VILNIUS - Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis signed a multilateral memorandum earlier this month, stipulating that Lithuanian state employees would be taught French in preparation for the country's EU presidency in 2013.
The document specifies that about 400 governmental employees who represent Lithuania at committees and working groups in the Council of Europe and the European Commission will either learn or improve their French-language skills.
"We hope that during the first stage of preparations for the presidency - in 2010 - Lithuanian state servants will be able to speak French to negotiate and discuss various issues," Valionis said during the signing ceremony.
The program's goal is to enable state servants to conduct negotiations and prepare official documents in French, and to proficiently speak French as one of the EU's working languages within the next three years. The Institute of Public Administration and the French Cultural Center will organize the teaching project, the Foreign Ministry said.
After signing the memorandum, Valionis noted the importance of facilitating closer ties between Lithuania, France and other French-speaking countries.
In his words, almost 19,000 students study French in Lithuanian secondary schools, broadening their horizons to French-speaking cultures and civilizations.
The memorandum was also signed by the government, the International Organization of French-Speaking Communities and member-states of the organization: Belgium, Luxemburg and France.
The International Organiza-tion of French-speaking Commu-nities has a total of 63 members. It's aim is to encourage dialogue among cultures and nations of the world, speaking for cultural diversity, democratization, economic and social progress and the promotion of French-speaking cultures.
Lithuania has been an observer of the organization since 1999.