Ambassador Kairiene said the evening was a special occasion to celebrate the Day of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania, with her nation having become a modern state with a glorious past. She said that on February 16, 1918 the Council of the Nation had bravely announced the restoration of the independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles. This message demonstrated that Lithuania had never left its identity behind and that it is ready to take up the responsibility that comes with freedom.

The ambassador said: "The everlasting aim to be free, to make our own decisions and to be democratic has brought us a chance to become equal of the European Union and NATO members, a chance to enjoy a high standard of living and to stand as equals together with the other nations of the world on the complicated ground of world politics. This year we are proud to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the EU and NATO membership and we are proud of being a member of OECD since last year."

Ambassador Kairiene said the fresh wind of democracy and freedom contributed a lot to the strengthening of bilateral relations between Lithuania and Hungary, with political, economic, cultural and academic cooperation.

She said Lithuanians and Hungarians cooperate closely on defence and security issues, and have a common understanding of NATO solidarity, with the need for collective defense. The government of Lithuania appreciates the news about Hungary’s plans to join NATO’s air policing mission the second time in the Baltic this year.

"Lithuania and Hungary share a common history related to our universities starting from the 16 century," Ambassador Kairiene said. "The exchange of students and professors takes place until our days. A conference of Lithuanian and Hungarian historians took place last year at ELTE University to discuss historical ties between the two states and to analyse common interests of cooperation in the future."

"Being among the youngest European Union members, both our countries are devoted supporters of our neighbourhood partners and the EU enlargement process. In this context, I would like to note that Lithuania and Hungary cooperate successfully in the format of ‘Twinning projects’. Quite recently the European Union delegation in the republic of Serbia notified that the European Union Twinning project ‘Development of the Schengen Action plan’ will be implemented by a Lithuanian and Hungarian consortium."

Last year Lithuania had celebrated the centenary of the state, the ambassador said. The leaders of European countries and representatives of royal families had visited Lithuania on that special occasion. The President of Hungary, János Ader, had been among the visitors. European security, environmental issues and bilateral cooperation in various areas, including trade, investment, culture and research, had been discussed.

Ambassador Kairiene said a number of cultural and business events were organised both in Vilnius and Budapest to show solidarity. There is currently a great potential that the two countries will strengthen their bilateral relations, as well as regional cooperation, both of which are crucial in the wider context.

"We may regard ourselves rich, as over the course of the past decades we have nurtured a big number of prominent personalities who work ceaselessly to promote the name of Lithuania to the world. A few of these young talents you will be able to hear tonight."

The ambassador then introduced the ensemble Trio Agora, which formed in 2016. The trio consists of clarinetist Žilvinas Brazauskas, cellist Natania Hoffman and pianist Robertas Lozinskis. She said they are dynamic and are praised for their innovation and enthusiasm.

Trio Agora won first prize at the 2018 Rubinstein Akademie chamber music competition in Düsseldorf. In addition to bringing the standard repertoire to stages around Europe, the trio regularly commissions new works and performs self-made transcriptions. They perform often in Lithuania, Germany, Italy, Holland and Belgium.

Ambassador Kairiene concluded by saying that there is a lot of work ahead. "We are always on a track of progress. It is necessary to understand that we do not have to think or act big to show that we love our state. Taking small and slow steps by helping each other and those who need basic things proves the love we have for our country. But for now, we can be proud of what we have achieved and never forget that unity is our strength."

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