesperson of the Irish opposition party Fine Gael, Nora Owen. The Deputy Spokesperson expressed her party’s support of Lithuania’s membership in the European Union. During the meeting with the representative of the opposition party, the Lithuanian President introduced a member of the Lithuanian delegation, Algirdas Gricius, who heads the parliamentary group for the relations with Ireland.
During the meeting with the Mayor of Dublin, Alderman Michael Mulcahy, the Lithuanian President invited the head of Dublin to visit Vilnius and get first-had acquaintance with of the capital of Lithuania.
At the bilateral business forum President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania called the business representatives of Ireland “Celtic tigers”, because it was namely businessmen who had contributed the most to the flourishing of the Irish economy.
“You were able to achieve it, so will Lithuania”, emphasized the President. Around 30 Lithuanian businessmen representing construction industry and the sectors of finance and information technologies took part in the forum.
Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, expressed satisfaction at this large delegation of businessmen from Lithuania. At the dinner with the Head of the State of Lithuania, he underscored that this fact indicated Lithuania’s firm determination to develop economic relations with Ireland. When talking about Euro-Atlantic integration, the Irish Prime Minister emphasized that “Lithuania is welcome in the European Union”. Prime Minister Ahern also recalled the achievements of the Lithuanian sportsmen and singled out the basketball players who had demonstrated good results at the Sydney Olympics.
The President of Lithuania also visited Trinity College, including its library, where he saw the Book of Kells.
In his address to the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin, President Adamkus compared Lithuania to Ireland thirty years ago. The Head of the State of Lithuania noted that some EU states feared that the new members would weaken the European Union and upset its stability and prosperity. “The past ten-year record of my country and of the other Central European countries has testified beyond any doubt to a huge potential for development of the candidates and their commitment to building a new life. We do not look for handouts and stand ready to contribute our experience, knowledge and culture to Europe”, said President Valdas Adamkus.
On September 26, the Lithuanian leader participated in Lithuanian-Irish Economic Forum, which was held in Cork, the second largest city of Ireland, and brought together over one hundred Irish businessmen representing the sectors of banking, pharmacology and information technologies as well as wood and paper industries.
President Adamkus assured the Irish businessmen that in the European Union, Lithuania would become Ireland’s reliable partner and noted that Irish businessmen’s significant interest in Lithuania inspired hope that close bilateral co-operation would be continued not only on the political, but also on economic level.
At the University of Cork, President Valdas Adamkus met with Vice-chancellor of the University College Cork, Aine Hyland, and its professors. The Lithuanian President noted with satisfaction the successful development of co-operation between the universities of Cork and Vilnius. The Head of the State discussed with the professors of Ireland the possibilities of co-operation in the area of laser research.
In Cork, the President met with the Mayor of Cork, Tom O’Driscoll, and visited a pharmaceutical company, Novartis Sandoz.
When summarizing the results of the three-day visit, President said he believed that Lithuania would be able to utilize the experience of Ireland in the process of integrating into competitive economy of EU, which responds to the technological challenges of modern times.
“If the Irish have made such a leap, we will make it too. I am not asking whether we are able to repeat the Irish economic miracle. I am convinced that we will do that. It might take several years, but, I believe, Lithuania will prove that it has both the capacities and talented people and that we know how to utilize the possibilities that are opening up for us in the process of integration into the European Union”, said President Adamkus.
The President singled out Ireland’s increased interest in Lithuania as one of the major achievements of this visit.
Press Service of the President