Necessary cookies


Statistics cookies


For disabled
12th Seimas (2016–2020)

Address by Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, delivered at the Sejm of the Republic of Poland

Press release, 1 March 2018


Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland,

Distinguished Members of the Sejm and the Senate of the Republic of Poland,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Dzień dobry, witam serdecznie wszystkich przedstawicieli narodu Polskiego!

Today, on the occasion of the Centenary of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland on matters of fundamental importance for our countries. It is a great honour and privilege for me to address this esteemed audience.

The last time the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania addressed the Sejm of the Republic of Poland was 21 years ago. I would like to thank Marshall Kuchciński for his participation in the events marking the 630th Anniversary of the Baptism of Lithuania in Vilnius in 2017 and for being the patron of the exhibition featuring the painting Baptism of Lithuania by Wojciech Gerson, which had been brought from Warsaw and exhibited in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.

This year is special for both Lithuanians and Poles, as we celebrate the centenaries of the independence of our states. Next year will mark yet another major date, that of the 450th anniversary of the Union of Lublin.

These important historical milestones provide us with a good opportunity to review the path taken by our nations, take stock of our common history, and consider what connects and unites us, what challenges the people of Lithuania and Poland face now and might face in the future, and what we, as politicians, must do to ensure that our societies feel safe and economies flourish.

I am convinced that we will properly seize the opportunities offered by this anniversary year to promote inter-parliamentary cooperation between Lithuania and Poland and boost the activities of bilateral parliamentary assemblies.

Let me note that in all historical transformations despite the twists and turns of history, which either brought our two nations together or set them apart, our people have proved to have more things in common than the ones that divide or separate us.

The signature of the Treaty of Krewo began a difficult process of rapprochement between the two states.

In 1387, Lithuania adopted Christianity and became an important part of Western Christian civilisation thus choosing its own direction of development.

The Battle of Grunwald of 1410, its significance to Lithuania and Poland and the whole Europe at the time, as well as the merits of King Jagiełło of Poland and Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania need no further explanation to either Lithuanians or Poles.

The Union of Lublin, signed in 1569, gave birth to a new state, i.e. the Commonwealth of the Two Nations. Although treated ambiguously in Lithuania, the Commonwealth is nevertheless part and parcel of the history of Lithuania’s statehood.

May I also underline the importance of the Four-Year Sejm, convened in 1788–1792, in carrying out the necessary state reforms and drafting a new Constitution.

The Constitution of 3 May 1791 and the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations adopted on 20 October of the same year expressed the Commonwealth’s respect for personal freedom and state’s independence.

This Constitution, which is considered to be the first modern constitution in Europe, gives us a good opportunity to reflect on the meaning and importance of constitutional principles.

On the way from Lithuania to the Polish capital of Warsaw, we pass Praga, a district in Warsaw where about eight thousand soldiers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania along with those from the Polish army and the local townspeople stood up to defend Warsaw from the Russian army in the Commonwealth’s uprising against Russia in early November of 1794. The battle, also known as the Massacre of Praga, claimed the lives of the majority of the Lithuanian soldiers and defenders of Warsaw. This was the last battle fought by the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

I believe that when marking the 225th anniversary of the Tadeusz Kościuszko Uprising in 2019, it would be right to commemorate the soldiers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania who lost their lives in defence of Warsaw.

The disappearance of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations from the map of Europe in the 18th century, following its predatory partition by Russia, Prussia and Austria, teaches us today that we need to be strong and capable of defending ourselves, either alone or together with our allies, against non-democratic and aggressive external forces.

We recall the uprisings of 1830–1831 and of 1863, which represented the joint efforts of our nations to fight for freedom. The ideal and the slogan “For our freedom and yours!” continuously remind us that freedom is not given in perpetuity. It must be defended and fostered in the same way as it was done by Emilija Pliaterytė, the Lithuanian Joan of Arc.

When 20 Members of the Council of Lithuania signed the Act of Independence of Lithuania on 16 February 1918, we came back to the family of free European nations after having spent more than a century in captivity.

It is worth noting that one of the signatories to the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918 was Mr Stanislovas Narutavičius (Stanisław Narutowicz), whose younger brother, Gabriel Narutowicz, became the first President of Poland.

