Bank of Lithuania
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Speech by Asta Kuniyoshi, Deputy Chair of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, at the Inauguration Ceremony on the Occasion of the Establishment of a New Bundesbank Representative for the Baltic States in Riga.

Dear Colleagues, Friends, Dear All,

The Bank of Lithuania congratulates the Bundesbank’s decision to nominate the Financial Attaché to the Baltic states. 

Collaboration and cooperation with our colleagues in the Eurosystem have always been a priority for us. We work on reaching decisions at the ECB Governing Council and at the High-Level Task Force on Digital Euro. Together we have celebrated a successful implementation of the EU Twinning project in Belarus and the centenary of the Bank of Lithuania. These are just a couple of examples of my encounters with my dear colleague Mr Balz. And I have no doubt that the Financial Attaché will stand as one more link, a very important one, to further strengthen our ties. 

Mr Marcinko, a warm welcome to you! 

Let me share my personal experience, hopefully fitting well into today’s inauguration. Before my current role on the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, I also worked in various capacities at the Ministry of Finance. Among others, I spent several years in Brussels as a Financial Counsellor/Budget Attaché.

Looking back on those years which were very rich in experiences and perspectives, I can say that the goal of representatives is to connect. To connect institutions, countries, ideas, and, of course, people. And how hard the mission of an attaché is, depends on the starting point, or on the current relationship. Or to be more precise, on room for improvement. 

The countries that we represent, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Germany, have a lot in common. As for the standpoint of a central banker, being part of the euro area is of the utmost importance. But I am very glad that the ties go far beyond finance and economics, and we are all part of the military union, NATO. 

The ties between people and countries are not constant. They need to be cultivated to keep up with the unfolding challenges. It is especially important in the current geopolitical circumstances. In particular, in the face of russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, which is a very sensitive topic for the Baltics. A year ago, the President of Germany, His Excellency Mr Steinmeier gave a speech on “Strengthening everything that connects us”1. In that speech, the President described russia’s war as “the deepest crisis that reunited Germany has ever experienced”. 

These are not just words. There have been decision taken for the strengthening of geopolitical resilience in Europe. The recent commitment to permanently station a Bundeswehr brigade in Lithuania is a historical step for the whole security architecture in the region. A decision that is welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Lithuanian hearts and minds. 

I have said that the current relationship between the countries defines how hard the mission of a Financial Attaché is likely to be. So far, I have talked about the strengths of our relationship. However, there is some room for improvement, and it happens to be in the field of financial cooperation. Because the German financial institutions are nowhere to be seen in Lithuania. 

That is surprising given high return on equity, sound financial portfolios, and the easy availability of high-quality credit score data. The financial depth in Lithuania is also not sufficient, leaving room for new market entries. 

In my short remarks, I will not be able to further elaborate on the financial market of my country.

To conclude, I will tell you this: 700 years ago, Vilnius was first time mentioned in the letters of the Grand Duke Gediminas when he was inviting the craftsmen from the Hanseatic League cities to settle in the Grand Duchy. 

Mr Marcinko, I don’t know if the city that you come from belonged to this League. Nevertheless, I’m inviting you to Vilnius for an extended discussion with me and my colleagues at the Bank of Lithuania. I suggest that we don’t wait too long and organise it before the Easter break. 

Let us see what we can do to make sure that financial ties can be part of “everything that connects us”. 

Once again, a warm welcome to the Baltics!

1 Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, "Strengthening everything that connects us", Schloss Bellevue, 28. October 2022.