Old website version during the term of office of President Rolandas Paksas (2003 02 26-2004 04 06)

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Speech by H. E. Mr. Rolandas Paksas, President of the Republic of Lithuania, at the European Conference


Ladies and Gentlemen,

More than a decade ago, the Copenhagen European Council formulated the criteria for membership of the European Union. This step marked the beginning of a long and complicated process, which culminated yesterday in the signature of the Accession Treaty. During all these years, the European Union Member States were helping us integrate into the European structures. We are genuinely grateful to them. Now it is our duty to further transmit this experience of reform making and European -integration to thosethe countries countries that are willing to forge closer relations with the Union.

It is my firm belief that the New Neighbours Initiative will enhance the boundaries of freedom and democracy, and help us build a strong, secure and prosperous Europe.. This policy of the European Union includes Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

We particularly welcome the orientation of such countries as Ukraine towards the European Union. The prospect possibility of membership of the European Union and the prospect of closer association with the Union should become the instruments helping Ukraine and all the others countries willing that express willingness to enhance relations with the Union to move successfully towards achieving the set goal. We know this from our own experience.

We need to promote people- to- people contacts, as they will facilitate the acceleration of reforms. In individual separate cases, such as that of Belarus, when contacts are not maintained at on the highest level, the human relations can be the only form of co-operation. We support economic co-operation with Belarus, which is an important transit state within the framework of the Union’s relations with Russia.

Lithuania is engaged in active co-operation with the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation under all formats, in the framework of the Northern Dimension includeding, and is stepping up its contacts with the other Russia’sn Northwest regions. We are therefore interested in a successful EU-Russia-EU dialogue and are ready to take an active part in it. I believe that we should treat the Northern Dimension and the New Neighbours Initiative as supplementary elements.

We should not exclude from this expanded dialogue with the new neighbours the countries of the South Caucasus. I believe that we should propose to these states a new vision of their relations with the European Union.
In our opinion, in implementing their economic and structural reforms, the new neighbours of the Union should firstly move closer to the European Union through free trade. Also, they should be closely connected to the enlarged Union via modern road networks and other infrastructure.

In the context of enhanced engagement between the enlarged Union and its Eastern neighbours, we should take joint efforts to strengthen border protection, and to fight illegal migration, trafficking in people and organised crime.

Special attention should be paid to the environmental protection and implementation of joint infrastructure projects.

Let us promote cross-border co-operation and the activities in the Euroregions, let us support business and tourism as well as cultural, scientific and academic contacts between different regions.

These goals could be successfully achieved if we pass on to the neighbouring nations our experience in reform implementation, administrative capacity enhancement and development of relations with the European Union. I believe that the new EU members should have a significant role to play in this area.

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that Lithuania is ready to implement together with its partners the priority goals of the New Neighbours Initiative. I am convinced that all countries will give allocate due attention to this Initiative and will demonstrated common political will.

Thank you for your attention.

Press Service of the President

Maintained by the Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania. Please specify source when quoting.