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Toast by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Mr. Valdas Adamkus, at Lunch in the Museum of Applied Arts

Your Majesties,
Excellencies Presidents,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

On behalf of all the people of Lithuania, I would like to once again welcome you all who have honored Lithuania by coming to celebrate its millennium.

 

If only one of you were visiting Lithuania today, I would say: Your visit to Lithuania gives us great joy. But today, at this special celebration of our centuries-old history, I will say this: We are delighted and honored to celebrate the jubilee together with our closest neighbors, our near and distant kin.

 

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.

 

July 6th marks the Day of the Coronation of King Mindaugas. Even back then the State of Lithuania, built on the foundations of Christianity, was developing as a country open to a diversity of cultures and religions. Hailed in songs of our forefathers as a land "from sea to sea", it continues to be an important part of the history of modern Belarus and Ukraine. Reaching the Black Sea brought us together with even trans-Caucasian nations and present-day Georgia.

 

I cannot but highlight our strong historical link to Poland. For instance, the Wawel Royal Castle heritage exhibition introduced here today is just as important for Lithuanian history and culture as it is to the Poles and even to other neighboring countries. We have been calling each other strategic partners and close friends not only since the signing of our important treaty 15 years ago. A few days ago we commemorated the 440th anniversary of the Union of Lublin. "From Lublin to the European Union" - we immortalized these words of Pope John Paul II.

 

The European Union is our present and future. It is not that important that not all of you who have gathered here today are member states. It is only a matter of time. The important thing is that today, at this historical moment, we are one family celebrating the millennial journey of Lithuania. This is our celebration as a single European family!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As in all celebrations, we reflect on the good and sad times. Only in this way can we better appreciate what we have and enjoy today. The 50 years of the past century were probably the most painful period throughout the entire millennial history of Lithuania. Although we suffered a lot of losses during the five decades of oppression, our spirit grew stronger. Your support of Lithuania and the other Baltic countries in their fight for independence was vital. We will never forget the unity of the three Baltic nations in the Baltic Way, the strategic support offered by Poland, and the message of togetherness sent by the people of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, and Belarus who went out to the streets to stand up for Lithuania in its moment of need. We will never forget the first recognition extended to us by Iceland, the opening of the first diplomatic representation - the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden - in Vilnius, and Finland's strong assistance on our road to independence.

 

As we look back on the past one thousand years, our eyes turn toward the next millennium. Many real and difficult challenges await us there. Freedom and respect for human rights and independence still face serious threats across the world. Climate change and depleting energy resources impel us to search for new measures to preserve the world for the coming millennia.

Yet I believe that by joint effort and by bringing the determination, energy and goodwill of the people together we will, all together, create the well-being of our nations, a reliable neighborhood, and a peaceful future for our children so that freedom, democracy and peace become a long-lasting reality - not just a fleeting moment in time.

 

I raise my glass to a thousand years together! To the past and new millennium on our shared path!

 

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

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