The official logo of Lithuania’s European Union Council Presidency, which will begin in July, was revealed today, during ‘The Winds of Europe’ kite festival in central Vilnius. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė together with presidency volunteers flew a kite that raised 1-metre-long and 9-metre-high flag bearing the presidency logo. “We have practically started the presidency today already, with our kite,” President Grybauskaitė said of the unveiling.
President Grybauskaitė told the gathering:
“A kite’s flight is the ability to harness the wind for own success. Lithuania is preparing for a special flight during the next half of the year – we will have to work shoulder to shoulder consolidating Europe and looking together for the best solutions. Therefore, the logo of our presidency symbolizes cooperation and stability, and kites are flying wishes for the well-being of Europe.”
Lithuania’s presidency over the European Union (EU) Council will be symbolized by a logo of a blue circle with a string of the colors of Lithuania’s national flag – yellow, green, and red.
Spokeswoman of the EU presidency in Lithuania, Rasa Jakilaitienė, explained in a press conference today that the circle stands for unity, which shows that Lithuania will aim to be an honest mediator seeking to harmonise the interests of all. According to Jakilaitienė, the blue stands for Lithuania’s connection to the Baltic Sea region and the Nordic states, while the string symbolizes Lithuania’s determination to take responsibility.
“The circle is connected by the string of yellow, green, and red, which means that Lithuania is taking full responsibility for presidency over the EU Council,” Jakilaitienė explained.
Lithuania’s Presidency has high hopes pinned on it as Lithuania is considered to have a special role to play in the intensification of cooperation with the Neighbourhood countries. Attention has turned, particularly, to neighbouring Belarus–for which is it felt Lithuania may have the opportunity to foster a more constructive relationship, and encourage more cooperation with the EU.
As the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) explains:
“In recent times there has been an intensification of political and economic relations between Lithuania and Belarus. Because they are neighbours and have numerous political and economic links, Lithuania can be expected to want to use its presidency of the EU Council to resume a dialogue with the Belarusian authorities. This would be a great success for Lithuanian diplomacy, especially in the context of the Eastern Partnership summit planned for November this year. Poland should closely monitor the activities of the Lithuanian side and raise the issue of releasing political prisoners in Belarus as a condition for the resumption of talks with representatives of the regime.”
Last month Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the potential Lithuania’s EU Presidency would offer Belarus, saying.
“The two countries have many common interests in the areas of security, trade and industrial cooperation. We should use and increase the existing transport and logistics potential. We’re ready to make our relations a model of genuine good neighborliness.”If Lithuania wants to cooperate with us—and it does—and if Lithuania gets rid of some outside pressures, we’ll build relations that our nations want, and not only [our] nations but also our and your political elite. Rest assured that we’re ready for this.”
Andrey Hiro, the Belarusian ambassador to Germany expressed the hope that President Lukashenko will be invited to the next Eastern Partnership Summit taking place in Vilnius in November. Hiro explained that Mr Lukashenko was initially invited to the 2009 summit for the launch of the Eastern Partnership program. Since, however, Hiro explained that EU diplomats asked Minsk to send a different representative to the summit. Minsk acquiesced because it pinned great hopes on the program, however, Hiro emphasised that the Eastern Partnership Program has failed to live up to expectations. The upcoming summit in Lithuania, combined with the Council Presidency could be a turning point for improved relations with Belarus, under the umbrella of the Eastern Partnership.
In fact, the enrichment of the Eastern Partnership is one of Lithuania’s primary objectives during its Presidency–to contribute to a “credible, growing and open Europe”. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius and Hungary’s Ambassador to Lithuania Zoltan Pecze met this week to discuss the acceleration of the Eastern Partnership program. The two nations reported to share similar positions on many key issues, and Linkevicius invited Hungary to participate at the highest possible political level in the Eastern Partnership Summit in November. Linkevicius has also held meetings with the leaders of many of the Eastern Partnership countries in the run-up to the Summit, stressing the importance of cooperation between the Neighbourhood and the EU.
Meanwhile, Ireland, as current Council President, has this week released a statement detailing its contributions to the enlargement of the European Union and developments in the OSCE under Ireland’s presidency. The statement highlights the accession of Croatia to the EU in July, as well as the increasing pace of talks with Montenegro, Turkey and Iceland, as well as and the candidate state status of Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The agreement last week between Serbia and Kosovo was also addressed.
“The Presidency has allowed Ireland to demonstrate that we are a constructive and committed Member State that belongs at the very heart of the European decision-making process. We are now over halfway through our term and we remain firmly committed to ensuring that our seventh Presidency leaves a positive, strong and lasting legacy both for the EU and for Ireland, ” the statement reads.