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  Address at Commemoration of the 20-th Anniversary of the Restored Lithuania’s Independence, European Parliament, Brussels, 17 March 2010

Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, Member of the European Parliament
2010 03 11

Address at Commemoration of the 20-th Anniversary of the Restored Lithuania’s
Independence, European Parliament, Brussels, 17 March 2010

Excellencies Presidents and ambassadors,

Esteemed guests, dear colleagues parliamentarians,

Mesdames et Monsieur's,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Twenty years ago my country Lithuania made a decisive step on her way of peaceful self liberation from the long-lasting Soviet captivity. The reformist movement for democracy and independence, Sajudis of Lithuania, established then less than two years ago, led this political and moral struggle to get a genuine, democratically elected representation of the Lithuanian people – an European-type Parliament authorised by people's true mandate to state about our future no longer being defined by any criminal "Pact". You see, our first and founding task, worth to underline here, was true and powerful parliamentarism.

We got support of great masses of pro-independence people of Lithuania; we had competitive, free and fair elections to the new Lithuanian Parliament; we won an overwhelming election victory. The Parliament emerged as the highest national authority with ability to state and proclaim something miraculous – Lituania Restituta, despite being still occupied by the Soviet military force majeur and without consent of the occupier.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, denied our right for national freedom, as his team plotted various threats and traps, – thanks God, not tanks yet until 1991; therefore we had a little time to act and no other choice but to become enfant terrible and step forward challenging the fading evil empire. In some sense, we had to challenge the West, as well.

So, the day of 11 March 1990 came. Our lawful, full-pledged Parliament adopted a set of Constitutional acts: on regaining people's rights and beginning implementation of our indigenous sovereign powers until full-scale governance on our borders, etc., is achieved; on legal continuity of the Lithuanian state destroyed by the foreign force in 1940, but applying now for its just place in the family of free nations again. That was also the content of the first letter of the free Lithuania to the world nations, and the second one that followed – a friendly extended hand towards the neighbouring country USSR and its president, His Excellency Mr. Gorbachev. The first response from the latter was: Never! Responses of support came from the Governments and Parliaments of the US, France, Canada, Iceland, Poland, Czechoslovakia (Vaclav Havel)... Quotations and recitation of the following events, to remind them, would take some time.

Twenty years have passed. Recently we celebrated in Lithuania, especially in Vilnius, that historical resurrection paid for by sufferings and blood, and enjoyed the presence of six visiting state presidents along with other celebrities. Remarkable congratulations were sent to us by President Barrack Obama of the US, and even earlier – by Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia. When ten years ago, on the occasion of our 10th anniversary, the United States praised Lithuania for her determination and congratulated "the reestablishment of its independence" ten years ago and "the leading role it played in the disintegration of the former Soviet Union", it could then sound even dreadfully. At about the same time, year 2000, as you know, disintegration of the USSR was treated by someone as world's greatest tragedy; therefore the recent letter of congratulations sent by President of Russia brought us a message that Lithuania is forgiven.

Some general points recalled now from that 20 years’ distance in the form of semi-political maximas, could be worth reminding. The fearful and frozen mind is not better than the creative and open one. The stability in acceptance of and appeasement with old and new crimes is not better than a "destabilizing" search for truth and justice. The face of the Earth has to be renewed, similarly to the sentence in the Holy Bible. Then, 20 years ago, something European happened in Lithuania, and it was our contribution to initiate the renovation of a great area around.

Thank you for your friendly attention, but that is not all yet.

What is that strange country, Lithuania? Her visiting card is song. Our revolution was a singing one, similar to those in Latvia and Estonia.

There are songs – among many others – which appear to be able to bring a message of beauty and might from prehistoric times. The chamber choir "Aidija" will present to you those distant echoes diluted to create a new powerful quality in the music of contemporary Lithuanian composers. I dear turn your attention at least to the beginning of the program and to its end. First you will listen to the unique ancient folk polyphony in an arrangement of several Lithuanian composers of various generations but all inspired by that cultural fundamentalism. The last on the program is a remarkable oratory by Bronius Kutavièius "From the Yatvingian stone", where simple field stones are used to build a sophisticated polyrhythmic orchestra.

Yatvingians or Sudavians, to note, were one of the old pre-Christian Baltic nations which started disappearing under the attacks of Western and Eastern European neighbourhood about 1000 years ago, when the very name Lithuania was first time written in Germany. Of course, the country's name should be known then pretty before, and songs sung on Baltic coast since the Stone Age.

I wish you beautiful impressions.

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