Europe only interested in distinct Lithuania

  • 2004-07-15
  • By Valdas Adamkus
Dear people of Lithuania:
For the second time you have entrusted me with the mandate of the president of Lithuania, our homeland. It is a great honor and no less a great responsibility.
Today there are no losers of the past elections. There is only one Lithuania, which demands from us creativity and hard work. I therefore call on all of you to set aside any artificially imposed divisions in the city and the countryside, among the elite and the provinces and to rise to joint cooperation.
When I assumed the office of the president for the first time I pledged to establish three fundamental pillars of society: free individuals, open society and a strong and secure state. Lithuania could attain these goals only by anchoring itself firmly in the family of Western democracies. Therefore, during my first term in office I took special efforts to secure for Lithuania membership of NATO and of the European Union.
At that time realization of these goals seemed only a distant prospect. However, Lithuania progressed toward their attainment at a pace that surpassed the expectations of even the greatest optimists. Today these accomplishments should be used to bring European well-being into every home in Lithuania and to see that no one is left behind.
Today our people need peace and unity. I believe that by working together we will succeed in restoring peace in our society. On my part I pledge to be, just like I was, the president of all the people of Lithuania and not a president of some political party or political power or social group.
However, the progress that Lithuania has made - to the surprise of foreign democracies - in just 14 years of independence is less evident to our own people. Not every family lives a better life today. For a large number of people in Lithuania the growth of national economy is just a set of abstract figures that have nothing to do with real life. Therefore, our key goal today is to translate the benefits offered by membership of the European Union into higher wages and new jobs.
Seven years ago I pledged to be an active president and did everything to live up to that promise. Today I can reiterate again that I will use all my constitutional rights and powers to pool the efforts of our public institutions and to secure broad political agreement in order to solve problems that concern you, dear people of Lithuania.
My aim is to become an instrument of your will. Therefore, I will continue traveling across Lithuania in order to learn directly from you your gravest concerns about potential dangers to our society.
The world is interested only in a Lithuania that has a distinctive character. Therefore, we should foster our distinctiveness as there is no other alternative to preserve our culture and hence - our national identity. Europe and the rest of the world take interest in our distinctiveness, our ancient language, customs and traditions and our historical and natural heritage. We should therefore make use of every opportunity that the European Union opens up to us to promote Lithuania and its art and culture. Our artists and workers of culture, our athletes who win the highest awards at championships and our students who successfully participate in international science competitions are the best ambassadors of our country.
The government institutions should finally realize that man does not live by bread alone. Life will never be complete without culture. Furthermore, culture should receive due attention if we want to ensure a long-term sustainable social and economic development because only a civilized society can become a creative society which is able to compete on a global scale. Success in this competition will depend on the quality of knowledge and education. To become a 21st century knowledge-economy Lithuania needs first to have competitive science and educated society.
European quality of life includes man's safety at home, at work and on the street. We should stamp out crime in our towns and villages. To achieve this goal we need to have well performing law enforcement bodies of high professional standards. However, the most powerful tool in the fight against crime and corruption is society itself. I believe that during the next five years Lithuania will be able to take pride in its active citizens' society, which is finally free of a depressing legacy of Soviet moral standards.
Today I have taken the oath before the High Seimas. In this historical square I now swear to you, dear people of Lithuania, to be equally just to all, to execute my duties honestly and to work so as to honor the oath given to the nation - to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania and its constitution.
So help me God.

These are excerpts from Valdas Adamkus' speech after assuming
the presidency on July 12.