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Archive for April, 2011

Lithuania’s impressive recovery continues

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
By Violeta Klyviene - Danske Bank

Today Lithuanian Statistics published the flash estimate of GDP growth for Q1 11. GDP unexpectedly accelerated to 6.9% y/y, significantly up from 4.8% y/y in Q4 10, seasonally-adjusted GDP increased by 3.5% q/q. The outcome was significantly higher than our and consensus forecast (5.1% y/y).

Details
Lithuanian GDP increased by 6.9% y/y in Q1 11, significantly up from 4.8% y/y in Q4 10. We expect the Lithuanian economy to grow by 4% y/y in 2011, but there is a clear upside risk to our forecast.

Assessment and outlook
The Lithuanian GDP outcome in Q1 11 was significantly higher than our and consensus forecast (5.1% y/y). Although detailed statistics have not been published yet, it looks like the Lithuanian recovery has become more broad based and was derived not only by robust export performance, but also by notable growth in private consumption. However, the impressive recovery was partially determined by the low base effect.

Regarding this year’s development we emphasise that growth might exceed our expectation (4% on average). However, Lithuanian quarterly national accounts data are characterised by significant corrections, so we are not changing our forecasts for this year until the publication of the final data for Q1 11.

The biggest risk to the economic recovery is still associated with the accelerated inflation, which is mainly determined by external factors and as a consequence cannot be handled effectively. Eurozone debt crisis risk remains relevant as well. Under the unfavourable scenario, Lithuanian will be unable to escape the negative effects of a full-scale sovereign debt crisis, but the economy fundamentally looks much stronger than a few years ago.

Otherwise such risk confirms the need to pursue fiscal consolidation targets in the medium term.

Category : Business, economy, investments

Lithuania’s impressive recovery continues

- Posted by - (2) Comment

 
By Violeta Klyviene - Danske Bank

Today Lithuanian Statistics published the flash estimate of GDP growth for Q1 11. GDP unexpectedly accelerated to 6.9% y/y, significantly up from 4.8% y/y in Q4 10, seasonally-adjusted GDP increased by 3.5% q/q. The outcome was significantly higher than our and consensus forecast (5.1% y/y).

Details
Lithuanian GDP increased by 6.9% y/y in Q1 11, significantly up from 4.8% y/y in Q4 10. We expect the Lithuanian economy to grow by 4% y/y in 2011, but there is a clear upside risk to our forecast.

Assessment and outlook
The Lithuanian GDP outcome in Q1 11 was significantly higher than our and consensus forecast (5.1% y/y). Although detailed statistics have not been published yet, it looks like the Lithuanian recovery has become more broad based and was derived not only by robust export performance, but also by notable growth in private consumption. However, the impressive recovery was partially determined by the low base effect.

Regarding this year’s development we emphasise that growth might exceed our expectation (4% on average). However, Lithuanian quarterly national accounts data are characterised by significant corrections, so we are not changing our forecasts for this year until the publication of the final data for Q1 11.

The biggest risk to the economic recovery is still associated with the accelerated inflation, which is mainly determined by external factors and as a consequence cannot be handled effectively. Eurozone debt crisis risk remains relevant as well. Under the unfavourable scenario, Lithuanian will be unable to escape the negative effects of a full-scale sovereign debt crisis, but the economy fundamentally looks much stronger than a few years ago.

Otherwise such risk confirms the need to pursue fiscal consolidation targets in the medium term.

Category : News

What does Lithuania need?

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Two Words:

1) A NOKIA
2) EMIGRANT POPULATION

A brand name that unites Lithuania's creative, scientific, and business minds. NOKIA was born in a nation with a population of 5.4 million people. Lithuania's current population is a couple million short of that, but add to it its emigrant population and it is equal or even better. Look at what Harvard Business Review (December 2009) has to say about innovators:

"One of the most powerful experiments innovators can engage in is living and working overseas. Our research revealed that the more countries a person has lived in, the more likely he or she is to leverage that experience to deliver innovative products, processes, or businesses. In fact, if managers try out even one international assignment before becoming CEO, their companies deliver stronger financial results than companies run by CEOs without such experience - roughly 7% higher market performance on average."

