IRI Hosts Chairman of Lithuanian Seimas Arturas Paulauskas

The International Republican Institute (IRI) today hosted Chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) Artūras Paulauskas.  In remarks (PDF) to guests, Chairman Paulauskas thanked IRI for the institute’s work in Lithuania in the 1990s.  Paulauskas also highlighted the importance of upcoming elections in Ukraine and Belarus to the development of democracy in the former Soviet bloc.  The Chairman also offered his country’s help to new democracies in the Caucasus region in addressing the issues facing emerging democracies.   

“The world is watching the current situation in Ukraine and so do we,” said Paulauskas.  “With the general elections in Ukraine upcoming in March 2006, it needs international support…The international community must be ready to grant tangible support to Ukraine and its vitally significant reforms.”

Chairman Paulauskas also discussed the importance of economic development and membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO for Ukraine as it works to sustain its democratic achievements.  “What is needed on the part of Ukraine itself is even more significant.  That is its very effort to reach the aims it set for itself, membership in the EU and NATO.”  

In discussing the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus, Chairman Paulauskas stressed the importance for a common EU policy towards the country, “In order for Belarus to become democratic and to have democratic elections this spring we must act together.  If we fail to do this the fragile space of civil society and democracy in Belarus may be simply trampled.”

Congressman John Shimkus (IL-19), who IRI President Lorne Craner called a, “stalwart ally in advancing democracy abroad,” introduced Chairman Paulauskas and praised Lithuania and the Baltic states for their efforts to support democracy.  “The Baltic States have not only taken and developed for themselves a vibrant democracy, but they are actively giving.  They are active in the region to help bring democracy and freedom to the emerging countries,” commented Shimkus.

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