The King of Belgium, Philippe, sent a strong message of solidarity on Monday to countries east of the EU’s borders, on the very first day of his State visit to Lithuania, stressing that such a message was more important than ever in the wake of events in Ukraine.
Soon after a meeting in Vilnius between the Belgian delegation and their Lithuanian hosts, he said that, “The Russian aggression against Ukraine has brought us into a new era. A period that reminds us of the darkest sides of the history of our continent.”
The Belgian monarch added that, “I can only imagine that it also revives painful memories in Lithuania. The message of solidarity of the members of the EU and NATO, especially towards the Eastern countries, is more important than ever.”
He recalled that the Belgian and Lithuanian armed forces were already working together long before the Ukrainian conflict. “For two decades now, Belgium has been taking part in NATO missions on Lithuanian territory. This long-standing cooperation is now proving its worth,” said the monarch.
King Philippe took the opportunity to express his solidarity with the people of Ukraine “and their legitimate right to defend the integrity of their territory.”
“This irresponsible conflict, targeting civilians, has already caused too much suffering,” he stressed.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde arrived early Monday afternoon in Vilnius for a three-day State visit to Lithuania, accompanied by a high-level delegation including the prime ministers of Belgium’s three regions.
They were received at an official ceremony in the presidential palace by a Lithuanian delegation led by President Gitanas Nauseda and his wife Diana Nausediene. They later visited the Antakalnis cemetery in Vilnius, where they placed a wreath at the memorial to the victims of the struggle for Lithuania’s independence in the early 1990s.