Greetings from Washington. I am delighted to congratulate each of you on the 20th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuania’s independence.
On March 11, 1990, brave Lithuanian patriots voted for independence while the Soviet Army still occupied your country. Thousands of ordinary citizens surrounded the Seimas building for days and weeks on end to protect those inside, as the nation worked to secure its freedom.
These brave citizens did not know what future lay ahead. Indeed, it took more than a year and the tragic deaths of nonviolent protestors before the authorities in Moscow finally recognized your independence. But despite that uncertain year, filled with violence and the pains of change, the people of Lithuania never lost their resolve to uphold that independence and regain their freedom. And in so doing, you have become a beacon of hope to those seeking freedom all over the world.
Today, we look back on this event as a watershed moment in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and a landmark along the path to bringing freedom and democracy to the Baltics and Central and Eastern Europe.
And while we celebrate this two-decades old rebirth, we must look to the future with the same strength and unity. These are trying times, with an uncertain future, but the United States remains your steadfast partner and your loyal friend, and we will face the challenges of the 21st century together.
Once again, congratulations Lithuania.