Vilnius, Monday, March 20th. Today President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus and Mrs Alma Adamkienė received King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians, who arrived to Lithuania on a State Visit.
During the meeting President V. Adamkus noted that this first visit of the Belgian Royal Family is highly symbolic as it marks the 15th anniversary of the restoration of interstate relations.
King Albert II also expressed his hope that this visit will provide a new impetus to cooperation between the two states.
Both parties of the meeting exchanged their views over Lithuanias preparation to adequately use the structural funds of the European Union and discussed other relevant issues.
The Head of State made positive remarks on the fast-growing economic, academic and cultural cooperation between Lithuania and Belgium. President V. Adamkus is convinced that the Business Forum and the meeting of six rectors of Belgian universities with their Lithuanian counterparts, which are to be held during the visit of King Albert II of the Belgians in Lithuania, will provide a great opportunity of bringing together talents and ideas.
President V. Adamkus expressed his gratitude to Belgium, as the first NATO country to send the air policing mission to Lithuania on the very first day of Lithuanias accession to the alliance.
The official welcoming ceremony was followed by exchange of state orders and gifts.
For merits in developing bilateral relations between Lithuania and Belgium and active contribution in supporting Lithuanias integration to Euro-Atlantic structures and strengthening friendship and cooperation between the two countries, King Albert II was awarded the Order of Vytautas the Great with the golden collar and Queen Paola - the Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great.
President V. Adamkus was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold I and Mrs Alma Adamkienė the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown.
The Belgian Monarchs gave to the President and his wife a gift of two engravings with the picture of Brussels, a collection of records of famous Belgian musicians and photos of the Royal Family.
The Belgian monarchs were presented the gifts of amber necklace and amber mug, decorated with fossil ivory relief, depicting a scene of wild boar hunting with dogs.
The Belgian Royal Couple left the Presidential Palace to the Antakalnis Cemetery, where they laid a wreath on the memorial to those who died defending Lithuanias freedom. Later in the day the King will meet Chairman of the Seimas Artūras Paulauskas and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas. In the evening the solemn dinner in honour of the Royal Family will be hosted by the President.
Tomorrow the Belgian Royal Couple will meet the Belgian community in Lithuania, attend the Business Forum and undertake a short tour around the old town of the capital, during which the Belgian Monarchs will visit the Cathedral, the Gediminas Castle, St Anne's Church and the Gate of Dawn.
On Wednesday, the last day of the visit, King Albert II and Queen Paola will visit Trakai, from where they will leave for Kaunas. Following the welcoming ceremony in the Town Hall of Kaunas and the lunch, the King of the Belgians will visit Kaunas University of Technology, while the Queen will visit the art museum of M.K. Čiurlionis. Later in the day both of them will visit the Monastery of Pažaislis and the Church of the Resurrection.
In Trakai and Kaunas the Belgian Monarchs will be accompanied by President V. Adamkus and his wife.
From Kaunas The King and The Queen will depart for Brussels.