On 6 November, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis welcomed the participants of the World Liberty Congress, which is taking place in Vilnius on 6-8 November. When addressing more than 300 human rights and democracy defenders from all over the world, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister was glad that Vilnius had rightfully become a haven for democracy defenders, where they could freely gather and hold their discussions. Landsbergis also stressed the importance of their role.
“You gathered from different parts of the world and have various experiences. You have also faced different obstacles to democracy. Many autocrats in power see you as an existential threat to them and oppose human rights, the rule of law and transparency,” Landsbergis said.
According to the Foreign Minister, as autocrats try today to undermine the values on which our societies are founded, we must work together to find effective ways to maintain and strengthen democracies and their supporters.
“Autocrats may be able to take power for a while through pressure, propaganda and corruption. However, only democratic governments can govern sustainably and legitimately. Only democratic governments can ensure peace and prosperity. It applies from South America to Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister said.
Landsbergis noted that democracy was of existential importance to Lithuania because it had a long-term experience of democratic resistance to authoritarianism. Beyond our borders, the dictators in Minsk and Moscow continue to attempt to destroy civil society in all possible ways and uproot democracy, he said.
According to the Foreign Minister, civil society activists from Belarus and Russia, having found refuge in Vilnius, retain the idea of democratic Belarus and Russia alive. Still, the natural alternative to Putin’s brutal imperialism can only come from within.
“Today, we must pay tribute to all those who continue to fight in Russia, putting their own lives and the lives of their family members at risk. Your struggle is fundamental because the aspiration for freedom is stronger than the power of any tyrant,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister said.
Landsbergis assured that the Lithuanian Government was ready to continue cooperation with representatives of the World Liberty Congress by strengthening democratic institutions and international partnerships aimed at conflict resolution, justice and responsibility and better protection of human rights.