The issue of Vilnius forced Lithuania and Poland to embark on different paths in the interwar period. Nevertheless, our states and nations were independent in creating their own future and advancing their economies. 

As a result of the criminal Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939, Lithuania, Poland and other countries in the region were divided and their people lost their freedom. The interned Polish soldiers never returned from Katyń; their destinies were cynically decided by the dictators in Berlin and Moscow.

After the end of the Second World War, which had inflicted immeasurable pain and sufferings on people of different nationalities, we were cut off from the democratic West by the Stalinist Iron Curtain.

When Western European countries celebrated their victory over Nazism, Lithuania and Poland went on to wage a resistance struggle. In Lithuania, it was referred to as the war after war, in which more than 20 thousand Lithuania’s forest brothers, participants of the armed underground resistance, lost their lives for the freedom that we all enjoy now.

Thousands of Lithuanian people, who had been identified as enemies by the Soviet system, were deported to the vast expanses of Siberia. Some of them were able to return to their bleeding and occupied homeland; a great number of them were, however, laid to rest there. Long may our memories of them burn in our hearts.

More often than not, Lithuanians shared the same fate of deportation together with the Poles, their friends in misfortune. Therefore, it would make sense to pay tribute to those people and thus include representatives from your country to the Mission Siberia project, which Lithuania has already been running for 16 years. This way Lithuanian and Polish young people could together embark on an expedition to the places of deportation and rescue neglected burial grounds of the Lithuanian and Polish exiles.

Captivity is never everlasting. It is a cry for freedom that lasts forever. 

Poland’s Solidarity movement and, subsequently, the Lithuanian reform movement Sąjūdis helped the people to rally round and break free from the communist oppression.

The spiritual journey of Pope John Paul II, apart from being most unforgettable, was also highly valued. Our people took up the persistent “Fear not!” words, repeated by the Pope from the earliest days of his pontificate, as their strength lay in the hope for freedom.

We paid a heavy price for restoring the independence of Lithuania on 11 March 1990, as Soviet tanks and bullets left 14 heroes of our nation killed and more than 700 people injured on 13 January 1991.

The 13 January events in Lithuania contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was aptly described as the evil empire by the US President Ronald Reagan. On 31 August 1993, the last Russian tanks were withdrawn from Lithuania.

I would like to thank our colleagues from Poland who stood with us at the time of those events in Vilnius and helped our representatives in other countries to win support of the global community as we sought recognition of Lithuania’s independence.

The Treaty on Friendly Relations and Good Neighbourly Cooperation, signed by Poland and Lithuania in Vilnius on 26 April 1994, forms the basis for our cooperation.

We sincerely mourned the loss of Prof. Lech Kaczyński, a true friend of Lithuania who had strongly contributed to the development of bilateral relations between Lithuania and Poland. His death in the plane crash in Smolensk broke our hearts, too.

It is encouraging to see that Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, which is our strategic partner, took part in the solemn events to mark the Centenary of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania. We are now looking forward to the visit of Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, to Vilnius. This is a source of inspiration for further cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

European unification is a unique project, and it is our shared responsibility to preserve it.

We understand that state power is relative, but the European Union and NATO, being the collective European and Euro-Atlantic structures, have given us, for the first time in history, the opportunity to sit together at a table and participate on an equal footing in the decision-making process. Now nothing about us is without us.

We have set an excellent example of successful systemic transformation for the countries, Ukraine in particular, which have expressed their clear desire for a future within the European Union.

The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania has drawn up a New European Plan for Ukraine. We would kindly ask you to support it. 

The trilateral Assembly of Members of the Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Parliaments also plays a considerable role in assisting Ukraine to move closer to the European Union.

We see membership of the European Union delivering to us not only an economic gain for our economies and citizens, but also a sense of belonging to the community bound by shared values. This is the basis for the European Union’s unity and solidarity.

The world is constantly changing and so is the European Union, our common project, as we are forced to make ongoing efforts to find solutions to the challenges and threats we face.

Illegal migration and refugee flows, the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, which spurred the debate on the future model of the European Union, populism and Euroscepticism, securing financial stability and economic growth, hybrid threats related to fake news, propaganda and cyber-attacks by third countries, and climate change are among the most relevant issues for the European Union as a whole and for Lithuania and Poland individually.

