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Published: 11 june 2013 12:32

Lithuanian President delivers her fourth State of the Nation Address

Dalia Grybauskaitė Seime perskaitė metinį pranešimą
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Dalia Grybauskaitė delivers her annual address at the Lithuanian Parliament

After a sea of challenges, Lithuania is once again led by success, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė says in her State of the Nation Address on Tuesday.

The president has underlined that the nation's decision 25 years ago to build a state themselves after the Reform Movement, Sąjūdis, was established now allows people of Lithuania to enjoy freedom and what they have managed to achieve following Lithuania's independence.

"A quarter of a century is marked with events showing that we are capable of dealing with challenges we face. We are becoming increasingly independent and responsible for our Homeland. Lithuania has changed and strengthened considerably. People already feel what it is like to live the other way, to be Europeans, to make decisions themselves. Realizing the responsibility for our own land, we are pulling together and changing Lithuania beyond recognition," the president said.

"Following a sea of challenges, we are led by success again. This year, Lithuania's name has been among the best in Europe in the fields of economy, sport, innovations, investments, etc. Europe and the world has appreciated efforts of our people," Grybauskaitė said.

In her words, "a small Lithuania is becoming a country of extraordinary capabilities."

"The last year was marked by golden moments. Children of our independence stepped on the highest podiums to secure Lithuania's name on the global sports, scientific, and technological maps. We were glad for them and ourselves. We presented Lithuanian to the world and found more of it in ourselves. Success led us in the areas where we took on responsibility without doubts and took decisive action realizing that no one else can do that but us," Grybauskaitė said.

A generation of talented and civic creators has grown in all areas, the president said.

"We have economists of great insight, responsible businessmen and politicians. Innovative scientists and farmers, civic journalists and teachers. We definitely have people to build a transparent, safe, and modern state," the Lithuanian president said.

In her State of the Nation Address, the president also called on all people to become masters of their state. She has also drawn attention to the fact that geopolitical processes are considerably changing the world.

"Attempts to trivialize, stop, confuse, bribe us, to make us more dependent and make decision for us will not stop. Due to our geographical position and size, we have always been and still are in the interest zone between the East and West, therefore, we need to constantly fight for the opportunity to build our state ourselves. Every generations faces their own challenges," Grybauskaitė said.

She called on people not to succumb to influences, not to sell out, to remain free, find necessary decisions in critical situations, to fight back and defend interests of our state.

"We have to be strong inside to be able to withstand external threats which are getting more and more modern. Choices made by everyone of us can be fatal," Grybauskaitė said.

Let's not waste time

A lack of political will and wasting time in working groups might be fatal for the state, Grybauskaitė says, throwing a stone at the country's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius who is notorious for his prolonged deliberations.

"People of Lithuania can do a lot. But the government's limited abilities are becoming a brake on our progress. Burning issues need swift decisions. A lack of political will, a complicated decision-making mechanism, inability to respond swiftly, wasting time in working groups might be detrimental to and even fatal for the state," Grybauskaitė said.

The president called on the government "to start working."

"The incumbent government was sworn in 6 months ago already. Following lengthy preparations, it is high time to start working. As only consistent actions can make growth estimates into real benefit for every person in Lithuania. If we want to live better, we should work more and faster," Grybauskaitė said.

According to the head of state, in today's world, winners are those who are faster and smarter, and not bigger. "To be far-sighted and pushing is our only chance," she said.

Better energy situation in two years

Lithuania, which keeps dithering over its energy strategy under influence from various forces, will be able to breathe more freely in two years' time when it has a power link with Sweden and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Klaipėda, according to the president.

"We have to hold out for at least two more years. We will be able to breathe more freely when the power links with Sweden are completed in 2015 and when the LNG terminal starts operating in Klaipėda," she said in her annual State of the Nation address to the parliament.

Grybauskaitė has said that energy is the most dangerous geopolitical instrument used in undermining the country's economic, social and even political independence.

"As we continue to be undecided and disagree about the national energy strategy - already our seventh - secret visits by Rosatom, undisclosed Gazprom memorandums and documentaries by pseudo-greens are making decisions for us," the president said.

"No efforts are spared to prevent us from becoming energy self-dependent. Influence is exerted directly through official persons, interested business people, the media, and intermediaries. Someone else's experts are deciding for us which of the nuclear power plants is the best for Lithuania: Visaginas, Kaliningrad, or Astravyets. Or who should sell us gas and explore our underground natural resources," she said.

Grybauskaitė said that the country still lacks independent competent energy specialists.

"Because of uncertainty in the energy field, bigger energy-intensive foreign investments circumvent Lithuania. Indecisiveness and delayed decisions may cost us international trust. Stuck in the calculation of economic costs and prices, politicians risk to deviate from the road of energy security to a nationally disastrous path of one-day profits. It means that energy self-dependence and freedom can become an object of exchange," she said.

Language - hostage to political agreements

Lithuanian language becoming hostage to political agreements – president

The Lithuanian language is becoming a hostage to political agreements of the ruling coalition, President Grybauskaitė believes.

