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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

19 October 2017
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Archive for September, 2011

Lithuania says forget Russia reset

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

29 September 2011
The Associated Press
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Russia's decision on its leadership change next year has effectively buried any hopes of a renewal of relations with the West, Lithuania's prime minister said.
"No one should have illusions about how Russia will be ruled for decades to come," Andrius Kubilius told Lithuanian Radio.
Lithuania is among Russia's harshest critics in the European Union and NATO.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that he had decided to reclaim the presidency next year, setting up the possibility that he could rule Russia until 2024. In nominating Putin, his United Russia party also approved his proposal that President Dmitry Medvedev take over Putin's current role as prime minister.

Read more:
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/lithuania-says-forget-russia-reset/444486.html#ixzz1ZLvK8cDg
The Moscow Times

Category : News

Lithuania to start closing universities?

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The Lithuanian government is “not ambitious” enough in executing its target for reducing the budget deficit to below 3 percent of gross domestic product next year, said Mindaugas Leika, chief economist at Lithuania’s central bank.

The government should expand wealth taxation by introducing taxes on real estate to boost revenue, Leika said in a video interview with the magazine IQ published on its website. It should also increase the fight against the “shadow economy” and boosting efficiency at state-owned companies, he said. 

The government is aiming to narrow the 2012 budget shortfall to 2.8 percent of GDP next year from an estimated 5.3 percent shortfall this year. The Cabinet must submit its 2012 budget plan to the parliament by Oct. 17. 

Lithuania should consider closing some of its 23 universities to help trim budget spending and raise the quality of the education system, Leika said.  

Reducing health-care benefits for the wealthy may also help balance the budget, he said. 

Read more at:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-26/lithuania-government-not-ambitious-with-budget-economist-says.html

Category : News

- Posted by - (0) Comment

The article ‘Crime and decay’ was first published in our VilNews newsletter last year. The below letters to the editor were received in response to it.

GREAT ARTICLE IN VILNEWS!

I really liked the latest article in VilNews. But you know, the problem is not only in the small villages of Lithuania. How often do you see Police patrolling in the old town? Where are the police of this country?

Gene Emmer
Vilnius

Category : Opinions

A very accurate description of the situation in Lithuania

- Posted by - (2) Comment

 

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

Not professional journalism

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 I was severely shocked by the latest edition. That is not professional journalism. No effort was made for the police commissariat to rebut or clarify your statement. Yet you use their emblem at the top of the page. You avoid libel by putting the attack on the police in her words, that ‘many of them probably get a share of the cake from many theft and assaults…’ instead of yours.

Think about it. Rural tourism is big business in Lithuania but after reading your piece, I would immediately cancel any plans to visit a village. In actuality, it may even be safer, since back in 1995, they were torturing pensioners to death so that they would disclose where they had hidden a couple hundred litas. I have not heard of that going on recently.

But you do not have to go to the village to have this problem. The criminals come into Vilnius on the train, carry out nasty crimes in the vicinity of train station, and then leave before the police can catch them.

You talk about the president addressing the problem. She is more concerned with foreign policy than domestic. Aside from signing laws and appointing the head of the various government organisations, like the police commissariat, she really has little domestic power. She does not have the right to introduce legislation or work it through the Seimas. So what are you expecting her to do? Why are you unnecessarily raising dissatisfaction with our government? People have enough trouble trusting it and the various officials without fruitless attacks.

And what is at the core of this problem? It is that we have lots of people without work or hope of work. These are the people turning to crime. But the state does not have money to increase unemployment benefits. It does not have money for retraining workers. And the thieves do not really care whether the state feeds them or crime does. Furthermore, the current drive in EU policy, which strongly influences our laws, is to reduce penalties for theft and assault and to increase prevention, including using home arrest instead of jail time.

That some police officers are turning a blind eye for a piece of the pie is almost sure to be true. But to give that as the reason for state-wide ‘incompetence’ is absurd. This was a wonderful, lost opportunity to show that you get what you pay for. The police are woefully underpaid and under-financed. A comparison of Lithuanian financing with that of neighbouring countries and the EU, adjusted for cost of living, would have been fantastic. Furthermore I think the police took a cut in pay when the crisis hit. I remember the medical and fire fighting staffs protesting. You also did not show how many officers have lost their lives in the line of duty.

As to your statistic that around half the cases are not investigated, it is taken out of context. Some anecdotal evidence might clarify the point. My friend has been robbed three times. One time his telephone was taken out of his backpack on a crowded bus. He didn’t see it happen and so he can’t identify the culprit. Fabric does not retain fingerprints. Without evidence, the police have no right to search someone, as if they could find a random passenger from the no. 5 trolley two hours after he got off. The second time, a little old lady picked his pocket at the cash register in a provision shop. Since she did not rob the shop, they were not interested in co-operating. Since it was a little old lady who could not really be sent to jail or ordered to pay a fine (She’s stealing because she can’t pay her bills now.) and because the judge would find the victim guilty of negligence, there was no need to investigate as it would have been a fruitless waste of taxpayers’ money. The third time his basement was robbed. His son had let his friends know he kept a nice bike down there and one of them helped himself to it. Fingerprints do not last for more than 24 hours in most cases and basement surfaces are rough, making fingerprints hard to acquire even if reported immediately. So how were the police supposed to investigate these crimes? And why should they?