Our key objective is strengthening of the European Union, ensuring the unity within it, and taking effective and responsible action in our relations with other countries, in particular in the development of the Eastern Partnership and ties with the countries that see their future in the European Union.

We hope that the Brexit negotiations will be successful and that we will preserve the strategic partnership and ensure the rights of our citizens in the United Kingdom.

Meeting the challenges requires adequate financial resources. Important decisions on the new financial framework of the European Union are ahead of us. The new Multiannual Financial Framework should also adequately focus on the long-term strategic commitments undertaken in the Treaties of the European Union, while recognising the added value of the cohesion policy to the internal security of the European Union and the well-being of the citizens.

Further consideration has to be shown to the internal market of the EU and strengthening of the internal energy market by ensuring equal conditions of competition with third countries and energy security within the European Union and in the neighbourhood.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At different points in history, when Lithuania lost its independence, Poland would lose it too and vice versa.

In terms of security and the geopolitical situation, we are in the same boat with Poland. We are grateful to Poland for its active support for Lithuania’s NATO membership aspirations.

The annexation of Crimea by Russia, its military and political destabilisation of Donbass in Ukraine, and support for the separatists have radically changed the security situation in Central and Eastern Europe.

NATO is a transatlantic political and military alliance; therefore, political visibility of the US and the presence of US troops and other allies in Poland and the Baltic States is essential in order to guarantee efficient deterrence of potential aggression and defence by enhancing the capacities of NATO’s entire Eastern flank.

NATO is obviously the primary guarantor of security. At the same time, we should seek to avoid unnecessary duplication of functions of NATO and the European Union. The NATO Warsaw Summit declaration on cooperation between NATO and the European Union must be implemented.

Bilateral cooperation with Poland, including military training, engagement in international operations, and acquisition of weapons for the armed forces, is active at all levels of military forces.

Today, the existing military cooperation formats are being pursued and new ones are being established in the fields of defence and security. LITPOLUKRBRIG, a Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian Brigade named after the Grand Hetman Kostanty Ostrogski of Lithuania, is one of the most successful trilateral projects.

I am pleased to note that Poland is the most active contributor to the Baltic airspace control. Poland has sent its air forces to the NATO air policing mission for as many as seven times.

Our countries should engage in active cooperation and exchange of experiences in order to meet new hybrid threats, reinforce the resilience of our societies to hostile propaganda, and enhance the preparedness to respond to cyberattacks.

Energy is the area which has witnessed a particularly dynamic development of bilateral cooperation in recent years.

Together with Poland, Latvia and Estonia, we are running a number of important energy infrastructure projects in the region.

At the end of 2015, LitPolLink, a power transmission interconnection between Alytus (Lithuania) and Elk (Poland), was launched. This is the first ever Lithuania’s energy link with the West.

Synchronisation of the energy systems of the Baltic States with the continental European networks through Poland will finally and fully integrate the Baltic States into the European energy system.

The construction of the gas pipeline GIPL, connecting Lithuania and Poland, will be of great importance in ensuring our energy security and developing the gas market in the region. We hope that this project will be implemented before 2021 as planned.

We welcome Poland’s position on the construction of the nuclear power plant in Astravyets, Belarus, in the very close proximity to the Lithuanian border. In the course of the construction, several serious incidents have already taken place. This shows that the power plant can potentially pose a threat to the entire region. Lithuania expects that the power plant will be constructed following all the international safety requirements.

Last autumn, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted a law on taking necessary measures to prevent electricity from third countries with unsafe nuclear power plants from entering the Lithuanian electricity market. We hope that in the future Poland will also refrain from importing energy from the unsafe nuclear power plant in Astravyets.

With a view to further deepening our national and regional integration into the EU, we need to actively invest in infrastructure projects; therefore, I hope that our governments will do their utmost to achieve, as soon as possible, the implementation of important infrastructure projects in the region, such as Via Baltica, Via Carpatia and Rail Baltica.

We also see the potential in advancing the Three Seas cooperation in order to facilitate the development of transport and energy infrastructure of the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Sea regions.

Poland is one of the most important trading partners of Lithuania as well as one of the steadiest investors.

