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27 March 2017
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Archive for October, 2012

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Lithuanian elections
Yes to stability,
no to austerity


As a relief to many liberal-minded people and human rights activists came the news that Lithuanian voters completely trashed ultra-nationalist parties. The National Alliance “For Lithuania in Lithuania” (whatever that means) tried its best to mobilize the most primitive ethnic hatred, although even a classical antisemitic cartoon they distributed was about economy (the incumbent government's work in returning religious property of Jewish communities, that was nationalized under the Soviet rule). PHOTO: Marius Galinis of the „Union For Lithuania in Lithuania.“ (Lithuanian „Nacionalinis susivienijimas ‘Už Lietuvą Lietuvoje’“)

By Daiva Repečkaitė

The complicated electoral system in Lithuania makes general elections an exciting show. After the first round, when multi-constituency votes were counted, the victory of the populist Labor Party looked clear. However, after the second round (half of the Members of the Parliament are elected in single-seat constituencies), voters brought the traditional rivals, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, ahead of the populist party. Despite the initial panic and hasty criticism of the election outcomes as a victory of populist and pro-Russian forces, the election brought unprecedented gain to traditional parties and strengthened the forces with consistent ideologies. It is also time to understand that economy in Lithuania comes before relations with Russia.

Read more…

Category : Front page

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Lithuanian elections
Yes to stability,
no to austerity


As a relief to many liberal-minded people and human rights activists came the news that Lithuanian voters completely trashed ultra-nationalist parties. The National Alliance “For Lithuania in Lithuania” (whatever that means) tried its best to mobilize the most primitive ethnic hatred, although even a classical antisemitic cartoon they distributed was about economy (the incumbent government's work in returning religious property of Jewish communities, that was nationalized under the Soviet rule). PHOTO: Marius Galinis of the „Union For Lithuania in Lithuania.“ (Lithuanian „Nacionalinis susivienijimas ‘Už Lietuvą Lietuvoje’“)

By Daiva Repečkaitė

The complicated electoral system in Lithuania makes general elections an exciting show. After the first round, when multi-constituency votes were counted, the victory of the populist Labor Party looked clear. However, after the second round (half of the Members of the Parliament are elected in single-seat constituencies), voters brought the traditional rivals, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, ahead of the populist party. Despite the initial panic and hasty criticism of the election outcomes as a victory of populist and pro-Russian forces, the election brought unprecedented gain to traditional parties and strengthened the forces with consistent ideologies. It is also time to understand that economy in Lithuania comes before relations with Russia.

In fact, this election was a real celebration of stability, nothing like 2004, when voters flocked to newly established parties. Political parties mentioned ideologies, even the terms 'left' and 'right' more than ever. Parties dropped names that sounded like toasts (“For work for Lithuania”, 2004) or vague and generic (“National revival”, 2008). Those which chose vague and indistinguishable names (“Yes”, “Party of the Lithuanian People”) were mercilessly rejected by the voters. One-person's-show parties of very rich businesspeople managed to attract only a few thousands of votes: appeals to 'Aryan heritage' and 'pagan shield' did not help the Party of the Lithuanian People, and memory of the late President Algirdas Brazauskas did not help his second wife Kristina Brazauskienė and her the Democratic Party of Labor and Unity. Obscure Republican and Emigrant parties did not enjoy popularity either.

As a relief to many liberal-minded people and human rights activists came the news that Lithuanian voters completely trashed ultra-nationalist parties. The National Alliance “For Lithuania in Lithuania” (whatever that means) tried its best to mobilize the most primitive ethnic hatred, although even a classical antisemitic cartoon they distributed was about economy (the incumbent government's work in returning religious property of Jewish communities, that was nationalized under the Soviet rule). Stickers were glued to just about every tree on the main streets of Vilnius. Quite surprisingly, the marginal, but in the past faithfully leftist Social Democratic Union (not to be confused with the Social Democratic Party) joined this Alliance. This way Lithuania lost a political group that was consistently promoting left-wing ideas: strong trade unions and redistribution of wealth. These principles may still be there on one form or another, but leftist voters will never again be convinced that this party stands for them. The election did not bring any success for the nationalist 'Young Lithuania', which went in alliance with the far-right nationalists in the last election.

