Firstly, I wish to thank you for the warm welcome that was given me, my daughter and the delegation that has accompanied me since we arrived in Vilnius.
I am very pleased to see you again here, Madam President, just over two months after our recent meeting at the Quirinal.
I would like to extend our warmest wishes to all Lithuanians, on behalf of the Italian people and myself, on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the independence of your country. An important milestone, which deserves to be solemnly celebrated for its numerous and profound meanings: to the memory of those who fought for independence, for those who were able to passionately nurture - in difficult times - the flame of freedom; for all the Lithuanians who placed the ideals of their country before their own salvation.
Italy, which has experienced the arduous path of conquest of unity and the mournful ordeal of war, is honored to join Lithuania in celebrating this anniversary.
Our peoples are very close spiritually more than they are geographically, as evidenced by intense, and secular, artistic and cultural relationships, a fertile ground which has enabled our countries to always understand and appreciate each other.
The industrious activity of the artists who arrived in Lithuania in the early sixteenth century with the Grand Duchess Bona Sforza, and who brought with them, from Milan, the excellence of the Renaissance to the cultured Lithuanian public, is a perfect example of this.
I am pleased that, several centuries later, similar exchanges continue to flourish today, as is shown by the success of the "Flux" festival that brought to Rome, on the occasion of the centenary, the protagonists of the contemporary Lithuanian cultural scene.
In this context, I would also like to mention the many young Lithuanians who, every year, participating in the Erasmus program, decide to experience life in Italy - just as many young Italians do in Lithuania.
Lithuania and Italy share values and ideals deeply rooted in their respective peoples, which find their crowning achievement in the project of continental integration to which Vilnius and Rome actively contribute, starting with the adoption of the common European currency, the euro.
These shared principles of freedom, respect for human rights, democracy, the genuine cohesion of belonging to the Euro-Atlantic family, an unbreakable bond that has enabled all the countries that belong to it to reach peaks of prosperity, peace and security, not only unmatched but unthinkable for most of Europe's history.
With this in mind, the diverse sensitivities that our countries at times embody in the European debate are not a weakness but, on the contrary, an intrinsic richness. Our distinctive roots take on positive value, contributing to a fruitful synthesis that allows us to identify and promote more advanced, shared and positive solutions for all.
The Atlantic Alliance and the European Union are pillars that support the internal systems and jointly promote the international projection of the European peoples.
Within their scope no one can or must ever be left alone.
With this awareness, Madam President, I raise my glass to your health, to the prosperity of Lithuania and to the friendship between our peoples.
Į Sveikatą! (Salute!)