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Embassy of Finland
K. Kalinausko g. 24
Embassy of Lithuania
Pohjoisranta 4 A 15

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Antanas Butrimas, Economic Counsellor, Petras Auštrevičius, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of Finland in 1994-1998, Martti Ahtisaari, President of the Republic of Finland, and Antanas Muralis, First Secretary, Consul

The restoration of Lithuania's statehood and independence at the end of the twentieth century was a decisive and irreversible process. The desire of the Lithuanian nation to live in a free, democratic and independent state has become a reality.

Some of the main tasks during the restoration of independence were the restoration of diplomatic relations, the development of foreign policy and the restoration of Lithuanian diplomatic missions. It is understood that after the wave of re-establishment of diplomatic relations in August 1991, the first foreign diplomats arrived in Lithuania. They set up their own representations, handled various practical matters, and in Vilnius we finally saw the flags of foreign countries again.

At that time, I had to work in the Nordic Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so meetings with Finnish diplomats were a daily matter.

I well remember the visits of Finnish Ambassador Toivo Tolvanen to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A tall, slow-talking Finnish diplomat has always been correct and practical. Reaching agreements was not difficult, communication was always respectful and friendly. It can be said that you felt the style and support of a friendly state.

The establishment of the Lithuanian Embassy in Finland took some time, before our diplomatic missions in Denmark and Sweden were re-established.

However, it was soon the turn of Finland, when in 1993 autumn, a decision was made to open the Lithuanian Embassy in Helsinki. I had the honour of leading this project together with the consular staff member and colleague Antanas Muralis. (the visa regime was still in force at the time and it was an important function).

I remember very well when Antanas and I went to Tallinn, and from there we went to Helsinki by boat. Apparently, we should not be surprised that we were transported by the Volga, and we sailed to Helsinki with a Soviet classic - "Rocket".

The first days and weeks in Helsinki were full of new and good impressions. While staying at the Grand Marina, we took care of diplomatic consolidation, practical issues of establishing a representative office and other matters that overwhelmed us. The support of diplomats from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was important and collegially practical.

It is now difficult to compare the working conditions of diplomats, as our main tool of work has been landlines, which have replaced all modern means of receiving and transmitting information. Despite all the challenges and organizational problems, we managed to find temporary office space within a few months, and soon we settled in a beautiful building on the Rauhankatu street.

I must admit that our partners quickly emerged, who made a significant contribution to the development of political, cultural and economic ties. All of them became members of the wider Lithuanian team in Finland. I would like to mention separately Aulis Tinnila, a kind-hearted and serious partner in strengthening economic ties, as well as members of the Finnish-Lithuanian cultural community.

This is how Lithuania returned to our neighboring Finland. We continued the old and started new traditions as visiting Augusti Niemi grave, became a tribute on February 16th. Lithuania and Finland are neighbors, partners and friendly states whose citizens are united by European ideas and ideals.