President of the Republic of Lithuania

Mankind must learn lessons from World War I

2018-11-11

Sunday, November 11, Paris – At the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, President Dalia Grybauskaitė along with 60 other world leaders and heads of global organizations attended the end of World War I centennial commemoration.

The ceremony was held at the Arc de Triomphe, which 100 years ago saw the victorious march of the French troops after they defeated the German army on the Marne, on November 11 at 11 hours – the exact time that the Armistice of Compiègne between the Allies and Germany came into effect.

According to the President, the end of World War I – one of the deadliest military conflicts in European and world history – stepped up the development of modern societies, democratic values and the global international system. It brought about the fall of empires, spread freedom ideals and opened the door for European nations to self-determination. Lithuania restored its independence and many new states were created on the Old Continent.

The end of WWI saw changes that promoted gender equality. It encouraged women to fight for voting rights. New social layers emerged, the concept of a national welfare was introduced and the role of the state grew stronger. Solidarity was evoked by helping others, especially the vulnerable members of society.

According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, mankind must learn lessons from World War I. Today – like in those days – the same parallels can be seen: geopolitical ambitions are set against international law, attempts are made to bring the global multilateral system down, agreements that are important for global peace and well-being are being abandoned, radicalism, ultranationalism and chauvinism are growing stronger. Chemical weapons, now banned by international treaties, were first used in WWI. They are once again cynically used against civilians in Syria and even on European territories in time of peace.

World War I demonstrated very clearly the end result of imperialist ambitions, geopolitical cynicism and nihilism. If we want to prevent the repeat of painful history, we need to preserve the world’s strong and transparent multilateral system. A system that is effective and responsive to the challenges of today. But most importantly, we must respect international law.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė deposited several books by Oscar Milosz and Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė to be included in the Library of Peace, established at the initiative of France for the commemorative occasion. The donated books reflect on the importance of European unity and peace, and condemn war.

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2018.11.12 08:31

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