The national intercultural dialogue in Lithuania is mainly understood as a dialogue between different national communities living in Lithuania, fostering their cultural identity and citizenship. According to the data of the Overall Population and Housing Census, in 2011 Lithuania was inhabited by people of 154 nationalities (in comparison with 2001, 115). People belonging to national minorities constituted approximately 16.5 per cent of the total population in Lithuania. Lithuanians made up 84.2 per cent (2 million 561 thousand), Poles – 6.6 per cent (200.3 thousand), Russians – 5.8 per cent (176.9 thousand), Belarusians – 1.2 per cent (36.2 thousand), Ukrainians – 0.5 per cent (16.4 thousand), and people of other ethnicities – 0.6 per cent (19.3 thousand). The majority of the people of other than Lithuanian nationality reside in the municipalities of Eastern and Southeast Lithuania, in Vilnius, Klaipėda, Visaginas, and other cities and towns of Lithuania.
The main initiator of national intercultural dialogue at policy level is the Department of National Minorities to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, established in 2015. The Department funds cultural projects within the frame of the Integration of National Minorities in Society while Preserving Their Identity Programme. The programme funds three categories of project proposals: 1) the Dissemination of National Minorities’ Culture; 2) the Dissemination of National Minorities’ Culture and Cultural Cooperation in Southeast Lithuania; 3) the Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue and the Dissemination of National Minorities’ Culture in the Mass Media.
A consultative body of the Department of National Minorities is the National Communities Board. The board represents national minorities and deals with the policy coordination issues related to Lithuanian national minorities and involves the representatives of the national minorities in the decision-making process. The members of the Board are selected from the national communities’ representatives. The number of Board members from each national community depends upon the communities’ population as presented in the Population and Housing Census 2011. If the national community’s population is above 100 thousand, then 3 Board members from the community shall be selected onto the Board; if the national community’s population is between 10 thousand and 100 thousand – 2 representatives; and smaller, up to 10 thousand population, national communities have one Board member.
National communities living in Lithuania develop cooperation and dialogue through cultural centres and non-governmental organisations. There are 4 intercultural centres in Lithuania, financed by municipalities: the House of National Communities in Vilnius (established in 1991), the Kaunas Centre of Various Nations’ Culture (established in 2004), the Roma Community Centre (established in 2001), and the Folklore and Ethnography Centre of the Lithuanian National Minorities (established in 2007). These and others cultural centres initiate various arts, cultural and interdisciplinary projects, organise cultural events, arts exhibitions, books presentations, and cooperate with non-governmental organisations of national communities. Approximately 300 non-governmental organisations of national minorities are engaged in cultural activity in Lithuania. The Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Chechen, Estonian, Greek, Karaits, Latvian, Polish, Roma, Romanian, Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Hungarian, German, Jewish, and other national communities have established their cultural, educational, professional, and other non-governmental organisations. Intercultural dialogue on an international level is coordinated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute. For several years, the Lithuanian Culture Institute has been realising Lithuanian culture seasons in various countries. In 2015, the Lithuanian Culture Institute represented Lithuania in Krakow; in 2016, it organised Spring and Autumn Seasons in Ukraine; in 2017, Lithuania was a guest of honour at the international Leipzig Book Fair; in 2018, the institute realised two large-scale international events – the Baltic Countries Market Focus Programme at the London Book Fair and the Lithuanian art festival “Flux” in Rome. In 2019, Tel Aviv became a host to the largest to date presentation of contemporary Lithuanian culture: “Lithuanian Story. Culture Festival in Tel Aviv 2019”. The festival aimed to introduce Israel’s audiences to Lithuanian artists from the fields of poetry, classical and contemporary music, performance, dance, and film. In 2021, the Lithuanian Culture Institute organised the Lithuanian culture season in Bavaria Without Distance: Lithuanian Culture in Bavaria 2021. The cultural season held a varied programme of music, literature, visual arts, and performances by the most prominent Lithuanian artists and performers.