Your Excellency President Adamkus,
Mayors, City Officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
We are reminded here today, in the beautiful capital of Lithuania, a
city where all the major religions of Europe have constructed their
churches, where the history of northem and southem countries, of eastem
and western regions provides both insights and understandings -
reminded how the world has changed in recent decades, how our
continent is now blessed with democracy and opportunities for progress.
Never in the annals of Europe have there been so many free and
democratic countries, enjoying peace and security which were the dreams
of many in previous times.
But this success did not come easy, thejoumey has not always been
full of joy or high spirits; there were sacrifices and struggles, tragedies
and terror which determined the fate of generations. And forever will we
honour the memory ofthose who hoped, hut did not live to enjoy their
Certainly the transformation of Europe has brought many blessings,
replaced conflict with cooperation and laid the foundation for prosperity
and welfare, providing people with opportunities to excel and enjoy new
endeavours, in the arts as weIl as in science, in business as weIl as
services, combining the roots of their home countries with global careers.
Compared to previous centuries we are living in exciting and
challenging times. There are, however, shadows in this sunny picture,
dark clouds gather on the horizon. There are developments so grave and
scary that they threaten the health of OUT communities.
The openness of our borders, the innovations which technology has
brought - although on the whole producing freedom and progress - have
also given the pushers of dangerous drugs; hard and soft; new opportunities to market their deadly products, to extend their networks across Europe,
to draw every day thousands of new young people into their strangling webs, making millions depend on these dangerous substances,
causing every daythe deaths of hundreds or even thousands
in each and every one of our cities, leaving families and friends in grief as
if a war had been started - and certainly the sufferings and the sacrifices
are akin to a war.
In addition, the marketing and production of these dangerous drugs
have brought a new level of criminalization to our societies, making life
in our cities dangerous and risky, bringing cruelty and sorrow into many
We ask ourselves: What can we do? How can we combat these new
and dangerous forces? How can we save the lives of those who are now
There are, regrettably, no easy solutions, no answers with the magic
This will be a difficult and long-lasting struggle hut the profound
importance of our task gives it priority beyond other endeavours.
I was privileged last year to attend your meeting in Oslo, to be asked
to become a patron of a special project involving ten or more of your
cities, a project based on research and scholarly findings which scientists
in my country have produced, supported by more than two decades of
In the year which has passed I have attempted to actively support
your cooperation, your important endeavours and engagements in
different cities. I have attended meetings in Stockholm and Sofia, St.
Petersburg and elsewhere, learned from a dialogue with officials and local
leaders, with people who bear the daily burden, with police officers and
doctors, welfare officials and others, met with drug addicts who want to
be cured, listened to their worries, felt the desperation of their struggle,
shared in the fear, which their families suffer.
This has for me been a valuable journey, giving me insights and a
broader understanding. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve
you in this war and hopefully my participation has been of some help.
The most important lesson which I have learned is that we are all in
this together and only cooperation can bring solutions, cooperation both
across the boundaries of our countries and across the boundaries which
divide our societies into different sectors.
We have much to teach each other. The experience of every city
brings important elements to our common understanding. The successes
and the failures which we all encounter can help others to find a better
The cities of Europe must be the core of the cooperation across our borders
because it is in the cities where the young must be saved. Your endeavours, your dialogue, your cooperation are of the utmost importance.
But cooperation must also be across the boundaries within our own
communities, aimed at bringing different sectors together, creating a solid
foundation for a common effort.
It has struck me, both in discussions within my own country and in
dialogue with many people across Europe, how isolated the efforts to
combat drugs can be from each other, how institutions do not combine
their efforts, how often bureaucratic barriers prevent the use of good
ideas, how far apart concerned people can be.
We must therefore create solid networks of cooperation, both in our
cities and within our nations, reaching out to all who care and are willing
to help, bring together public movements and non-govemmental
organizations, involve the media and communities in different areas of
our respective cities; also schools and sport associations, the boy scouts
and the girl scouts, teachers and parents, and attempt to make each and
everyone aware that their role is important, that together we can reduce
In the spirit of such endeavours, in the hope of bringing different
sectors together, we have decided in Iceland to dedicate one day next
autumn to sending an important message to the nation, describing the
most important measures in successful prevention, explaining how we
can help the young to say "No!", how we can save the lives of millions. We
intend to bring the message to every home, every school, every village,
We have created a special framework of cooperation for this
purpose, focusing on what we have termed "A Day of Prevention". The
association of municipalities in Iceland - embracing all cities, towns and
villages - has agreed to participate in this effort.
The Icelandic Sports and
Olympic Association has also promised to be with us and so have the
Youth Association, the Scouts Movement and others. The University of
Iceland and the University of Reykjavik have agreed to provide the
scholarly foundation and the State Radio and Television Network will
help in carrying the message to each and every home.
The idea to create such a national Day of Prevention was born last
December on the flight from St. Petersburg where I was present together
with the Mayor, Mrs. Governor Valentina Matviyenko, at the signing ceremony, which
confirmed our cooperation. We can therefore thank our Russian friends
for having helped in initiating this effort, a new form of cooperation
within my country.
We hope that such a day will offer important lessons; and we intend to repeat it the following year and then again and again because
regrettably we can never cease in our important endeavours.
But then again, the cooperation which you have created, European Cities Against Drugs, does provide
hope and a vision, courage and lessons in which we all share, demonstrates how together we can move
forward and help each other to achieve success.
It has been a privilege to be a part of your endeavours, I thank and
congratulate you all and am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of