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EuropeLithuanian Prime Minister‘s speech at the opening of the spring session of...

Lithuanian Prime Minister‘s speech at the opening of the spring session of the Seimas

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LITHUANIA, March 10 – Шановний Посол України в Литві, пане Петре [Бешта],

Брати і сестри українці,

Madam Speaker of the Seimas, dear Viktorija,

dear colleagues, guests, dear people of Lithuania,

Our generation has hoped to never witness an open, full-scale, and brutal war in Europe, believing that the horrors of war are now but history, alive in our grandparents’ accounts, history textbooks, literature, and movies, and that they will stay there for good. s going on before our eyes today, on the doorstep of our homes. Unfortunately, we are having war unfolding right before our eyes, at our doorstep.

We wake up and go to bed with a TV coverage of massive explosions in the residential areas of Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kyiv… With the images of ruined houses and schools on the streets that some of us have walked. And of awfully quiet women, children, and the elderly – sheltering underground, under the rubble of their cities.

Father’s hand glued to the window of the rail car until the last second when the train inevitably moves, taking the children and the beloved woman to the unknown. To a new life unsought, where strangers will have to become their family and friends, and a foreign country – their home. The man stays in his own country to defend it. And to die, if need be, for the future of the Homeland. For the loved ones to return. For the happy and free future of his brother-in-arms’ babies, who first opened their eyes to the darkness of the hide-out instead of the daylight and the face of the father, unknown as yet.

With an afterimage of the departing Ukrainian train in my eyes—will it ever go?—I realize anew—clearer than ever—how happy we are that Lithuania had the courage and resolve to get on board the train of success 32 years ago. The train that took us to the freedom we fought so dearly for. To the security that we now enjoy through our membership of NATO. To the European present—more affluent than ever before. To the future built by ourselves.

Thirty-two years ago, unaware of what was in store for us but realizing the grandeur of the moment, we wiped tears of joy and pride watching on TV the long-hated Soviet hammer-and-sickle funeral wreath go to give way, for good and all, to our cherished tricolour—all this happening in these very premises, which are now the historic Hall of the Act of 11 March.

A year on, we were wiping our tears of pain and hope when accompanying the victims of 13 January to Antakalnio cemetery for eternal rest, where we, and the leaders of the free world now come to bow our heads.

We were proud to have brought down the evil empire standing up to it strong and united, hand in hand.

We had and still have something to be proud of.

Two weeks ago, on 24 February, tears welled up in my eyes again. Even those who did not want to believe in the Kremlin’ insanity to the last minute saw that we had been wrong all the way and that the empire, reborn and driven by the false illusion of its own strength, would seek revenge at all costs.

While the democratic world was lulling itself into a false sense of security after the assumed victory in the Cold War, new dictators grew up in the Kremlin and Minsk. While we cared for our well-being, engaged in trading and in dialogue with pathological liars and negotiated peace with those who want war, Putin and Lukashenko were gradually plunging into a parallel reality and dragging their people along. To a surreal, absurd, and grotesque world where the Soviet Union is not the nightmare of the past but the lost Atlantis. Where tens or—if need be—hundreds of thousands of imaginary enemies, including their own citizens, are once again laid under the tanks and rocket attacks for Pyrrhic victory. For the incomprehensible and inexplicable personal ambition to restore what never had any right to exist.

It seems likely that today, in fact, the real final liberation of the world from the Soviet totalitarianism is taking place. Now, it is Ukraine that has to withstand the agony of the doomed empire. And Ukraine is standing tall, giving a much stronger rebuttal than the Kremlin could have imagined. Or anyone else could have believed, except the Ukrainians themselves.

Ukraine is fighting for us all. But it has not been left on its own. Today, the democratic world is more united than ever before. Our help to Ukraine and response to the Kremlin is stronger than ever.

I am very glad that Lithuania, too, is more united than ever before. The Lithuanian people have reunited and showed their strength. Thousands of them—Lithuanians, Russians, Poles, Belarusians, and Jews—have taken to the streets to support Ukraine, have become volunteers, have donated, and continue to donate tens of millions of euros. Lithuanians of all ethnicities and political views have opened their homes to Ukrainians, have donated food, clothing, and essentials—at times filling squares and warehouses in just half a day. Day by day, continuous convoys of trucks carry to Ukraine the essentials donated by the state, businesses, and the people. This help will be needed for a long time to come—and the good work will continue, no doubts. Reaching the Ukrainians every day up until their victory, and that of us all.

From the bottom of my heart, let me thank each and every Lithuanian man and woman, enterprise, civil servant, and official, who have spared no effort, energy, nor health, who do what they feel they can and should do.

I’d love to thank them, but I don’t think I have that right. For they don’t do it because I or someone else have asked them to. They do so in good faith and consciousness.

This is Lithuania I love. I’m glad I’m part of it— just like everyone, doing what coincidentally is my job today.

Today, at this minute, it is my duty and privilege to stand here and address you, dear colleagues. Today we see the most beautiful Lithuania ever: unified, united, sparing nothing for our loved ones, and defending the freedom of us all.

It is not the Government or the opposition, but all of us, 141, have been elected by this wonderful Lithuania, and we all have received its mandate. Let’s live up to it. Let’s work for and together with it. Let us forget whether we are sitting to the left or to the right of this chamber.

This session of the Seimas is likely to be different from what we have expected. Together, we will have to make many necessary and urgent decisions to help Ukraine and strengthen Lithuania’s security. Decisions that may not have been on any party’s programme. But whose key objective— a free and secure Lithuania— has brought us all to this chamber—the chamber of the Seimas of Lithuania— one or another way.

Today, Ukraine is fighting not only for the future and freedom of its own. It is, in fact, fighting for us all, for the whole democratic world.

Members of the Ukrainian Parliament remain in their country, passing the necessary laws in Parliament and, with arms in their hands, standing shoulder to shoulder with their citizens. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal remains in his country and will not go anywhere. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy remains in his country and will fight together with it and for it to the end. We are safe. Putin’s rockets do not land on our maternity hospitals and babies. Our skies are protected by NATO fighter jets.

Therefore, we, each of us, must not bathe in the glory of the heroes of Ukraine, applauding them from our beautiful bright offices, but get up and go, ride, and fly for them. Every day up until victory, we must be their support and their voice in the capitals of the entire civilized world, in the capital of Europe.

I want to believe that tomorrow, at the European Council, the leaders of the civilized world will do their utmost to ensure that Ukraine does not feel left stranded. To make those we call our friends feel that our friendship is made meaningful by actual deeds. I want to believe that tomorrow the voices of the 27 European leaders will unite into one single choir of Ukraine instead of the mumbling about the long road and homework. And sending a clear message about Ukraine’s membership of the European Union. And I want to believe that Lithuania’s voice will be the loudest in this choir. That the hands of Lithuania will be the hands that will bring the 28th chair to the table of the European Council. So that having defeated Mordor, Ukraine takes that chair.

I believe that the good can prevail over evil. And it will.

I want to believe that when it does, we are able to look in the eye of Ukrainians, of each other and of the people of Lithuania without guilt.

Let’s do everything in our power to make this happen.

Слава Україні!

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