VILNIUS - U.S. political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski was awarded a medal by acting Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis last Friday during his trip to Vilnius, where he participated in a conference on the democratization of former republics of the Soviet Union.
Brzezinski, who was one of the most outspoken critics of communism in the 20th century, received the commemorative medal for his assistance in helping Lithuania integrate into the European Union and NATO.
The U.S. political scientist said he was happy to feel "the winds of change" blowing harder in Eastern Europe. He remembered the earlier titles he was bestowed in Lithuania, including honorary doctor at Vilnius University and honorary citizen of Vilnius. The latter enables him to use the city's public transport free of charge, Brzezinski said.
Brzezinski also attended an international conference on the democratic and integration processes taking place in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the South Caucasus. Some 50 representatives of American and EU parliaments, NATO, OSCE and NGOs participated.
The meeting is a follow-up to the traditional Vilnius Conference, which was first held in 1997 when East and Central European leaders pooled their efforts together to secure invitations to join NATO. Since then, the annual conference has been a discussion among strategic partners from both sides of the Atlantic on key foreign policy issues.
The conference discussed future cooperation of the U.S.A. and European countries with former Soviet republics and the possible contribution of the EU and NATO to the continuation of reforms in these countries.
Speaking at the forum, Brzezinski said that Ukraine was in the decisive phase of post-imperial consolidation, which have only one of two denouements - restoration of imperial dominance or transformation to democratic society and strengthening of Euro-Atlantic cooperation. In his words, the events in Ukraine will decide further developments in Moldova and Belarus, while countries of South Caucasus and Central Asia will remain in the middle of U.S.-Russian ties.
French political scientist Marie Mendras said that democratic forces would prevail in Belarus, adding it was yet too early to celebrate the triumph of democracy. "We have to revise the stance of European countries toward the Russian president, who has been a factor of stability until now but now looks like a cause for instability," she said.
Mendras expressed doubts whether the EU should take any stricter diplomatic measures against Russia for causes of the community's domestic policy, but stressed that the events in Ukraine were not what Putin had expected.
"He will have to swallow the bitter pill. He will be forced to draw conclusions," said Mendras.