When we look at the parties that got at least 1%, but less than 5%, necessary to win seats in the Parliament, we see parties with a stronger political backbone, but still marginal. The Socialist People's Front, which advocates for nationalization of strategically important enterprises, and the Christian Party, led by a former Conservative politician, were the last among them. Interestingly, voters also grew tired of the tricks of the current mayor of Vilnius, Artūras Zuokas. He became world-famous when he staged an extreme 'punishment' with a tank for illegal parking. The Segway-riding mayor is still popular among some urban youngsters, but people also remember the allegations of shameless corruption, protectionism and abuse of power against him. With the loss of the charismatic, yet dictatorial mayor, his former 'home', the Liberal and Centrist Union, lost its electoral base and also failed to pass the threshold.

The elections were also not successful for the newly formed Union of Farmers and Greens. With several green activists on board, the party, which lost its leader to a sudden illness, rebranded itself and drafted a progressive left-leaning platform, but even its strong stance against the nuclear power plant did not attract enough voters and only succeeded in a single-seat constituency.

The smallest party to get on board is the Lithuanian Polish Electoral Action – a conservative, ultra-religious political group that has a strong base in the Polish-speaking areas of Lithuania. The mobilized ethnic minority, regularly angered by pressure for more integration and by the name transcription policy, this year absorbed a Russian minority party. They will be important in the coalitions that will be formed. Next to it came two populist parties: the impeached former president's Order and Justice Party and the new movement-turned-party “The Way of Courage”. The two were clear competitors for very disappointed, less educated and very angry voters. While many people are worried about the prospect of the latter being in the parliament, the capacity of this party's members to engage in actual day-to-day politics is likely to be limited, and they will probably follow more experienced colleagues. The split in populist voting is overall good news.

Three of the four winning parties could almost form a base of a Scandinavian-style party system. As the old leadership is receding, traditional parties increasingly compensate the lack of charismatic leaders with clear, European ideologies. The Social Democratic Party, having lost its long-time leader Mr. Brazauskas, has been searching for a new identity by purifying its ideological statements and supporting progressive taxation and more welfare spending, like social democrats traditionally should. After the split of the liberals, the Liberal Movement has been a consistent free-market ideology defender and as such made gains in the previous election and was an important partner in the current government. This year they strengthened their electoral base and, importantly, attracted youth votes becoming the only political party that that supports legalization of homosexual partnership. Finally, the Conservatives achieved what seemed to be impossible in Lithuania, where many Political Science articles have been written about 'revenge votes'. The approval ratings of the current Prime Minister – the only one who has survived the entire term of the Parliament – did not suffer as much from his austerity policy as expected. The people who were most affected were split among different political parties or have emigrated. Finally, the Labor party has become an established part of the Lithuanian political system since 2004, when it held several ministries in two successive governments. Throughout the years, its ideology did not become clearer: its platform rests on a paternalistic, caretaker stance, but, unsurprisingly, without any commitment to redistribute wealth from the rich. Its carelessness regarding budget deficit has already put them on the black list of the Lithuanian President.

For this reason the outcome of the election is not to be called a victory of the left, as many claim. We are still to see what becomes of the Lithuanian left. The votes for populists and social democrats, particularly in rural and poorer areas, clearly imply that people are tired of austerity. The Conservative-led government was good with numbers, but bad with people. They managed to control inflation, put economic growth on track and avoid accepting the invasive loan and reform package from the IMF. Yet most of the decisions were miserably communicated and harmed the poorest members of the society. To compensate this lack of concern with people and the fact that hostility towards Russia is not sufficient to mobilize voters, the Conservatives threw around religious and traditionalist statements, and failed to react to radical nationalist trends. On the other hand, they strengthened their electoral base among urban youth that self-identifies as right-wing and who appreciate governments being good with numbers, since they will not suffer from austerity measures that made the lives of the poorest members of the society more miserable. The new government may be better at addressing this problem, but dealing with numbers is likely to be its weak point. Borrowing or taxing – populists clearly never think about that when developing their promises.

