Vice President Press Briefing with Lithuanian President Adamkus
By Louise Fenner

Bureau of International Information
U.S. Department of State
May 3, 2006

Washington — U.S. Vice President Cheney is in Vilnius, Lithuania, to address a summit of leaders from the Baltic and Black Sea states who are examining how to advance regional integration and encourage democratic values, particularly in states that are not yet members of the European Union or NATO.

“This is an opportunity for all of us to rededicate ourselves to continuing to promote freedom and democracy as values that are universal,” Cheney said during a brief press opportunity May 3 with Lithuanian President Valdus Adamkus at the Presidential Palace.

“There are still parts of the world, including in this region, where people don’t enjoy the full benefits of those values,” Cheney added.

President Bush asked Cheney to attend the summit “to emphasize the importance of the region’s democratic transformation and to advance the President’s Freedom Agenda,” according to the White House.

Cheney also is scheduled to visit Kazakhstan and Croatia before returning to the United States.

The aim of the gathering is to build a “common vision for a common neighborhood,” according to the organizers. Adamkus — who is co-hosting the conference along with Polish President Lech Kaczynski — told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty May 3 that a “common vision … is the vehicle which is going to commit to us to build a Europe based on common values and linked by economic integration.”

Cheney’s attendance at the meeting, Adamkus said, “shows the willingness of the United States, of the people of the United States, to share their experience and their values with us, the new democracies.”

The Lithuanian president, who is a former official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the conference will look for “new ways to assist regional integration, consolidate democracy in the Europe’s East, and create a trans-Atlantic community that will share not only common values and interests, but also commitments for human rights and the rule of law.”

Cheney, who is scheduled to deliver remarks on May 4, told reporters that the conference offers “the opportunity to remind everyone … of the enormous strides that they’ve made in recent years in terms of having more and more of the world’s population live in freedom and democracy.”

He said Lithuania “has been a great friend and ally for the United States, a full member of NATO now, actively involved in using your resources and your moral authority in supporting those opportunities — not only in this part of the world, but in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, as well, too.”

The conference consists of four major forums: the summit of the heads of states, the intellectuals’ forum, the nongovernmental organizations’ forum and the youth forum, according to the conference Web site.

Heads of state expected to attend include the presidents of Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. The EU high representative for common foreign and security policy and other state representatives from EU and Eastern European countries, NATO and EU institutions also are scheduled to attend.

Cheney is the first U.S. vice president to visit Lithuania, said Adamkus, who noted that “President Bush was a little bit ahead of you in the same room.” Bush became the first U.S. president to visit Lithuania in November 2002.

In 2005, Bush met with Adamkus, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Estonian President Arnold Ruutel in Riga, Latvia. Bush was in Europe to participate in ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

In April 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a joint press briefing with Adamkus in Vilnius, where she was attending a regular meeting of NATO foreign ministers, the NATO-Russia Council and NATO-Ukraine Commission.