Candidate for President
Republic of Lithuania
Lithuania Entering the 21st Century
Heading towards the 21st century, Lithuania is rising for new prosperous life. To assist her on this road I offer a resolute reform of the State.
The bulwarks of the State are freedom and responsibility, a civic and open society, as well as a democratic structure of government based on the rule of law. Lithuania must embrace welfare and social justice stemming from private initiative, thus becoming a country of equal opportunities for each citizen.
We shall work shoulder to shoulder to revive trust in our State.
The President of Lithuania is a political institution that citizens trust the most. As a guarantor of the country's constitutional system and independence, the President takes care of all state and social issues and represents Lithuanian citizens of all walks of life and all nationalities.
As President, I would consider as my prime duty efforts to direct all of Lithuania's economic and intellectual potential towards one goal -- to improve the people's standards of living.
Using the right to initiate legislation, I will propose laws that will consolidate justice, protect the life, health and property of the people, create conditions for private initiative to express itself, help the socially insecure, and strengthen the foundations of an open dialogue-based society. In all, this will build up people's confidence in their State.
When appointing Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet, I will consult the Lithuanian political parties. I will put in every effort to reduce bureaucracy in the government of the State and will seek that the authorities of all levels serve, first and foremost, the people. Giving priority to competence, I will always consider the advice and opinions of specialists and experts when initiating legislation or passing decisions.
I will appoint with immense responsibility judges and chairpersons of courts and will see to improvements in their selection system. I will seek that harmony prevail in the State, and, in implementing justice, courts and judges are independent and guided only by the letter and spirit of the law.
Most of my efforts will be aimed at search for ways of improving the welfare of the State and the people. I consider consultations with political parties, public organizations, movements and people of various interests to be an every-day necessity. Being aware of the diversity and complexity of our society and trying to bring its elements into harmony, I will be guided by the principle that it is the main duty of the State and its institutions to create conditions for economic development and guarantee the security of people's property. The State should also take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves.
The powers of the President must be expanded within the framework of the existing Constitution. The status of the main adviser to the President should be granted to a National Council appointed by the President. Divisions independent from control of the Seimas or Government should be established with the President, as a depoliticized institution, to investigate into crime on a state level.
I will seek that an optimal number of ministries will be fixed in the program of the Government in order to streamline its activities and functions at the same time as reducing the cost of governance.
I regard common work with the executive authorities and control over them to be an immediate obligation of the President. The President must constantly feel the pulse of the State and participate in the life of its institutions. State institutions exist to serve the citizens and must therefore work towards their welfare, health and security. By my personal example and through the prerogative of initiating legislation, I will seek to bring the State as close to the people as possible.
Information about state institutions and their activities must be accessible to the public. Transparency and genuine contact with the citizens are a means of knowing the society and revealing its true needs.
State officials, appointed at the President's motion to the top positions involving maximum responsibility, should be highly-skilled specialists held in esteem among the general public and possess a seal of approval, based on democratic principles, of political parties.
The decentralization of power structures by increasing the self-reliance of local communities is the best way of expanding the powers of each individual citizen. I will encourage processes that will grant as much self-governance as possible to the districts, local communities and to representatives of the broadest range of public interests. I will try to make it a law that mayors and community elders be elected by the people themselves.
It is my firm conviction that any progress -- be it in simple communication among people or in international relations -- is possible only through an established moral standard, which makes each individual accountable for their words and actions to themselves as well as to others.
I will seek that conditions for people of various nationalities living in Lithuania be such as I would like to see them created for Lithuanians in other countries of the world.
The preservation and consolidation of independence of the Republic of Lithuania, the inviolability of its borders, security of its citizens and residents alike are my priorities in foreign policy. An essential characteristic of the President's efforts is search for agreement among the country's political parties on foreign policy issues.
The foreign policy strategy must be constantly developed and adapted to guarantee the security of the State, open foreign markets for Lithuanian goods, attract foreign investments to the country, and create an image of Lithuania as a solid member and partner of the International Community.
