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. Lithuania is currently a beneficiary of the Swiss contribution to European Union enlargement.
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.
Political representatives from the two countries regularly exchange visits. In 2013, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter met Linas Antanas Linkevicius, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, for an official working visit in Vilnius.
Economic relations between the two countries are flourishing. Trade between Switzerland and Lithuania amounted to approximately CHF 300 million in 2014.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Researchers and artists from Lithuania can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
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 worth a total of about CHF 71 million and set up between 2012 and 2017 aim to reduce the economic and social disparities in the country.
Swiss nationals in Lithuania
At the end of 2014, there were 24 Swiss nationals living in Lithuania.
Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture in 2009. More than a dozen creative artists from Switzerland participated in the cultural programme staged during that year. Cultural exchanges between Switzerland and Lithuania have continued to develop since then. The two countries work particularly closely in the fields of literature, science and cinema. In April 2013 about a hundred architects and students took part in an exhibition entitled 'Swiss touch in landscape architecture' organised by Pro Helvetia in collaboration with the Lithuanian Union of Architects.
Pro Helvetia also supports Swiss artists involved in a range of other events in Lithuania.
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 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 accredited to Lithuania.
Switzerland never recognised the annexation of Lithuania by the USSR. In the 1990s, it provided assistance worth CHF 24 million 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.