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Monday, February 16, 2015

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF LITHUANIA ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
On the Occasion of Lithuania's National Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
February 13, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Lithuania on the 97th anniversary of your independence on February 16.

This year marks 25 years since Lithuanians bravely declared their independence from the Soviet Union and re-established the independent Lithuanian state that first came into existence in 1918.

In 1990, while Lithuanians took to the streets of Vilnius and Kaunas collecting signatures to petition for their freedom, thousands of New Yorkers joined in solidarity across the Atlantic – marching down Fifth Avenue in the name of a sovereign Lithuania.

I appreciate the warm hospitality of the Lithuanian people during my September 2013 visit to Vilnius. We continue to strengthen our bilateral relationship most recently during Vice President Biden’s visit to Vilnius in March 2014 and his meeting with President GrybauskaitÄ on the margins of the 2015 Munich Security Conference.

The ties between our nations are deep, and our cultures are intertwined. As NATO allies, we are committed to freedom, democracy, and human rights. We also share a passion for the expressions of our shared values through art and sports. The works of Jonas Mekas – the godfather of American avant-garde cinema – link our two countries. As does the historic Lithuanian men’s basketball team at the 1992 Summer Olympics, whose famous logo was designed by a New York artist.

The United States is proud of our longstanding friendship with your country and our continued cooperation on today’s pressing challenges. We look forward to working with you to build a future of peace, prosperity, and freedom for all people.

On this day of celebration, I wish all Lithuanians peace and prosperity in the year ahead.