First Lady Diana Nausėdienė, together with Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, hosted the spouses and partners of the countries’ leaders at the Ukrainian Centre on Wednesday.

They were briefed on the history, activities and future perspectives of the Centre, which was opened in June last year on the initiative of the First Ladies of Lithuania and Ukraine. The guests also heard the stories of Ukrainian women and children affected by the atrocities of war.

“Today, we are on Vilnius Street, named after the famous Ukrainian singer Taras Shevchenko, to hear first-hand about the realities of Ukrainians’ experiences, the trials and traumas they have faced in the face of destruction and cultural aggression. To hear an authentic voice that defends the Ukrainians’ unwavering desire for freedom, while at the same time presenting the dignified national identity of Ukraine and speaking about the right of every human being to live in freedom and happiness. Your visit here and your strong, common human support for this hope is extremely important and meaningful,” said Ms Nausėdienė.

In the words of the First Lady, the Centre has been developed from the very first days, in agreement with Ms Zelenska, as a stable cultural and educational space, open to international cooperation, dedicated to Ukraine and its further integration into the European Union. It is an example of a humanistic, holistic space, built not on assimilation but on multilateral and multicultural integration.

According to the First Lady of Lithuania, over the years the Ukrainian Centre has become a safe haven for thousands of Ukrainians who are making active efforts to contribute to the activities, to the victory of Ukraine and to the reconstruction of their homeland.

“International solidarity has blossomed and is spreading at the Centre. The personal and sometimes unique involvement of ambassadors from different countries, both in official events and in volunteering, even involving their own family members, is heartening. Through embassies and diplomats, we connect not only the representatives of the international community, but also cultural institutes, academic and political communities, the Lithuanian diaspora abroad, international foundations and organisations,” said D. Nausėdienė.

According to the First Lady, according to surveys, 97% of Ukrainians in Lithuania believe that Lithuania has received them well or very well. “I am proud of my nation and the efforts of all our people to help Ukrainians. Together,

we strive to develop community leaders who become carriers of democracy and ambassadors of hope. We believe that in the future they will be the people who, after Ukraine has won the war, will rebuild and create a European society, based on the principles of freedom and democracy, the rule of law. A modern, successful and driven country,” the First Lady underlined.

During the 13 months of its operation, the Ukrainian Centre, which was established in cooperation with the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Vytautas Magnus University and the Embassy of Ukraine in Lithuania, has been visited by more than 24,000 people, including high-ranking officials and guests from abroad.

Information and photos by the Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania / Eitvydas Kinaitis