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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

23 June 2017
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A very accurate description of the situation in Lithuania

 

Yet again, a very interesting and unfortunately a very accurate depiction of the situation in Lithuania. I have had the exact same experiences that you had mentioned. I remember first coming to Lithuania about 10 years ago and the Lithuania then, is definitely not the Lithuania now!

I remember when it was relatively safe to walk in almost any corner of Lithuania, without the fear that I had, in my own country (South Africa). However, on our recent visits, I was advised not to stroll around as freely as I did previously. To the extent, of being escorted wherever I went. I also recognised the development in the major cities and the degradation on the outskirts and villages. How could this happen in a country, where there was once so much of national pride!

I genuinely miss the days of looking at Lithuania, as my second home country, in a very fond light. My wife and children are Lithuania citizens and I would love for my wife and children to continue to be proud Lithuanians! I also want them to have the same romantic view I have had of Lithuania!

Our family and friends in Lithuania are off the same mind set as your dear friend. Where the country has gained internationally, from being included in the EU and NATO, it has lost domestically, by allowing its' people to lose faith. In almost every conversation I have encountered, the central topic was around corruption. This corruption ranges from low level public sector workers to the upper echelons of government.

My view is that the people have THE VOICE! However, when I mentioned this approach to people, I was almost laughed at!

The issue is that the nature of most of the people I have encountered is that the best approach, is to accept the situation as it is. No amount effort on my part could convince them, that they are empowered to take action.
For example: There is a prevalence of bribery in most state departments, especially when it comes to applications or documents, etc. In most cases, a time frame is indicated within which you should receive the

information, however, the norm is that if you bribe the person, only then would you get the information with that timeframe. Failure to bribe, will result in "delays". Now, my approach, is that a person should say NO to anyone who suggests or tries to extract a bribe. My family's view is that it has now become the norm and it is expected for you in some cases to offer the bribe!

I was very irritated by that revelation and expressed a situation to them, which I was hoping would change their perspective.

As you are aware, I am a South African, and I will relate an experience where I realised that sometimes, escalating an issue does resolve the matter. I was experiencing issues with getting a visa to visit Lithuania, despite having visited the country on numerous occasions prior to that. I was met with comments and replies which made no sense and was not complimentary to the visa issuing policies. When I highlighted this to the consular officer, I was met with an irrelevant reply, which intended to insult my appreciation of the English language. I decided to voice my irritation of the situation via an online forum which I found on the Office of the Presidents' website. I did this without any expectation. Much to my delight, I received a reply within 24 hours! The office of the President, accepted that my treatment was unfair and forwarded my details to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Within an hour of that initial mail, I received a mail from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requesting all my details as well as the details of the consulate and consular officer. Within that same day, I received another mail from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they had given me assurance that my visa application will be handled in the proper manner and will be issued within the timeframe, described in their visa issuing policy! Needless to state, when I presented myself at the consulate for the collection of my visa, I was met with a very apologetic consular officer as well as having my visa issued more sooner than I had expected. So, it does help to escalate and it does not go unattended!

The response from my family was that this was only done because I was a foreigner. They believe that if they had to do the same, that they would be ridiculed! I respectfully disagreed!

I believe that the way out of this proverbial 'hole' that is being dug, is to empower the people, with forums or support groups, independent of any attachment to government, which will ensure that the faith and trust that should exist, and be available, are there and is being used for what it is intended!
I am willing to lend whatever support I can, to form a lobby group, or to join an existing lobby group, to get a forum in place to address these issues with government in a diplomatic environment, expressing the concerns that we as foreigners (by Nationality only, as I see Lithuania as my second Home country) have!

I think that every single Lithuanian, should remember these names below and the cause that they sacrificed their lives for on January 13, 1991!

Loreta Asanavičiūtė, Virginijus Druskis, Darius Gerbutavičius, Rolandas Jankauskas, Rimantas Juknevičius, Alvydas Kanapinskas, Algimantas Petras Kavoliukas, Vytautas Koncevičius, Vidas Maciulevičius, Titas Masiulis, Alvydas Matulka, Apolinaras Juozas Povilaitis, Ignas Šimulionis, Vytautas Vaitkus

Let not let THEIR sacrifice be in vain!

Come on Lithuania! Be proud! Remember Baltijos kelias! Anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it! Democracy does prevail!

Eugene Rangayah
South Africa and United Kingdom

Category : Opinions
  • Eugene Rangayah

    Virginija, thanks for commenting. I can definitely see your point about the cultural differences, but people can change. I am not sure how long ago, you lived in SA and then left it, but there was significant development in bridging the gap between cultures and races. I grew up in the Apartheid era and was a victim of racism from all angles, but as time went on I saw the racism subside, it still exists no doubt, but in very small numbers. So the fighting spirit, is what is needed to be instilled in Lithuanians. I can also clearly understand your point about being treated differently because you are a foreigner. My wife also experienced the same, although she was born and lived most of her life in Lithuania, she has lived outside of the country for over 13 years, so culturally she is different. Also we haved lived in SA and the UK, so the mix has helped her, understand how you can go about, ensuring that people don't take advantage of you. There is a very thin line between demanding your rights, as opposed to being rude and arrogant and insisting, but then again, sometimes one is necessary. I hope that New Zealand is treating you well. It is unfortunate, that we never met when we lived in SA, I was very close to the Lithuanian community and was there when it was officially founded. But I also guess, that you are all too familiar with the attitude of most of the Lithuanians in SA. It saddened me to have been confronted with so many of them having a racist attitude towards the local African population. Especially since many have claimed to have fled Lithuania because they were persecuted, but I guess…that is a discussion for a whole new article.
    Take care,
    Eugene (South African Citizen, Born in SA, Living in the UK, Living in the hope that Lithuania will change for the better)

    October 15 2011
    CommentsLike
    • Virginija Shimkute

      Eugene! excellent article and very good point of view. Have not been in Lithuania for many years but I know lithuanians,so here's my view on this.
      I think majority of lithuanians don't have that rebel-fighter spirit-they are too polite so to speak and well mannerred to confront."Escalating the issue" attitude,not accepting things as they are is not in lithuanian culture.People have to be really pushed into the corner-only then someone might express disagreement and take action (instead of just discussing the problem with friends and family).
      Comment that one is treated differently because of being a foreigner-I find it true.Test it! People will definitely look at you differently if you not lithuanian living in Lithuania. Even if you were lithuanian,then gone overseas-come back, and you are not one of them anymore.
      thank you for the article
      Virginija
      (South african citizen,born in Lithuania,living in New Zealand)

      September 30 2011
      CommentsLike



      

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