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Lithuania, Kuwait look forward to next 30 years of bilateral relations

THE TIMES KUWAIT REPORT


On 5 April, Lithuania and Kuwait marked a significant milestone — the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. On this special occasion the Ambassador of Lithuania H.E. Ramnas Davidonis, in an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait, reflected on the 30 years of successful friendship between Lithuania and Kuwait, and the opportunities that lie ahead for further boosting bilateral relations between the two countries over the next 30 years.

The ambassador began by saying, “First of all, on behalf of the Embassy of Lithuania, I would like to sincerely congratulate Kuwaiti friends and partners on three decades of successful partnership between our countries. Since establishing bilateral diplomatic ties in 1994, our countries have seen impressive growth and fostered a mutually beneficial partnership across political, trade, educational, and cultural spheres.

“In this celebratory moment, it is a good time to explore new ventures for relations between our countries. The current geopolitical climate presents both challenges and opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Lithuania and Kuwait, united by shared respect for sovereignty, rule of law, and promotion of international cooperation, can leverage their experience and resilience to navigate these complexities. We commend Kuwait’s involvement in aid and support for the Ukrainian people. Lithuania also echoes the call for political solutions for the situation in Gaza as a priority for stability and security in the region. This shared commitment creates a solid foundation for continued collaboration in the years to come.”

Turning to economic relations between the two countries, Ambassador Davidonis noted, “Bilateral trade between Kuwait and Lithuania grows steadily each year, but there is a lot of space for improvement. Lithuanian businesses are discovering opportunities in Kuwait, especially in mainstream sectors like construction, design, architecture, agriculture, and food products. I believe we are yet to see the explosion of mutual projects and investments.

“Lithuania has much to offer, and we have a well-founded record of innovation, from co-creating the world’s powerful scientific lasers to building nanosatellites. You might not have heard that Lithuanian lasers help to solve worldwide health and science problems and are widely used by NASA, CERN, and global technology giants like IBM, Hitachi, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. In addition, Lithuania is also known for incorporating the best of nature in state-of-the-art technology, from semiconductors to agritech and cleantech; we are looking for solutions for the future, and we see Kuwait’s potential to be a part of it. This year, Lithuania also celebrates 20 years of being a member of the European Union and NATO, which helped to accelerate the development of the business ecosystem.

In addition to strengthening economic ties, the ambassador also highlighted the immense tourism opportunities in his country. “Lithuania should be on the top of the list for people in Kuwait who love nature, calm greenery and healthy relaxation, mixed with culture, history and fun. There is so much to explore, especially in summer. More curious Kuwaitis might be surprised, but we also have a small desert of our own — the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO site with beautiful white-sand dunes and beaches, lush pine forests, and tranquil lagoons. Lithuania has something for every well-travelled tourist, be it history, festivals and celebrations, or relaxation and SPAs. FlyDubai will begin direct flights from Dubai to Vilnius in October 2024, this provides an excellent opportunity for Kuwaiti people to explore our beautiful country.”

Elaborating on cultural exchanges between the two countries, the Lithuanian envoy said, ”We appreciate that since 1990, Kuwaiti institutions have actively engaged in student exchange programs and provided opportunities for Lithuanians to study the Arabic language in Kuwait. This not only broadens the understanding of Lithuanian youth about Kuwait but also allows them to discover and learn about the region’s history, culture, and customs in more depth.


There is also a growing interest from Kuwaiti students and the rest of the Gulf in exploring medical and biotechnology sciences in Lithuania. We are especially proud of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences — the largest higher education institution for biomedical sciences in Lithuania, successfully integrating higher education, research, and clinical practice. Students from 87 countries are training to become high-calibre scientists and academics, with opportunities to conduct R&D, collaborate with industry and the public sector, and implement innovations in clinical practice. Higher education diplomas from Lithuania’s universities are valued by the best medical and research institutions in Europe, United States and globally.”

Revealing a centuries-old cultural link between Lithuania and the Muslim world, the envoy noted, “One of the historical and cultural ties that Lithuania has with the Middle East is that a Muslim community has lived in Lithuania for almost 700 years. In the 14th century, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas welcomed the Crimean Tatar community to his country, which allowed them to maintain their own identity safely and honourably in the country for centuries. This muslim community was an integral part of building the Lithuanian state, especially in military expertise. Crimean Tatar experience and expertise were important in the path to restoring Lithuania’s statehood in 1918, and in restoring the country’s independence in 1991. The people of Kuwait are yet to discover this story and shared link, and it is one of my goals to make that link possible.”

Expanding on the investment potential and opportunities for Kuwaiti investors in Lithuania, Ambassador Davidonis emphasized, “What differentiates Lithuanian business and investment ecosystem from the rest of Europe, and, I would say, from the rest of the world, is that Lithuanians are hungry for the future, agile, ambitious, and driven by big ideas.

Our scientists and tech enthusiasts explore everything from gene and cell therapy to the latest in machine learning.

“The key sector to look closer for investment in Lithuania should be our startup ecosystem. We already have three unicorns, which turned out to be a global success in technology and circular economy. And there’s 52,000 more, aiming to reach that level. We are also the fintech hub of Europe, with 147 licensed fintech institutions operating in the country. There is so much talent, openness, and exploration that we could only dream of thirty years ago. Thus, there are many opportunities for investment and collaboration.”

As a non-resident ambassador to Kuwait, the Lithuanian envoy has had to shuttle between the UAE where he is based and Kuwait. Expanding on his thoughts about Kuwait, Ambassador Davidonis stated: “Every time I visit this beautiful country of Kuwait, I cannot help but remain fascinated by the will, resilience, and openness of Kuwaiti people. I see many new opportunities to explore for the next 30 years of bilateral relations between Lithuania and Kuwait, be it knowledge sharing in technology, mainstream trade, agriculture or people, culture, and education.

I, personally, would love to explore Kuwait more, as it is a country of hidden wonders, with welcoming people and fascinating history. I see many historical parallels between our countries’ struggles for independence. I am certain Kuwaiti people would also enjoy exploring the culture and history of Lithuania.”



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