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The President of the Republic delivered a speech at the Vilnius Summit

President Arnold Rüütel today delivered a speech at the Summit of the Baltic Sea and Black Sea countries and met with the heads of delegations from several countries.

President Arnold Rüütel met with Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine.The Head of Estonian State arrived in the capital of Lithuania for a working visit last night and met first with Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine. It was mutually concluded at the meeting that bilateral relations between the two countries were good; the Head of Estonian State expressed our continuous support to Ukraine's aspirations towards Euroatlantic integration. Ukraine's domestic political situation was also touched upon. President Rüütel invited his Ukrainian colleague to visit Estonia, and Ukraine is expecting Estonian Prime Minister to visit Ukraine.

Yesterday evening, the Estonian delegation headed by President Rüütel attended the reception hosted by Valdas Adamkus, President of Lithuania and Lech Kaczynski, President of Poland. During the reception President Rüütel briefly met with Estonian representatives who had participated in the work of the Youth Forum.

Today in the morning, in the Conference Hall of Reval Hotel Lietuva, the heads of Lithuanian and Polish state opened the Vilnius Conference 2006 ''Common Vision for Common Neighborhood''. President Adamkus stressed the importance of honest discussion in order to secure Europe's future, and said also that there are no borders and no doors that democracy cannot cross, but the seeds of democracy will not flower if the soil is not watered. President Kaczynski said that democracy in Central and Eastern Europe needed support from West Europe and USA and this support is needed also now.

After that, the floor was given to Vice President of the United States of America Richard B. Cheney. In his speech he raised several topics and handled the development of democracy in a number of countries. Among other things, Vice President Cheney said that the Baltic states have in fifteen years shown how far nations can progress when they serve the interests of their people, and hold steadily to the path of reform. Cheney stressed the importance of staying on the path of freedom and reforms. ''Regimes that repress and tyrannize their own people also threaten the peace and the stability of other lands,'' the Vice President said worryingly and cited statements made by President George W. Bush, but also famous words of encouragement of Pope John Paul II, ''Be Not Afraid!''

Talking about the characteristics of a free society Richard Cheney said, ''In a free society, political parties must be able to function without harassment. Candidates must be able to seek resources and votes in a spirit of competition, not a climate of anxiety. There must be an active, independent news media to keep citizens informed, and to make possible the free exchange of ideas and debate. And election results must yield the voluntary and orderly transfer of power.''

The US Vice President spoke also about Belarus saying that the people of Belarus deserve better, and demanded that the opposition leader Milinkevich must be freed. During lunch, the representatives of Belarus opposition presented Cheney, who had expected to meet Milnikevitch in Vilnius, with an aluminium tea mug similar to those that the opposition leaders who are held in captivity have to use.

Richard B. Cheney concluded in his speech that no legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, and added that Russia has to make its choice. ''None of us believes that Russia is fated to become an enemy. A Russia that increasingly shares the values of this community can be a strategic partner and a trusted friend as we work toward common goals,'' was the message of the US Vice President just before the forthcoming G8 summit scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg.

At a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister of Spain Miguel Angel Moratino, who today will arrive for his first visit in Estonia, the latter conveyed to the Head of Estonian State greetings from the King of Spain and an invitation to visit Spain. At the meeting, the EU enlargement and promotion of Neighbourhood Policy were discussed. Foreign Minister Moratinos expressed support to Estonia's accession to the euro-zone and the Schengen space, and said that Spain wishes similarly to Estonia to continue dynamic development of its society and economy. The Spanish foreign minister expressed interest in the intensification of energy-related cooperation with the Baltic states. The course of Middle East peace process was also briefly discussed.

The topics discussed at a bilateral meeting with President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczynski, included the development of Via Baltica that the Head of Polish State supported in principle, but at the same time expressed his concern that in recent years the Polish ports had lacked favourable development opportunities and that in its turn had influenced the standard of living of several million people in Northern Poland. The parties discussed also cooperation in the field of energy. President Kaczynski announced that in order to diversify its energy sources Poland intends to connect its electricity network with German and Lithuanian networks, and suggested that for treating all energy-related ideas it would be reasonable to hold a regional summit conference on that topic in the future. The President of the Republic introduced Estonia's activities and future plans in energy sector, and invited his Polish colleague to a visit to Estonia.

President Rüütel had brief meetings with President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin, Vice President of the United States of America Richard B. Cheney, and Canadian Senator Raynell Andreychuk.

President of Ukraine Viktor Jushchenko who was the first speaker of the second panel session said that in 2004 Ukraine shifted from quasi-democracy to democracy and that in the future Ukraine couldn't remain in an undetermined status between East and West.

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, said in his speech that the development of democracy has to be supported with concrete steps. Solana said that the European Union had immediately sent its missions to the states of the Black Sea region that had chosen the path to democracy, and added that the quality of the EU’s engagement with those countries depends on their reform process.

President Rüütel, who was the next to speak, introduced Estonia’s reform experiences, and added that despite the limitations posed by the smallness of the state, it also opens up opportunities for success if we have skills and courage to use them. ''Keeping in mind a clear goal makes it possible to even look beyond the progress being made towards the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, to some countries, might seem too slow. But the EU and NATO are only means for achieving the main goal of enhancing the security and increasing the welfare of the people,'' the Head of Estonian state said, and added, ''We are guided by the principle that the state must serve the people, and not the other way round.''

The full text of the speech delivered by the President of the Republic ''Small and Dynamic: the Estonian Experience'' is available on the Internet at:

The next speaker was President of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov who spoke about integration in Southeast Europe as a lesson for the new democracies, emphasising the importance of political, economic and ethnic stability. Artur Rasi-Zade, Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan, focused on his country's contribution to the international economic cooperation, primarily in the field of energy. Bosse Ringholm, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden emphasised that though in the European Union there are certain fears concerning the enlargement, the union of states should stay open also in the future.

The Vilnius Conference will continue, the President of the Republic will arrive back in Estonia tomorrow afternoon.

Public Relations Department of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, May 4, 2006

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