Lithuania’s Statehood Day was celebrated Tuesday, July 9, at the Dan Hotel, with distinguished ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps in Israel attending. The event also marked the assumption of Lithuania of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
His Excellency the Ambassador of Lithuania to Israel, Mr. Darius Degutis, began his address to the assembled with an impressive Hebrew greeting, in which he noted the strong bonds between Israel and Lithuania. He also said that, while the Holocaust must not be forgotten, both Israel and Lithuania should look to creating a better future, through cooperation in the fields of art, culture, tourism, and trade. He fondly mentioned the enjoyment both countries derive from their competitive basketball games.
Representing the government of Israel was His Excellency the Minister of Science, Technology, and Space, Mr. Yaacov Perry. Mr. Perry commented on the challenge of Lithuania’s presidency of the Council of the European Union. Mr. Perry also noted that, “In recent years the relations between Israel and Lithuania have strengthened… just a few months ago we were glad to host the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Minister of the Economy.”
Mr. Perry added, “The field of culture is considered one of the main pillars… as is tourism. There is a successful agreement for bilateral cooperation in industrial research and development [between the two countries].”
Mr. Perry also mentioned that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto, saying that, “We appreciate the decision of the Lithuanian parliament and government to mark this anniversary with a series of events, to ensure we never forget the atrocities of the Shoah.”
The day after the celebration, the Deputy Speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, Mr. Gediminas Kirkilas, and the ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania, were hosted at a special screening documenting the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team, whose athletes struggled under Soviet rule. Sarunes Marcilionis, the legendary basketball player, was a guest of honor, as was Israeli basketball star Tal Brody, known for his famous proclamation marking Israel’s victory over the CSKA Moscow basketball team, “We are on the map!”
Photo Silvia Golan