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Archive for July, 2011

Recession in Klaipeda lasted much shorter than in other cities

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Mayor of Klaipeda,
Vytautas Grubliauskas

What can you tell our readers about today's situation and the outlooks for the economy of Klaipeda?

Recession in Klaipeda lasted much shorter than in other cities. Thus it's still present in real estate sector, we bounced quickly back in other sectors. We kept quite stable consumer demand due to Klaipeda's large workforce share (appr. 40%) employed in harbour related activities that hardly experienced recession.

Positive economical outlook for local companies continued city economy running in difficult times. For future, I see much unused capacity in harbour and free economical zone activities that are already best performers in whole Baltics. On the other hand I watch with uncertainty demographic decline as most difficult macroeconomic challenge for municipal budget and consumer demand. We have to cope with a shrinking city scenario.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

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A very special ‘Culture Tall Ships Regatta’ will take place in Klaipeda 18 – 21 August

PHOTO: Sailors take up positions on the masts to lower the sails for the beginning of a regatta of tall ships.

This August, Klaipeda will be the starting point for a spectacular sailing event - The Culture Tall Ships Regatta 2011.

After the success of the Tall Ships Races 2009, this year Klaipeda is once again preparing for a fleet of sailboats.

The International Sail Training Organization (Sail Training International) is organizing this non-traditional regatta to mark the Finnish city Turku as ‘European Capital of Culture 2011’.

The Culture 2011 Tall Ships Regatta will be held after the Tall Ships Races 2011 and extend the Tall Ships festival season until September.

Klaipeda and Gdynia (Poland) have agreed to combine forces with Turku (Finland) and held the races in two phases: Tall Ships Regatta will start in Klaipeda, from where the fleet will race to Turku and then to Gdynia.

The Culture Tall Ships Regatta 2011 takes place 18 - 21 August.

Category : News

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Progressive thinking and innovative ideas!

Klaipeda Science and Technology Park
Director Roma Stubrienė

“By opening the door of the Klaipeda Science and Technology Park (KSTP) we intended to gather under one roof enthusiasts of successful development from Klaipeda city and all western Lithuania: progressive thinking students full of innovative ideas, post-graduates, entrepreneurs and their enterprises in order to enhance the collaboration between science, industry and other branches of economy as well as development of high technology sectors. We hope to interest the visitors of our internet site in our activity and encourage them to collaborate in development of an innovative environment and innovation based economy in the Klaipeda Region.”
- Roma Stubrienė 

The Klaipeda Science and technology Park (KSTP) is a mediator between science and business structures. Its task is to enhance communication between science and businesses, increase the level of entrepreneurship and promote development of knowledge based economy in the Klaipeda Region.

The Klaipeda County is one of the leaders of Lithuanian economy; it is among the three most powerful counties according to the GDP per capita, material and direct foreign investments as well as the average salary. More than 80% of the gross domestic product of the region is produced in Klaipeda City. Considering the potential and perspective of the region, it is necessary to ensure successful competitiveness by enhancing innovation culture, organizing transfer of knowledge and technologies and synergetic business communication.

Gathering under the roof of KSTP enthusiasts of successful development from Klaipeda City and all western Lithuania, progressive thinking students full of innovative ideas, post-graduates, entrepreneurs and their enterprises will help to enhance collaboration between science, industry and other branches of economy as well as development of high technology sectors. The KSTP plays an important role in creation and promotion of the city and region image and distinction and it also sets innovation culture traditions in the region. Therefore, the activity of the Park ensures social connection of science and business institutions: creates the necessary environment for knowledge and technology exchange, sets favorable conditions to provide high value added services, and promotes the scientific and industrial potential of the region.


Category : Lithuania today

To my dear homeland Norway

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PICTURE: From the island Utøya near Oslo, where around 90 young people last night were massacred by a 32 year old man characterised as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. The man is also expected to be behind the powerful bomb blast in downtown Oslo earlier same day.

