WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, March 13, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) will honor Lithuania’s former president Vytautas Landsbergis with the Democracy Service Medal. Previous recipients include His Holiness the Dalai Lama and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.
Twenty-three years ago today, on March 11, 1990, Vytautas Landsbergis, a founder and leader of the Sajudis democratic movement, was elected Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania. That same day he formally declared the re-establishment of the State of Lithuania and oversaw the drafting of Lithuania’s declaration of independence. After more than 40 years of occupation, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare independence, serving as an inspiration for democracy movements across the region.
Lithuania has since become a leading democratic nation, serving as president of the Community of Democracies and hosting the secretariat of the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy. In June, 2013, Lithuania will assume the Presidency of the European Union.
“For his democratic vision, his courageous leadership, and his lifelong commitment to the wellbeing of his people, NED is proud to honor Vytautas Landsbergis with the Democracy Service Medal,” said Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.
In addition to NED’s new Chairman Martin Frost, the program will include remarks by Eric Rubin, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; NED Vice President Nadia Diuk; Lithuanian Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis; and and former congressman Bill Sarpalius (D-TX), a Lithuanian-American.
The medal presentation will be preceded by a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary film, The Other Dream Team, which documents Lithuania’s struggle for independence and the inspiring story of its 1992 Olympic basketball team.
This event is made possible with the support of The Kazickas Family Foundation, Chevron, Albinas Markevicius, Strategic Staffing Solutions, and the Embassy of Lithuania. All event proceeds will benefit the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy.