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Address by H. E. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Opening Ceremony of the Royal Palace

Your Majesties,
Excellencies,
Dear Guests of the Capital City of Lithuania,
Fellow Residents of Vilnius,

 

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.

 

The stones under our feet still remember the first Lithuanian King Mindaugas and the times when Lithuania embarked on its long and difficult path towards life within Europe. It was the Lithuania of King Mindaugas that in 1253 accomplished the aspirations, unfulfilled in 1009, to become part of Christian Europe. It was then that the foundations of our Christian sanctuaries were laid down and the keystone for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania - still a strong reminder of Lithuania's greatest moments, victories and prosperity - was put in place. And it was in those times - the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania - that King Žygimantas Augustas built the Royal Palace which we have now re-erected as an icon of our national revival and as a symbol of strong and powerful Lithuania that lived as an equal among equals in the Europe of that age.

 

I have to mention yet another dimension of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which even today is described as both noble and phenomenal. It is its cultural diversity and openness to all languages spoken, faiths professed, and views expressed by the people who lived there. Rulers and students, monks and craftsmen who came from far away countries would always find a common language of respect and tolerance. Today, as I stand here among our many high guests, I believe that I feel just like the rulers of the Lithuania of those times must have felt

And by the way, it was in those times that Vilnius and Krakow, Kyiv, Warsaw, and Lviv became the closest friends and allies of fate. I am delighted that this friendship is confirmed once again here and now. I am very pleased that today Lithuania has even more friends and allies. Thank you Your Majesties and Excellencies for giving us the feeling of togetherness and for the honor you have accorded Lithuania by coming to celebrate its millennium together with us.

 

I extend my greetings to you all on the occasion of this exclusive event - the opening of the Royal Palace. I wish that this palace, even though it bears the high name of Rulers Palace, would be open to all and every resident and guest of Vilnius. May it be visited by young people and may they find in its halls the ageless reflection of the life and deeds of their ancestors. May the guests of Lithuania discover here the signs of a meaningful and culturally rich neighborhood. May the residents of Vilnius perceive the living history of their capital city, their nation and the whole of Europe within these walls.

 

I thank all who created our history throughout the ages and those who are creating it now. I extend my greetings to Lithuania and to all who today are celebrating together with Lithuania.

H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania

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