Germany hands over February 16 Independence Act to Lithuania
Germany's representatives officially handed over the February 16 of 1918 Independence Act on restoration of Lithuania's statehood to Lithuania on Wednesday.
The solemn handover protocol was signed by Lithuania's chief archivist Ramojus Kraujelis and professor Elke von Boeselager, the head of the political archive of the German Foreign Ministry, at a ceremony at the President's Office.
"This is our pride in our nation, our history, guarantee of our unity and our future," said the president.
After the ceremony, the document will be delivered to the House of Signatories in Vilnius old town before going on public display on Sunday.
The Independence Act will be exhibited in the same room where 20 members of the Council of Lithuania, presided by Jonas Basanavičus, signed it back on Feb. 16 of 1918.
In preparation for receipt of the document, the House of Signatories updated the exhibition.
Lithuania and Germany last year signed an agreement on handover of the act to Lithuania for five years, at the most, with storage of the document updated on an annual basis. Under the deal, the document could be exhibited in Kaunas in 2022, when the Lithuanian second city becomes the European Capital of Culture.
The handwritten Act of Independence of Feb. 16, 1918 in the Lithuanian and the German languages with signatures of 20 signatories was discovered in the Berlin diplomatic archives by Liudas Mažylis , professor of the Vytautas Magnus University, last March.