New York

8 July 2013

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at celebration marking the beginning of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union [as prepared for delivery]

• I am pleased to join this celebration marking the start of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.  The fact that it takes place at the Scandinavian House in New York gives me special pleasure, I must admit!

• I am honoured to take part in this historic milestone event as Lithuania becomes the first Baltic country to head the EU. During my time in the Swedish Government, I worked for the integration of Lithuania and the two other Baltic countries, Estonia and Latvia, simultaneously and as soon as possible into the European Union. This was indeed achieved – and here we are at this milestone event!

• Lithuania takes this important leadership at a crucial time for the European Union, the United Nations and our world.

• The United Nations, the Secretary-General and Member States are making intensive efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline. At the same time, we are shaping a vision for a universal post-2015 development agenda.

• We are also pushing for a legally binding climate agreement by 2015.

• And we are joining forces with other partners as never before to usher in the future we want when it comes to peace and security, development as well as human rights and the rule of law.

• The world today faces many grave challenges, but this is also a moment of meaningful opportunity. We have the largest generation of youth in history, connected and informed as never before. At the same time they face huge challenges translating their talents and aspirations into jobs and meaningful lives.  In this turbulent period the trust in institutions – governments, regional organizations and indeed the United Nations – is put to a serious test.

• The European Union has consistently been a strong supporter of the United Nations and a multilateral approach to solving the world’s most pressing problems. I count on Lithuania to continue this tradition and strengthen the UN-EU partnership even more.

• The road forward is daunting, yet challenging, even inspiring.

• It is fitting that we celebrate tonight with music. Just last week at the official opening, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said “a musical performance perfectly illustrates what the Presidency of the Council is about - a choir where different voices come together.”

• Let us enjoy this evening’s concert so that we may be lifted and inspired to tackle the challenges ahead.