Dear VilNews readers,

Most of you probably know that I am Norwegian, although I for the last 20 years have lived in Lithuania. Today I want to share with you all that the tragic events that took place yesterday in my beloved Norway makes a deep impression on me. I simply feel sad and empty right now.

The attack is considered the worst violence my country has seen since World War II, with a death toll of around 100.

The blast in the city quarter, where our government is located, shattered glass and sent a shockwave through the heart of downtown Oslo, killing at least seven people.

An hour later, the gunman opened fire at the Utøya summer camp, killing around 90 totally innocent young people.

My thoughts go to all those who have lost their loved ones in this deeply tragic way. Norway will move on, but this incident will forever remain a deep crater in our history.

Aage Myhre,

Category : Opinions

Czech Republic joins Lithuania’s protest against KGB officer’s release

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Former KG officer, Mikhail Golovatov (62) commanded a special unit killing Lithuanian demonstrators in Vilnius on 13 January 1991. Here from the burial ceremony at the Vilnius Cathedral.

Prague, July 21 (CTK) - The Czech Republic has joined Lithuania's protest against Austria's release of a former Soviet secret service (KGB) officer in spite of a European warrant for his arrest issued in Lithuania, it ensues from yesterday's statement by the Czech Foreign Ministry, available to CTK.

Lithuania wants to prosecute the former KGB agent, Mikhail Golovatov, for alleged war crimes from 1991.

The other two Baltic countries, Estonia and Latvia, have backed Lithuania's stand.

Czech diplomacy supported Lithuania after a phone conversation between the Czech and Lithuanian foreign ministers, Karel Schwarzenberg and Audronius Azubalis, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar said.

"Persons responsible for people's violent death under dictatorial regimes in Central and Eastern Europe should be brought to court. To push through the rule of law, every European country has a moral duty to cooperate in these cases," the ministry wrote.

According to some diplomats, the Czech stance can be interpreted as an act of solidarity with the Baltic states against Moscow.

Golovatov, 62, commanded a special unit whose members were shooting at Lithuanian demonstrators in Vilnius on January 13, 1991. A total of 17 people were shot dead and some 700 wounded. The authorities of the collapsing Soviet Union thereby attempted to thwart Lithuanians' effort to reach independence.

A similar intervention of Soviet armed forces in the neighbouring Latvia resulted in seven casualties.
Lithuania wants to charge the former KGB officer with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Last Thursday, Golovatov was detained at the international airport in Vienna. He was released a day later allegedly because the arrest warrant was too vaguely formulated.
Security expert Andrei Soldatov, cited by Die Presse Austrian paper, has said Golovatov retired only formally and he keeps working for the FSB Russian secret service, a successor to KGB.


Category : News

4 trucks full of books every week!

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Four trucks full of books, on around 1.000 pallets, leave the PRINT IN printing plant every week to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Poland and local deliveries to Lithuania.

The PRINT IT printing plant in Gargzdai, a few kilometres south of Klaipeda city, is a Norwegian owned Lithuanian softcover book printer. They provide their clients with solutions for all sorts of printing needs at very compatible prices compared to Scandinavia and Western Europe, still without compromising on quality!

PRINT IT was established in Lithuania 18 May 2005, by Norwegian investors and experienced professionals from the Norwegian printing industry. The decision to operate out of Klaipeda, Lithuania, was based on location and low production costs. The location also provides excellent access to the key markets in Europe.

Since the start-up in 2005, PRINT IT has with a yearly production of 25 million books become a force to be reckoned within the European printing industry. The company has 70 employees and an EUR 12 million annual turnover. The printing machines, binders and the rest of the machine park, are all efficient and modern.

With exports accounting for more than 96% of the total production, PRINT IT is the largest pocket book producer in the Baltics.

