Vilnius, Lithuania

15 September 2016

Secretary-General's message to the Conference entitled “Europe Whole, Free and at Peace-2040” and on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Lithuania' membership in the United Nations

[Delivered by Mr. Michael Moeller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva]

I am pleased to congratulate the Government and people of Lithuania as you mark the 25th anniversary of your membership in the United Nations.

For a quarter of a century, Lithuania has served as a staunch defender of the values and principles of the UN Charter.  I was honored to be the first UN Secretary-General to visit Lithuania and personally thank you for your commitment.

As you meet, world leaders are gathering in New York for the 71st session of the General Assembly to address global conflicts and transnational challenges.

We are living through an exceptionally turbulent and uncertain time – which includes the rise of violent extremism, economic pressures, political polarisation and xenophobia.
The ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine threatens the entire region and beyond.  War, systematic human rights violations, poverty, climate change and natural disasters are leading to large movements of refugees and migrants.  Europe’s long-proven institutions have come under pressure.

Today’s challenges should not push us to retreat into national spheres.  We need collective responses – at the regional and global level – based on strong institutions.  
We must once again recognise our interconnectedness and be good regional and global citizens.

By acting together, we can make impressive progress.  Last year in New York, for example, world leaders adopted the historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Three months later, the international community made an historic commitment in Paris to address climate change.  Next week, world leaders will agree on The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, to strengthen our global efforts on this global challenge.

These achievements point the world in promising new directions and renew our faith in multilateralism.  At a time of global turbulence, they give hope that we can overcome global divisions for the common good.  Lithuania’s commitment to multilateralism has advanced these collective efforts.

As we seek to forge solutions to the pressing challenges of our time, I call on you today to continue your advocacy for multilateralism and your support for collective solutions.  Let us work together and ensure that Europe will remain “Whole, Free and at Peace.”