Bilateral and multilateral cooperation
Seeking the efficient protection of heritage significant to more than one country, it is very important to ensure bilateral and multilateral cooperation of those countries. In the course of history, the state borders of Lithuania changed numerous times, therefore, objects of Lithuanian heritage or the heritage significant to Lithuania can be found in the present-day Belarus, Poland and other neighbouring countries. Lithuania, which has long been famous as a multinational country, tolerant to other nations, cultures and religions, provided excellent conditions to create for artists, architects and craftsmen of various nationalities, therefore, here one can find especially many heritage objects, which are significant both to Lithuanians and neighbouring countries.
Currently, the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture actively cooperates with heritage protection experts of Poland and Belarus by organising joint meetings, seminars and other events on relevant issues of heritage protection, exchanging experience, arranging training of experts, etc. Besides, in order to share relevant information on heritage protection issues, bilateral relationships with Ukraine, Georgia and other countries have been established.
Cooperation with Poland
Close historic and cultural ties between Lithuania and Poland determined abundant cultural heritage significant to both countries, so the preservation of this heritage requires bilateral cooperation of both countries.
On 16 December 1999, in Warsaw, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the Government of the Republic of Poland signed an agreement on cooperation between authorised representatives of the Governments in the area of protection of cultural heritage (approved by Resolution No 778 of 3 July 2000 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (official gazette Valstybės Žinios No 55-1608, 2000)), hereinafter referred to as The Bilateral Agreement.
On the basis of this Agreement, the countries regularly cooperate in the area of cultural heritage protection, exchange relevant information on changes of national legal acts in the system of cultural heritage protection as well as other relevant information, arrange visits of restoration, archives and museum experts as well as other cultural heritage specialists in Lithuania and Poland and exchange the best practice, organise internships and training of experts, hold conferences, exhibitions, etc. Under the Bilateral Agreement, each country takes turns in holding meetings of expert groups of Lithuania and Poland on the heritage protection issues important to both countries. By 2014, eight such meetings were organised in Lithuania and Poland. On 2-4 April 2014, Vilnius hosted the 8th meeting of the cultural heritage expert groups from Lithuania and Poland. The meeting was arranged by the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (hereinafter referred to as The Department).
The Department regularly cooperates with the National Institute of Cultural Heritage of Poland as well as other institutions of cultural heritage and science, they exchange information relevant to both countries and organise working visits on the issues of protection of cultural heritage. As a result of inter-institutional cooperation, the countries organise exchange of experts of various areas of heritage protection as well as common events – conferences, seminars and exhibitions. For a number of years, joint restorers' internships, seminars and training have been taking place at the Nesvizh Academy (in Warsaw, Minsk) and at the Summer School of Conservation Experts in the city of Zamosc (Poland).
Moreover, associations of archaeologists of Lithuania and Poland cooperate with regard to prevention of archaeological excavations and regularly exchange information and experience.
Cooperation with Belarus
Centuries-long common history of Lithuania and Belarus has left a huge heritage of historic monuments significant to both nations. It is very important to preserve and cherish this heritage by joint efforts.
To that end, on 12 February 2009, in Vilnius, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus signed an agreement on cooperation in the area of protection of historic and cultural heritage (hereinafter referred to as The Agreement). This Agreement aims at promoting efficient inter-institutional cooperation to protect objects of cultural heritage located in both countries. Under this Agreement, both parties conduct accounting, research and protection of properties of historic and cultural heritage located on the territories of their countries and related to common history and culture of both states in accordance with legal acts effective in that state.
To implement the provisions of the Agreement, on 22-23 April 2009, in Vilnius, the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (hereinafter referred to as The Department) held the 1st meeting of experts of protection of historic and cultural heritage of the Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Belarus. The meeting provided an opportunity for an exchange of experience in the area of protection of cultural heritage, a discussion on the effective legal framework, an agreement on the criteria for compilation of a common list of cultural heritage, and a decision to exchange relevant information on the events intended in both countries in the area of protection of historic and cultural heritage. A decision was also made to form groups of cultural heritage experts from Lithuania and Belarus for holding regular working meetings and coordinating activities in their country.
As a follow-up, on 26-27 November 2009, Minsk (Belarus) hosted the 2nd meeting of cultural heritage expert groups of Lithuania and Belarus. The meeting provided an opportunity for submission of proposals and establishment of a timeframe for concrete tasks and projects.
The 3rd meeting of cultural heritage expert groups of Lithuania and Belarus was organised by the Department and was held in Vilnius on 20-21 December 2011. The meeting provided a forum for discussion on the implementation of envisaged measures and possibilities of further cooperation.
In accordance with the provisions of the Agreement and implementing the activities envisaged during bilateral meetings of working groups, the countries exchange experts and experience on the issues of preservation, restoration and promotion of objects of cultural heritage as well as participate in common events and seminars.
In order to prevent criminal activities in the area of archaeological heritage, on 30 May – 1 June 2012, in Vilnius, the Department organised an international meeting with the participation of experts from Belarus. The meeting provided an opportunity to share relevant information and the best practice in the fight against illicit trade in objects of archaeological heritage, to discuss the possibilities of further cooperation in the fight against the illicit archaeology.
Cooperation with Ukraine
Cooperation with Ukraine in the area of protection of cultural heritage started in 2008 when, on 18-22 March, representatives of the Heritage Protection Research Institute of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine visited Lithuania by invitation of the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (hereinafter referred to as The Department). The visit provided an opportunity to share the experience in the creation of the register of cultural properties and to discuss closer bilateral relations in the area of heritage protection.
On 7–10 October 2008, Ukraine (Lviv) hosted the events of the week of culture of Lithuania, including an international conference "The Importance of Heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Ukraine". These events were attended by representatives of the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania and the Department of Cultural Heritage.
In order to develop the cooperation, on 26 November 2009, in Kiev, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine signed an agreement on cooperation in the area of protection of cultural heritage (hereinafter referred to as The Agreement). By this Agreement, the parties recognise that cultural heritage of Lithuania and Ukraine has historic links and together forms a major part of cultural heritage of the entire Europe as well as confirm the aspiration to ensure the protection of cultural heritage of both countries.
One of the most important projects of cooperation is restoration and promotion of cultural and historic heritage of the Gediminids dynasty. To that end, in May 2013, the mayors of five Ukrainian cities – Lutsk, Khotyn, Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Iziaslav and Ostroh – signed an agreement on the establishment of the association The Gediminids' Way. Currently, the project involves 14 cities from four countries: Ukraine (Lutsk, Khotyn, Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Iziaslav, Ostroh, Dubno, Starokostiantyniv, the Volyn region), Belarus (Brest, Lida, Navahrudak), Poland (Lublin) and Lithuania (Kaunas, Trakai, Ukmergė). The countries of the project have made a commitment to develop cultural and historic heritage of the Gediminids dynasty, to create an international tourism route The Gediminids' Way on the territories of Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine as well as to cooperate in restoration, revival and dissemination of historic sites related to the Gediminids dynasty. The agreement has also been reached to prepare and submit to the Council of Europe an application for certification of the inter-state cultural tourism route The Gediminids' Way and its recognition as a European Cultural Route.