UN Chief Ban Ki-moon Received VMU Honorary Doctorate

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On 17 November, His Excellency the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was awarded VMU Honorary Doctorate. The solemn ceremony in Kaunas, Lithuania was attended by government officials, members of academic community and the general public.

“I am greatly honored to visit this prestigious, esteemed Vytautas Magnus University and receive a honorary degree on behalf of the UN. I count on this vibrant academic community to continue contributing to our common goals of peace, development and human rights worldwide”, the UN Secretary General wrote in the university’s guestbook.

You are welcome to view the ceremony’s photo report by Jonas Petronis (j.petronis@vkt.vdu.lt) and Evaldas Virketis.

The title of VMU Honorary Doctor has been granted to Ban Ki-moon for his persistent efforts to spread the ideals of public diplomacy, work towards assuring peace and security in the world, and unite the international community as it rises to global challenges. As the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon is recognised as one of the world’s leading diplomatic officers.

In his lecture during the award ceremony, the leader of the United Nations had many kind words to say about the welcoming Baltic nation, even remembering the historical era of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was the largest European state in the 15th century.

“Almost 700 years ago, Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania wrote an open letter of great consequence.  It read in part, and I quote:  “We open our … kingdom to every person of good will: knights … peasants …  cobblers … any manner of workers…” This was more than an invitation for outsiders to come and practice their trade and their faith. It was also an early expression of tolerance — a value I know Lithuanians hold dear and that has been among your country’s defining characteristics. The world can see a Lithuania that is building on the best of its history and placing human rights and the rule of law at the centre of its priorities”, the esteemed diplomat noted.

Ban Ki-moon devoted most of his speech to issues that the UN deals with every day: various global economic, technological, environmental and political challenges, including the Syrian crisis and the recent typhoon in the Philippines.  Addressing the audience in the university, the UN Secretary General underlined that the future of the world depends on young people.

“To build a culture of peace and tolerance, we need young people like you to take the lead. All the problems we face are integrated and noone can live in isolation. We live in a very small global family, therefore everybody needs to broaden their global vision. There are billions of people who desperately need your support”, Ban Ki-moon said at the end of his lecture.

His Excellency the UN Secretary General’s visit in Lithuania was a historical one: this was the first time the chief diplomatic and political officer of the UN visited Lithuania, which has been the organization’s member since 1991.

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On 13 November, the Vytautas Magnus University Senate also awarded VMU Honorary Doctorate for the President of Poland, historian Bronislaw Maria Karol Komorowski, British journalist, editor of The Economist Edward Lucas, Lithuanian diplomat, lawyer Vygaudas Ušackas and philosophy professor Kęstutis Skrupskelis. These VMU honorary doctors will be awarded during the events commemorating 25th anniversary of Vytautas Magnus University’s reestablishment.

You are welcome to view the ceremony’s video recording by Kristijonas Jakubsonas (k.jakubsonas@vkt.vdu.lt).

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