This year’s National Democratic Institute (NDI) Madeleine K. Albright Democracy Award, honouring the memory of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, was bestowed to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, Moldova’s President Maia Sandu, and Slovakia’s President Zuzana Čaputová in recognition of their efforts to promote and protect the values of democracy and freedom. The awards were presented on 6 December during the Democracy Award Gala in Washington DC.
In her acceptance speech, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė underlined the importance of solidarity among democracies in resisting the aggressor, noting the relevance of the lessons learned by Lithuania in strengthening the resilience of democracies against authoritarian regimes.
Today, Lithuania’s principles of independence and democracy are strong because we have learnt well the lessons that come from the painful experience of living next to the neighbour who weaponizes energy, lies and cyber-attacks. Faced with energy blackmail, Lithuania built a liquefied gas terminal. Faced with other hybrid attacks, Lithuania started phasing out the multifaceted dependence on Russia and stepping up its resilience. Today, this far-sighted policy is bearing fruit and we can share our experience with other countries, Ingrida Šimonytė underlined.
Only strong and resilient democracies and the unity of such democracies is the key to lasting peace and prosperity in the world, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister stressed that by heroically defending itself, Ukraine is also defending the fundamental principles of international law and peace, and Ukraine’s fight would shape the future of democracy in Europe and beyond.
‘Autocratic regimes across the world are watching closely whether an aggressor will be appeased, whether democratic nations get tired of supporting Ukraine. This is a test for us all,’ said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.
Thanking for the Madeleine Albright Democracy Award, the Prime Minister noted that the former Secretary of State would remain an inspiration to all those who fight for democracy and against tyranny around the globe.
The Prime Minister added that she was accepting the Award primarily as a reminder of the collective moral responsibility to support Ukrainians, Belarusians and all those who are still fighting today for their right to live in free and democratic countries.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.