Lithuania needs its emigrant population!

Best regards,
Jennifer Lambert,
Washington, USA

Category : Opinions

- Posted by - (1) Comment

AMBASSADOR’S POSTCARD

Today: From Ambassador Vidmantas Purlys in Ireland

 100 000 Lithuanians live
and work in Ireland


Text: Vidmantas Purlys, Lithuanian ambassador to Ireland

The Easter was dry and sunny in Dublin, and Dubliners were joyful as always during the holidays. The sales of the chocolate eggs were record high, which may have been a pleasant surprise to the chocolate producers in the context of economic difficulties.

Indeed, the economy and finance is a major preoccupation of the Irish government and citizens (or residents, to put it more correctly, given that up to 100 thousand Lithuanians now live and work in Ireland and share the same concerns as Irish, along with Poles, Latvians and other communities).

The economic developments in Ireland – member of the euro zone – resonate far beyond its shores in EU capitals and globally, due to the potential effect which the Irish situation may have on the common currency.

Since 1973 when Ireland became a member of the EU, its economic and social development up to 2008 was largely successful, and was regarded as a model to other countries undergoing transformation, particularly in East Central Europe. The notion of the Celtic Tiger was at the core of brand Ireland, which implied robust economic growth, export led economy, and tax regime and business climate conducive to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).

Ireland became and still is a rich country: gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Ireland stood at 48 % above EU average in 2007.
2008 may be regarded as the turning point. The real estate bubble collapsed. The crisis in this over expanded sector adversely affected the functioning of the banking system which was further aggravated by the global financial crisis. In September 2008 the Irish government decided to guarantee Irish banks' deposits and debts to calm investor concern. The majority of Irish banks were effectively nationalized.

This had a negative effect on growth, public finance and employment. In 2009 the value of the GDP fell by 11,3 %, the public balance deficit was 14,3 %, larger than in any other EU member state. Government debt increased to 64 %, up from 25 % in 2007. Unemployment reached 13,6 %.
In November 2010 Ireland entered a loan arrangement with EU/IMF after the interest of borrowing on markets hit a height of 9 %.

The terms of the agreement foresaw an 85 billion loan and set out compulsory conditions in the areas of fiscal consolidation, structural reform, and restructuring of the banking system. It was agreed that the government would cut spending and increase taxes with a view to reach the 3% budget deficit target in 2014. This will require slashing government spending by 15 billion in 2011 alone.

Lithuania supported Ireland at the EU level with regard to the measures directed to assist Ireland to overcome economic difficulties. EU solidarity is important in ensuring economic and financial stability across the EU, which is a key to the sustainable growth of the Lithuanian economy.

Are economic developments of Lithuania and Ireland comparable? Yes, but only to some extent. The economy contracted substantially in Lithuania in 2009 (by 14,8 %), also partly due to the real estate crisis. The banking system remained stable in Lithuania although the credit crunch to businesses was present both in Lithuania and Ireland. Government deficit in Lithuania was much lower - at 29,5% and unemployment was almost identical in both countries (13,7 % in Lithuania, 13,6 % in Ireland) in 2009.

When it comes to government deficit and debt, Lithuania is in a more favourable position. Latest Eurostat figures reveal that in 2010 the largest government deficit among EU27 in percentage of GDP was recorded in Ireland and stood at -32.4% (in Lithuania -7.1%). At the end of 2010, the ratio of government debt to GDP was 38.2% Lithuania and 96.2% Ireland.
Also, importantly, both countries undertook large scale programmes of consolidating public finances, however Ireland have also resorted to the assistance from EU/IMF.

GDP contracted by 1,6 % in Ireland in 2010, and grew by 1,3 per cent in Lithuania. The GDP increased by 4,8 % in Lithuania in the last quarter of 2010. It is expected that the economy in Ireland will turn to growth in 2011.
Although the Irish economy faces important challenges, the economic fundamentals are regarded as strong. The new Irish government, which enjoys support from its citizens, is committed to cutting government’s deficit, increasing competitiveness and creating jobs. Ireland is an open, deregulated economy, with a strong export oriented multi-national sector. Many international companies form the US and elsewhere run their businesses form headquarters in Ireland in sector such as IT, pharmaceuticals, financial services and others.

