Strong words in Lithuanian president's annual address

  • 2002-04-04
  • Wire reports

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus read out his annual address at the Seimas, Lithuania's Parliament, on April 2, identifying the country's major tasks in foreign policy, public administration, economy, social protection and culture.

Part of the report was, naturally, dedicated to Euro-Atlantic integration, which the president evaluated as a "crucial period of consolidation for independent Lithuania," which "is nearing completion."

"I link its completion with the strategic goals of today - Lithuania's invitation to join NATO and the conclusion of accession negotiations for EU membership," he said.

Adamkus called on considering all the major tasks Lithuania will set itself in projecting a new stage in its life.

"Today we must ask ourselves how we shall build our prosperity and all aspects of our life as a full-fledged member of the Western democratic hemisphere."

According to the president, in order to work independently and successfully, the nation needs to strengthen its creative powers and reach a far greater political and social solidarity.

"Even today, all our endeavors should be guided by a vision of a creative Lithuania," he said.

Lithuania must establish itself in the world as a solid and responsible community in the next stage of development: "Together with other countries we shall build our common house of Europe and strengthen NATO as our security umbrella," the president said.

According to Adamkus, international economic relations should become a foreign policy priority that is not simply declared but also implemented.

"We, with the help of our neighbors, must see to it that Lithuania, after properly developing its infrastructure, becomes a bridge connecting Central and Northern Europe."

But further development of Lithuania must be based on national agreements not only on foreign and defense policy, but also on major internal issues.

Adamkus underlined that the democratic political system must be expanded and reinforced in the next stage of the country's development.

He drew attention to the development of political parties. "Lithuania's road to the future will not be smooth unless our parties produce a more mature policy, with a distinct national character, based on strategic planning and defined priorities."

Adamkus urged the country's political forces to treat the economy as a crucial sphere of the creative work of the nation. "The state has to provide a most conducive environment for it."

"It is about time we started concentrating state and private capital on sectors that offer a higher, though slower, return on capital - firstly, on people and their education. At the same time the state must, without any further delay, embark on the development of the knowledge economy as a strategic goal."

According to Adamkus, the creation of a favorable business environment will mostly depend on a proper reorganization of the energy sector, the development of transit, and the improvement of the tax system.

"Today our taxation system must be targeted toward the vision of a modern and creative Lithuania. It must provide the conditions for our people to act as responsible and independent citizens and demonstrate the initiative and skills of entrepreneurship rather than stand as passive freeloaders."

On agricultural policy, the president underlined the necessity to use all the possibilities the European Union is providing to modernize the countryside.

In his words, here the country will have to wrestle "not with Brussels, but rather with our own inertia and sluggishness."

Social policy must be oriented toward young people and families, "the future of the nation."

"Social policies aimed at young people and families must first and foremost be oriented toward employment, housing, and education."

Social support must, he said, be aimed at fighting the real reasons behind impoverishment, not its consequences.

Adamkus encouraged the active development of culture, as "the maturity of our civil life, our democratic state and our ability to survive as a viable and independent nation essentially depend on the development of culture."

It was Adamkus' fourth, and perhaps last, annual address as president. His five-year term expires next February.