President of the Republic of Lithuania

World War I lessons for preserving peace


Thursday, June 26, Ypres (Belgium) - President Dalia Grybauskaitė attended a memorial ceremony at Ypres to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It was in Ypres, located at the center of WWI battlefields, that a chemical weapon - mustard gas - was used for the first time, causing the death of millions of people.

In a minute of silence at the Menin Gate, the President honored the memory of those who perished during World War I. Later, she took part in the inauguration of a peace bench, laying a symbolic ceramic flower together with other EU leaders.

Today, in the context of the current developments in Ukraine, the President said, we have come to truly appreciate the value of peace and security.

"The wars that devastated Europe and took millions of lives are a painful testimony that peace is very fragile and that it needs continuous work and care. For more than fifty years, the European Union has been building peace and prosperity, a secure, stable and happy life for its people. Today we have a duty to make sure that the tragic lessons of the past are never repeated again and that the sovereign right of states to determine their future by their own free will is not undermined," the President said.

With the number of victims equaling that in Hiroshima, Ypres stands as an enduring symbol of World War I.

Following the memorial ceremony in Ypres, the President will attend an informal dinner of the EU heads of state and government where leaders will exchange views on candidates for the position of President of the European Commission and set the priorities for the Commission for the next five years.

After the election of a new European Parliament in May, a new European Commission will also be appointed.

Dalia Grybauskaitė stressed that that the new Commission would have the important task of continuing the strategic work in advancing the general welfare of the European public. It was necessary to further strengthen the EU's financial stability, increase its competitiveness and boost employment.

According to the President, energy dependency on monopolistic suppliers makes energy consumers pay excessive prices and creates the risk of supply disruption at any time. Therefore, energy security, alternative energy sources and diversification are a top priority issue. It is also necessary to complete the EU's internal energy market, implement strategic interconnection projects, eliminate the energy isolation of specific regions in the EU, and ensure the energy market's effective functioning.

With respect to external policy, President Dalia Grybauskaitė emphasized that is was important to further develop the Eastern Partnership programme and to conclude free trade agreements with the EU's global partners, including the future biggest trade deal in the world with the United States of America.

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2014.06.26 13:55