On July 23, 1940, US Secretary of State Sumner Welles published an official statement on US non-recognition of the Soviet annexation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Speaking at the event at the Washington Square in Vilnius, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said Lithuania should take pride in the countries that continued valuing self-determination of other countries to be independent.
Lithuania’s first post-independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis said that the Sumner Welles declaration carried a “far bigger” value than that emphasized by Lithuania.
“The document is intended for the world and for the future. Let’s think – a declaration published by a high-ranking official it continues to be a significant legal and moral document (…) about what the world should be and what world the US stands for,” said Landsbergis. “This is the keystone for us and the democratic world.”
“We can state that the US is our friend but that would be saying too little. The US is a friend of freedom and a friend of all nations that deserve freedom,” he added.
Among participants of the event in Vilnius were Parliamentary Speaker Loreta Graužinienė, ministers of national defence and foreign affairs, Juozas Olekas and Linas Linkevičius, as well as members of parliament.
The US continued the non-recognition policies throughout the 50 years of the Soviet rule, a Lithuanian Embassy operated in Washington, D.C., over the years.