Relations between Lithuania and Switzerland are excellent. One reason for this is the assistance Switzerland provided to Lithuania in the years immediately following its independence in 1991, starting in the domain of healthcare.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Lithuania
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
One strong point in bilateral relations is cooperation in matters of security. Switzerland provides training for Lithuanian security-policy experts at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
The economic relations between the two countries are developing in a gratifying way. Trade between them amounted to approximately CHF 180m in 2011.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Scholars and artists from Lithuania can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Through the “Swiss Baltic Net”, the Gebert Rüf Foundation promoted university education as well as scientific exchanges between Switzerland and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Swiss contribution to EU enlargement
As a member of the European Union (EU), Lithuania is one of the beneficiaries of Switzerland’s contribution to the reduction of economic and social disparities in the enlarged EU. Eight projects for a total of CHF 71m are to be implemented between now and 2017 with the aim of reducing the economic and social disparities in the country.
Swiss nationals in Lithuania
At the end of 2012, there were 17 Swiss nationals living in Lithuania.
In 2009, Vilnius was the European capital of culture; more than a dozen creative artists from Switzerland participated in a cultural programme that was fitting for the occasion.
History of bilateral relations
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 subordinate 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’s ambassador in Riga (Latvia) is also accredited to Lithuania.
Switzerland never recognised the annexation of Lithuania by the USSR. In the 1990s, it provided assistance worth CHF 24m to Lithuania through its programme of cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe (in the areas of healthcare, cartography and surveying, environmental protection and the banking system).
Scientific exchange between Switzerland and Lithuania has a long history. In the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, numerous Lithuanians studied in Swiss universities, including the philosopher and future rector of the University of Kaunas, Stays Salkauskis.