When Simone wandered off in Trakai, the police made a concerted effort to find her and did so within half an hour. We offered them a reward, but they refused, saying a good word now and then would be a better sign of appreciation. Twice our neighbour broke out our car window. The first time, too much time had passed and no fingerprints were left. The second time, a neighbour let us know immediately, a print was obtained, and they found the culprit, whose mother was forced to pay for replacing the second window. She also took measures so that the situation never occurred again. Another time, a gang was terrorising our building and finally our neighbours caught them. We helped hold the culprits until the police came. Since they were minors and no material harm had been done (just faeces smeared on the walls), no retribution or repayment was ever made, but they have left our building alone since then. Another time about 20 youths, male and female, were beating another youth up in our courtyard. We called the police but the gang left within minutes as they realised staying around was not in their best interest. We figured it was better they left the youth they were stomping alone than that the police surprise them in the act. We called the police back when the youths left so they would not waste time looking in the courtyard. I have no idea whether they caught any of them subsequently or not. Another time a young Scot went out to smoke a cigarette in an isolated spot near our house at 2 am and was raped. No one responded to hereinafter referred to as the cries for help. She did not recognise the rapists and soon left the country in disgust. Once again, most of these situations are beyond help. An investigation is just a waste of money. But we do not let our daughter wander outside freely like we both did as children.

These seems like a lot of crime for one short period. But please remember I live in a city of several hundred thousand people and there are literally hundreds in a stone’s throw of my home. With such population densities, it is no wonder that there is so much crime evident.

As to robberies, usually they are carried out by people living far away. The gang that was robbing the building of my friend mentioned above lived in Alytus. They were only caught because a dog started acting strangely and the owner called the police. They surrounded the area as these gangs are well organised. They have lookouts everywhere. As soon as the police approach, they are out of there. That day the police arrested all of them. End of problem.

I have noticed a drastic improvement in the quality of the police officers in the 14 years I have been in Lithuania. When I came here people who could not find work elsewhere often joined the police. Thus their intelligence was often low and their training abysmal. One felt sorry for the culprits when calling the police because it was rumoured that they often administered ‘justice’ themselves. You don’t hear such stories now. We called the police a few days ago to remove some homeless men from our stairwell and they treated the culprits with respect. They simply told the men to pack their things and leave. They spoke for a while, so I imagine they told them where to find free lodgings and food. Then they waited downstairs to see that the men actually left, rather than arresting them.

Next time, please tell the whole story instead of just adding to the problem.

Arturas Bakanauskas
Vilnius

Category : Opinions

Siberian monster

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(AP)  VILNIUS, Lithuania — John Malkovich says his latest acting role, an aging Siberian mobster trying to raise his grandson to be an honorable crook, proved to be a "delightful" experience.

The movie, "Siberian Education," is set in Trans-Dniester, now a separatist republic between Moldova and Ukraine, though filming of the U.S.-Italian production took place in Lithuania and wrapped up this week.

Malkovich plays Kuzja, an old recividist exiled to Trans-Dniester along with numerous other ex-convicts by Soviet authorities in the waning years of the Soviet Union. Kuzja tries to teach his grandson Kolyma — the film's main protagonist, played by Lithuanian actor Arnas Fedaravicius — the arcane rules of "criminal morals."

"It is an interesting story about the way of life that most of audience would not know about," Malkovich said Friday before leaving Lithuania. "Things are so much global and Americanized. It's interesting to think of that kind of (criminal) culture that the film addresses is kind of becoming extinct."

"I found this experience delightful," he added.

Read more at:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/24/ap/entertainment/main20111117.shtml

Category : News

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Holocaust in Lithuania


Jews being marched from their ghetto in the centre of Vilnius (today’s Old Town) to the Paneriai (Ponary) forest outside the city for execution, 1942/1943. Paneriai is an area of wooded hills, where in 1941-1944 60,000 to 70,000 Jews from Vilnius were executed.
- Drawing by Fajwel Segal

What happened to the Jews in Lithuania during World War II is a matter of grim record. Of the 250.000 Jews in 1939, only between 12.500 and 17.500 survived; of those, only about 200 remain today.

It has been estimated that of the 265.000 Jews living in Lithuania in June 1941, 254.000 or 95% were murdered during the German occupation. No other Jewish community in Nazi-occupied Europe was so comprehensively destroyed.

The Red Army occupied Vilnius on 19 September 1939. Lithuania and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of mutual aid, in accordance with which Vilnius and the Vilnius region were returned to Lithuania. In 1940, Vilnius became the capital of Soviet Lithuania.

Vilnius remained under Soviet control until 26 June 1941, when the city fell to the invading German Army (Wehrmacht). On 8 July 1941 an order was issued stating that all Jews must wear a special patch on their back; subsequently they were ordered to wear the patch on their chest. In addition Jews were forbidden to walk along the main streets of the city, and shops were ordered to sell them food in limited amounts. Jewish people were fired from their jobs, deprived of the means of personal transportation and radios, forbidden to use public transport, and prohibited from public places. Jews were arrested on the streets, at their work places, and in their houses.


Paneriai forest near Vilnius.
Jewish victims of execution before the mass burial, 1943.

Category : Opinions

Lithuania among top five in global internet speed

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Lithuania ranks fourth among the world’s nations in terms of the Internet speed trailing only to South Korea, Romania and Bulgaria, Pando Networks, a US-based communication technology firm, said.

South Korea leads the list with the average download speed of 2,202 kilobytes per second, followed by Romania (1,909 Kbps) and Bulgaria (1,611 Kbps). Lithuania stood fourth with a 1,462 Kbps average download speed, the study by Pando Networks revealed.

The analysis was based on 27 million downloads by 20 million computers in 224 countries from January through June 2011.

The top ten also include Latvia (1,377 Kbps), Japan (1,364 Kbps), Sweden (1,234 Kbps), Ukraine (1,190 Kbps), Denmark (1,020 Kbps) and Hong Kong (922 Kbps). The world Internet speed average stood at 580 Kbps during the study.

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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
* * *

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.

Read more...
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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.

Read more...
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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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