We welcome the fact that an increasing number of Lithuanian companies succeed in the Polish market and grow steadily.

We appreciate in particular the arrival of reliable Polish companies in Lithuania and their tangible contribution to the development of Lithuanian economy. I am convinced that mutual cooperation in good faith opens all the possibilities for finding sustainable solutions.

Coherent economic policies in Lithuania in recent years have resulted in favourable business conditions and attractive investment environment. Although Lithuania is a small country, we can be proud of the rapid development of life sciences, laser and information technologies, engineering, competitive global companies and experts, and close businesses-science cooperation.

Lithuania has become a rapidly growing and competitive country of advanced technologies. It offers attractive investment conditions and further prospects for cooperation to Polish investors.

Dear Members of the Sejm and the Senate of the Republic of Poland,

Poles residing in Lithuania and Lithuanians residing in Poland constitute an invaluable asset of our societies.

Lithuania has historically been known as a multi-ethnic country, fostering the coexistence of and tolerance towards communities of different national, religious and ethnic background. 

Our goal is to make every person of any nationality feel at home while representing their ethnic background and being a loyal citizen.

Let me also underline that Lithuania is the only country in the world, with, certainly, the exception of Poland, that ensures Polish as the language of instruction in education – from kindergartens to higher education institutions – for people of Polish origin.

The branch of the University of Bialystok in Vilnius has become a part of Lithuania’s education system in over ten years of its operation. Students are taught in the Polish language there. It is the only Polish university to have a faculty abroad that offers Polish as the language of instruction.

Three Lithuanian higher education institutions enable students to study in the Polish language, too.

In Lithuania, there are 50 kindergarten and pre-school groups, 76 secondary schools with Polish as the language of instruction or different languages of instruction, and 51 schools with only Polish as the language of instruction.

The network of public schools with Polish as the language of instruction is impressive in Lithuania, if compared to other countries in the region and in Europe in general.

In both Poland and Lithuania, a good knowledge of the official language is critical. Young people of Polish origin in Lithuania have a good knowledge of the Lithuanian language and Lithuanians residing in Poland speak excellent Polish. This is a great accomplishment of our education systems.

It is also important that Poles in Lithuania are socially and politically active members of our society.

Currently, there are around 70 active Polish ethnic community organisations in Lithuania. They engage in a very wide variety of activities, including song and dance ensembles, choirs, societies, clubs, and a third-age university. In addition, the media in Lithuania is also available in the Polish language. On a number of occasions, I myself was on air of the Polish-speaking radio station Znad Willi.

In Lithuania, the Polish community enjoys excellent conditions for political representation. The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, representing the interests of the Polish ethnic community has 8 seats out of a total of 141 in the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. One representative of the Polish ethnic community in Lithuania serves as a Member of the European Parliament.

In turn, I kindly appeal to you, Members of the Polish Parliament, to constructively consider issues on Lithuanian schools raised by the Lithuanian community in Poland.

On the occasion of the Centenary celebration, a large number of cultural events have been planned in our countries. The Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society gave a solemn concert in Warsaw yesterday. Additionally, Lithuanian Film Week and Theatre Week, various exhibitions and other events will be held in Poland.

I invite the Polish people to visit a multicultural Lithuania where guests from Poland are always welcome and their language is easily comprehensible.

Panie i Panowie, Szanowni Polscy Parlamentarzyści!

Podsumowując, chciałbym serdecznie podziękować Marszałkowi Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej Panu Markowi Kuchcińskiemu oraz wszystkim Państwu za umożliwienie mi tego wystąpienia w Sejmie Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej.

Otwieramy dziś nową kartę w historii Litwy i Polski.

Chciałbym również serdecznie wszystkich Państwa pozdrowić z okazji zbliżającej się setnej rocznicy Odrodzenia Niepodległości Polski.

Jestem przekonany, że nasze państwa i narody – Litwini i Polacy nadal będą aktywnie obcować i współpracować, a w razie konieczności będziemy gotowi razem obronić naszą wolność i niepodległość.

Niech żyją Polska i Litwa – wolne, demokratyczne i niepodległe kraje w rodzinie europejskiej!

Dziękuję za uwagę.“



   Last updated on 03/08/2018 09:53
   Eglė Saulė Trembo