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March 11: We cherish freedom above all

<strong>March 11: We cherish freedom above all</strong>

33 years ago, on March 11, Lithuania became the first country to break free from the Soviet Union’s tyrannical regime. After 50 long years of oppression, Lithuania regained its independence in 1990 and joined the European Union as well as the North Atlantic Alliance in 2004. We were fully committed to seizing the opportunity to build a prosperous country, and today, Lithuania serves as an example and inspiration for other nations seeking freedom around the globe.

Freedom to create

To us independence means the freedom to create. Lithuania has produced a generation of independent politicians, scientists, and artists who have made significant contributions to global progress, tackling challenges in fields such as human health, science, and politics. Lithuania has nurtured a generation of true change-makers who spark creativity and are determined for success and a change for the better. Lithuanians’ strong ‘can-do’ attitude has always helped us achieve our strategic goals.

We stand with Ukraine

In Lithuania, we cherish freedom above all, which is why we are always the first ones to take the side of the countries fighting for the same values. Today, we stand in solidarity with Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and democracy against the brutal aggression imposed by Russia through political, financial and military means.

The Lithuanian people’s willingness to help Ukraine is inexhaustible: at the outbreak of the war, Lithuanians opened their doors to Ukrainians fleeing the war, helped them to integrate into the labour market, and supported countless initiatives aimed at winning the brutal war. The latest example is the fundraising campaign to purchase radars: in just one month Lithuanian people and businesses donated 14 million euros for radars to protect Ukrainian skies.  ‘Empathic’ is the word that Ukrainians living in our country often use to describe us.

Attractive to investors

‘Agile’ and ‘nimble’ are the words that best describe Lithuania’s economy today. Lithuania is becoming a top choice for foreign investors thanks to its excellent infrastructure, rich talent pool, and a favourable regulatory framework.  Companies have grown up in Lithuania in recent years whose solutions are transforming both Lithuania and the world alike – just have a look at Vinted, Nord Security, Trafi, Brolis, Kilo Health, Tesonet, Bored Panda, TransferGo, and Paysera. And the strong portfolio of foreign investors further confirms the country’s reputation as a safe and reliable choice: Danske, Nasdaq, Continental, Hollister, Hella, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and other major international corporations all operate in Lithuania. Lithuania has solidified its place among the most reputable jurisdictions in the world, climbing to 8th place among the lowest-risk jurisdictions, according to the Basel Index. Our country ranks 3rd among the OECD members in terms of corporate tax competitiveness.

Pioneering in gene editing

‘Lithuania’ and ‘gene editing’ are the words often used together. Prof. Virginijus Šikšnys’ discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technique has earned him global recognition for revolutionising the process of gene editing. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 2020 for the discoveries in this field. Prof. Šikšnys himself has been awarded prestigious prizes for his discovery of molecular gene scissors, including the Warren Alpert Prize from Harvard University and the famous Kavli Prize. In 2020, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) signed a remote partnership agreement with the Life Sciences Centre (LSC), where the EMBL Partnership Institute for Genome Editing Technologies was established. It employs six international high-profile research group leaders focusing on developing and applying genome technologies, and Lithuanian scientists have made significant contributions to this field.

The land of 1000 startups

Lithuania’s vibrant startup ecosystem is another prime example of how dreams turn to goals and goals to results and impact. The impact is felt not just in Lithuania but also around the world. A couple of years ago, the country’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation set a goal to raise the number of startups based in Lithuania from several hundred to more than 1000. The goal that might have looked a bit too ambitious at the time was reached in 2020 thanks to concentrated efforts giving access to funds and accelerator programs for young entrepreneurs. Today Lithuania has three unicorns – Vinted, Nord Security, and Baltic Classifieds Group – and a number of promising startups – future unicorns. According to Dealroom, the Lithuanian startup ecosystem is one of the fastest growing ecosystems in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2022, the startups increased their income and contributed 50% more tax to the national budget.

Emerging hotspot in filmmaking

Lithuania is establishing itself on the global cinema map, and the portfolio of works such as Stranger Things, Catherine the Great, Sisi, Chernobyl, Clark, and others, demonstrate the huge potential of our country’s film industry to become an attractive filming spot. The country’s film portfolio includes not only films and TV series made in Lithuania by foreign companies but also films by Lithuanian filmmakers that have won top awards at film festivals. Two films by Lithuanian filmmakers – Vesper and Pilgrims – are screened on well-known home cinema platforms Netflix and HBO. In 2021, Pilgrims by Laurynas Bareiša won the Orizzonti Award for Best Film at the Venice International Film Festiva. Mariupol 2, a film by Mantas Kvedaravičius, won the Best Documentary Film award (2022) at the European Film Awards in Reykjavik.

A trustful partner

True to its values, Lithuania is ready to co-create with other countries and contribute to a safer and better world. Lithuania, a NATO member since 2004, will host the NATO summit on 11–12 July 2023. The summit will focus on strengthening the Alliance’s collective defence and deterrence as well as increasing support for Ukraine.