To further strengthen the bilateral relations, the eighth round of Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between India and Lithuania took place in New Delhi on March 16, 2022. The Foreign Office Consultations provided an opportunity to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including high-level visits and further strengthening partnership in diverse areas such as trade and investment, research & development, digital cooperation, education, and agricultural processing. Both sides agreed to explore cooperation in new areas like space, biotechnology, laser technology, renewable energy, fintech, LNG infrastructure, startups, health, and pharmaceuticals.
30 years of diplomatic relations:
India and Lithuania have warm and friendly relations founded on similar ideals such as democracy, liberty, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. Both sides have agreed that the year 2022 is significant because it commemorates the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations and coincides with the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
Both sides agreed that greater mobility between the two countries is necessary, including for students and professionals. The Indian side requested that the Lithuanian side recognize Covaxin and discuss a mutual recognition agreement on Covid-19 immunization certificates in this regard. The Indian side took note of the Lithuanian government’s ‘Start-Up Visas’ and ‘Blue Card’ initiatives, which aim to make it easier for business people and professionals to move around the country.
Exchanged views on issues of mutual interest:
Both sides also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific, India-EU Partnership and the Ukraine situation. Meanwhile, The Indian side has invited the Lithuanian side to join the International Solar Alliance. The Lithuanian side reiterated their request for the opening of an Indian mission in Vilnius.
Both sides agreed to hold the next round of the Foreign Office Consultations in Vilnius on a mutually convenient date. Neeta Bhushan, Additional Secretary (Central Europe) in the Ministry of External Affairs, headed the Indian delegation, while Audrius Brzga, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania’s Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Pacific Department, led the Lithuanian delegation.
The Lithuanian language, the oldest living Indo-European language, shares several similarities with Sanskrit, implying historic connections. Lithuanians worshipped nature and had a trinity of gods – Perkunas, Patrimpas, and Pikuolis – until they converted to Christianity in the 13th century. This concept of the trinity had a lot of similarities with Hinduism.
The bilateral trade between both nations reached a record high of US$ 367.15 million in the year 2016-17 before decreasing to US$ 339.51 Million in 2018- 19. Major items of import from India include pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, textiles, and consumer goods. Major items of export to India include machinery and mechanical appliances, high-tech optical instruments, base metals, and articles of base metal, chemicals, sulphur, lime, and cement.
For several decades, studies of Indian languages (mainly Hindi and Sanskrit) have been carried out at Vilnius University. A separate centre of Indian studies, under the Department of Oriental Studies, was set up in Vilnius University in 1996. Lithuanians have a great interest in Indian culture, traditions, Ayurveda, and Yoga.