Associated France Press (AFP) 4/5/2006
Summit opens in Lithuania to chart eastward paths of EU, NATO
VILNIUS (AFP) - Leaders from Europe and the United States began a summit meeting in Lithuania to chart the paths of the EU and NATO as they expand deeper into former communist eastern Europe.
"Today’s gathering is not an accident. It is a timely opportunity to consolidate democratic transitions in Europe’s east and to promote the sense of common purpose sparked by Poland’s Solidarity movement that led Poland and Lithuania back to the European family," Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said in a speech to open the summit, which he is co-hosting with Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
"With your determination and goodwill we will achieve the ultimate goal of creating a Europe, whole, free and at peace," Adamkus said.
"Today European policy and NATO’s open door policy encourage eastern Europe on the road to reform. But there is an urgent need to go beyond that and agree to a vision for Europe’s eastern neighbourhood, a vision bound by common values and interests."
"Every child knows a simply bicycle rule: if you do not pedal forward you will fall down.
"Europe should adapt to new realities and open up to its new democratic neighbours," Adamkus said.
"My intuition tells me there are no borders, no doors that democracy cannot open and cross, but the seeds of democracy will not flower if they are not watered," Adamkus said, urging the United States, represented by Vice President Dick Cheney at the summit, and Europe to work together to foster democratic change in the former Soviet bloc.