Working directly with multinationals located in Ireland is an important area of work for the Lithuanian embassy in Dublin in co-operation with various economic agencies in Lithuania in an effort by the Lithuanian government to win FDI.

Apart from the economic affairs, the political relations between Lithuania and Ireland are very close and are set to intensify. The visit to Ireland by the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė in May 2010 was an acknowledgement of close ties and an important common agenda ahead of us. Ireland will succeed Lithuania as President-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2012.
Also, in 2013 Ireland and Lithuania will hold presidencies of the EU for six consecutive months (Ireland in the first semester of 2013, and Lithuania in second half of 2013). Together with Greece which will succeed Lithuania at the helm of the EU in the beginning of 2014, these three countries will form the so-called EU troika, which has a special responsibility in leading the EU for 18 months.

EU presidency is a complex challenge but also a unique opportunity for Lithuania in further establishing itself as an ambitious and constructive EU member state. EU presidency involves a major preparation in terms of planning. Close co-ordination with Irish partners will be indispensible, and work in that regard is well-underway.

Intensive work in the political domain is an opportunity to further develop cultural and human links between the two countries, increase mutual awareness about Lithuanian and Irish societies.

Of course, the greatest bond which connects Lithuania and Ireland is a vibrant Lithuanian community in Ireland. It is rightly regarded by the Lithuanian government as a most important partner is fostering human and other links between the two countries.

Data in the article from www.cso.ie, www.stat.gov.lt, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home and www.ukmin.lt.

Category : Lithuania in the world

“We have met the enemy and he is us!”

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
Dealing with Russian occupation, as difficult as it was, may have been easier than dealing with ourselves

Dear Editor,

There has been a lot of negative commentary in Vilnews recently from some of your readers and even from Regina Narusiene in the recent piece about the need for change in attitudes toward what the Lithuanian diaspora can do for the country and what volunteerism can do within Lithuania.

I guess I don't disagree at all, however…

Sitting here on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland I'm reminded of the battle flag of Commander Oliver Hazard Perry, USN during the decisive battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. On the blue flag were the words "Don't Give Up the Ship" which he had to transfer from his sinking flagship to the sistership, Niagara. Commander Perry ultimately won that battle against the Royal Navy and altered the military balance on the Great Lakes. In his report to superiors he stated "We have met the enemy and they are ours".

To all my Lithuanian friends and friends of Lithuania I exhort "Don't Give Up the Ship" . And especially to my Lithuanian friends I quote the "Pogo" cartoon paraphrase of Perry " We have met the enemy and he is us!" Maybe our modern Lithuanian example of heroism needs to be Bishop Valancius who came to the conclusion that in the mid 19th century Lithuanians needed to sober up before they came to any national reawakening or effective resistance to Russian domination.

Dealing with Russian occupation, as difficult as it was, may have been easier than dealing with ourselves. But we have sort of been here before, haven't we? Onward!

Rimantas Aukstuolis,
Vice President Structured Trade Finance Fifth Third Bank, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Category : Opinions

Re.: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

Yes, it is much easier to blame others for our own shortcomings, so perhaps Lithuania faces the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" and therefore , perhaps, it is a time to leave the past behind and focus on establishing new linkages between the two nations and focusing on rebuilding the future? Nonetheless also re-examining and re-evaluating its own behaviours and have the courage in admitting own mistakes, as it will assist to rebuild the nation!

Barbara

About the ‚Tall Poppy Syndrome‘:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_poppy_syndrome

Category : Opinions

Scandinavian police wants the Baltic borders closed again, claiming that Balts account for 80% of the organized crime in the Nordic Region

- Posted by - (1) Comment

 

Association of the Nordic Police Corps urges the authorities to reintroduce border controls between countries in the Schengen area.

It is the growing crime rate related to the Baltic states that makes police in the Nordic region want a return to the old days when people had to go through passport control to cross borders, Norwegian newspaper VG reports.