Category : Lithuania today

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Lithuanians
in the World

VilNews will from time to time present Lithuanians who have left the home country and made some kind of career abroad. We are this time not so much looking for celebrity articles, more for some unusual life stories describing Lithuanians who have settled somewhere in the world. Send us your story!

Bernard M Terway, Texas
I am proud of my
Lithuanian heritage


Lithuania, beer in a tube, me with a glass and a smile.
What more could you want?

Bernard M Terway (Tirva), Leander, Texas

Lithuanians left their home country starting in the 1800’s and, new waves keep coming to the United States all the time.  My grandparents were among the “first wave” immigrants, leaving Lithuania for a better life in America, getting away from being conscripted into the Russian army, living under Russian rule, and for economic reasons. 

It is still a mystery to me where they came from, where they entered the United States, but their life story begins in Pennsylvania.  That, is not, however, the reason for this story.

I was born in 1940, the last of seven children, six boys and one girl.  We all were baptized in the local Lithuanian church, where we attended mass on Sundays and Holy Days.  I, along with two of my older siblings, went to the Lithuanian elementary school where we were taught by the Sisters of St. Casimir. 

There was an attempt to teach us Lithuanian.  Most of us were born at the beginnings of the Second World War, and speaking a foreign language was probably not the best way to get by at that time.  I do remember the books we had to learn from, not very sophisticated, but then again, they were not meant to be.  What I do not remember is being taught about Lithuania.

Read more…

Category : Front page

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Bernard M Terway, Texas
I am proud of my
Lithuanian heritage


Lithuania, beer in a tube, me with a glass and a smile.
What more could you want?

Bernard M Terway (Tirva), Leander, Texas

Lithuanians left their home country starting in the 1800’s and, new waves keep coming to the United States all the time.  My grandparents were among the “first wave” immigrants, leaving Lithuania for a better life in America, getting away from being conscripted into the Russian army, living under Russian rule, and for economic reasons. 

It is still a mystery to me where they came from, where they entered the United States, but their life story begins in Pennsylvania.  That, is not, however, the reason for this story.

I was born in 1940, the last of seven children, six boys and one girl.  We all were baptized in the local Lithuanian church, where we attended mass on Sundays and Holy Days.  I, along with two of my older siblings, went to the Lithuanian elementary school where we were taught by the Sisters of St. Casimir. 

There was an attempt to teach us Lithuanian.  Most of us were born at the beginnings of the Second World War, and speaking a foreign language was probably not the best way to get by at that time.  I do remember the books we had to learn from, not very sophisticated, but then again, they were not meant to be.  What I do not remember is being taught about Lithuania.

As a young boy, I remember going to the attic in our house and finding Marian magazines that had a lot about Lithuanian history in them. They fascinated me. I went to the local library and found one book on Lithuanian history, which I read several times. I was proud of my heritage and showed it as much as I could.

Throughout my life, I always found a way to mention the fact that my heritage was Lithuanian. When I went to Penn State for graduate work, I found Dr. William Schmalstieg there. He was putting together a class on the Lithuanian language and I talked several of my classmates into taking it. It was a great class, and, because of it, I was given a scholarship to study Baltic linguistics at Fordham University for a summer. There I met Dr. Senn and Dr. Salys, two figures of importance to Lithuanian linguistics study. Unfortunately, it was only one summer and then I had to head on out into the world to make a living.

I did find another Lithuanian linguistics class at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Institute in Frankfurt Germany, but, again, only a short introductory class.

After leaving Germany and coming back to the States in 1976, I got involved with a group of Lithuanians and with them we formed the Anthracite council of the Knights of Lithuania – Council 144, still in existence today. I became active with them until moving to Texas in 1979.

