Founders of the movement, called Union of European Federalists (UEF) Lithuania, say it will be a non-governmental citizens’ organization. They all want to see Europe politically and economically united with a common Constitution, supranational governing structures, as well as foundations of effective transnational democracy.
The new organization was announced in a press conference by its founders and initiators: Mr Petras Auštrevičius, a liberal member of the Seimas and deputy chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, Mr Rokas Grajauskas, founder of UEF Lithuania, Mr Egidijus Vareikis, a conservative member of the Seimas, professor Gediminas Vitkus, head of the political science department in the Lithuanian Military Academy and Ms Vaida Česnulevičiūtė, a member of the presidium of Young European Federalists (JEF Europe).
Mr Auštrevičius, who is also Lithuania’s former chief negotiator for accession to the European Union (EU), stressed that as the EU meets new challenges today, it is vital to adequately defend Lithuania’s interests in the Union. “We expect to remain in the core of Europe, at the same time we want to see EU countries move forward together and not separately. Of course, this will require considerable common political will, unity and solidarity”, - said Mr Auštrevičius during the press conference.
Speaking about the aims of UEF Lithuania Mr Grajauskas, one of its founders, stressed that federal Europe is first of all beneficial to Lithuanian citizens, whereas long-term security and well-being of Lithuania as a country directly depends on the vitality of the EU.
“Federal Europe is beneficial to Lithuania in every aspect From the economic point of view, larger EU budget will mean more funding to Lithuania, since for some time ahead Lithuania will be a net beneficiary of the EU funds. The security aspect is of no lesser importance. For it is hard to expect that the United States would remain committed to the security of Lithuania and the wider region indefinitely. Therefore we think that the security vacuum in the longer term should be filled by effective European military capabilities”, - said Mr Grajauskas.
Meanwhile Mr Vareikis, a conservative MP, stated that federalism is a cure, not the cause of our problems, and said that the current crisis has become so acute due to the shortage of federalism. According to him, the main problem facing the euro at the moment is not the euro itself but rather the disrespect for the rules governing the common currency. Mr Vareikis also sees no contradiction between loyalty to one’s own country and European federalism. “Patriotism should be encouraged, the real problem is cocky nationalism”, - he said.
Founders of the new organization also spoke of the need to promote more effectively the idea of united Europe and what it can bring to Lithuanian citizens, as well as pledged to provide an alternative view to the often unfounded anti-European populism.
Branches of the Union of European Federalists, a Europe-wide organization, currently exist in 18 European countries and unite more than 50 thousand members. UEF Lithuania is the first such organization in the Baltic states.
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