A word of congratulation from the Prime Minister on the start of the Presidency

01 July 2013, Last updated at, 10:19 EEST
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Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius | author: BFL

Your Excellencies, distinguished ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great privilege to me to congratulate you, today, on this special occasion, when the Republic of Lithuania embarks on its presidency of the Council of the European Union. This day and the year 2013 will remain in the history of Lithuania.

Since the Singing Revolution and the Baltic Way, the announcement of the Restoration of Independence on 11 March 1990, and the bloody events of 13 January 1991, Lithuania has come a long way. On 1 May 2004, Lithuania achieved one of the most important goals of its foreign policy – became a fully-fledged member of the European Union.

It must be acknowledged that the period of Presidency will not be easy. Lithuania will hold the presidency under difficult economic conditions, during an exceptional period of the democratic calendar. As this parliamentary cycle draws to a close, we must finish, in close cooperation with the European Parliament and the European Commission, the essential ongoing legislative tasks.

Lithuania will focus on the multi-annual financial framework, will seek vigorous progress in the creation of a bank union, and will take part in the submission of a proposal on the common mechanism of bank restructuring. One of our ambitions is to accelerate the implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs. We will spare no effort to ensure that energy matters are addressed smoothly and successfully, namely that, in 2014, the internal energy market is created, that more is invested into modern trans-European energy infrastructure, and that the energy policy is used to strengthen EU competitiveness. With the help from the European Commission and in cooperation with other states, Lithuania is determined to fully integrate into energy infrastructure of the EU Baltic Sea Region soon.

Eastern partnership is one of the priorities of Lithuania’s Presidency over the Council of the European Union which should receive appropriate attention. The Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Vilnius in November will constitute a strong impulse for progress in this area. Looking back into the recent past, we can speak about the importance of sharing and dissemination of the common values of democracies.

It is symbolic that beginning Lithuania’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, at the Government's Office, we are opening an exhibition of paintings dedicated to the European Union, wherein flags of member states of the European Union are artistically interpreted. These interpretations will draw attention to European Union countries’ symbols of statehood, history and patriotism, and will invite us to see them not in the official context but in the context of personal experiences.

Distinguished guests, today is a great day – it is a day when honour and responsibility are inseparable. Lithuania, being a free and independent state, for the first time since the Restoration of its Independence will have such responsibility – it will chair over the Council of the European Union. I am proud to assert that the Republic of Lithuania, giving meaning to its freedom, is responsible for the creation of welfare of not only Lithuanian citizens, but the citizens of the entire European Union and, together with other European Union states, will work for the sake of all Europe. I believe that, by joint effort, we will manage to meet the upcoming challenges successfully. May we wish to ourselves and one another that, at the end of 2013, upon conclusion of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we could rejoice, together, at the completion of major tasks and the success of the entire European Union. May I wish, to all of us, that this would come true.

Thank you.

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