Relations between Switzerland and Lithuania are excellent. One reason for this is the assistance Switzerland provided to Lithuania in the years immediately following its independence in 1991. Lithuania was a beneficiary of the Swiss contribution to the enlarged European Union.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Lithuania
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Lithuania maintain regular bilateral contacts at the highest level. In October 2015 Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė paid Simonetta Sommaruga, then president of the Swiss Confederation, an official visit in Bern. Over the last decade, one of the priorities of bilateral relations has been close cooperation in the framework of Switzerland's contribution to the enlarged EU. Security is another focus of the cooperation between the two countries. Switzerland trains experts from Lithuania at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Economic relations between the two countries are flourishing. Lithuania is the Baltic state with which Switzerland has the largest volume of trade in goods. Trade between Switzerland and Lithuania amounted to approx. CHF 277 million in 2016. Imports from Lithuania grew by 30% between 2015 and 2016.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Switzerland and Lithuania are working together on several projects under Horizon 2020.
Researchers and artists from Lithuania can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Switzerland’s contribution to the enlarged EU
Lithuania was one of the beneficiary countries of the Swiss contribution to reducing the economic and social disparities in an enlarged EU. Eight projects worth a total of about CHF 71 million were completed under Switzerland's contribution by 2017. Improving the health of mothers and children was one of the main focuses. Switzerland also helped to improve the training of healthcare staff and to modernise hospital infrastructures and improve their energy efficiency.
Since Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture in 2009, cultural exchange between Switzerland and Lithuania has continued to flourish, with strong ties and regular collaborations in the literary and cinematic arts in particular.
Pro Helvetia also supports Swiss artists involved in a range of other events in Lithuania.
Swiss nationals in Lithuania
According to the Statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 22 Swiss nationals were living in Lithuania at the end of 2016.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland and Lithuania have a long history of academic relations. In the 19th and early 20th centuries many Lithuanians studied at universities in Switzerland, among them the philosopher and future rector of the University of Kaunas, Stays Salkauskis. The first Republic of Lithuania was recognised by the Federal Council in August 1921. A consulate was opened in Kaunas, the country’s capital at the time. The Lithuanian diplomatic mission which had been set up in Bern in 1918 was attached to the embassy in Berlin. Relations between the two countries, which were interrupted in 1940 on account of Soviet annexation, were immediately re-established after the failed Moscow putsch of August 1991. Switzerland never recognised the annexation of Lithuania by the USSR.
In the 1990s, it provided assistance worth some CHF 26 million to Lithuania through its programme of cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe in the areas of healthcare, surveying and mapping, environmental protection and banking.
The Swiss embassy in Riga (Latvia) represents Switzerland's interests in Lithuania.