Speech by Dr Karl A Lamers, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, at the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, 19 April 2011
Excellency, Madam. Speaker,
Honourable Members of the Seimas,
Thank you very much for inviting me to address you here in the Seimas of the
I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to you, Madam Speaker, and Petras Austrevicius, the Head of the Lithuanian Delegation to the NATO PA, for inviting me to your country to make one of my first presidential visits. I’d like to thank you both and the whole Lithuanian delegation for hosting me here in your parliament.
It’s a pleasure for me to see many members of the Seimas who have been associated with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Česlovas Stankevicius, who led the first parliamentary delegation to participate in our Assembly.
And I am very glad to meet here Rasa Juknevičienė and Audronius Azubalis who I worked closely with in our Assembly, and who are now serving as Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs. I must also mention Snieguole Ziukaite Head of the International Organisations Division in the International Relations Department who has served as delegation secretary for twenty years.
I am convinced I couldn’t have come at a better time, the year when you commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Day of the Defenders of Freedom, and the 21st anniversary of the restoration of
I will never forget those pictures of the cold days of January 1991, of people, standing closely together, singing, protecting the Seimas and the television tower − people fighting for self-determination, for an independent and free country. You fought for your freedom, and you won. To the benefit of all of us!
By impressively reclaiming freedom and independence, you also won solidarity and partnership with your Western neighbours. These struggles paved the way for
I’d like to quote George Bernard Shaw who said once: “
20 years ago, through bravery, determination and effort,
The Seimas also has a special place in the history of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
That meeting took place in December 1991 here in
That NATO PA meeting was the largest international gathering that had taken place in
From those early days, your parliamentarians played an active role in our Assembly, and our Assembly in turn championed
From the very beginning, I personally supported
In light of the new challenges that became evident after the collapse of the Soviet Union and in view of NATO’s need for transformation, I was convinced that new members would bring fresh perspectives to the
Indeed, it is just seven years since
In January this year, your country took over the OSCE-Presidency and in 2013
Regarding NATO, your country’s role is more essential than ever before. The
We will be able to face these challenges and to prepare NATO for a successful future − if we stand together closely.
I am therefore very glad that the
NATO is the only politico-military institution in the world able to successfully establish and maintain stability and peace. NATO stands for military missions and civil support. As such, it provides assistance after natural disasters, it transports relief supplies and helps to build civil societies.
Yet many people are unaware of these aspects of NATO.
NATO seeks to establish stability and democratic development in
NATO’s operations, particularly ISAF, are not undertaken easily. They involve grave risks and sacrifices, and military, personnel and financial commitments which can be difficult to sustain.
We very much appreciate your military-civil commitment, displayed by the 200 troops you have sent to
In the context of the various, severe challenges connected to the NATO activities in
It is through such efforts that we will build an
I cannot thank you enough for your solidarity and your contributions to NATO’s activities.
As parliamentarians, we have a particular role to play in allocating the forces and the resources to sustain operations such as these. We also have a key role to play in explaining why NATO must be engaged in building security beyond our own national borders. Let us think about the idea of introducing a NATO Day that will help to make NATO, its objectives and activities better known and more understandable.
I think, regarding the need to make NATO more comprehensible, you are already pursuing a wise and promising approach: You offered to host another NATO PA spring session in 2014 in your country.
This will be the year when
Your offer is one of the numerous examples of your strong commitment to NATO and our Assembly. And as much as
Being here in
John F. Kennedy may have said it best:
“We stand for freedom. That is our conviction for ourselves; that is our only commitment to others.”
Thank you very much.