President of the Republic of Lithuania President of the Republic of Lithuania

Speech by Prezident Gitanas Nausėda at the commemoration of the 610th anniversary of the Battle of Žalgiris (Grunwald)

2020-07-15

Your Excellency, Mr. President of Poland,

Distinguished Prime Ministers,

Dear Guests,

We have gathered today at the historic site of the Battle of Žalgiris (Grunwald). It was here 610 years ago that Lithuania and Poland joined forces and defeated their common enemy, the Teutonic Knights. It was one of the largest military encounters in medieval Europe and a landmark victory in the history of our nations.

We usually speak about learning or ignoring lessons when we have to deal with defeat. What kind of lesson did this great victory teach us in terms of its meaning and significance from today’s perspective?

I believe that it is very important and still topical: the creation of statehood and the protection of own identity, independence and values has always been and continues to be our daily battle.

I am not sure if the Battle of Grunwald could have been a starting point for the search of peaceful coexistence solution in our region. Possibly so.

In any case, it continues to be a recurring reminder that history cannot be allowed to repeat itself. We must find peaceful solutions to all problems and disputes. However, of course, we have to be ready to counteract emerging threats, including conventional ones.

Even if the international order based on rules and principles is violated and disrespected today.

We must defend it because it represents the political identity, essence and foundation of the West. It is at the core of alliances and unions – NATO and the European Union – that guarantee our security and well-being.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has so happened historically that we do not have the luxury of living in a completely relaxed and predictable neighborhood of goodwill. Today’s regional and global tendencies suggest that we will never be able to enjoy this kind of neighborhood. As we stand on the battlefield of Grunwald and look back in historical perspective, we realize that we have never had it to begin with.

Therefore, we have to understand that security will continue to cost us. For Lithuania and Poland, investment in defense is not a mere whim, but an existential necessity. Having joined the two-percent club, Lithuania must keep its membership and continue to allocate not less than two percent of GDP for defense spending.

It is my personal commitment as president. And a binding obligation stemming from the painful lessons of our history.

We have come a long way, but the vision has not yet been achieved. Who could have thought that it would be possible to use military aggression in 21st century Europe against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent states. Unfortunately, that is a reality.

Today, Ukraine and Georgia are paying the price of human lives for their aspirations and the path of free choice. Our assistance to these countries is needed more than ever before.

Today history is being criminally transformed into a tool of political revanchism, revisionism and manipulation targeted against both Poland and Lithuania. We will never accept it – this has cost us too dearly. It is yet another fierce battle that we, together with Poland, will have to fight in order to protect our historical Truth.

However disappointing the developments may seem to be, we must continue as staunch and untiring advocates of a strong and irreplaceable transatlantic bond. It is our security guarantee. It may also be a condition for our survival.

We need to make an all-out effort to keep the United States focused on the security of Poland and Lithuania. The presence of American troops in Europe is the essential condition of peace and security across the continent. It is also the most effective deterring factor.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our two countries have lived through much. There are still many scars and open wounds on the body of our common history. I wish one thing only: may our shared experience – both pleasing and painful – serve as a binding source of our strength and wisdom that we will be proud of six hundred years on from now.

I would like to end by yet another personal observation. If our bilateral relationship continues to be as dynamic as it is and if we continue to have so many excellent meetings in Lithuania and in Poland, I will need no translation soon.

Thank you.

Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Last updated 2020.07.16 09:13

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