Department of Comparative Politics

Breakfast meeting with former Lithuanian president

Dalia Grybauskaitė visited the Christie Conference and the Institute of Comparative Politics this week.

Dalia Grybauskaitė.
Magnus Buseth Danielsen (UiB): Dalia Grybauskaitė.

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On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, the Institute of Comparative Politics received a visit from Dalia Grybauskaitė for a breakfast meeting in the institute's lunchroom. She served as Lithuania's president from 2009 to 2019 and also has experience as a European Commissioner.

– It is a great honor and with great gratitude that we welcome a visit from Dalia Grybauskaitė, says Leiv Marsteintredet, head of the Comparative Politics department.

The visit was organized by the CHAD research group and Adriana Bunea.

Meetings with Putin and Trump

The theme for the breakfast meeting at Sampol was "Key challenges for security and democracy in contemporary Europe." Grybauskaitė began by discussing her broad and interesting political background in Lithuania since the country's independence from the Soviet Union.

Both during this time and later as president, she was never afraid to voice her opinions and make decisions that stood out, leading to rather interesting meetings with both Putin and Trump.

The former president responded well and directly to questions from the Sampol staff regarding the situation in today's Europe, her experience as a female president over two terms, and the possibility of her candidacy for the next president of the European Commission.

Grybauskaitė particularly called for more action from European states to help Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.

Dalia Grybauskaitė ved Christiekonferansen 2024

Dalia Grybauskaitė was the keynote speaker at Christiekonferansen 2024

Jan Oskar Engene

Rebuilding European defense capability

Grybauskaitė was the keynote speaker at the 2024 Christie Conference. Here, she spoke about a changed Europe facing new challenges such as pandemics, deglobalization, increasing nationalism, and the war in Ukraine. Grybauskaitė discussed how European cooperation and crisis management throughout history can be used in response to the current situation.

She mentioned resilience as a crucial factor in safeguarding freedom and democracy in the face of contemporary challenges in Europe.

– European countries must rebuild their own defense capabilities and not simply assume that NATO will defend them, Grybauskaitė said during the conference.

The former president warned against the effects of "Schroderization," the Russian corruption of political leaders and parties in many European countries. Furthermore, she also pointed out that it seems difficult for Europeans to accept the threat Russia poses, but that this appears differently in countries closer to Russia.

Presidents at Sampol

However, this is not the first time Sampol has hosted a president. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Iceland's president from 1996 to 2016, has visited on several occasions.

The first visit was in winter 1997 as part of his first state visit to Norway, accompanying Harald and Sonja from the Norwegian royal family. Later, he visited as the Rokkan lecturer in 2003 and in 2009 when he opened the Sampol Conference.

Here you can read Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson's speech at the opening of the Sampol Conference 2009.