Updated: 20-Apr-2005 NATO Speeches

City Hall,

20 April 2005

Welcome Address

by Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antanas Valionis
to Participants and Guests
of the Informal NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting

20/04/2005 - Vilnius
Informal meeting of Foreign Ministers

Welcome to Vilnius! We are delighted to have you here, in the very heart of the city - the Old Vilnius Townhall.

Vilnius has always been famous as the city of tolerance and dialogue, a place where great ideas are born and evolve. Eight years ago eleven leaders of the states of the region gathered in Vilnius to proclaim the good neighbourhood as the main principle of mutual relations.

Five years ago this City Hall saw the signing of a declaration that was to become the basis for the Vilnius Ten initiative. Today the idea of solidarity has spread widely in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, pursuing freedom and democracy.

This NATO meeting in Vilnius has a special role. After successful enlargement of the Alliance we have a great opportunity to discuss NATO’s role in rapidly changed world and the guidelines of relations with our closest neighbours.

I believe that the idea of openness will become the key note of this meeting. We can firmly declare to the people of Eastern Europe searching for their road to freedom, that the doors of NATO remain open, and the willingness of the Alliance to cooperate is stronger than ever.

Only when we are free, we can make right and significant decisions. Only having chosen democracy, we can walk the road towards integration. Only when we are safe, we can responsibly create a better future. These inestimable values provide self-reliance and determination to solve together the most complex problems of today’s world.

Let us foster these values, which are the basis of our Alliance. Let us enlarge the area of freedom and democracy, and let us help all people of goodwill, striving to join the family of democratic states.

I wish everybody creative work, new ideas and lasting impressions!

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