Lithuania must implement an open and very active foreign policy directed towards achieving her goals and defending her interests, developing friendly relations with all foreign States, and supporting international initiatives aimed at securing peace, democracy and human rights in the world.
I consider Lithuania's efforts to become a member of NATO and the European Union to be an indivisible and dominant trend in the general policy of the country. I speak out for integration into the political and economic structures of the world that would play a decisive role in ensuring the security and economic welfare of our State. I will personally work towards increasing the general public's awareness of the need for integration and towards an adequate supply of information to the public on this issue.
Advocating the increasingly popular idea of regionalism in Europe, I will support our ever more active cooperation with the Nordic States, our fellow Baltic countries and Central Europe at the same time as paying much attention to relationships with other nations. It is also in the domain of the State to strengthen Lithuanian national consciousness among our �migr�s in the neighboring countries.
I will advocate, encourage and supervise the Government's efforts in the pursuit of liberal economic policies and in the introduction and improvement of the legal and economic mechanisms ensuring the sound functioning of a free market. A free market economy is instrumental in the effective distribution of resources and provides the needed space for innovations and flexibility. Private ownership and enterprise are the pillars of economic efficiency. The intervention of power institutions into the market should be minimal and manifest only in laws aimed at promoting enterprise and not restricting it.
I approve of the further privatization of state-owned property, leaving in the State's control only those companies that are vital for the country's security or are key in preserving our national identity.
Support to the agricultural sector should be rendered through maintaining the income of farmers, introducing alternative employment systems, restructuring the agriculture, encouraging cooperation of farmers, promoting a wide range of trades plus ecology farming, as well as developing rural tourism and other alternative sources of income in the countryside. The issue of the countryside is ever so complex, comprising the social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects, and therefore needs delicate approach to its problems.
I will initiate and back environmental, ecological and energy-saving projects creating preconditions for quality living. The State must do its utmost in guaranteeing its citizens clean air, pure water and tidy environment.
I will advise the Government and the Bank of Lithuania to take steps aimed at constantly increasing people's trust in the national currency, the Litas, and in the country's financial system. I will seek that Lithuania comply with all criteria of the European Monetary Union by 1999. The arrival of foreign financial institutions would contribute to Lithuania's security guarantees and facilitate the development of business in the country.
I will seek that the policy of reforming the tax system take the shape of a tendency of cutting and systemizing taxes. At the same time, I am a proponent of tighter tax administration measures, reduction of expenditures and rational use of resources. The collected taxes must be distributed so as to satisfy only the common needs of the public, preventing their employment for direct economic influence.
It is only through personal initiative and resourcefulness that the economy may be expected to grow. I will contribute legal amendments that will be favorable for private initiative, create equal opportunities for all companies, and increase the share of small- and medium-scale businesses in the Gross Domestic Product in particular.
The President heads the State Council of Defence and is the chief commander of the armed forces of the State. Issues of national security are the most important foreign policy priorities of the State, and all efforts of the State should be aimed at integration into the European Union and NATO as well as deterring crime, corruption and smuggling.
Defence of the Homeland is an noble duty of each Lithuanian citizen. The armed forces of the country should be consistently orientated towards becoming a professional service, gradually raising the level of financing and supplies to the army. At the same time, retired servicemen must be trained to maintain their fitness. It is the duty of the State and its President to pursue such policies that will constantly minimize threats to the country and its people.
Making use of the right to initiate bills, I will submit to the Seimas draft legislation to reinvigorate the penal law, ensuring a democratic and reasonably short period of investigations into crimes and trial. I will seek to introduce the institution of jury trial in cases involving extremely violent crimes. I will also seek a humanization of imprisonment conditions.
I will focus constant attention on crime prevention. I will encourage the adoption of legal acts aimed at facilitating cooperation between the public and police in maintaining public order.
