Welcome address by Dr Vydas Gedvilas, Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Joint Inaugural Session of EuroLat

17 July 2013, Last updated at, 14:50 EET
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author: O. Posaškova (Office of the Seimas)

Distinguished guests, fellow Members of Parliaments, ladies and gentlemen,

I am privileged to see you in the Plenary Chamber of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania today. It should be noted that it is the first time ever that the Seimas hosts the meeting of EuroLat, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly attended by such a great number of honourable guests from Latin America and the European Parliament.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is both a great honour and a huge responsibility for the whole country. This semester, we will discuss and adopt decisions on the issues of paramount significance not only on behalf of Lithuania, but also behalf of the entire European Union.

The relations with Latin America are very important not only for Lithuania, but for the whole European Union too. Your region is among the fastest growing regions in the world. Last year, the economy of Latin America grew by 3.2 per cent, and it is estimated to grow by 4 per cent this year.

From the European perspective, it is a very rapid economic growth. Taken into account the common values that we share, as well as the intellectual and human potential of Latin America, I am convinced that the relations between the European Union and Latin America will increasingly gain more strategic importance.

The economic relations between the European Union and Latin America have been developing rapidly – the negotiations for a free trade agreement with Central America, as well as with two countries from the Andean Community, Peru and Colombia, have been concluded.

We also hope that the negotiations with MERCOSUR will be completed soon. We very much appreciate our strategic partnership with one of the BRIC countries, Brazil.

Fellow colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I cannot but express my appreciation of the economic cooperation between Lithuania and Latin America, which, despite being modest, has been constantly increasing, both in terms of import and export. Recently, the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs approved of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. It is yet another important step towards closer cooperation with Latin America.

Allow me to reiterate my welcome and thank everybody who contributed to the organisation of the event in the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

I would like to express my particular gratitude to our friend, one of the most prominent Members of the European Parliament from Lithuania and the only Lithuanian member of the Euro-Latin Parliamentary Assembly, Dr. Laima Andrikienė, whose enthusiasm and active work made this important event possible in the Lithuanian Parliament. Thank you.

Distinguished guests,

In preparation for this event, together with the Institute of Lithuanian History, we have prepared an exhibition of unique historical documents witnessing long-standing ties between Lithuania and other European nations. The exhibition is available in the Stained Glass Lobby of the Seimas. Among the exhibited items you will find the original copy of the Act of 11 March 1990. I invite you to take the opportunity to visit the exhibition.

In conclusion, I would like to wish successful and extensive debates during the meeting as well as a pleasant stay in Lithuania to all participants of the meeting of the Euro-Latin Parliamentary Assembly.

Thank you.

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