VILNIUS 's President Valdas Adamkus gave his annual speech to Parliament on Tuesday, when he said the nation faces three big challenges 's creation of a civil society, consolidation of social justice and prevention of the nation's population demise.
"The first challenge we are faced with is political alienation, a lack of civil and political maturity. The second is obstacles to rapid economic growth and a lack of social justice and solidarity resulting from this. The third challenge is the diminishing of the nation, accompanied by uncontrollable demographic and emigration processes," he said.
In order to prevent an increase in emigration and a demographic crisis, Adamkus is urging lawmakers to create a civil society, to overcome backwardness and restore citizens' self-confidence.
"Lithuania now sees its towns are becoming empty. A considerable number of people are starting to have doubts about the future in their country and are not linking their life and the life of their children with Lithuania any more," Adamkus said.
In the president's words, talented young people are emigrating, and the country is losing its future labor force and many intelligent people. He said that demographic forecasts are warning that in a few decades the number of Lithuanian residents will be well below 3 million.
Adamkus also urged his compatriots to use the "historic chance" to become a regional cooperation, an advocate of the development of democratic values and security.
"We have to solidify Lithuania as a European Union and NATO state, an active policy and inter-regional cooperation center. An active foreign policy is the key to the security and welfare of our state and citizens. It will not be a success if Lithuania is on the edge of Europe, if our neighbors live worse than we, if our citizens do not feel full-fledged Europeans," he said.
"Lithuania must be a firm advocate of the development of Western democratic values and security, which supports countries seeking to take the European path. Further expansion of the European Union and NATO is of importance to us. I have no doubt that such a firm position of Lithuania meets the expectations of most of our partners in Ukraine, Moldova and South Caucasus countries," Adamkus said.
Right-wing opposition MPs applauded the speech, but they said it lacked a conception of their implementation. "I am glad to see that the president formulates those challenges in a similar way, but I missed a more conceptual vision of how to respond to them," Conservative Andrius Kubilius told journalists.
In his words, "the most important remark by the president was that about the threat of oligarch rule."