Lithuanian courts must be guided only by the law, while it is the concern of the President to oversee the laws being passed, ensuring that they are in keeping with the principles of justice and humanity.
Social security programs must be balanced not to hurt the interests of those who are paying taxes. Competition, control over monopolies and redistributive taxation maintains an open market in an open society, allowing for promoting opportunities at the same time as sharing welfare. Stimulating business environment is a precondition for improvements in the standard of living.
The State must provide a wide range of incentives and guarantees in the creation of jobs and reduction of unemployment and social spending. The dignity of the earning person also raises the welfare of the State.
The State must take on a great share of the burden of those who are unable to take care of themselves. I will always try to direct the Government's attention towards social programs, care for the older generation, and assistance to the jobless. Increasing the basic salary and basic pension in proportion to inflation should be a constant concern of the Government and President.
I will seek that programs be adopted and implemented on the levels of the State and municipalities offering employment and housing schemes for youth and young families.
I will take care of the adoption of a national healthcare program uniting the efforts of the State, private institutions and citizens themselves in improving people's well-being. One of the most important tasks of the new policy is to formulate and consistently implement the principles of healthy living that would be actively endorsed by the people.
The State policy on culture, education and science must be orientated towards revealing and developing the creative potential of Lithuanian society. Therefore, I will unite the efforts of the Seimas, the Government and the country's cultural elite to make the State policy in these areas rational and active, corresponding to the existential needs of the nation and the State as well as to their future vision.
Regarding education as the main instrument in the formation of a modern Lithuanian nation and an important factor fostering national culture, I will advocate a speedy implementation of the education reform. It is imperative to ensure not only adequate financing for this work but also create as favorable conditions as possible for public involvement in the reform, first of all by representatives of the academic, cultural and business communities.
We must create a consistent and democratic education system based on the values of humanism, personal freedom and civic solidarity, a system guaranteeing high-quality education and open to all Lithuanian people -- children, youth and adults. The problem of pupils' regularly missing classes must be tackled with all might, seeking a general secondary education and achieving a larger number of students at the higher education establishments.
Lithuania must revive the prestige of the teacher and school, making it a national priority. All possible resources -- starting with funding and ending with public campaigns for education -- must be employed to achieve this goal.
An educated individual has many more opportunities to create. The exceptional status of education and culture allows for indirect saving of the money currently spent on the State's repressive functions. Support to education and culture is a means of eradicating the causes, and not the consequences, of crime and all other evil.
Lithuanian science must be reformed, supporting the priority areas and fostering useful studies. I will endorse the efforts of Lithuanian science to meet the cultural, social and economic needs of our society. The State-sponsored science must be committed to the country's welfare.
National values, instilled in our youth through education, culture and historical heritage, should be fostered and, if need be, protected. Supporting national culture, I will at the same time advocate a smooth integration of world cultural and educational achievements into our lives as well as a cultural dialogue in Lithuania.
The policy of the State on culture should become more predictable, better integrated into the general policy and closer integrated into to the education, social and economic fields. I will encourage the Government to more consistently support creative projects of artists and cultural institutions. It is a duty of the State to provide every person with access to the opportunities offered by education and culture, therefore, I support their decentralization through the adoption and implementation of laws on support to arts and science.
Ties with Lithuanian �migr� communities are of paramount importance to the country, and I will seek a solution to all legal and economic issues to make the �migr�s' reintegration with the Homeland easier.
Valdas Adamkus was born to a family of civil servants in Kaunas on 3 November 1926. His father served as a volunteer in fights for Lithuanian Independence and was one of the first leaders of the Aviation School in the then newly fledged pre-war Republic of Lithuania. Adamkus' mother worked at the Ministry for Communications for many years.
Valdas Adamkus studied at the Ausra [Dawn] gymnasia in Kaunas. In the years of World War II, he joined a resistance movement for Lithuanian independence, published and circulated the underground newspaper Jaunime, budek! [Youth, Be on Guard!].
