President of the Republic of Lithuania

Inaugural Address by President Gitanas Nausėda at the Seimas

2019-07-12

Dear People of Lithuania! Your Excellencies, President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Valdas Adamkus, Vytautas Landsbergis! Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Members of the Seimas! Dear Guests!

Today, as I accept the mandate extended to me by the Lithuanian people, I would first of all like to express gratitude to the leaders of Lithuania who guided the nation – with wisdom and integrity – in years of difficulty and challenge.

With our strength rooted in national history and its heroes – from King Mindaugas to the Signatories of the Act of Independence, from the first Lithuanian army volunteers to partisans, from deportees to Soviet dissidents – we created Lithuania from the very foundations. A state that is now member of the family of European Union nations and a committed NATO partner.

We have built a nation that today enjoys one of the most successful and economically advanced times in its history.

But why, then, do many of us have this feeling that we have left something behind as we go forward? Why is it that statistics and personal well-being are moving separately? How is that while discussing a two-speed Europe, we failed to notice that we created a two-speed Lithuania?

The Presidential Oath that I have delivered is not just a mere text of words written down in legal acts – it is my personal pledge to the Nation and Homeland.

I pledged to protect the integrity of the territories of Lithuania.

But Lithuania today is much more than a beautiful piece of land by the Baltic Sea. Lithuania is its people first and foremost. Here in Vilnius, in my native Klaipėda, in Skuodas and Peterborough, in Kaunas and Bergen, in Rietavas and Alikante.

There can never be two, three or five Lithuanias. Lithuania is one and it belongs to all of us.

There are no mainland Lithuanians and foreign Lithuanians. We are one nation, all of us.

Lithuania’s territorial integrity is inseparable from its social unity. Only united we will stand strong. Only through joint efforts and streamlined action we will be a nation that is doing well and a country where people feel good.

Division, anger, continual standoffs, conflicts cost precious time, which we could and should use to create and strengthen Lithuania, and they undermine confidence in the state. Unrestrained competition divides us into hostile camps, leading to a dead-end where no agreement can be made on national strategic goals or measures to implement them.

The President – the only leader elected in a direct national election – has the duty to create a constructive environment conducive to rational collaboration between political forces and to balanced effective work in the interest of the nation.

We – Lithuania – have demonstrated many times that we forget our divisions to stand united in decisive historical moments. Like it was during the revival movement Sąjūdis, on January 13 of 1991, in 2003 when we voted for joining the European Union, and when we reached national agreement on Lithuania’s defense policy.

Now we must once again come together because the decisions of today will shape national development for the next 30 years.

National agreements on education, the elimination of social exclusion, advanced regional policies, positive attitude to and sufficient funding for culture are those areas where I will take personal responsibility to bring all political forces, non-governmental organizations, civic movements, honest, professional and dedicated people together for a common goal.

I pledged to be equally just to all.

It means that I will be an active president. I will responsibly use the powers afforded to me by the Constitution and the support given to me by the people.

The hopes and expectations voiced during the presidential election show that the President’s institution has the highest level of public trust. The President is a representative of the people with a direct mandate from the Nation. Therefore, I see my duties as a strong personal commitment to protect and represent the interests of all citizens.

Low sense of fairness is among the main reasons, along with economic factors, why the Lithuanian people make the difficult decision to leave their country.

The President must ensure that the rule of law applies to everyone, that the law enforcement is protected from political influences, that justice is administered by professional people of high integrity, and that public servants bear personal responsibility for their actions.

I believe that all of this can be done if we take an open principled stand. And I will work to expand the opportunities for the whole of civil society to be directly engaged in dealing with key national issues.

Today I pledged to serve the Homeland, democracy and the well-being of the people of Lithuania.

Well-being is not just a mere illusion or a nice sounding word. It is the right that belongs to each of us, and it is a duty to all of us as a nation.

We need to understand: there will be no national well-being if we are concerned only about our personal selves, if social exclusion grows and if people feel alien in their own country.

The idea of a Nation of Well-being includes five basic factors:

Fist. To reduce income inequality. Today the income gap between 20 percent of the wealthiest and 20 percent of the least well off is above sevenfold. In the European Union, this indicator stands at five, and Lithuania needs to reduce it in the next five years.

Second, to increase budgetary tax revenues from 30 percent to 35 percent of the GDP. It would add two billion euros to allocations for social protection, health care, culture, public services, and wages.

Third, to reduce regional exclusion.

Forth, to use effectively EU funds.

Fifth, looking prospectively, I believe the key factor is higher quality of education. We must finally complete the never-ending education reforms, reach national agreement on changes in education, which will not be reviewed by the next government. And we must invest money and time in the education of our children because it is the most meaningful asset ever.

These indicators defining Lithuania of Well-being will be my criteria for evaluating the joint work of the Government and all political forces. Therefore, when I appoint Cabinet ministers, when I sign and promulgate laws, when I voice criticism or express approval, I will do it based on how much the institutions and their officials work for the benefit of the people.

Today I pledged to strengthen, to the best of my ability, the independence of Lithuania.

We should always remember: Freedom and independence are not gifts – we have to fight for them and defend them.

Lithuania has never been a country of many soldiers or weapons. All of our great national victories were achieved by resolve, sacrifice and wise policies that enabled us to have committed allies by our side.

In its foreign policy, therefore, the Republic of Lithuania will stand as a reliable partner with a strong backbone of values based on universally recognized international legal principles.

Our strategic course must continue to be clear and consistent: increasingly stronger Euroatlantic integration, close relations with the European Union and the United States of America.

We must develop and expand bilateral relations with the neighboring countries – Poland, Latvia and Estonia – as we work together towards energy independence and protect our interests in the European Union and NATO.

We must strengthen security by keeping to our defense spending commitments, increasing regular armed forces, building up the active military reserve and the number of citizens ready to protect Lithuania.

Dear Fellow People,

The oath that I swore today to the Nation and Homeland is written down in the Law on the President of the Republic of Lithuania, but each of us can say its words.

To be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, to protect it, to strengthen independence, to serve the Homeland, democracy and the well-being of the people – it is a solemn pledge that every son and daughter of Lithuania makes.

Let us deliver it together.

In the name of that Lithuania!

So help us God.

Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Last updated 2019.07.12 11:58

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