THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Lithuanian Consulate in Telemark, Norway
Carl Thomas Carlsten
Honorary Consul/dr. Philos
It is a Sunday in fall 2006. The place: Skien city, the capital of Telemark County. The top diplomats from the Lithuanian Embassy in Oslo, ambassador Alfonsas Eidintas and 1th secretary Regimantas Jablonskas with families, are visiting the famous Telemark canal. Mr. Jablonskas has asked me to organize the tour. No wonder they want to see this marvellous engineer victory from 1892, lifting sea travellers 72 meters up from ocean level on the 105 km long route from Skien to Dalen deep into southern Norway. http://www.telemarkskanalen.no/engHYPERLINK "http://www.telemarkskanalen.no/eng/"/ The scenery along the canal is just marvellous, as American tourists say. For dinner: Salmon and elk. The weather is absolutely perfect. The tour is absolutely successful. The final is absolutely surprising: Out of the blue the ambassador asks me to open an honorary consulate!
What brought this about?
I married Irena Maria Bajoraite Petkevic from Kaunas in 1999. She practiced as medical doctor, ophthalmologist and micro surgeon at Kaunas University Hospital. There and then in late July she said farewell to family, eye department and city, and moved with me to Telemark, Norway.
My interest for Lithuania grew, my knowledge about Lithuanians wishes and needs expanded, and my network in Norway gave proposals and solutions. Several bilateral projects were initiated and carried through with assistance from private citizens, public institutions, rotary clubs, and the Embassy in Oslo. I guess the consulate question rooted from this soil!
I myself am a senior advisor for the educational-psychological staff in Skien city. My career started as a teacher, moving through speech therapist practice and educational-psychological advisor diploma to a dr. philos title from Bergen University in 1999. Through job relations and membership in a variety of organizations and clubs I have the network that is the supposition to handle consular challenges. The consulate opened February 1th, 2008.
And what are these challenges? It is: «To serve as advisory, coordinating, and helping authority in Telemark County for Lithuanian citizens and institutions, and for citizens and institutions in Telemark towards Lithuania.»
Inspecting the Iron Wolf Brigade.
Practically this meant for 2010:
Cultural and political goals:
To establish and enhance cultural connections between Lithuania and Telemark:
• Translate and publish a Lituanian book into Norwegian (Tur-retur Sibir)
• Arrange an art excursion to Lithuania.
• Arrange an excursion to Lithuania about defence and security policy.
To establish and enhance social connections between Lithuania and Telemark:
• Maintain relations with The Catholic Church in Telemark.
• Maintain relations with The Police Director in Telemark.
• Build network between Norwegian and Lithuanian politicians.
To promote the wellfare of Lithuanians in Telemark, and the interests of Lithuania:
• Help in ways possible Lithuanian individuals and families.
• Participate in county related arrangements where it is possible to promote Lithuania.
To establish and enhance business connections between Lithuania and Telemark:
• Maintain the relation with Skien Chamber of Commerce.
• Maintain the relation with The Norwegian -Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce.
• Work for affecting citizen of Telemark to visit Lithuania.
This «roadmap» gave structure and direction in my consular activities in 2010. When the annual report was sent the Embassy in primo January 2011, I could conclude that all goals were met in a proper way. Maybe most important this year, is the publishing of the book «Tur-Retur Sibir/Tour-Retour Siberia», the product of initiative from 2008:
It is November 2010.
The address is Dronningensgate 3, Oslo. http://no.mfa.lt/
«Tour-Retour Siberia» is about to be presented.
There, at the Embassy of The Republic of Lithuania, journalists and diplomats, civilians and military personnel, Lithuanians and Norwegians are gathered. Before us stands a small, modest, elderly woman. She quietly tells her family's story, a history shared by most families in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, our close neighbours. The author is the 78 year old teacher Dainora Urboniené from Panevezys. She has come to Norway for this reason only, her husband, children and friends following her. 246 - Regina Lukoševičienė. Jei tavimi patiki, turi pasiryžti ir ... (page 15).
Her book, titled «Tur-Retur Sibir» is a frightening narrative about how the soviets treated people in the Baltics during the years I myself grew up. Lithuania became a victim of the German-Soviet covenant in 1939. Two years after, the republic was dominated by the communists. The deportations started. 10% of the population, mainly political leaders, intellectuals and farmers, «enemies of the people», were arrested. The grim railroad journey went to Siberia on cattle wagons. One hole in the wall for air. One in the floor for everything else. Dainora Urboniené and her family became deported. Her little brother died after short time. Her father also after forced labour and shortage of food. Little Dainora and her mother were left alone in some of the most remote wilderness in Siberia. After the war they succeded in smuggling Dainora back to Lithuania. Under constant threat of re-deportation she managed to get her teacher licence. She founded family, and it is her daughter Rasa Jukneviciené who is currently Lithuania's Minister of Defence. The book tells Dainora's and her mother's struggle to survive and to return to Lithuania. ”Tur-Retur Sibir” is the first eyewitness narrative of the communist savageness published in Norway. Her book is the retrospective Baltic parallel to Anne Frank's diary!
The Lithuanians are preparing the 4th edition these days.
The book deserves to be translated and published in other languages and countries.
That is my challenge to my fellow consuls!
Skien, Telemark, Norway
Medio February 2011
Dainora Urboniené’s book «Tur-Retur Sibir» is a frightening narrative about how the soviets treated people in the Baltics during the years I myself grew up.
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