As Lithuania prepares to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its EU membership on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says that the bloc has no future unless people feel they are a part of it.
“If people think that nothing depends on them or have no trust in this, there will be no future,” he said in an interview with LRT TV on Tuesday.
Lithuania's top diplomat added that the continued existence of the EU “will require effort, motivation and leadership”.
“I believe in the future of Europe. I really do. But I want to add that this bright future cannot be taken for granted,” he said.
Linkevičius also called for efforts to ensure that all citizens of Lithuania feel the benefits of the country's EU membership.
“Statistical tables or World Bank ratings (...), we can be proud of that, but people must feet it. Achieving that takes more time and effort,” he said.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė's foreign policy advisor, Nerijus Aleksiejūnas, has told the radio Žinių Radijas that Lithuania has become a reliable and respected partner in the 15 years since it joined the EU.
“This has been achieved through hard and consistent work,” he said.
Aleksiejūnas said Lithuania made a big leap in terms of mentality and world-view, which it could not have done without European support.
When asked to comment on the president's vision of the EU's future, the advisor said it was one of “a safe, strong, prosperous, united, modern and solidarity-based Europe”.
Lithuania joined the EU on May 1, 2004.