Lithuania appreciates German policy in Europe; German Ambassador

Although its presence is not always prominent, German business and culture is in fact very well represented in Lithuania, despite there being room for improvement, so the German ambassador to Lithuania, His Excellency Matthias Mulmenstadt, tells The Lithuania Tribune in the second part of our interview with him. 

To illustrate this fact, Mr Maximilian Butek, deputy CEO of the German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce, adds that approximately 40% of all machinery operating in Lithuania was made in Germany. Johanna M. Keller, director of the Goethe Institute, agrees with Mulmenstadt, and says there are many existing ties between our two countries and that they aim to strengthen these ties.

Do you think there is enough of a German presence in Lithuania? When I mention Germany to some of my acquaintances in North America they say they expected a bigger German presence in the country. What do you say to this?

Ambasador Matthias Mulmenstadt: I discussed this with colleagues of mine who have lived longer here, and they say it’s true and that there is always room for improvement. Scandinavia is very strongly represented in this country, and of course there is always the US that are important to Lithuania. The position of German culture and German businesses in Lithuania is strong, but could nevertheless be improved. Perhaps Mr Butek could speak about this and my colleagues of the cultural affairs division of the embassy could tell us about it more.

Maximilian Butek: Another issue is that we have not always made ourselves known. We are the number one supplier of machinery, for example, but you can’t see a trace of this anywhere. One doesn’t go to a manufacturer and look at what machines they use, but in about 40% of cases you will likely find German machinery in operation here. This is one of our country’s strengths. We of course maintain a presence in the food market; if you go to the supermarket you will see a number of German products. However the strength of German business, aside from culture that is, lies in the B2B sector.

Johanna M. Keller: When discussing both of our countries I think that since we are all now living together in the European Union, the discussion should be about the presence of Lithuania in Germany, or Germany in Lithuania. Since we work in the field of cultural exchanges as well, the issue of drawing out the potential of both countries to in turn create something new and beneficial for everyone is very important to us. In this regard I’m very happy about Lithuania’s interest in Germany. It is clear to us that our partners are very much interested in cooperating with Germany. There are already many pre-existing ties between our countries that don’t need any additional fostering, such as universities, art academies, music academies, and cultural institutions. We are more concerned about bringing people together and creating a platform for further exchange.

Ambassador:There is much more that remains to be known. In fact I was surprised to learn that the director of Valdovu Rumai speaks fluent German. There is also very close cooperation with German historians, this is not often discussed but it is known to the.

Lithuania’s political elite, including the President of Lithuania, have mentioned that we should pay more attention to the strongest European states. She indirectly mentioned Germany, suggesting we should be more involved and have more common values in order to become closer with Germany. Do you think Lithuanian politicians are heeding this suggestion?

Ambassador: Indeed. Mr Zingeris, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has visited Germany. Mr Aubalis, the Foreign Affairs Minister, has been to the country as well. Additionally, Mr Kubilius visited Germany in order to attend the Baltic Sea Summit and attract German business to Lithuania. The German President has visited Lithuania, as has the Foreign Minister, as well as the Chancellor; all of which is evidence of close ties between our countries. We also had the German Minister for European Affairs visit Lithuania. It was only last week that we held a meeting of political directors in Germany, so one can say there is a very intense political dialogue happening between our respective leaders.

And it’s not only ceremonial, right?

Ambassador: That’s right, it’s business. At the moment the most important issue is solving the Euro Crisis, to ensure that Germany and Lithuania see eye to eye. Germany has been criticized in many countries, in particular in southern Europe there have been many jokes about the Chancellor. But here in Lithuania there is a great deal of appreciation for Chancellor Merkel, not to mention Germany’s policies in Europe. We feel there is no difference whatsoever between Germany and Lithuania in this respect. Lithuania has already ratified the Fiscal Pact and intends to introduce a constitutional law, so it can be seen that Lithuania’s fiscal discipline and smart spending was conducive to growth. We regard this as the most important issue facing Europe, and it is clear that Lithuania and Germany share identical positions.