At a Cabinet sitting on Wednesday, it was decided to close the Lithuanian embassies in Bulgaria, Portugal, and Slovenia. The decision was taken having considered the development of political, economical and cultural relations with these countries and the need to optimize Lithuania's diplomatic representation, reports LETA.
After closing the embassies, specific economic, cultural and consular assistance issues will be solved through Lithuania's honorary consuls in these countries. Assistance for foreign Lithuanian organizations in upholding the Lithuanian language, culture and traditions and strengthening communities will be further provided through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. Issues related to the European Union, international security will be further coordinated with these countries through Lithuania's Permanent Representation to the EU, the Permanent Representation to NATO, and the Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, while issues related to bilateral relations will be discussed during the meetings of ministers in these organizations.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, economic and political costs of the representation in these three countries do not meet the gains received, while trade relations with these countries have become weaker.
In the first half of 2013, Lithuanian trade turnover with Bulgaria accounted for LTL 156 million (EUR 45 million), with Portugal it amounted to LTL 139 million (EUR 40 million), and with Slovenia it was LTL 163 million (EUR 47 million). Meanwhile, maintenance of embassies in 2014 will cost accordingly LTL 855,000 (EUR 248,000), LTL 478,000 (EUR 138,000), LTL 673,000 (EUR 195,000).
Instead of the closed embassies, opening of three new embassies in the Republic of South Africa, Brazil, and Australia is under consideration.