On 11 March 1990 the world heard the voice of a small country called Lithuania situated near the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon: I am present, I am alive. I am present, I am alive. These words of Lithuanias sovereignty were embodied in the Act on the Restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania signed by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania in the late evening of 11 March. The Act was signed by 124 signatories. The majority of them are here with us today. Unfortunately, a number of signatories who have endorsed our freedom by putting their signature on the Act have passed away. We no longer have with us: Povilas Aksomaitis, Kazimieras Antanavičius, Antanas Karoblis, Česlovas Kudaba, Jokūbas Minkevičius, Birutė Nedzinskienė, Vytautas Paliūnas, Petras Poškus, Algirdas Ražauskas, Gintaras Ramonas, Valerijonas Šadreika, and Alfonsas Žalys. Let us observe a minute of silence in their memory. Let us remember them.
The Act on the Restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania was like a cry of birth of a restored state in an indifferent world. The world has recognized this sovereign state long after its first day of life, while the neighbour state denied the sense of our existence altogether. Not only has it denied our existence but also tried to suppress it.
Lithuanian people who celebrated 11 March 1990 and gathered in crowds to defend their homeland in January 1991 were full of hope and courage. This struggle has demonstrated that Lithuanians have an inborn sense of public spirit and patriotism which can be traced back to the defense of the Pilėnai castle and which were strengthened during the postwar struggles for freedom even more. History arranges everything. It has witnessed the restitution of independent Lithuania, gave meaning to its existence, and made the world believe in its subsistence and viability. History demonstrated the creative power of Lithuanian people and solidarity between the state authorities and the civilized world when dealing with problems occurring not only in Lithuania but also in other countries. Today Lithuania is an active member of the EU and NATO and has just successfully ended the presidency of one of the most significant organs of the UN the Economic and Social Council. Lithuania is the initiator of many projects of regional cooperation and its voice is heard by the international community. In three years Lithuania will be presiding over the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and in 2013 it will share the presidency of the European Union with Greece and Ireland.
The year 2008 is the final step in the preparations for the millennium anniversary of the reference to the name of Lithuania. The anniversary that we mark next year will be a special opportunity to present Lithuania and its capital city to the world since Vilnius will be the European Capital of Culture in 2009. This will give us a chance to remind the world of the significance of Lithuania and Vilnius in the development of the European civilization.
Despite these truly important achievements, we are still unable to break away from the grip of the former occupation. 18 years after the restoration of independence we are still energetically dependent on our big neighbour. Our main task today is to ensure energy security of Lithuania after the closure of the 2nd unit of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.
I believe that EU Member States will recognize our problem. I hope that this time too solidarity, which is underlined in the new Lisbon Treaty, will triumph and new power bridges will finally unite the Baltic States with the rest of the European Union while Lithuania will remain a nuclear energy state.
Freedom of expression and movement, opportunities of independent business and farming, unrestricted initiative of creation, free media, autonomy, and independent judiciary are but several major principles of an active democracy.
We have created all legal conditions for these principles to manifest. But do we have a genuine autonomy of the local government; will the rule of law serve all the people? Obviously, we have not yet managed to fully implement democratic principles, as well as the culture of active and responsible citizens, neither have we ensured the quality of democratic rule nor social trust in it. Nevertheless, today the civic will determines the reality of Lithuania. The future of our state may reflect our vision of a secure state, a fair state, a beautiful state, and a sate that we enjoy and want to live in. The right to determine the future of our state is the achievement that every citizen can and must benefit from.
We are celebrating the 18th anniversary of the restored Lithuania. It is very symbolic that people who were born after 11 March 1990 will for the first time participate in the forthcoming parliamentary elections on 12 October this year. They are truly free citizens who have not experienced occupation. They amount to over 33 thousand. Lithuania itself may be considered as a major person of the age of 18, who has a perspective in life, rights and duties, and a wide space for social, economic, and cultural activity.
We are celebrating the 18th anniversary of the restored state and the 18th anniversary of our young generation that we count upon very much. Let us admit that after the restoration of independence we spoke about young people unaffected by the old era and we had great expectations for them: freedom of thought, unrestricted creativity, and civic initiative. When I see a bolder generation that has its own view and is able to defend it, I believe that being fostered by new democratic values this generation will answer our hopes. However, today our young generation can also see a different side of life: corruption, desperate struggle for interest, pursue of personal and group benefit at the expense of the society and the state, avoiding responsibility, and impunity. Generally, it is our past that is held responsible for this.
But what does it mean? We are the biggest heritage of the past. It is our generation that in 18 years has failed to adopt and establish the values of an independent democratic state. We are the only ones responsible for the state we create for our descendants.
For the future of our state we need rather little: we must eradicate falsehood and indifference induced by fear. We must sacrifice a tiny part, an immoral side of our personality. Since others have already sacrificed their lives. Let us put all efforts to suppress endless ambitions and to find a consensus. A fragmented society is doomed to failure. Only with a common goal and joint effort can we create a state we all strive for and want to live in.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today together with the day of the restoration of independence we mark the 90th birthday of General Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, a famous Partisan Commander, Defence Forces Commander of the Movement of the Struggle for Freedom of Lithuania.
He believed in the future of an independent Lithuania. He defended his homeland; he struggled for the bright future that we now live in. Adolfas Ramanauskas comrades, freedom fighters, freedom defenders of 13 January, and victims of the Medininkai massacre are all recorded in the history of Lithuania of the 20th century. They have been permanently included into the lists of those who fought for independence.
The independence of 11 March is a monument of an unshattered hope for freedom. A struggle for freedom that lasted half a century was marked by great and painful loss but there was not even a tiny little doubt about its meaningfulness. Let honest deeds, civic spirit, and devotion to the state be with all Lithuanian people now and forever.
Dear friends, I congratulate you on the day of the restoration of the independent state.