Durbin, Grassley Meet with Speaker of Lithuania’s Parliament Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Co-Chairs of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, met with the Speaker of Lithuania’s Parliament Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to discuss the continued congressional support for the Baltic States as well as ongoing Russian aggression and interference in western democracies.  During the meeting, the Senators also offered their support to Lithuania as the nation faces economic bullying from the Chinese government for improving diplomatic ties with Taiwan.  Durbin and Grassley were also joined by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). 

“Time and time again, Lithuania has proved itself to be a champion of freedom and democracy,” said Durbin. “Today, in the face of Russian aggression and Chinese economic intimidation, is no different. As Co-Chair of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus and as a son of a Lithuanian immigrant, I will continue to be an outspoken ally to the Lithuanian people and the nation’s Baltic neighbors as they work to uphold these values in an increasingly tense situation. Today’s conversation reaffirmed our alliance and proved in the face of Putin’s war, the courage and resilience of the people of Eastern Europe is unparalleled.”

“We will continue to stand with our friends in Lithuania. This year our countries celebrated the milestone that is one century of continuous diplomatic relations. Amid ongoing Russian aggression and Chinese bullying, we in the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus and throughout the country are steadfast in our support for our longstanding ally Lithuania. I look forward to more engagement and friendship between our nations in the years to come,” Grassley said.

“We are grateful for US leadership which together with strong transatlantic alliance are essential at this critical time for the world order and especially for European security. The scenarios for our common future are being played out in Ukraine. We are also witnessing efforts by external forces to destabilise NATO and the EU. In the race for strategic patience with Russia, we must not only remain united and resolute, but step up our efforts to defend what we hold most dear - freedom, democracy, our values. That is why it is essential to continue to provide comprehensive assistance to Ukraine, to stop Russian aggression, to strengthen NATO’s Eastern flank, to increase energy independence, and to support other democracies around the world, including Taiwan. Lithuania stands ready to work together with our strategic partner the US for a better future,” said Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania.

Photos of the meeting are available here.

In June, Durbin met with Speaker Cmilyte-Nielsen in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he received the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Award—only the second individual and first American to receive this award.  The new award honors Aleksandras Stulginskis, former President of Lithuania who served from 1920-1926 and was a strong advocate for a democratic republic. It was granted to Durbin for his decades-long support of Lithuanian independence and democracy and his promotion of parliamentary values. In February, Durbin visited with U.S. servicemembers at the NATO base in Pabrade, Lithuania.  In May, he and Grassley introduced the Baltic Defense and Deterrence Act, legislation to effectively codify the Baltic Security Initiative and create a complementary initiative at the U.S. Department of State. Durbin’s mother was born in Lithuania and came to the United States with her mother and siblings in 1911.