On Friday 10 March, 2017, Vytautas Magnus University and Kaunas City Municipality will co-host the first event dedicated to the approaching Centennial of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania– the 2nd Forum of the Baltic and Black Seas, a discussion with the historical leaders, former heads of state from Central and Eastern Europe.
The theme of the forum is “Europe Today. The Baltic Consensus (1987–1991): Historical Significance and Lessons for the Today’s World”. On the eve of 11 March, the Day of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania, the historical leaders, along with the academic community and other political, cultural and social figures, will invite everyone to revive the historic memory, to look for new forms of dialogue, and to seek productive, good-neighbourly, responsible, and peace-promoting communication that is based on mutual trust and respect.
It is no coincidence that the former Presidents of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine will join the search for solutions in an academic venue. In the face of global challenges and regional threats of the 21st century, it is necessary to remember the national struggles for democracy and freedom and to engage in a closer dialogue with the academic community, especially the young generation.
“It is both symbolic and meaningful that the forum will take place at Vytautas Magnus University: after being re-opened on the eve of the country’s independence by Lithuanian and diaspora scientists and intellectuals, this university became one of the first heralds of Lithuania’s freedom and a hub of humanist worldviews. Today, as we are standing once again at the doorstep of change, we call on everyone to turn to the ideals that led us towards democratization. In the name of peaceful solutions, we open the door for dialogue between the state and the citizens”, VMU Rector Prof. Juozas Augutis stated, highlighting the significance of universities in the considerations of the future.
The anticipated participants of the Forum of the Baltic and Black Seas will include former European heads of state who in the recent past dared to change the course of Europe, to steer it towards democracy and to strive for an active civil society in independent countries: Valdas Adamkus (Lithuania), Vytautas Landsbergis (Lithuania), Viktor Yushchenko (Ukraine), Bronisław Komorowski (Poland), Leonid Kravchuk (Ukraine), Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine), Petru Lucinschi (Moldova), Arnold Rüütel (Estonia), Petar Stoyanov (Bulgaria), Rudolf Schuster (Slovakia), Valdis Zatlers (Latvia), Gennady Burbulis (Russia).
Viktor Yushchenko and Valdas Adamkus in Vilnius, 2007 / Reuters Scand/ScanPix
In the 1st Forum of the Baltic and Black Seas, which was organized in 2016, its participants signed the Kiev Manifest, which named the mission of united and purposeful peacekeeping as their goal. “Our common goal is to promote a system of values that is based on joint actions and ensures mutual understanding and support, along with a dialogue between generations and ideologies, the people and the state”, the manifest said.
The region of the Baltic and Black seas, which has been shaped by the diversity of nationalities, faiths, and cultures, has a long and shared history. The former heads of state emphasize that it is only democracy, peace, and complete renouncement of war and aggression that can help the European community of nations to ensure security in the region.
The forum “Europe Today. The Baltic Consensus (1987–1991): Historical Significance and Lessons for the Today’s World”, which is dedicated to the Centennial of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania, will be held on Friday 10 March, 10 a.m., in VMU Great Hall (S. Daukanto g. 28, Kaunas). On the same day, at 2 p.m., a discussion is scheduled in VMU Small Hall (S. Daukanto g. 28), entitled “Dialogue of Universities: Goals, Mission, and Practices”, which will be followed by closing the forum and passing the Kaunas Manifest, “Dialogue of Peace and Trust” — an invitation for the civil society, the politicians, scientists and representatives of culture, business and other areas to join forces.
Story by VMU / Full version here