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Today is a very important and festive day for Lithuania. The term of one president ends and a new president-elect will soon take the oath. The State will open a new page of its history. Several days ago we celebrated the Day of the Coronation of King Mindaugas and the Millennium of Lithuania. It was an opportunity to have a closer look at our history, its most significant dates and personalities, to exchange ideas about the ways in which our nation and the State have arrived the present day and about future prospects. Therefore, while the beginning of Dalia Grybauskaitė's presidency is viewed as a certain threshold in political life, a promising a time of change, we should not forget continuity. And, first and foremost, the continuity of reforms.

 

 
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Today Lithuania is proud of its millennial achievements, but they would not exist without the contribution made by your nations and cultures. Even before the name of Lithuania was recorded in the Annals of Quedlinburg, the Baltic people would say: "Aš esu. Es esmu. Mina Olen [minee olen]", and on the other shore of the Baltic similar words were pronounced: "Jag ar [jaa ė]". Throughout the centuries, we have been united by common words and the common roots of Nordic and Baltic ethnic identities, trade relations, marital bonds, and the Baltic Sea. Since the eleventh century, when Lithuania started to emerge as a nation, these bonds have deepened and expanded, strengthened also by dynastic relationships.
 
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We are gathered together on this very special historic day in a very special historic place. It is here, at the confluence of the rivers Neris and Vilnelė, at the foot of Gediminas Hill where our Cathedral stands so proud and beautiful, that we will walk through the gates of the reconstructed Royal Palace. Lithuania, which is celebrating its millennium and the Day of the Coronation of King Mindaugas, is once again, after several hundred years, opening the doors to the Royal Palace - a symbol of our national identity, never obliterated by time or war, and a token of our living memory.
 
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In 1009, five letters were written by the hand of a convent nun: LITUA. These letters signified the name of Lithuania - a name that arrived as news from the fringes of the world discovered and incorporated into European history by Christian missionaries. A woman from Saxony inscribed a passage which has led to today's celebration of the Millennium of Lithuania with its capital city of Vilnius serving as the European Capital of Culture in this jubilee year.
 
 
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Lithuania, whose history goes back a millennium, is celebrating the day of its statehood. On this day we contemplate the past of our nation, we remember events of historic significance and the people who were, and are, important to us, and we reflect on the bright and tragic moments of history. On this day we are bound together by a very special feeling which can be best described as the "Creation of Lithuania".
 
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The paths of Lithuania and Georgia had barely crossed throughout this historical period of one thousand years. Still, there are striking similarities between the two nations. Ours was the task to defend Christianity in the outskirts of Europe. Ours was the fate of succumbing to the imperialistic expansion of the Russian Empire at the turn of the 19th century. Located at the crossroads of civilizations, Georgia and Lithuania produced a culture of ethnic and religious tolerance, which perhaps is the reason why we understand each other so well. However, our nations failed to withstand the onslaught of the Bolshevik bigotry in the 20th century, which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of our citizens killed by the Soviet regime. Hundreds of thousands of those who survived still have to cope with the traumas of Soviet dominance.
 
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In my lifetime, I had a chance to visit several public areas bearing Lithuanian names in other countries. You can find them in Chicago, New York, Latin America, and also in the freezing depths of Siberia. Threatened with death and extinction, the Lithuanian people would cut their mark into stone, into ice and, fortunately, into other people's memories. Here in Tbilisi, such efforts may seem unnecessary. The reasons which drove my generation to make Lithuania a more visible case are in the past. And the name ‘Litva' seems to be known to virtually every Georgian.
 
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I have said it many times: every person must make an effort, particularly in the face of difficulties, to rise above daily problems. Why is it that we keep complaining about the crisis without ever contemplating what we will be after emerging from it: Will we stand together in solidarity and compassion or will we stand divided feeling wronged and resentful? I would therefore ask you to always accentuate the word "temporary" when speaking about "temporary difficulties." Let us look at the history of Lithuania, one thousand years old, and let us think: If we view the present time as a major crisis, how should we speak about the end of the 18th century, the middle of the 20th century, or the night of January 13?
 
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I am delighted to welcome members of the international goodwill community here in Lithuania, celebrating the millennium of the first mention of its name. Looking back and reflecting on the high and low points of its history, Lithuania is building the present and the future guided by its achievements and learning from its mistakes.
 
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The founding fathers of UNESCO witnessing the tragedy of World War II created an organization that acted as a moral voice of the world's nations. I believe that, in the face of today's global crisis, this role of UNESCO has acquired a crucial significance. Unfortunately, today we see the tendency that UNESCO's areas of competence - education, science, culture, and communication - are severely impacted by the global crisis.
 

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