After a brief retreat with his parents to Germany in July 1944, Valdas Adamkus returned to Lithuania in the fall of the same year to join the National Defence Force in fight against the Red Army. He took part in the battle of Seda, western Lithuania, but had to leave Lithuania again soon because of unfavorable circumstances. Upon graduation from the Lithuanian Gymnasia in Germany, Adamkus entered the Faculty of Natural Science of the University of Munich. He worked at the World YMCA organization taking care of displaced persons and acted as the secretary general and chairman of the Chief Physical Training and Sports Committee. Adamkus won two gold and silver medals in track-and-field events at the Olympic Games of the Enslaved Nations in 1948.
Assisted by the Grinys family, Valdas Adamkus together with his parents, brother and sister emigrated to the United States in 1949. Upon arrival, he immediately found a blue-collar job with a manufacturer of spare car parts in Chicago and later worked as a draftsman for an engineering firm. In 1960, Adamkus graduated as a construction engineer from the University of Illinois. In 1951, Valdas Adamkus established an academic sports club of Lithuanian Americans, LITUANICA. Between 1957 and 1958, he chaired the board of the Santara [Accord] center of Lithuanian students in the United States. In 1958 through 1965, Adamkus was vice-chairman of the SANTARA-SVIESA [Accord-Light] federation, a public organization of Lithuanian �migr�s of Liberal orientation, to take up its chairmanship in 1967. Valdas Adamkus was an active organizer of protest actions against Lithuania's occupation and initiator of numerous petitions. In 1961 through 1964, Adamkus was a member of the Board of the Lithuanian Community [LC] in America, vice-chairman of the Central Board, member and then chairman of the American Lithuanian Council [ALC]. He also was chairman of the organizing committee of the World Lithuanian Games in 1983.
Working for a US environmental protection federal institution set up with the Environmental Protection Agency in the early 70's, Adamkus first headed a scientific environmental research center and was later appointed deputy administrator of the Fifth Region (Mid-West) Environmental Protection Agency. He was later promoted to administrator of the same agency and held that office until June 1997. Adamkus was an active member of the United States Republican Party. Since 1972, he visited Lithuania once or several times a year, bringing the literature published by SANTARA-SVIESA -- Metmenys [Outlines], Akiraciai [Horizons] and others. Encouraging and supporting the construction of water purification facilities and development of environmental monitoring, Adamkus assisted the environmental institutions of the Baltic States in acquiring academic literature, equipment and software needed for their projects. In the capacity of the coordinator of US aid to the Baltic States in the field of environment protection, Adamkus organized working trips for representatives of Lithuania's academic institutions and developed many-sided cooperation with Vilnius University, helping it acquire the latest academic literature on environment. Adamkus raised and implemented the idea of publishing Lithuanian History by Adolfas Sapoka in 300,000 copies and the two-volume edition of Modern History by Pranas Cepenas in Lithuania.
Valdas Adamkus was granted the title of Honorary Doctor at Vilnius University in 1989. The American universities of Indiana and Illinois named Adamkus their Honorary Doctor as well for his contribution to the cleaning of the Great Lakes and for other environmental projects. In 1988, Adamkus was granted an international environmental award for outstanding achievements on the international arena. Adamkus has himself established an award granted each year to Lithuania's noted environmental specialists and scholars.
Adamkus has also been granted the US Environmental Protection Agency gold medal for achievements in service and the award of the US President for outstanding service. President Bill Clinton sent a letter of thanks to Adamkus when he resigned as the agency's administrator. In 1993, Valdas Adamkus headed the electoral campaign of presidential candidate Stasys Lozoraitis in Lithuania. He actively participated in the campaign before the 1996 Lithuanian general elections, uniting a bloc of moderate right-wing forces. In 1997, Adamkus was nominated by the Lithuanian Center Union for the council of the Siauliai municipality.
Valdas Adamkus' wife Alma is the administrator of the Taba Farma holiday center.