Speech by His Majesty King William-Alexander at the state dinner in Vilnius hosted by President Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania
Thank you for your heartfelt words.
It is good to be back in Lithuania, after my wife and I first visited your country in 2002. Sixteen years have now passed, nine of which under your presidency.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with this beautiful country. A country that evokes such fond memories.
It means a great deal to be here with you at this particular time, when Lithuania is celebrating the centennial of the restoration of its independence.
Your long history is full of contrasts. It featured long and bitter years of arbitrary rule, oppression and fear, which claimed the lives of many innocent victims. Tomorrow you will commemorate this.
But your country has also experienced periods of proud independence and cultural growth. Throughout this country, you can see the fine buildings that bear witness to this.
It‘s wonderful that Lithuania is now once again enjoying freedom, growth and prosperity.
It’s impressive how Lithuania has taken control of its destiny since the Singing Revolution of the late 1980s. As a member of the European Union it has shown that it is made of the right stuff. It did not recoil from major reforms and it firmly believes that it is the responsibility and duty of all member states to stick to the agreements they make.
At the same time, you show solidarity with the Union as a whole, including on difficult issues like the reception of asylum seekers.
You, Madam President, were the very first Lithuanian Euro Commissioner, and for five years you made an important contribution to the stability of Europe. In your current role you have other responsibilities, of course, but European stability is still an issue close to your heart.
In the Netherlands, there are now almost three generations who have no personal memory of foreign occupation.
In your country, those memories are still fresh, even among people in their thirties.
Freedom cannot exist unless we are willing to defend it. As NATO allies we are jointly showing the world that we are willing.
The day after tomorrow we will visit Rukla, where almost 300 Dutch soldiers are taking part in the Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup. Our involvement underlines our commitment to peace and security for the people of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and the Netherlands.
Your security is our security. Your freedom is our freedom. Your future is our future!
In a world of increasing tensions and uncertainty, it’s crucial that democratic countries stick together.
Madam President, working together to promote peace and security is a cornerstone of our existence as free countries. But much more is needed to secure our future. One of the biggest challenges facing Lithuania and the Netherlands involves energy. It is absolutely crucial that we make our energy systems more sustainable.
In the Netherlands we’ve made a start on this transformation, which will have profound consequences for businesses and citizens alike. In your country, too, this is a key issue.
The day after tomorrow parties from both our countries will meet at the Vilnius Tech Park to discuss the scope for closer cooperation. I’m confident that this meeting will be fruitful.
Something that will certainly deepen our cooperation is Lithuania’s impending membership of the OECD.
We’re delighted that we’ll soon be able to welcome you to this partnership.
‘Fall down seven times, get up eight.’
As an experienced karateka – indeed, as a black belt – you must know this expression, Madam President. It’s an encouragement never to give up, to always believe in your own strength and to continue looking for new opportunities.
Like other countries, Lithuania has some dark pages in its history. It takes courage to face up to our pasts.
You, Madam President, have already clearly expressed how the Lithuanian people seek to engage with the world: as open, tolerant defenders of human values.
Your country has shown Europe and the world that it has the power to rise again after times of trial. And whoever possesses that power can face the future with confidence.
May I now ask you to raise your glasses.
To your health, Madam President.
To our ally, Lithuania.
And to the friendship between our peoples!