- What happens in the Baltic countries is severe. People from these countries account for 80 percent of the organized crime perpetrated in the Nordic Region. This is a situation that we can no longer live with, "said Arne Johannessen, chairman of the Joint Police Association and vice chairman of the Nordic Council of Police Association.

He sent Wednesday a letter to Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget (Ap) and the other ministers of justice in the Nordic Region with a call to close the borders.

- If the Baltic countries are not doing anything to deal with the growing crime that affects the Nordic countries to a considerable extent, the Schengen agreement and where the limits should go, taken up for serious consideration. Today's open borders is a huge problem for us in the Nordic Region, "said Johannessen. www.aftenposten.no

See also:
http://www.morski.strazgraniczna.pl/eng/bsrbcc.htm

Category : News

“Yesterday Japan, tomorrow Lithuania”

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
A demonstrator holds a placard during an anti-nuclear protest march in Vilnius 26 April

Demonstrators in Vilnius are protesting plans by neighbouring Russia and Belarus to build new nuclear plants near the Lithuanian border.

Ref also our article of 9 April:

Russia’s nuclear projects:
A deadly threat to energy independence of the Baltic States
Text: Dr. Stan Backaitis
http://vilnews.com/?p=4604

Some 500 protesters marched down Vilnius' main avenue, carrying signs reading "Yesterday Japan, tomorrow Lithuania," on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe.

Many Lithuanians fear the Russian and Belarusian atomic power stations will be unsafe after environmental impact studies found alleged flaws in the plans.

Lithuania has long been a pro-nuclear-power nation. Before closing its Chernobyl-type reactor in 2009 it was the world's second most nuclear power-dependent nation, after France.

The 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in the former Soviet Union is still considered to be the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster.

- AP

Category : News

Here is this year’s chance to help Lithuania get world connected!

- Posted by - (1) Comment

 
THE WORLD LITHUANIAN ECONOMIC FORUM
VILNIUS 4 – 5 JULY 2011

 

There is over a million of people of Lithuanian origin living outside Lithuania. Having left their Motherland in different times and of different reasons they are now living and working in countries around the world. Many of them became successful businessmen: owners or managers of big corporations and companies or highly ranked experts in different fields.

 

Establishing of a closer relationship with Lithuanians living abroad should nowadays be one of the most important goals in the strategy of our government. The diasporas represent an invaluable source which can enrich Lithuania and help to create a better future of our country.

The goal of the World Lithuanian Economic Forum is to attract Lithuanian business people, economists, politicians and scientists from the entire world into Lithuania’s economic life of today, to strengthen their relations with Lithuania, to encourage them to develop business in our country, to help attract investments, to enterprising growing Lithuanian companies, to create a global network of Lithuanians from all over the world.

The Forum is organized by Lithuanian Business Confederation | ICC Lithuania in cooperation with a number of partners – governmental institutions as well as business companies.

The first Forum, named “Competitive Lithuania: innovative economy, effective business development and investment”, was organized in 2009 in Vilnius. In 2010 WLEF “High tech innovation & investment: local to global” was held in London. Both events got loads of attention from public and media. Following the traditions this year WLEF comes back to Vilnius and will be held 4 – 5 July.

The main theme of his year’s event is the creation of a competitive state. Experts, business people and scientists of different spheres from all over the world will discuss the vision of the world and Lithuania in ten years, the creation of competitiveness through innovations, a partnership between business and science, the encouragement of starting and growing businesses.

For registration and additional information, go to http://www.plef.lt/

 

Category : Business, economy, investments

Easier to obtain an audience with the Pope, than with a minister for foreign affairs of Lithuania

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
Ambassador Algirdas Žemaitis

You have lived long enough in Lithuania and must realize that many of the problems of the present day Lithuania are due to their reluctance to learn from the Western countries or accept advice from Lithuanians who lived and studied in the West. The relative success of Lithuania after World War I was largely due to the replacement of Russian educated officials by those who got their degrees in the West. My own father was the first Lithuanian with a degree in forestry from a Western university and introduced major reforms in the forest management, which survived even during the Communist occupation.

Alas, after 20 years of restoration of independence to paraphrase Kipling "The East is East, the West is West and the twain shall never (so far) meet". I spoke to a number of Lithuanians with degrees from top Western universities, who don't want to return to Lithuania - according to them, the "natives" know everything better.

