Speaker of the Seimas: “Lithuania is united in its self-resolve and believes in the future of the transatlantic relations”
Press release, 12 March 2017
Photos of the Office of the Seimas (author Džoja Gunda Barysaitė)
On 12 March 2017, the Seimas hosted the international parliamentary meeting Europe and the United States: Reaffirming Transatlantic Solidarity. The objective of the meeting, which was co-organised by the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, was to discuss the worrying global trends towards a decline of democracy, and new challenges and prospects for transatlantic cooperation.
The international parliamentary meeting began with a welcome address by Prof. Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, who stressed that Lithuania was united in its self-resolve and believed in the future of the transatlantic relations in the face of new challenges to security and our values. The Speaker of the Seimas took note that all political groups in the Seimas saw eye to eye on Lithuania’s foreign and security policy. Therefore, right upon its election, the Seimas adopted resolutions confirming the consistency and continuity of Lithuania’s foreign, security and defence policy, its commitment to NATO, and its strategic partnership with the United States of America. It has already been agreed to increase our defence spending to reach 2 % of GDP by 2018 and to go even beyond that. The Speaker of the Seimas also noted that Lithuania was determined to give full support to Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries.
Prof. Pranckietis observed that participants of the Forum had long raised the questions regarding the visible threats to democracy and the growing imperialistic ambitions in the East. He noted that Lithuania was particularly concerned about the security situation in the region due to the annexation of Crimea, the war in eastern Ukraine, and the increasing threats of terrorist attacks in Europe. “Today we see clearer than ever that only uniform assessment of threats equals successful response to them,” stressed Mr Pranckietis.
Emanuelis Zingeris, Chair of the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy and Head of the Seimas Group for Inter-Parliamentary Relations with the United States of America, recalled several important historical facts related to nations’ fights for freedom and democracy. He proposed that the five countries – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Finland, due to mark the centenary anniversaries of their independence in 2018, come up with a common date for this important celebration and mark this day together, thus demonstrating solidarity and commitment to our shared values.
Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, President of the Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas, talked about the importance of the transatlantic relations, the solidarity of the EU, the United States and Canada, and the need to strengthen it. He believed that a lack of solidarity might bring many challenges and disasters to the world. Prof. Landsbergis also urged the Forum to adopt a document condemning the construction of the dangerous Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus and to strive for the nuclear power plant to be moved, insofar as possible, further east and well away from Vilnius.
Anne Hall, U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania, addressed the audience in Lithuanian to congratulate the country on its 27th anniversary of the restoration of independence. She underlined that “the transatlantic ties that bind Europe and the United States are grounded on our common legacy – a legacy of fighting for and defending the freedom”. The Ambassador said that President Trump and the new U.S. Administration strongly supported NATO and would be unwavering in their commitment to the transatlantic alliance. Ms Hall noted Lithuania’s progress in national defence and energy security and said that Lithuania was a reliable partner. The Ambassador also assured that the U.S. commitment to NATO and Article 5 of the Washington Treaty was ironclad.
Andrius Kubilius, Deputy Chair of the Seimas Committee on European Affairs, focused on Ukraine in his speech. He said that the key factors preventing Ukraine from stepping up democratic reforms were related not so much to the domestic problems but rather to the current external situation, namely, the aggressive attempts by Russia to rebuild the empire, the retreat of democracy in post-Soviet Eastern Partnership countries, and the changed and less courageous West compared to what they were at the end of the 20th century. Mr Kubilius was convinced that the aim of Vladimir Putin was to prevent successful development of such countries as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. He emphasised, however, that our objective was to have a clear strategy, which would prevent Mr Putin from winning in those countries. He highlighted the importance of bilateral relation, economic support, and other assistance, which had been elaborated in the decisions of the joint meeting of the Seimas Committees on European Affairs and on Foreign Affairs approving the initiative A New European Plan for Ukraine and Lithuania’s support measures for Ukraine.
The keynote speakers and participants were engaged in discussions in two separate sessions of the meeting, namely Session 1 on Challenges and Threats in the Transatlantic Space: Search for New Ways to Preserve Solidarity, and Session 2 on The Development of Democracy to Broaden the Transatlantic Space: the Need for Closer Cooperation between Europe and the USA.
The Meeting was broadcast live on the website of the Seimas, the Seimas You Tube channel, and the Seimas TV programme Seimas – tiesiogiai (Seimas live). Interpretation from/into English/Lithuanian was provided during the event.
For more photos from the event, see here.
On 12 March 2010, the Seimas hosted the Convening Meeting of the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies, where the Vilnius Declaration was signed. Parliamentary representatives from more than 30 countries signed the Declaration and established the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies, thereby commemorating symbolically the victory of democracy achieved by the Lithuanian Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas 20 years ago and promoting further democratic development in the world through its activities. For more information (in English), see here.
Jolanta Anskaitienė, Adviser, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, tel. +370 5 239 6508, e-mail: [email protected]