Ladies and Gentlemen,
Eighty years ago, Lithuania received a priceless gift. Benjamin Sumner Welles, the United States’ acting Secretary of State, declared that his country would not recognize the forced and illegal incorporation of the three Baltic States into the Soviet Union.
On behalf of the free people of America, a clear value-based message was sent around the world. The Sumner Welles Declaration launched the policy of non-recognition of Lithuania’s occupation and annexation. It enabled the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington and the Lithuanian Consulates in New York and Chicago to continue their work.
The spirit of the Declaration, which we are celebrating today, was with Lithuania for many decades like a guardian angel on the long road towards the reestablishment of national statehood and independence, strengthening our resolve to continue freedom fights and giving meaning to the pain of lives sacrificed and the memory of truth.
Unfortunately, the rules- and principles-based international order is being brutally violated again. It is unbelievable that there still exists the audacity to use military aggression and attack the sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent neighbors in twenty-first century Europe.
Today Ukraine and Georgia have to pay the anguishing price of lost lives for the path of their own free choice. Today fierce battles are fought on the field of historical truth. Attempts are made to replace the true history of the Baltic States with historical surrogates created in distorting mirror laboratories. Maybe somebody will start having doubts, maybe somebody will waver or become indifferent?
We will not allow it! Because it is our history: glorious and painful, but always enlightening!
Lithuania has never had a comfortable, peaceful and predictable neighborhood. This, however, did not prevent us from taking back the right to freely choose our path which is not imposed by anybody.
We chose western values and returned to the family of democratic nations to which we had always belonged. We developed a vision of free, united and peaceful Europe and joined NATO and the European Union. Today we can say with confidence that that we have never been so secure.
Regrettably, our remarkable and significant achievements are not to the liking of everybody. Quite the reverse: there are attempts to once again instill confusion and fear.
Having joined the two-percent club, Lithuania must keep up the pace and take care of own security so that together we can work towards the public good and general welfare.
It is not enough though. The unity and security of today’s Europe directly depends on the strength of the transatlantic bond. Without the United States’ active engagement, Europe will not be united or secure. Without a strong transatlantic bond, Lithuania will not feel totally confident about its security – and even existence.
We will continue our efforts to keep the United States focused on the security of Lithuania and its troops deployed to our country. For us, it is the decisive deterring factor.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It was quite recently – in March – that we marked the 30 anniversary of Lithuania’s re-established independence. Our people felt proud and elated to celebrate what we have created: a democratic nation of economic and social progress.
Our success is based on the sound foundation of strong security and collective defense guarantees. Eighty years ago we received help because we stood up for what is right in the face of injustice. We will not allow historical injustice to happen again – and we will do it together!
May the memory of this historic day never fade away and may Lithuania and the United States be always linked by special bond!
God bless Lithuania and the United States of America!
Last updated 2020.07.24 08:59Back