PRINT IT is now expanding and is in the process of installing an additional web fed book press in order to produce large format soft cover. The new machinery will be fully operational by August. The new press will provide the plant with capacity to produce soft cover with height up to 21.5 cm. Combined with their two existing web fed book presses, the plant will now be able to fully utilize its bookbinding capacity.

Four trucks fully loaded with wisdom leaves Klaipeda every week. Soon there will be more...

Category : Lithuania today

The port of Klaipeda

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The history of Klaipeda seaport started already the summer of year 1252 when the Curonian bishop and the vice-regent of Livonian Order signed the agreement about Klaipeda. This agreement was approved by the ruler of Lithuania, Mindaugas (one year before he was crowned King of Lithuania). Following this agreement Klaipeda Castle was built. In the small port neighboring the castle, vessels of Lubeck and Bremen merchants used to moor.

In the middle of the 16th century Klaipeda rivals, the inhabitants of Danzig, overloaded the Dane port with stones (!), therefore till 1820 only small vessels could call the port. 

In 1743 the first timber trade office was founded in Klaipeda, and the port became the most famous timber trading port in the Baltic Sea.

The chronicle of 1797 mentions that Klaipeda port consists of the Dane river port and a big water basin in the strait of the Curonian Lagoon. Timber was handled in the port, accommodating more than 300 vessels at a time.

The period of 1924-1939 was a period when Klaipeda port was at its flourishing peak – new quays were constructed and various companies started to operate, Lithuanian Shipping Company was founded, and the young state of Lithuania invested into the development of the port not less than 42 million litas.

In 1963 the first renewed Sea Festival took place. Today this festival has become the most important public event in Klaipeda.

In 1986 the new International Ferry Terminal was constructed. The Terminal was constructed for serving Soviet Army, located in Germany, and the biggest-in-the- world rail-ferries started to operate.

On June 3, 1991, following the order of the Minister of Transport and Communications, the state enterprise Klaipeda State Seaport Authority was founded and since 1993 it started managing the state-owned port infrastructure.

Klaipeda State Seaport is the northernmost ice–free port on the Eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. It is the most important and biggest Lithuanian transport hub, connecting sea, land and railway routes from East to West.

Klaipeda is a multipurpose, universal, deep-water port, providing high quality services. 15 big stevedoring companies, ship repair and ship building yards operate within the port as well as all types of marine business and cargo handling services.

The annual port cargo handling capacity is up to 40 million tons.

The shortest distances connect the port with the most important industrial regions of the Eastern hinterland (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine etc.). The main shipping lines to the ports of Western Europe, South-East Asia and the continent of America pass through Klaipeda port.

The port operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.

More than 800 economic agents are directly related to the operations of the port of Klaipėda. The port and the enterprises related to its operations provide more than 23,000 jobs and 4.5% of the Lithuanian GDP. Because of the port operations, approximately 185,000 jobs are created. The port of Klaipėda is directly or indirectly related to 18% of Lithuania’s total GDP. 

An ice-free port that does not freeze even during very cold winters guarantees smooth traffic and uninterrupted stevedoring operations. As the port of Klaipėda is situated at the junction of international transport corridors, it is a bridge between the Commonwealth of Independent States and the countries of Asia, the European Union and other markets.

Between 1993 and 2006 the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority and the stevedoring companies operating in the port allotted 2 billion Litas (600 million Euro) for its modernization. 1 billion 215 million Litas (350 million Euro) should be invested in the years 2008 to 2013.
The Klaipėda port is rapidly developing and sets out ambitious plans for further expansion

The depth of the entrance channel is 15 meters. The depth of the port navigation channel is between 13 and 14.5 meters.   Therefore, the port can accept large-tonnage vessels: dry-cargo vessels up to 80,000 DWT, and tankers up to 150,000 DWT.

In 2004 the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) conducted a prefeasibility study on Klaipeda State Seaport development. 