I might add that for me it was easier to obtain an audience with the Pope, than with a Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.

Ambassador Algirdas Žemaitis,
Vilnius – Rome

Category : Opinions

Re.: ‘Easier to obtain an audience with the Pope…’

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
Victor Vytautas Pakalnis

Reminds me of the 90's in Ontario , Canada when the head of the Ontario Public Service , Rita Burak got so frustrated at the quality of customer service within the public service that firm email / phone standards were put in place : phone calls had to be answered within 3 rings and if it went to voice mail , the person receiving it had to indicate today's date and when a call would be returned , usually 1 working day unless they were on vacation . There was always a " 0" option to get to a live operator . And in spite of grumbling at the senior ranks - new habits were formed and new expectations realized within one year - particularly since the service standards became part of every public service executives’ pay for performance plan. It was tracked - audited and rewarded or corrected . Every public service in the world strives to improve its service to its citizens - The Institute for Citizen Centered Service ( Google: ICCS Canada ) found the leading determinant of quality public service is TIMELINESS - the others : professionalism , courtesy , fairness , going the extra mile , outcome...

Victor Vytautas Pakalnis, P..Eng. Canada

Category : Opinions

Sending e-mail to Lithuania is like sending it to the black hole of the universe

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
Vytautas Sliupas

Lithuania's business people and government officials are yet to learn the necessity of good communications. Without a two way communication there is no possibility for further contacts. One of the most frustrating experiences I had was in e-mail (before that it was in regular "snail mail") communications. I would write and write but receive no reply (with only a few exceptions). When I was working, our management had a rule - "answer all letters received in not more than three daysIf there is no answer to be given, then at least acknowledge the receipt".

One of my American colleagues, who was sincerely trying to help Lithuania, said "Sending e-mail to Lithuania is like sending it to the black hole of the universe. Everything goes one way and nothing comes back". No wander he is now disenchanted and helping others

Vytautas Sliupas, P.E.
www.aukfoundation.org
Burlingame, California

Category : Opinions

Information from Lithuania could have prevented the Chernobyl disaster of 26 April 1986

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 
The Chernobyl nuclear reactor after the disaster. Reactor 4 (center). Turbine building (lower left).
Reactor 3 (center right).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

Kiev - The Soviet-era reactor used at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant contained several design flaws that contributed directly to the 1986 accident, studies have shown.
Unlike modern reactors, the one employed at Chernobyl, known as a high-power channel-type reactor (RBMK), was not designed to contain unexpected radiation leaks.

Engineers at Lithuania's Ignalina plant, who also operated RMBK reactors, had uncovered this shortcoming before the Chernobyl accident.

The Soviet government made the Ignalina findings secret, and Chernobyl engineers were not aware of it when they conducted a low- power reactor test in the early morning hours of 26 April 1986.

Most RMBK reactors were taken out of commission after Chernobyl. Russia continues to operate six, which have received upgrades in control systems, housing and safety equipment.
Sources: International Atomic Energy Agency, Ukraine's Emergency Situations and Chernobyl Ministry.

Source:
http://www.monstersandcritics.com


Radioactive fallout after Chernobyl.

Category : News

OPINIONS

Have your say. Send to:
editor@VilNews.com


By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

Read more...
* * *


Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

Read more...
* * *

* * *
VilNews
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius


* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
future
By Leonidas Donskis
Kaunas
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political
commentator

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

Read more...
* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!


* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

Read more...
* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

Read more...
* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

Read more...
* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.
MADE IN WALES -
ENGLISH VERSION OF THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS.

Read more...
* * *
IS IT POSSIBLE TO
COMMENT ON OUR
ARTICLES? :-)
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
www.anatanassileika.com

http://www.vdu.lt/lt/rasytojas-antanas-sileika-pristatys-savo-kuryba/
https://leu.lt/lt/lf/lf_naujienos/kvieciame-i-rasytojo-59hc.html
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
HERE.
* * *
EU-Russia:
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

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The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

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Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

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Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

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It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,
PhD, CPC

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

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Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

Read more...
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