President Dalia Grybauskaitė

Speech by President Dalia Grybauskaitė at the parliamentary meeting to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Day of the Defenders of Freedom

2016-01-13

Dear freedom defenders, Dear family members of those who lost their lives on the night of January 13, Distinguished members of the Seimas, distinguished guests, Dear people of Lithuania,

Today is a very special day when our thoughts go back twenty five years to the challenging and tragic night of January 13. A night filled with apprehension of losing the independence we had just won back. A night charged with the grandeur of our people.

Today, we express our deep gratitude to all of them.

To those who stood by the parliament or the Television Tower armed only with strong belief, courage and hope. To those who were inside this building, ready to die. And those who were glued to their television and radio sets so as not to miss a single word from Vilnius, and later on from Sitkūnai.

The participants of the January 13 events are connected by a unique and unbreakable bond that forges a link across generations.

Children who were born in 1991 breathed in freedom together with Lithuania and together with Lithuania learned to stand on their feet. Today, they are grown up young men and women walking down the path of life. Their hearts are encoded with resolve and determination to defend Lithuania if such a need arises.

The three thousand volunteers who have enrolled into the Lithuanian army, switching their civilian life to military service, are the best proof of this. Their decision testifies that Lithuania has and has always had faithful and brave sons and daughters.

The same is true for all those who work with love and dedication for the good of Lithuania. For whom the homeland is not an empty word.

We feel a bond of unity with the people of Ukraine whose representatives are among us today. Lithuania, too, felt the strong support of the international community during the fatal days of January 13 – support that we will always remember with deep gratitude. From our own experience, we can assure Ukraine that her fight for the freedom to create an open European state will be crowned with victory. However, great devotion and determination are necessary on this path.

It took Lithuania 25 years to have the January 13 case – the biggest case in our history – finally reach the court. We hoped it would happen much sooner. But the time of justice is approaching. Those who have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes must be brought to justice. It is our commitment to the victims of January 13.

But it is our love of Lithuania, free and independent, and our responsibility for her future that give an everlasting meaning to January 13.

That is my wish for all of us who hold this day dear in our hearts. For those who know the high price of independence and the great, infinite power of national unity.

So let us always stand strong and loyal to Lithuania!

Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Last updated 2016.01.13 10:43

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