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Address by H.E. Valdas Adamkus, President in Daukanto Square on the Occasion of the Day of Coronation of King Mindaugas


Your Majesties, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests of Lithuania,
Dear Fellow People of Lithuania,
My Fellow Citizens of a Thousand Year Old Nation,


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.


The birth of a nation, like the birth of a person, is symbolized by a name. The emergence of the name of Lithuania witnesses the historical beginnings of a political community and national self-awareness. Lithuania, then and today, is not just a territorial area - it is its people who are aware of belonging to one single nation. This awareness is conveyed not only inside the country, but also through its links with the outside world, which make us richer in knowledge and spirit.


Therefore, when we celebrate the Millennium of Lithuania, we are celebrating our millennium in EUROPE. The marks left by Lithuania on its historical pathway are the First Statute of Lithuania (1529) - which signified a shift towards a new concept of European law, Vilnius University (1579) - which brought the western notion of education to Eastern Europe, the Constitution of Lithuania and Poland (1791) - Europe's first constitution, the Baltic Way (1989) - a human chain symbolizing the freedom loving spirit of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian people, and many other important events.

After the first mention of its name, Lithuania vanished from the civilized world, remaining for several centuries beyond the horizon of Christian missions. This fading away and eventual coming back is the best reflection of our historical life. At times it seemed that Lithuania and Lithuanians might disappear altogether, but as soon as the critical limit was reached, the spirit of the nation would bring the people together and give them courage and strength to stand up once again and fight for freedom. And so it continued for centuries and throughout the millennium.

Today, as we look back from the perspective of a thousand years on the existential efforts of the Lithuanian nation and the pain and sufferings it endured, we sometimes feel sad that the past was not as easy as we would have liked it to be. At the same time, we should be grateful to God, to our history and, of course, to our ancestors that we had escaped the fate of the Old Prussians, Yotvingians and other Baltic tribes that became extinct.


From the times of the Lithuanian State of King Mindaugas to January 13, Lithuania had faced many challenges and lost many lives. However, in critical moments our true values would be always placed at the forefront and we would always know what was of utmost importance to all of us. But in all times, the impelling force of our survival was spiritual strength and solidarity with other nations.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Today, as I compare the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which covered a huge territory in Europe, with the European Union, I believe that they are spiritually close formations. All nationalities would find their own place there, enabling them to fulfill their physical and spiritual potential and retain their unique identity. And that is how it is today as well.

Genuine full-fledged existence means people living among people, nations living among other nations, and states coexisting with other states. It means searching for compromises when different interests have to be brought together, but never giving in when addressing fundamental time-tested values. And FREEDOM is the key value. Today Lithuania is happy to celebrate its jubilee together with neighbors and friends. Such openness and solidarity is a perfect pathway to build the future of Lithuania, the Baltic region and Europe. I firmly believe that this experience of ours will be used by the architects of history, just like we are learning from the past of our country, from our victories and defeats.


I bow with respect before all those who are writing the book of our history. I lower my head in gratitude to those who, in all the times and places, protected and protect our country, to those who created and continue to create Lithuania. I extend greetings to Lithuania, crossing the threshold of a new historical era, I send my cordial wishes to all the people of Lithuania, and I welcome our dear friends who have come to celebrate together with us as we open the door to the second millennium.

Welcome LITHUANIA of the New Age!


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


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