On 11 March 2020, we will mark the 30th anniversary of the Restoration of Independence of Lithuania – the day that opened up unique opportunities for self-expression of Lithuanian society.
30 years ago, on 11 March, the news about the restored independence of Lithuania spread throughout the world. Today we strongly reaffirm that we want to be free always, so that we can express ourselves without restriction. Today and every day we are building our State and we bear responsibility for it.
Having restored the State on 16 February 1918 and having matured during the First Republic of Lithuania, Lithuanian society preserved the traditions of statehood and defended the fundamental ideas of freedom during the Soviet occupation, and has proved that Independence is its greatest value.
In 1988-1990, the Reform Movement of Lithuania offered the Lithuanian public an opportunity for political self-expression, and the Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas (1990-1992) re-established the Independent State. Its principled decisions made it possible to mobilise Lithuanian citizens and express their will. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, adopted in 1992, came to be the fundamental and the longest-lived law in the history of the modern State; even in the face of political crises, it was the guarantor of the stable domestic life of the country and the legal source of Western geopolitical orientation.
The soviet authorities tried to stifle the singing and peaceful revolution by means of an economic blockade, shooting and crushing under the tank tracks – nevertheless, we defended our State in 1991.
13 January 1991 is the greatest victory of the Lithuanian society of the 20th century – we have defended the idea of freedom, human dignity and the fundamental democratic values of Europe.
During the period of independence, a significant change in the self-perception of the State of Lithuania and its citizens took place: new relation to space and time has changed the Lithuanian identity, and new experience of Lithuania present in the world and the world present in Lithuania has emerged.
We have realized that the Lithuanian people of various ethnicities, cultures and denominations had shaped our history. Opportunities offered by the life in Freedom and openness to our own history have taught us empathy for people and memory.
Lithuania’s geopolitical, economic, and cultural interests have spread from Helsinki to Lisbon, from Washington to Canberra, while Lithuania’s political and economic stability and geopolitical security are in the interests of the majority of the countries in the world. This is a unique geopolitical situation in the history of Lithuania.
Lithuania today is a part of Europe and the world. We are responsible members of the European Union and NATO alliance. For us that means more than words. That signifies the journey we have made. Lithuania has a good understanding of the countries that are now experiencing the same challenges as we once had.
During the period of independence, we passed important examinations of citizenship and community, and our society became stronger: democratic institutes of the State operate successfully and human rights and freedoms are respected and protected.
One of our most important achievements is the generation of Lithuanian citizens born and matured in the Independence. This is the generation of Freedom, which both takes up and creates new opportunities while defending the fundamental principles of democracy, human rights and freedoms. The names of the new generation are heard on the most prominent stages and arenas around the world, while their work and achievements inspire us, leaving a significant imprint on the world’s culture, art and sport.
We have never felt greater responsibility for the future of humanity as now: Lithuania’s scientists are leading the way in addressing issues of human health and treatment of the most complex inherited genetic disorders; we are implementing innovative exemplary financial technology and cyber security solutions.
The Independence has both unleashed creativity and encouraged responsibility by posing complex questions that are still pending. How could social exclusion be overcome? How could Lithuanians from Lithuania and Lithuanians from around the world be brought together? How could the Lithuanian and European identities be reconciled without opposing them while seeking harmonious coexistence? No doubt, we need to find answers to those and other major questions together.
Lithuanian society has unique opportunities. Now is the time to appreciate what we have, to be proud of it, and to make use of the advantages offered by the Independence, to celebrate it together and to build the future of our State.
Photo: Tautvydas Stukas