The two-day Snow Meeting began on 15 January in Trakai near Vilnius. which, as it does every year, brings together politicians, officials and international security experts. The participants will be debating how to protect Western society and its values from Russia's aggressive efforts to redraw the map of Europe, how to set up the relationship between the West and Russia, how to help Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and other countries to resist pressure from Russia and to continue pursuing Euro-Atlantic integration.
At the opening of the Snow Meeting, Linkevicius conferred the award of honour of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - the Lithuanian Diplomacy Star - on the former Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt for his efforts to promote Nordic-Baltic cooperation.
The Vilnius Forum of Intellectuals also started on the same day. The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, received the participants of the Snow Meeting and the Vilnius Intellectuals' Forum on 15 January. The event brought together more than 60 famous foreign and Lithuanian politicians, officials and experts. At the opening of the forum, Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius stressed the importance of dialogue with Russian society, the MFA reported.
"Russian aggression against Ukraine has fundamentally changed the European security situation. This raises concerns, especially for its neighbours, who wish to see a democratic, peaceful and prosperous Russia. European values and an opportunity to live in a democratic society are, beyond any doubt, also very important for the people of Russia. Therefore, dialogue with Russian society is especially important and should be developed," said the minister during the opening of the Vilnius Intellectuals' Forum.
Almost 70 participants attended the forum, including Mikhail Kasyanov, the former Russian prime minister; Russian academics and researchers, such as Lilia Shevtsova, Andrey Piontkovski, Andrey Ilarionov, and Andrei Zubov; as well as journalists and public figures. The participants of the event observed a minute of silence to honour the victims of the terrorist attacks in France and Ukraine.