The port of Klaipėda is the leader among the ports of the Baltic Sea in terms of container handling. Its well-coordinated operations of sea and hinterland transport, the Free Economic Zone (FEZ), the EU short-sea shipping network, and the wide-range operation of logistic and industrial enterprises ensure the operations of intermodal transport.
An innovative logistic product in the Baltic States, the container and contrailer train Viking,connects the markets of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea regions from the port of Klaipėda per Minsk, Kiev to the ports of Odessa and Ilyichevsk.

The port of Klaipėda is a member of four international organizations.
It is a regular organizer and participant in inter-state negotiations on transport matters, and international transport exhibitions and conferences.

Requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, Regulation No.725/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council and Directive 2005/65/EC have been implemented in the port terminals, territory and port waters.

The latest information system called KIPIS (‘Creation and introduction of an information system for cargo and commodities shipped via Klaipėda State Seaport’) speeds up cargo traffic via the port of Klaipėda, strengthens the competitive advantage of the port, and facilitates the operations of ship’s agents and forwarders. The KIPIS system ensures the exchange of electronic data between businesses and institutions operating in the port during the course of cargo-handling procedures.
The port operates a GIS (geographic information system), which enables users to use geographic data and facilitate the provision of information efficiently.   

The operations of Klaipėda State Seaport Authority are certified in compliance with the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Certificate and the ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Protection Management Certificate.


Planned cruise season for 2011

Planned cruise season for 2012


THE LONGEST QUAY in Klaipėda port, Quay no. 144, is 460 meters long.

The Quay No. 143 is designed for highest (maximum) loads. 



THE LARGEST CRUISE LINER – length 294 m, width 32.2 m and draught 8.3 m – was the vessel “Constellation” sailing under the flag of Bahamas called at Klaipėda port for the first time on the 1st of June 2005.

THE LARGEST TANKER – was the vessel “Tour” (length 274.47 m, width 48.04 m, draught 17.022 m) first berthed in Klaipeda port on 10th of March 2008.


THE WIDEST CONTAINERSHIP WITH THE LARGEST CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY  – was the vessel “MSC Fortunate”  (length 274,67 m, width 40 m, draught 14 m, maximum TEU capacity - 5551) – berthed in Klaipėda port on 1th of March 2011. 

THE LONGEST CONTAINER SHIP - was the vessel “MSC Sariska”  (length 294,12 m, width 32,28 m, draught 13,5 m, maximum TEU capacity - 4814)  – berthed in Klaipėda port on 23th of May 2011. 

THE LARGEST RO-RO SHIP – was the vessel „Hoegh Delhi“ (length 199.9 m, width 32.26 m and draught 8.81 m) first berthed in Klaipėda port on 26th of November 2009.

THE LARGEST QUANTITY OF TRANSPORTED CARGO – 91 779.86 t – by the tanker “Isi Olive” (length 274 m, width 48 m, draught 15.22 m), which entered Klaipėda port on 22nd of August 2008.

THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF POTASSIUM FERTILIZERS – 77 832.079 t – by the bulk carrier “Aghios Makarios“ (length 228.6 m, width 43 m, draught 12.85 m), departed from Klaipėda port on 20 of January 2010.


The largest number of cruise ships – 65 CRUISERS arrived in 2007.

The record annual NUMBER OF VESSELS – 8348 ships called at Klaipėda port in 2008.

The largest number of VESSELS per month  872 ships visited our port in September 2008.



In 2010 Klaipėda city was visited by the largest number of PASSENGERS – 320 991.

The largest number of passengers per month was recorded in August 2007 – 49 183 tourists.

In 2007 cruise ships brought the largest number of TOURISTS to Klaipeda port – 36 866.

In August 2007 cruise ships brought the largest number of passengers per month – 11 745 tourists. 



The highest annual CARGO TURNOVER was recorded in Klaipėda port in2010 – 31.277 million tons.

The highest cargo turnover per month was recorded in May 2011 – 3.25 million tons.