Texas is not known for its cultural diversity, unless it is Spanish or German. However, at the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, letters to the editor in the Houston Chronicle started to appear about Lithuania. Lithuanians appeared on the local TV stations and from that, we got together to form a Lithuanian group in Houston – Lithuanian American Community of Houston. I was active with them for a number of years, until 2004, when I moved to Austin. So far I have not been able to connect with any Lithuanians here, but have not given up hope.

I am a retired teacher – I taught ESL, German, History, computer maintenance and networking. I all my classes, I made sure that the students knew something about the country of my ancestors.

No matter whether you were born there, never lived there, do not speak the language, you are still a Lithuanian and can be proud of it and teach others about it. I did, and I am proud of my heritage.


Making Lithuanian sausage - me and my mom.
Oh it was SO GOOD


Believe it or not, that is I

Category : Blog archive

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Is today’s Lithuanian youth having too good a life?


In a comment to this Nellie Vin photo, titled "Once they were young and fresh as paint", Carol Luschas writes in our VilNews Facebook page

 VilNews Notes & Photos

- They are so cute! Generally speaking Lithuanians are hard workers!!! I only hope this strong work ethic can be carried on in future generations...so far that doesn't seem to be the case! :-( The youth have it too good!

- My answer to Carol was that youth in Lithuania does not have a good or easy life. Most of them, at least. The government's dramatic cuts during the financial crisis have hit hard, and therefore we see that large flows of young people are escaping from the country. There is also a significant increase in the number of young people living below the poverty line, while youth crime, trafficking, smuggling, and violence continues to increase in scope. In many ways perhaps the older couple in the picture had a better, simpler adolescence...

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Read more, see Nellie Vin’s photos

Category : Opinions

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Chevron buys shale gas exploration company in Lithuania, VZ says


Chevron Corp. (CVX) bought a 50 percent stake in LL Investicijos, which owns a license for shale gas and oil exploration in Lithuania, Verslo Zinios reported, without citing anyone.
Total investment in the exploration for oil and gas in Lithuania may be as much as $250 million, the Vilnius-based newspaper said, citing Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas.

Read more…

Category : News

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Lithuanians
in the World

VilNews will from time to time present Lithuanians who have left the home country and made some kind of career abroad. We are this time not so much looking for celebrity articles, more for some unusual life stories describing Lithuanians who have settled somewhere in the world. Send us your story!

I am one who left
Lithuania in 1996

Nellie Vin, New York

I am one who left Lithuania in 1996 after we got independence in 1990. In few years the country’s economists, with Landsbergis as the head on top, crushed all too fast (with privatization) without providing and helping with starting of small business and lowering taxes for new business people. Finally imported, cheap products from Poland killed local farmers’ business. It’s become not profitable to grow own organic healthy products and sell for Lithuanian people. Many people left to look for opportunities in other countries. Still young and older people are leaving. No one wants to wait. We need today! Not to wait on promises for a better tomorrow.

Once they were young
and fresh as paint

Nellie Vin (photography, Lithuania 2010)
Peter Heydon (text)

Read more...

Category : Front page

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Lithuanians
in the World

VilNews will from time to time present Lithuanians who have left the home country and made some kind of career abroad. We are this time not so much looking for celebrity articles, more for some unusual life stories describing Lithuanians who have settled somewhere in the world. Send us your story!

I am one who left
Lithuania in 1996

Nellie Vin, New York

I am one who left Lithuania in 1996 after we got independence in 1990. In few years the country’s economists, with Landsbergis as the head on top, crushed all too fast (with privatization) without providing and helping with starting of small business and lowering taxes for new business people. Finally imported, cheap products from Poland killed local farmers’ business. It’s become not profitable to grow own organic healthy products and sell for Lithuanian people. Many people left to look for opportunities in other countries. Still young and older people are leaving. No one wants to wait. We need today! Not to wait on promises for a better tomorrow.

