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President Adamkus: Five years of EU membership is a good opportunity to think about whether we are making the best of the advantages offered by the European Union

Friday, May 8, Vilnius - President Valdas Adamkus participated in the conference "Five Years of EU Membership: Lithuania's European Policies" held at the Seimas.

Addressing the Speaker of the Seimas, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, members of the Seimas and Government, and the participants of the conference, President Adamkus underlined that five years ago Lithuania joined the community of democratic free-market nations when it and nine other countries became full and equal members of the European Union.


President Adamkus recalled that in December of 2002, after EU membership negotiations were completed in Copenhagen, he had said, "This enlargement makes history mainly because of its predominant focus on long-term strategic objectives. We are building a Europe that is strong, cohesive and open to a world swept by the ever-growing momentum of globalization."


Valdas Adamkus emphasized that the unification of Europe, based on the values of liberal democracy, was a long process and part of a broader perspective of global integration.


"Openness to the world, first of all to our neighbors, has always been and must always be the pillar of EU's existence. It is only by being open, by learning from the achievements of others and by sharing our experience that we will remain strong and prepared to address global challenges," Mr. Adamkus said.


He pointed out that Lithuania had been actively engaged in this process since the very first years of its membership in the European Union and that it would continue on this path. He further said that the enlargement of the European Union should not stop.


"Both the people of Lithuania and businesses looking for new markets need to have a secure environment in their neighborhood: in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and elsewhere," Mr. Adamkus said, welcoming the yesterday-approved EU support and reform program for neighboring countries.


President Adamkus noted that the people of Lithuania - like all the people across Europe - were currently living in an atmosphere of downturn, which overshadowed the economic achievements of European integration and its every-day advantages that our citizens and businesses had in Europe.


"If not for EU membership, this crisis would definitely be deeper for our country: Lithuanian companies would find it more difficult to continue trading on the EU market, while the people of Lithuania would confront more obstacles to traveling, studying or doing business in Europe," Mr. President said.

He he underlined the importance of solidarity demonstrated on many occasions by the European Union and its member states in different areas.


"No less important are the common principles and shared values which bring us together in a community where we can trust each other," Mr. Adamkus said.


Valdas Adamkus pointed out that five years of EU membership was a good opportunity to think about whether we were making the best of the advantages offered by the European Union and whether we were making a sufficient contribution to implementing the common goals of the entire European community. He said that if we had kept to a prudent budgetary policy and carried through structural reforms as planned back in 2004, Lithuania would have introduced the euro and would have been better equipped for the downturn.


President Adamkus described in positive terms the work performed by Lithuania when preparing to accede to the Schengen area. "I am deeply convinced that today we should not be questioning the requirements for the introduction of the euro. What we should do now is to agree on the euro area accession as a top priority," Mr. Adamkus said.


"I believe that one of the main aspects of Lithuania's EU membership is realizing that we can be active and equal members of the European Union only if we fully comprehend our national interests and work together towards our ultimate goals," Mr. Adamkus stressed.


President Adamkus pointed out that Lithuania's achievements in the European Union, joint decisions and actions would be meaningful and beneficial to Lithuania only if we worked resolutely and decisively not only in Brussels or EU capital cities, but also at home.


"The European Union provides us with better opportunities to share knowledge and experience, take on the best practices, and avoid others' mistakes," Mr. Adamkus said.


Full text of the speech:


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