The highest annual TURNOVER of LITHUANIAN CARGO was recorded in the port in 2010 – 18.75 million tons.Trasos

The highest annual TURNOVER of TRANSIT CARGO was recorded in the port in 1993 – 13.24 million tons.

The record for annual turnover of FERTILIZERS was recorded in 2010 – 8.66 million tons.

The highest turnover of FERTILIZERS per month was recorded in May 2011 – 1.054 million tons.


The record for annual turnover of OIL PRODUCTS was achieved in 2008 - 9.36 million tons.

The biggest volume of oil products handled per month was recorded inJanuary 2009 – 952.54 thousand tons.


The record of annual turnover of CONTAINERS was achieved in 2008 – 373 263 TEU.

The largest number of containers per month was recorded in May 2011 – 46 627 TEU.RoRo

The highest annual turnover of RO-RO CARGO (including rail wagons) was recorded in 2010 - 228 730 units.

The record figures in monthly turnover of Ro-Ro cargoes (including rail wagons) was achieved in May 2011 – 22 603 units.

Category : Lithuania today

Welcome to “Yaga” festival – Woodstock of Lithuania!

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Outdoor musical gathering,
Vilnius outskirts, 21 – 25 July

The festival will feature more than 100 artists performing on three different sateages in the midst of a wonderful nature scenery!

An that’s only a fraction of what you will experience at the "Yaga Gathering"….

Leave civilization behind and immerse yourself in the real meaning of the word “Yaga“, which translated from Sanskrit means disposal of old and emergence of new.

Do you want to take a breath of fresh air, sink your everyday worries into a lake and refresh yourself with spring water? "Yaga" is offering that! Are you missing intoxicating sounds, dazzling light show and spectacular scenery? It will to be there! The festival will host five areas: three musical –trance, chill-out and eclectic and two educational – healing area for body & mind practices and workshop's area for those who want to learn a variety of crafts.

"Yaga" will also feature a wide range of electronic and live music - everything from Balkan beats, reggae, dub, ethno, IDM and ambient to techno and psy-trance. The festival will also host shamanic sauna, cinema, camping site, few chaishops, fine beer and homemade kvass stall, flea market and a kindergarten.

"Yaga" will show that a festival can be environmentally friendly and visitors can enjoy an alternative lifestyle and entertainment in harmony - "Yaga" connects travelers, yogis, greenpeace activists, artists, businessmen, party-animals and many other visible and invisible characters.

Exciting every time and charging with positive energy "Yaga" invites you to join and create the festival


How to get there?

Take a public bus from Vilnius bus station, direction Druskininkai.
Jump off at a bus stop named "Valkininku internato namai", 60 km south of Vilnius.


Category : Opinions

Sventoji Port which has been covered in sand may serve yachts in a couple of weeks

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If weather conditions are favourable, the Sventoji Port which has been covered in sand may again serve yachts in a couple of weeks, even though there were plans to postpone the channel dredging works till the year 2012, the Klaipeda daily Vakaru Ekspresas reports.

As the Klaipeda State Seaport Authority and the contractor of the works, the Latvian company BGS agreed, the contractor is to carry out the works in two weeks if weather conditions are favourable.

The shipping season usually lasts till 15 September, therefore the Klaipeda State Seaport Authority was considering whether it was worthy to deepen the Sventoji Port channel that was covered in sand in June, only 10 days after the official opening of the port, writes LETA/ELTA.

On Tuesday the Klaipeda State Seaport Authority announced that a special commission had examined factors why the Sventoji mouth's channel got covered in sand. Unusual meteorological conditions were named as one of the reasons. North and north-west winds would dominate and as the wind gust would reach 14 meters per seconds, waves of 1.5 meter high would form which in turn triggered a slip of part of accumulated ground.