"The Lithuanian language is becoming a hostage to political agreements of the ruling coalition. The controversial Lithuanian-language exam is growing into other demands splitting the country. And in the meantime, Lithuanian schools are being closed outside Lithuania's borders," the head of state said.

"It should be explained very clearly to people in the country what the price of all this might be," the president said.

In response to demands by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, a member of the ruling coalition, Minister of Education of Science Dainius Pavalkis, representing the Labor Party, signed a decree facilitating the state Lithuanian language exam for ethnic minority school graduates. They can write a shorter essay and make more grammar mistakes.

Challenge of getting accurate information

State institutions spend around 60-70 million litas (around EUR 17-20 million) each year for publicizing their activities. However, today it has become a real challenge to receive objective and comprehensible information, President Grybauskaitė says.

"Each year state institutions spend around 60-70 million litas for publicizing their activities. However, today it has become a real challenge to receive objective and comprehensible information. A lack of credible facts, lots of misleading articles, news distorted by interest groups are depriving our people of the right to choose and make their own decisions. Even a national referendum is reduced to farce," Grybauskaitė said.

The attitude to the quality of information and information security must change, she stressed.

"People cannot feel safe without knowing what is happening in the state, what decisions are made and why this is done. It is only when we understand the real motives, their meaning and consequences that we can take decisions which are the best for Lithuania - not imposed by others," the Lithuanian president said.

In her words, after 130 years, the Lithuanian media again has to embark on the mission set in motion by Jonas Basanavičius and Aušrininkai, while teachers have to deal with problems faced by Meilė Lukšienė and her generation of educators - to bring up civil-minded and independent-thinking individuals who respect their language, culture, and national history.

"It is easier to manipulate a misguided and divided nation because it does not notice the silent threats," the president said.

According to Grybauskaitė, any projects that belittle Lithuania and change its national mentality are surfacing in this environment. Teaching programs irrelevant to our needs are quietly finding their way into our state, ethnic discord is stirred up, a feeling of nostalgia for the Soviet times is revived, and our art and theater festivals, sport teams and young talented students are traded.

"Those who are not our friends understand very well the importance of culture and education for making the state stronger, and they spare no effort or money to reach their ends. We, too, must be aware of it. Some concerts silence Lithuanian songs. And where our songs are not heard, there will be less of Lithuania," the president said.

No more untouchables in fight against corruption

There are no more untouchables in fight against corruption. All suspicious transactions are scrutinized, with no exceptions, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė says.

"There are no more untouchables in fight against corruption. All suspicious transactions are scrutinized - with no exceptions: those of mayors, members of parliament, ministries, migration services, organizers of basketball championships, insolvency administrators, land surveyors, judges, bankers, and municipal officials," the president said on Tuesday.

In the president's words, politically backed fraudsters and swindlers, with their eyes set on expensive and vitally important waste management and energy projects, on public procurement and on EU assistance funds, come into the ever sharper focus of law enforcement.

"The web of political corruption in Panevėžeys, with its threads reaching the Seimas, ministries, energy companies, forest and land management has been broken. The municipalities of Alytus, Rokiškis, Radviliškis, and Šiauliai have become more transparent on the corruption map," Grybauskaitė said.

The first 20 criminal cases of illicit enrichment have already reached courts, the president said. 139 more pre-trial investigations are under way. The total value of suspicious assets has been established at more than 150 million litas. Over 2 million litas worth assets have been confiscated by two court decisions - mostly the assets and money of contraband kings.

There is now more transparency in Lithuania and less impunity, but the habit of living at the state's expense is dying hard, the president said.

Cyber attack against Lithuania - manifestation of terrorism

When we speak about secure life, it is not only military security that we have to think about, but also energy, economic, information, social, financial, and especially cyber security. The first open attack against Lithuania's internet space can be a manifestation of terrorism, President Dalia Grybauskaitė says.

"The first open attack against Lithuania's internet space is a serious warning that we need to strengthen our defense capacities. I see this attack as a manifestation of terrorism. Therefore it is we ourselves who must defend the state in all spheres," Grybauskaitė said.

In the president's words, it is not easy to remain a self-reliant state in a world torn by geopolitical interests. It is also important to distinguish "when we are offered a truly brotherly shoulder or friendship based on advantage."

"Many unpredictable things are happening again around Lithuania. Our foreign policy dimensions are also shaped by the geopolitical situation. Therefore, it is not only intelligence services, but also diplomatic radars that must detect signals important to the security of the Lithuanian people," the president said.

Having expressed delight over guarantees provided by Lithuania's EU and NATO membership, Grybauskaitė drew attention to the fact that the interests of big powers can make changes in the anti-missile defense system. The president believes cooperation between the Baltic and Nordic states can help defend people's interests.

On Tuesday, President Gybauskaitė delivered her fourth State of the Nation Address before the Seimas. Pursuant to the Constitution of Lithuania, the country's president is obliged to make State of the Nation Addresses at the Seimas on the situation in Lithuania, the country's domestic and foreign policies.

Grybauskaitė was elected president of Lithuania on May 17, 2009, in the first round of voting and was sworn in on July 12.

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