Prime Minister at “Model NATO Vilnius”: the Strength of Democracy is Measured by the Quality of Debate and the Depth of Citizens’ Engagement


2023 06 08


Today, the Seimas Palace hosts the “Model NATO Vilnius 2023” event, where over 100 Lithuanian high school students take on the roles of heads of state in a simulation of a NATO Summit. The event was welcomed by Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.

“The strength of democracy is measured by the quality of debate and the depth of citizens’ engagement. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of education in this regard. We are living in an era where autocratic regimes sponsor massive propaganda via traditional and social media platforms, creating mischievous, fake noise in trying to undermine the ideals of democracy. The best vaccine against autocrats’ propaganda is a resilient society and informed citizens who know how to engage in debate, defend their opinion, and how to double-check the news,” said the Prime Minister in her welcome address to the gathering.

In her welcoming speech, the Prime Minister emphasized the value of debate as the foundation of democracy, noting that it is through the kind of debate that the students participating in the simulation can find the best solutions.

The Prime Minister also reminded the audience of one of the greatest current adversaries of democratic values–Russia’s war in Ukraine. “In the hands of desperate Putin’s regime everything has become a weapon, including information, food, energy, nuclear power plants, even water, as we witnessed a few days ago, when the Nova Kakhovka dam was blown up,” listed the Prime Minister, referring to the never-ending means of Russia’s aggression.

“But in the long term, it is only strong NATO that can deter Russia from its further aggression. It is clear that NATO needs to adapt. NATO needs swift, bold and overreaching decisions that reflect new geopolitical realities. NATO’s ambition to defend every inch of Alliance’s territory should be based on credible resources pledged by the members,” stated Ms. Šimonytė. “We – NATO – are a family of 31, and hopefully, soon of 32 nations, who share the same values. This bond among nations, and a pledge of one for all and all for one is a true strength of NATO.”

Recalling NATO’s core values of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law, the Prime Minister encouraged the participants of the simulation to do their duty and find consensus through productive debates among the Allies on important issues and to be responsible for strengthening NATO.

“Model NATO Vilnius 2023” is organized by the Baltic Institute of Advanced Technology in partnership with the British Council and the British Embassy in Vilnius to enhance young people’s knowledge of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The event is moderated by Mark Webber, Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham.

Popular in many foreign countries, “Model NATO” is a simulation of a NATO Summit, offering participants the opportunity to learn more about the organization, its activities, and the decision-making process in a hands-on way. Moderated by the organisers, the participants represent their assigned countries and engage in realistic situations that NATO members may face on a daily basis in their consultations and decision-making on security issues at all levels and in various areas.

Prime Minister's speech at “Model NATO Vilnius 2023”