Category : News

EU justice commissioner backs Austria in KGB row with Lithuania

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Viviane Reding says Austria had a legal basis to reject the European arrest warrant

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Austria had no legal obligation to deliver ex-KGB general Mikhail Golovatov to Lithuania, since the crimes he is accused of occurred eleven years before before the European arrest warrant entered into force, EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has said.
The release of Golovatov last Friday, less than 24 hours after his arrest, sparked an intense diplomatic row between Lithuania and Austria, with Vilnius accusing Vienna of violating EU and national law and lack of solidarity with another member state.

Lithuanian prosecutors had issued the European arrest warrant in order to put Golovatov on trial for allegedly having ordered, as a former KGB general, the storming of the Lithuanian state television in 1991. The events left 14 people dead and hundreds injured as the Baltic state was declaring its independence. Golovatov is now in Russia, a country which does not extradite its citizens to the EU.

"From a legal point of view, Austria didn't have the obligation to implement the European arrest warrant," Reding told a press conference in Sopot, Poland, after an informal meeting of justice ministers where the Lithuanian-Austrian row came up.

The commissioner explained that under EU law, a country receiving an EU arrest warrant from another member state is obliged to follow it only if the crimes were committed after 2002.

Read more at:

Category : News

Lithuania has recalled its ambassador to Vienna after Austrian police released a former KGB officer accused of involvement in a deadly crackdown on protesters in Vilnius during the struggle for independence in January 1991

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Lithuanian officials claim that 14 unarmed Lithuanians were murdered by Golovatov and his more than 1.000 KGB and army soldiers in Vilnius on the 13th of January 1991.

Mikhail Golovatov led a unit of Soviet special forces that stormed the main television tower in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on 13th January 1991, when it was surrounded by demonstrators who were determined to see their country break free from five decades of Kremlin control. Fourteen people were killed in the attack, and about 1,000 others injured.

Police arrested Mr Golovatov at Vienna airport last Thursday on a European arrest warrant issued by Lithuania, but he was freed the following day and allowed to fly to Russia, which does not extradite its citizens.

Austrian officials claimed that Lithuania did not make a strong enough case for them to sanction the detention of Mr Golovatov and for his possible extradition to be considered.

Lithuanian authorities vehemently deny Austria’s version of events, insisting that they sent details of the case to Vienna in English and German, detailing how Mr Golovatov faced charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity that carried a potential life sentence.

President Dalia Grybauskaite recalled her ambassador from Vienna for consultations and said: “Austria’s haste in releasing the suspect in the January 13 case cannot be politically justified and compromises co-operation between the European states in law enforcement.”
Lithuania’s foreign minister, Audronius Azubalis, who discussed the issue with Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger, said his compatriots “and relatives of the victims ... are waiting for a convincing explanation from Austria as to why the decision was taken and why it was taken so hastily.”

“He told me that this is an old wound for Lithuania,” Mr Spindelegger said. “I understand this ... but even in the case of old wounds, there is no getting around the fact that there are principles in a process that have to be adhered to ... There was a request, we set a deadline to highlight that with concrete details. This deadline ran out without such concrete details.”

Lithuanian justice minister Remigijus Simasius said he would raise the issue at an EU meeting in Poland today. “It’s very likely that this case is related to a political decision, and Russia’s influence in making that political decision,” he said.
Vytautas Landsbergis, leader of Lithuania’s independence movement, said Austria had shown “subservience to Russia and a lack of a sense of honour.” This is not the first case in which Austria has been accused of bending to Russia’s will.

Vienna was strongly criticised for rejecting an appeal for police protection from Umar Israilov, who sought asylum in Austria after accusing his former boss, Kremlin-backed Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, of committing torture. Austrian police dismissed his request, and he was murdered shortly afterwards by Chechen hitmen. Investigators suggested that Kadyrov had ordered the killing.

Category : News


Have your say. Send to:

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?

* * *

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.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

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

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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

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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.

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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!
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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
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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
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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,

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.

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Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >

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