VILNIUS – Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska has hailed the Ukrainian cultural center opened on Saturday at the premises of the Education Academy of Vytautas Magnus University in Vilnius as a unique example of cooperation between Lithuania and Ukraine and a safe haven for 50,000 Ukrainian war refugees who have found shelter in Lithuania.
“Lithuanians, you have brought the feeling of home back to Ukrainians. I believe that Lithuanian hospitality and the noble spirit of Vytautas Magnus University will prevail within these walls,” she said during the opening ceremony, which she joined via a video call from Kyiv.
According to Zelenska, the center opened in Vilnius is a unique example of cooperation between the two countries: the first institution of this type in Europe for the Ukrainians displaced temporarily due to the war.
“When we conceived this center with a colleague, let me say, with my friend and a great friend of Ukraine Diana Nausediene, we wanted Ukrainians who were forced to come to Lithuania because of the war to have a truly native place. We wanted the center to be really the place where one can address any question – help or communication. We wanted people to be able to study here, to spend leisure time. Join a cultural event or educational course,” the Ukrainian First Lady said.
Lithuanian First Lady Diana Nausediene said that the Ukrainian center in Lithuania could achieve a lot by means of cultural diplomacy.
“Together with our partners, we promised to actively cooperate and do everything possible to ensure that Ukrainians feel safe in Lithuania, receive medical and social assistance, educational services and, most importantly, cherish their culture and preserve the nation's vitality,” a press release from the Lithuanian presidential office quoted her as saying.
According to the plan, the Ukrainian Center, established under the initiative and the aegis of the first ladies of the two countries, will become a place of education, career guidance, psychological assistance, recreation for children, youth and adults.
The center will also be a platform for cultural diplomacy between countries, present Ukraine, its culture and identity in Lithuania, participate in academic activities, hold creative meetings, concerts and other events, the Ukrainian presidential office said in a press release.