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Formal address of President of the Republic of Lithuania Rolandas Paksas

Pat Cox welcomed President Paksas of Lithuania to the European Parliament. President Cox stated that it was "a happy co-incidence" that President Paksas was addressing the House on the day when the Parliament would be debating the progress made by the candidate countries towards accession. He welcomed the remarkable progress that Lithuania had made towards accession and recalled that at one point Lithuania was not part of the "first-wave" of candidate countries for enlargement. Finally, President Cox welcomed the high turnout and the high "yes" vote in Lithuania's referenda for accession to the EU.

President Paksas pointed out that he was the first President of Lithuania to address the House. He welcomed the support of the European Parliament for Lithuania over recent years. Lithuania, he stated had recently celebrated its 750 anniversary as a nation and in that time it had suffered two occupations, one lasting the whole of the 19th century, the other in the second half of the 20th century. President Paskas welcomed the 90% "yes" vote in the Lithuania referendum on accession to the EU.

The President stated that Lithuania would pay its role as a responsible member of the EU. The goal for accession, he remarked, was to entrench a democratic state. The internal and external security of Lithuania was also a priority of the Lithuanian people and for the Lithuanian government. Making reference to the recent crisis the President stated "that he had learned painful lessons over the last few days" and that it would give him more energy to progress with reform in Lithuania.

The President stated that his country was now entering into a new phase of history and Lithuania's people were its greatest asset. He also stated that Lithuania was a model for the whole Baltic region. The President welcomed the growing inward investment and the growth of the private sector and looked forward completing land reform. The gap between the economies of "old and new" Europe could not be masked by resolutions and this was reflected in the transition periods entrenched into the accession treaties. It was essential to bridge the gap between the old and new Member States and it was a duty for Lithuania to use the money it would receive from the EU to the best advantage of Lithuanians. The President of Parliament also pointed out that Lithuania had accepted "3 of the 4 freedoms of movement" and thanked those Member States that had signed bilateral agreements to open labour markets to Lithuanians in a few months time.

The President stressed the importance of effective telecommunications, transport and energy networks and welcomed progress on the "Via Baltica" (road link between Vilnius and Tallinn) and the Baltica Railway programme. The President did not want to see a growing divergence between the core and periphery in terms of economic and social development.

Lithuania, he said, would assist the EU in obtaining the goals of the Lisbon Strategy. Lithuania, the President recalled, would be responsible for managing one fifth of the Union's external eastern border. He stressed that it would be important for the EU to open up eastwards as long as countries in that region aligned their legislation to that of the EU. Lithuania's greatest achievement in recent years, he said, was good neighbourly relations.

Turning to Russia, President Paksas stated that country had a strategic partnership with Lithuania. On Kaliningrad, the President wanted to stress the social economic development of the enclave and port. The EU, he said, should not forget Ukraine nor the Southern Caucasus and these countries should be offered a vision of European Union Membership.

On the draft constitutional treaty, he stated that a good and acceptable balance had been struck although further precision was necessary. Institutional reform and the spirit of compromise were of paramount importance at the moment, calling for a Europe based on common values, equal rights and opportunities.

On the CFSP, the President called for Europe to act with a single voice as well as stressing the importance of the transatlantic partnership. The EU, in conclusion, should aim towards spreading stability and security wherever possible.

More information: www.europarl.eu.int

THIS PRESS STATEMENT DOES NOT REFLECT THE OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

         

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