Once they were young
and fresh as paint

Nellie Vin (photography, Lithuania 2010)
Peter  Heydon (text)

          How the old eke out a living. Not for them the luxury of comfortable retirement with generous pensions and a sedate stroll to the cemetery. Instead they face the harsh prospect of toiling until their demise, foraging and fighting for survival. What recompense for a life lived, to face the ignominy of bent backs and faces engraved with hardship and still feel the whip of necessity cutting sharply across their backs? Tumbled down old barns and broken tools patched together suffice, while over in the West combine harvesters and farms like factories generate the riches of Croesus. Here the corrugated sheds and corrugated old women in their shawls no longer have the time or muscle to smile. They conserve their energy if they can and expend it if they must. Not exactly the American Gothic of Grant Wood but folklore of another kind, the desultory and haphazard artwork of pitchfork and firewood, the scratch and scrape of making ends meet while others pile their plates with fresh meat and fill their glasses with fine wine. Once they were young and fresh as paint. Now they are old and peeling like paint. Yet they have each other. They have their integrity. They have more than most.

 

Upon the wall there hangs the Madonna and child, mother of perpetual help, an eternal symbol of love and protection. It is a representation of the maternal instinct which threads like an umbilical cord through all species. It is the subatomic principle that links every particle of the universe to each other in fine balance so that everything coexists. It is the way nature and the cosmos cares for itself. The painting looks down upon the humble circumstances and can identify with it. Just as a simple manger once sufficed as a bed so too a modest couch serves as somewhere to sleep. A crumpled duvet and a fat pillow lie in unkempt testimony to a homecoming. The room will soon beat with human hearts again and though it might lack affluence and opulence and may be bereft of ornamentation it remains a home. The simplicity reflects the sanctity.  The clean white sheets are like a shroud, a resurrection of hope and a faith that goodness will win and will protect with its universal truth. The simple souls of this room have nothing to lose. They are victorious in their humility and so much richer for it. 

 

          The three dimensional world appears to be condensed into a particularly two dimensional image. Any impression of perspective is strangely lost and in its place the building seems to hang oppressively above the silhouetted figure. Like a victim awaiting sentence to be carried out she stands in quiet resignation. There is a conspicuous stillness in her pose that is evident even in a photograph. It is as though she has prepared her soul to fly from her body, unable to suffer the pain any longer, and all that is left is the dark shape of what was once a young girl with a heart full of fire and hope, a future. The vista before her is dishevelled and bedraggled. The bulldozers of politics and change are ploughing through her country and wreaking their devastation, but she stands in their path, adamant and defiant. Nothing can crush the human spirit. It can be beaten and starved and yet it has a tenacity and strength that can overcome any adversity. After the heaviest of rains the rose still breathes its perfume across the raindrops. 

 

          A cow is a cow in any corner of a field and any corner of the earth. But this is no fatted calf. This is a beast with little in its belly and less on its bones. The hide hangs across its frame like a careless rug across a chair. Its head is hung low, not only grazing but also in a symbolic reflection of the land it lives in. Perhaps the rest of the herd is just out of view but it matters little. This is a solitary animal foraging in some corner of a foreign field, udders half full. Where are all the breasts full of the milk of human kindness? They have dried up and can feed no-one now. Worst still they suckle nothing but poison and contempt. We drink the economic miracle of far-flung places that grow rich on our poverty and turn a blind eye to our plight – blind eyes in Gucci sunglasses with the sharp vision of laser surgery and the icy stare of apathy. One day this land will be lush again. The soil is rich and that is all that one needs to grow again when the time is right. 

 

          How small we all are, especially in the distance. The solitary path travels from here to there, regardless of whether dusty feet should choose to walk along it. With baggage in hand, a determination in her straight back, and a resolve in the step the broken road is her sole domain. No other vestige of life to spoil her view, no cars or carts or children kicking up the stones and playing games. No dogs or donkeys or dumped prams in ditches. The straight line to the horizon is uncluttered by any semblance of other life. Just one life parades in solitude, purpose unknown, frozen at a far point with a vast swathe of worn highway behind her and an uncertain future before her. Turbulent clouds threaten the skyline but possibly they are dispersing rather than gathering. Who knows? The landscape converges upon her, the singularity of her presence and every blade of grass and every leaf on every tree presses for her destination. She remains mute, head turned away, turned towards tomorrow. Their question remains unanswered. Only time will tell. 

