Novotel Vilnius Centre
November 9, 2017
Chairwoman Kukliansky, Executive Director Vaisbrodas, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good morning, it is great to see so many old friends in attendance. And, Faina, thank you for hosting this important event.
The United States strives to support a Europe committed to democracy, pluralism, human rights, and tolerance. As Secretary Tillerson has said: “No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, or face discrimination because of his or her beliefs.” And so that is why we have come here, to remember and through remembering, to understand and address the anti-Semitic, Roma-phobic, and xenophobic issues that we still face today.
This is not an isolated problem; it exists in all countries, including Lithuania and the United States, where we continue to struggle with it. Today as much as ever, we need to recognize the damage such discrimination causes to society and work together to end the prejudice and ignorance that is often the root cause. The United States remains dedicated to fighting against all forms of discrimination. We work together with European states, civil society and international organizations to ensure that all citizens are respected, treated with dignity, and fully integrated into society.
I commend Lithuania’s efforts to support its Jewish community as well as its Jewish legacy. Lithuania’s Good Will Foundation is a model for other countries on how to address communal property restitution. It shows the dedication of Lithuania to right the wrongs of history, and work toward a future where all citizens are able to be productive and accepted members of society.
It is also important for us to remember the millions of Roma who became Holocaust victims. Their suffering and the continued challenges they face today remind us of the need to work to protect the rights of the Roma and to promote respect for their culture.
During the years I have spent in Lithuania, I have seen the progress you have made on the inclusion of minority groups into Lithuanian society. I thank you all for your continued work to create a more tolerant, compassionate world. This work is incredibly important, and I am impressed with your expertise and vision. As always when I am in the presence of such expertise and wisdom as is here today, I look forward to learning from you.