Address of Vydas Gedvilas, First Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, at the European Year of Citizens 2013 Closing Conference How to make every year a year for citizens

16 December 2013, Last updated at, 16:11 EET
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author: O. Posaškova

Prime Minister Butkevičius,
First Head of the re-established independent Lithuania, Prof Landsbergis,
Vice-President of the European Commission Reding,
European Ombudsman O’Reilly,
Excellencies Ambassadors,
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and participants,

I feel truly privileged to welcome you today in the historical Hall of the Act of 11 March of the Lithuanian Seimas.
This Conference is an additional event of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. As many as ten additional Presidency events and nine parliamentary dimension events have been held in the Seimas. On 17 December 2013, the final parliamentary dimension event will take place in the European Parliament.

As you see, the Lithuanian Presidency was genuinely active and ambitious. This was our objective in the first place and, I think, we have managed to implement it.

I am pleased to note that the Closing Conference of the European Year of Citizens is also the closing event of the Lithuanian Presidency. This is a very symbolic coincidence. Incidentally, several days ago, on 10 December 2013, we marked the Human Rights Day.

Our country took an active part in the European Year of Citizens. The National Programme for the European Year of Citizens was drafted and a wide-ranging communication campaign was carried out. I equally acknowledge the important debate on the rights of EU citizens.

The need to encourage the civic spirit as the main element in EU democracy is of particular significance and relevance today. This objective should be promoted in all walks of life, including but not limited to education, human rights, youth, gender equality, and health.

Obviously, the work should be done at both the EU and national levels and encompass a wider range of measures and actions in order to reach better results.

Please note that the European Year of Citizens Alliance has tabled a set of policy recommendations covering both EU citizenship matters and the logical and necessary social, economic and political conditions to promote the EU civic spirit. This could be a source of joy for the people of the EU. I firmly believe that this document will importantly contribute to the attainment of the established objective. I thank the organisers for the range of subjects they have offered for the discussion and for timely debate on the matters at stake.

The bottom-up approach to the construction of Europe, the role of NGOs, the fight against nationalism and discrimination, the new ways to impact decision-making on main policies, the engagement of youth and assistance to young people, the fight against apathy and disregard are as relevant today as they have never been before. We clearly know one of the main reasons for that, namely, the upcoming European elections and nomination of new members to the European Commission.

I sincerely hope and believe that the matters discussed during the European Year of Citizens and included on the agenda of the Closing Conference will attract due attention to the rights of Europeans and tangibly activate political, economic, and social participation in all corners of Europe.

I thank you for your determination, sense of initiative and strong belief in what you do. I wish you a successful conference, fruitful cooperation, and tangible results.
Thank you.

Seimas, Hall of the Act of 11 March
13 December 2013, Vilnius


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