President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the European Parliament (EP) Martin Schulz and Vice President of the European Commission (EC), Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding opened the Europe House in the centre of Vilnius on 31 May.
Representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament’s Information Office as well as the European Institute of Gender Equality will be based in the new building.
During the opening ceremony, President Grybauskaitė mentioned that she was born just a couple of blocks away from the Europe House on Vilnius Street in the heart of the Lithuanian capital.
“Therefore, this place is important for me personally. It is also important for Lithuanians as it is the centre of our state. I am happy because we are opening a house that will welcome every European citizen. I see some people there wanting to tell us something. This house is a place for all of us: supporters and sceptics of the European Union,” the President said.
Reding said it was a great honour for the EC that Lithuania, the state which gained its independence only two decades ago, is going to lead the whole European continent in a month’s time.
“I am very happy to open this building which will house three institutions that represent not an international market or a political power, but 500 million European citizens. It is the House of those citizens, part of whom are Lithuanians. 2013 is the European Year of Citizens and it is very joyful that we can open the Europe House for them,” said Reding.
EP President Martin Schulz noted: “The Lithuanian Parliament hosts an exhibition, there is a photograph that shows Lithuanian people defending their freedom peacefully, standing in front of the Soviet tanks and defending their representatives who were creating the new independent Lithuania. That was more than two decades ago,”
“Nine years ago you became a part of the European family and today we stand here discussing Lithuania’s lead of the biggest European Union ever as a new member state will join our family in July,” he continued.
“The Europe House invites friends and sceptics of the EU. It is important to discuss and learn about the advantages of the EU. From my personal experience, I know it is difficult to convince the EU sceptics, but we work on that. It is crucial to remember that we are strong when we are together. That is important for our future” said Schulz.
The Europe House is situated on 16 Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius and is available for visitors.
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