Seimas commemorates the 15th anniversary of Lithuania’s EU membership and Europe Day
Press release, 10 May 2019
Photo by Olga Posaškova, Office of the Seimas
The Seimas solemnly commemorated the 15th anniversary of Lithuania’s membership of the European Union and Europe Day. On this occasion, welcome addresses were delivered by Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, and former President Valdas Adamkus.
‘In a persistent fight against the almost daily challenges, Europe is building welfare for its nations and protecting their freedom because unity in peace is the right choice. Let us feel proud to be a part of this enormous creative process, which ensures the future for Lithuania’s people, too,’ said the Speaker of the Seimas.
President Valdas Adamkus underlined that Lithuania’s accession to the EU had been neither a business plan nor the loss of sovereignty in exchange for a financial benefit, but rather the return to its historical destination or a family of democracies. ‘A young person who was born, grew up, and matured in a free environment might ask: “Could it be any different? Freedom is like air and water. It is essential in human life”. When I am asked this question, I realise the progress Lithuania has made in renouncing soviet complexes, serf mentality, stereotypical thinking, and life in prison conditions,’ said President Adamkus. He added that a generation born and nurtured in freedom, the continuation of traditions of freedom, and free spirit constituted perhaps the most valuable achievement for Lithuania throughout the years of its independence and EU membership.
At the solemn commemoration, festive speeches were also made by Marek Kuchciński, Marshal of the Polish Sejm, and Bogdan Borusewicz, Deputy Marshal of the Polish Senate, on their visit to Lithuania. According to them, their presence in Vilnius on the occasion was a proof of strong ties between Poland and Lithuania. Mr Kuchciński expressed his happiness that both countries were capable of seizing the opportunities offered by the united Europe.
Another speaker at the event, Gediminas Kirkilas, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and Chair of the Committee on European Affairs, said that today, it was important that all the Europeans, including Lithuanian citizens, residents, and emigrants, knew that the European Union was not meant to deprive the EU Member States or their citizens of their powers, rights, or opportunities, but rather to enable them to take part in political decision-making, to better defend their rights and to offer them more opportunities.
Andrius Kubilius, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and first former Chair of the Committee on European Affairs, was convinced that we had to learn to be not only the consumers but also the authors of European politics. ‘We have to learn this skill even faster than before, especially in the areas of particular relevance to Lithuania, such as geopolitical security, export of European security and stability, enlargement to the East, strategy on Russia, and energy policy. We need this in order to achieve our major national objectives,’ said Mr Kubilius.
Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Petras Auštrevičius, MEP and Chief Negotiator for Lithuania's Membership of the European Union; and Laima Liucija Andrikienė, MEP and former Minister of European Affairs (1996–1998), also shared their views on Lithuania’s membership and the future of the EU.
Photos by Olga Posaškova, Office of the Seimas
Rimas Rudaitis, Chief Specialist, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, tel. +370 5 239 6132, e-mail: [email protected]