UNITED STATES COMMITMENT TO PRESERVATION OF RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL SITES -- (House of Representatives - September 23, 2008)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my support for House Concurrent Resolution 255, which deals with the preservation of the historic Jewish cemetery in Lithuania. I thank our colleague, Congressman Ferguson, for introducing this important measure.
Mr. Speaker, the resolution before us speaks to the preservation of a historic Jewish cemetery located in Vilnius, Lithuania, a city that was once a major center of Jewish culture in all of Europe. That cemetery has been in existence since the 13th century and is considered by religious experts around the globe and those of the Jewish faith to be sacred ground.
In 2002, the Government of Lithuania entered into a bilateral agreement with the United States to ensure the protection and the preservation of certain historical, cultural and sacred properties, including cemeteries such as the one in Vilnius. Regrettably, despite that bilateral agreement, construction of a condominium building took place within the perceived boundaries of the Jewish cemetery in Lithuania.
The resolution before us expresses the view that the Jewish cemetery in Vilnius must not be desecrated. It urges the Lithuanian Government to protect the cemetery site from future construction and desecration.
I want to note at this point, Mr. Speaker, that Lithuania has indeed been our ally in NATO since 2004. Indeed, the United States and Lithuania have had a strong relationship. And I believe that bilateral cooperation on issues of importance such as this issue that is addressed by the measure before us today will strengthen that relationship.
This resolution simply calls on the Lithuanian Government to do more to protect and preserve this cemetery site. Such action by the Government of Lithuania would indeed reaffirm the values shared by our two nations, and in so doing, enhance the broader relationship between the United States and Lithuania.
I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT