Speech by President Dalia Grybauskaitė at the parliamentary sitting to mark the start of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

04 July 2013, Last updated at, 10:26 EEST
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Dear Fellow People of Lithuania,

Distinguished Speakers of European Parliaments,

Dear Guests,

Lithuania is embarking on a six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Many issues important to the whole Europe will be addressed here in Vilnius in the coming half year. It proves that Lithuania is a member of the European Union which is trusted and enjoys the same rights as the other 27 member states.

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Croatia on joining our family of European nations.

Lithuania is taking over the presidency at a time of continuing economic difficulties in Europe. Unemployment, especially among young people, has reached a record high in Lithuania as well as in other EU member states. We still need to work hard towards long-term financial stability that goes along with economic growth and structural reforms.

Today's economic and energy competition raises more questions than the European Union can answer. Countries in Asia and Latin America are challenging us. If we make no effort to change the situation, it will be increasingly difficult to stay competitive.

One of the reasons for this is uncompetitive energy prices. All of Europe has finally come to understand that the monopoly of energy supplies goes against our economic growth and general welfare. Slowly but purposefully the European Union has to move forward as it builds its internal energy market and seeks agreement on external energy policy. Only competitive energy prices will put Europe's economy back on track towards competitiveness and rapid, steady growth.

We can and must work together to accomplish this task. Lithuania holds the Presidency of the EU Council, but initiative and concrete action are required from EU institutions and member states alike.

We believe in a unified and subsidiary Europe. We stand for a credible, open and growing European Union. Therefore, in the next six months we will work to strengthen financial stability and responsibility. We will consolidate the European Monetary Union. We will develop the common market, promote competitive business and advance innovation. We will also contribute to building the EU's internal energy market.

We will improve relations with EU neighbors. We will expand trade with our strategic partners. We will enhance the Common Security and Defense Policy.

Lithuania does not want to be a mere "consumer" in the EU. Our politicians, businesses, people of arts and letters, and all citizens want to be part of building Europe's successful future. We are ready to work hard to create a prosperous and secure European home - our home.

We call on all EU member states and neighbors to work together.

Before concluding, I would like to point out that Lithuanians have been known for their hospitality since olden times.

We worked earnestly and sincerely to create a feeling of home for all foreign guests who will come to Vilnius, Kaunas and other cities in the six months ahead. So that they leave Lithuania with warm and exciting memories. I therefore invite us all to welcome our guests with open hearts and genuine friendship and offer them a real opportunity to discover the true beauty of Lithuania and the warmth of its people.

I wish us all to work fruitfully and successfully in the coming six months.

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