Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A Chance Meeting With Mr Landsbergis.

One of the great joys of my work is that I am privileged to meet some really great people.

Tonight, after a long day in the office, Nikki Sinclaire MEP and  I had a drink and a chat, and then took a walk together on the edge of the Orangerie - a beautiful park near to the parliament. Nikki had to return to the office, but I continued my walk, deciding to make my own way to my hotel on foot- a mere 2 miles away - rather than catching the tram.

I know Strasbourg quite well, after working here each month for almost 10 years now. But - and this will come as no surprise to those who know me well - I got lost. I can actually take a wrong turn on the way to the bathroom in my own home. I got it wrong in Petite France, the medieval quarter of the city, and ended up approaching my hotel from the wrong direction. No problem, it cost me only 15 minutes. 

But to my delight, as I was just a few minutes away, I met one of my great heroes. Vytautas Landsbergis is a Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament.

 On March 11th,1990, as de facto Head of State, he became the first leader to declare independence from the Soviet Union. It was a dangerous, and heroic, act that could have cost him his life!

When I arrived in Brussels in 2004, I was honoured to meet him and shake his hand for the first time.

Mr Landsbergis is also a highly prominent composer and classical pianist. I love music, that is no secret, and I am proud to say that I helped, in a small way, to found the European Parliament's Informal Classical Music Intergroup. To all of us, Mr Landsbergis is a diamond. 

And so, strolling through Strasbourg, on a mild winter night, I shared a minute or two with him, talking about music and politics, and the forthcoming elections. He will retire this year, at the age of 81. His role in bringing an end to the Evil Empire makes him a great political figure. He is a great  musician. And a lovely man who I am very privileged to be acquainted with.

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