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PH, Lithuania expressed concern on issues in the South China Sea - DFA
PH, Lithuania expressed concern on issues in the South China Sea - DFA
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PH, Lithuania expressed concern on issues in the South China Sea - DFA
by Karen Ow-Yong24 April 2024
Courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

MANILA – The Philippines and Lithuania expressed concern over the challenges in the Indo-Pacific, particularly issues on growing tensions in the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

This is confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), after Secretary Enrique A. Manalo and Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis, convened in Manila on Wednesday, to strengthen ties between the two countries.

This is the first official visit to the Philippines by a Lithuanian Foreign Minister in a span of three-decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Lithuania.

In a joint statement, both Secretary Manalo and Minister Landsbergis recognized the importance of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific and share the same values and interests, including the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law.

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“The two countries regard the final and legally binding Award in the South China Sea Arbitration of 12 July 2016 as a significant contribution to international law, and the interpretation and application of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the joint statement said.

Recent “provocative” actions by China in the contested waters in the South China Sea against Philippine vessels have been contributing to the tensions in the area and a deterioration of relations between the two countries.

With this, both Ministers discussed the importance of trade diversification “as a key element of economic security,” and that both countries recognize the importance of fostering security, stability, and prosperity in the world by committing to a rules-based international order.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Landsbergis noted that Lithuania is “ready to start developing bilateral projects with the Philippines in the fields of economic cooperation and security.”

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“Lithuania’s experience in energy could be helpful when aiming to resist China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea and invited representatives of the Philippines to participate in the conference on the fight against economic coercion in Vilnius,” the statement added.

“We see the Philippines as a growing, stabilising force in ASEAN and a wider region. Lithuania wants to expand and deepen our partnership, to diversify supply chains, to strengthen economic security, and to defend the rules-based international order,” Landsbergis said.

To boost cooperation with the Indo-Pacific countries, Lithuania adopted its national Indo-Pacific strategy.

Both Ministers also highlighted the significance of enhancing the overall bilateral economic relations in various areas such as trade and investments, clean energy, where Lithuanian experience and expertise could be beneficial for the development and operations of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, science and technology, including digitalization of public and private services, health and laser technology and people-to-people links.

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Both Ministers also welcomed the resumption of negotiations on the Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement and reiterated both countries’ commitment to “foster a strong partnership and develop the full potential of Philippines-Lithuania relations.”

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