Press release | Press releases | Writing

27.06.22

In Lithuania, Durbin receives the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Award for promoting parliamentary values ​​and democracy abroad

VILNIUS—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), co-chairman of the Baltic Freedom Caucus and the Ukrainian Senate Caucus, is in Vilnius, Lithuania today as part of a trip to three European countries to discuss Congressional support for the transatlantic deal. relationship and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as Russia’s continued aggression and interference in Western democracies.

In Vilnius, Durbin received the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Award – only the second individual and the first American to receive this award. The new award honors Aleksandras Stulginskis, former President of Lithuania who served from 1920 to 1926 and was a strong advocate of a democratic republic. It was granted to Durbin for his decades-long support for Lithuanian independence and democracy and his promotion of parliamentary values. Durbin’s mother was born in Lithuania and came to the United States with her mother and siblings in 1911.

In his remarks to the Lithuanian Parliament, or Seimas, Durbin traced Lithuania’s modern development, from occupation under the Soviet Union to the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1990-1991, and Lithuania’s role today as an established democracy with a vibrant free market and a champion of democratic values ​​around the world. Durbin remembers seeing these three stages of Lithuanian history during visits to the country in 1979, 1990, 2011 and today. Durbin announced Lithuania’s economic progress, including its decision to cut off Russian energy sources so its future cannot be held hostage for fuel, and said the United States would stand with the Lithuania’s neighbour, Ukraine, until the end of the Russian war.

“One hundred and eleven years ago, a young mother from Jurbarkas said goodbye to everyone and everything she had ever known, gathered her three young children and sailed for America, to join her husband In her arms she carried their youngest child – a 2-year-old girl. This little girl, Ona Kutkaite, was my mother. My mother never saw this beautiful country again from her birth. But she carried Lithuania in her heart. She prayed for the freedom of Lithuania. And she taught her three children to be proud of our Lithuanian heritage. If my mother were here today to see her son accept this honor named after the President Stulginskis, one of the great Lithuanian patriots, she would be amazed – and deeply moved. Like me,” Durbin said after receiving the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Award.

Today Durbin also met with the President of the Seimas, Viktorija ?milyt?-Nielsen; President of Lithuania, Gitanas Naus?da; Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya; and the mayor of Jurbarkas (hometown of Durbin’s mother), Skirmantas Mockevi?ius.

Later this week, Durbin will travel to Sweden with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Deb Fischer (R- NE), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), for meetings with senior officials. The senators will represent the U.S. Senate at meetings with NATO allies and aspirant nations to highlight U.S. support for NATO. Finally, the senators will travel to Madrid, Spain, as a bipartisan delegation to the NATO summit.

“Whether Putin is driven by the delirium of restoring the Soviet Union or simply seeking to sow chaos and sow dissension between Ukraine and NATO allies is unclear. But here is what is clear: the strength of the NATO alliance and the courage and resilience of the peoples of Eastern Europe in their struggle for freedom and democracy,” Durbin said. “My message this week to our European friends is very simple: you are not alone.”

Photos of Durbin receiving the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Award are available here.

A link to Durbin’s speech in the Lithuanian Parliament after receiving the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Award is available here (Durbin’s speech begins at 8:55 p.m.).

A PDF of Durbin’s speech as prepared for delivery is available here.

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