Ambassador Pavilionis touched upon Lithuania’s long lasting cultural tradition of tolerance, the country’s achievements during the EU Presidency and its aims at the UN Security Council.
Biography: Ambassador Pavilionis, 42, is married to Lina Pavilioniene and has four sons. In 1993, Pavilionis joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was instrumental in achieving Lithuanian accession into NATO and the European Union. Between 1993 and 2009, he has held various high-level positions in the Lithuanian MFA, most focused on Lithuania’s relationship with the European Union. Most recently Ambassador Pavilionis acted as Ambassador –at-Large and Chief Coordinator for Lithuania’s Presidency of the Community of Democracies and Chief Coordinator for Transatlantic relations. He has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and PhD in Political Science. He pursued both degrees in Vilnius University, Lithuania.
In this discussion the ambassador starts off by explaining what he admires about the US and how he has tried to apply that to his home country. He starts by saying that one thing he thinks the US does a good job of is education for the purpose of intercultural and ethnic understanding. He calls this sort of education “investment on the human level”. He expresses disappointment with the lack of human level education taking place in among members of the EU, as he feels that such education would serve to improve and promote cooperation between the different countries. He also states that within Lithuania alone, increased cross-cultural dialogue and understanding would be highly desirable. Lithuania, he says, is a vastly diverse country, with people speaking many languages, including Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian, and comprised of many religious groups, including Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and Greek and Russian Orthodox christians. He then goes on to discuss Lithuanian strengths. He points to the Lithuanian constitution, which was adopted as the official constitution in 1791 and is modeled after the US constitution. Pavilionis is proud that his country is a staunch supporter and practitioner of democracy, and goes on to explain why this is so important to him. Lithuania knows the sting of authoritarian, non-democratic government all too well. Having been a part of the Soviet Union and being subjected to dictatorial rule, Lithuanians know the pain that comes with bad government. They therefore do not take their current democratic system for granted, something which the ambassador feels is common in western nations who do not know what it is like to live under an authoritarian regime. Lastly, the ambassador is asked by an audience member what are some challenges that Lithuania faces today. In response, Pavilionis states that he would like to see a greater influence on democracy building in the EU. He does not name a specific place or department that he feels is undemocratic, but he does state that “only 1 to 2 percent” of the EU’s budget is stipulated to go towards the promotion of democracy.