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Saturday, 13 January 2007

A special letter from the President of Poland to the Lithuanian Nation

On 13 January 2007, during a solemn session of the Parliament (Seimas) of the Republic of Lithuania to mark the 16th anniversary of the Soviet army intervention in Vilnius in January 1991, the Speaker of Parliament delivered a special letter from the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, to the Lithuanian Nation.

The letter reads as follows:

‘Mr. President, Citizens of the Republic of Lithuania,

Today, we are marking the sixteenth anniversary of the tragic events of 13 January 1991. Soviet military and police forces attempted to violently and forcibly suppress the progress of the Lithuanian People towards independence. In those January days of 1991, the independent Lithuanian state, destroyed as a result of the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact, yet again reaffirmed its love of freedom and independence. Less than a year after the Vilnius massacre, the Soviet Union disintegrated and the system that had enslaved our countries ultimately collapsed.

At that time, the People of Lithuania paid a tribute of blood: both in front of the Supreme Council building and by the Television Tower; 16 years ago they showed the world just how much they treasure freedom. That day, Freedom Defenders’ Day, is deeply engraved in the memory of the Polish People. Perfectly understanding your determination and courage, Poland was particularly deeply moved by the dramatic developments in the streets of Vilnius. Our two states, similarly afflicted by history, do appreciate the taste of freedom, remembering how painful the want of freedom is.

We, the People of Poland, reflect with pride and satisfaction on the fact that among those gathered in the Lithuanian Supreme Council building there were Poles: from Warsaw, Kraków, Toruń and other cities. They included former prominent Solidarity opposition activists, who understood especially well the importance of Polish-Lithuanian solidarity at that dramatic juncture. Many of the Polish participants of the resistance action at the Supreme Council building were later honoured with Lithuanian State decorations.

A few years after Lithuania regained sovereignty, our countries laid down a solid foundation for bilateral cooperation by signing a Treaty on friendly relations and good-neighbourly cooperation on 26 April 1994. The strategic partnership that has linked Poland and Lithuania for years is of crucial importance not only in the bilateral context, but also sets an example of good-neighbourly cooperation for other states in our region and in Europe.

Today, as both our countries are EU and NATO members, we are faced with new challenges and are offered new opportunities arising from the deepening of bilateral cooperation. Both our countries strengthen their energy security through regional cooperation based on the common interest of the Peoples of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Our states cooperate in the spirit of solidarity within the framework of international organisations. Our relations, political as well as economic and social, have reached a level where they can be described as very friendly.

May this anniversary, so very special for the Lithuanian Nation, Motherland Defenders’ Day, be an occasion for the Republic of Poland to offer assurances of solidarity and friendship to the President of the Republic of Lithuania and to all the People of Lithuania. Our common legacy that we are heirs to imposes upon us certain responsibilities. These responsibilities include concern to ensure security and a prosperous, peaceful development for our countries, and a shared concern for the shape of Europe, so as to ensure that it is based on the same values and foundations that have for centuries underlain the histories of our Nations. I deeply believe that we will fulfil these obligations successfully. This is my heartfelt wish for our Two Nations.’

Undersecretary of State at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Krawczyk, attended the anniversary session of the Lithuanian Parliament. On 12-13 January, Minister Krawczyk visited Vilnius, where he participated in political consultations with the Lithuanian side. The subjects under discussion included vital issues in Polish-Lithuanian bilateral relations as well as current international developments, and in particular the present EU agenda.

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