Category : Blog archive

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Lithuania set to elect
Russia-friendly parties

Prime Minister Andrius Kublius

The conservative party was good at controlling numbers, but failed to see people behind numbers
The conservative party was good at controlling numbers, but failed to see people behind numbers and didn't bother to communicate their decisions. And they did flirt with aggressive nationalism and anti-human rights groups.

It's damn expensive to run for elections. I know it from friends who have tried. Eventually people have to eitger join one of the existing 'mafia' or quit politics. With only popular backing and no business interest paying the bills, it's nearly impossible to gain visibility.

Daiva Repeckaite

Category : Opinions

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Lithuanians will cast ballots in the second-round of national elections Sunday

President Dalia Grybauskaite (left) openly supports the ruling coalition and has expressed doubts about the integrity of Viktor Uspaskich (right), the Russia-born Labor leader.

Lithuanians will cast ballots in the second-round of national elections Sunday in a tight race that could ultimately determine how quickly the small Baltic nation introduces the euro and whether it will build a new nuclear power plant.

Three parties across the political spectrum are hoping to emerge the winner following a close race in the first round two weeks ago. Opposition center-left parties that finished in first and second place have pledged to form a coalition that would increase social spending and postpone introducing the euro, while the ruling conservatives, who came in third, want to see Lithuania phase in the common currency in 2014 and proceed with plans to build a nuclear power plant, a plan the opposition has criticized.

The country of 3 million people saw one of Europe’s worst recessions and data show that, despite economic growth, living standards continue to decline due to soaring energy costs.
Nearly half of parliament’s 141 seats are up for grabs in Sunday’s run-off races. After the first round on Oct 14, the populist Labor Party, founded by a Russia-born millionaire, is in front with 18 seats — compared with 16 for its Social Democrat allies and 13 for its rival conservatives from Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

The Labor Party and the Social Democrats, both in the current opposition, have agreed to form a coalition with another populist group, Order and Justice, which finished fifth with six seats. All three parties campaigned on higher wages and benefits and vowed to put off the euro until the European Union can resolve the three-year old economic crisis.
However, the ruling conservatives, led by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, could pull off an upset. The party has 35 candidates in second round ballots and leads in many of them.
If the Homeland Union were to end up with the most seats, they would likely get the nod from President Dalia Grybauskaite to form the next government, though analysts say a second-place finish might also be enough to keep Kubilius in the driver’s seat.

‘‘If Homeland Union finishes second after the run-off, this would be a major blow not only to the Labor Party but also the emerging three-party coalition. It would immediately weaken their positions in the new Parliament,’’ said Vladimiras Laucius, a political analyst at the Delfi news portal.

Read more...

Category : News

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Time to
leave
Lithuania?

By Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief

I asked this question in my editorial last week, referring to the massive migration that takes place from Lithuania these days. We talk no longer about emigration, but about evacuation.

I also ventured to express some criticism on how this country has been ruled for the past 22 years, as it is my conviction that the mass exodus is due to these years’ mismanagement and inadequate facilitation for new jobs, new investments and new businesses.

I forgot, by the way, mentioning rule of law and system critical press as key ingredients for a country that wants progress. In these two areas Lithuania is still an undeveloped nation.

I used myself as an example. That was perhaps a mistake. What I wanted to convey was that foreigners who have come here to work or develop business do not feel particularly welcome. I also wanted to say that the same largely applies to the country’s own population, not least to all those who are now 'fleeing' from here, looking for a new and better country to live in.

Let me also stress that I myself will never leave Lithuania as such. A prominent Lithuanian-American once asked me why I do so much for Lithuania, although I do not have my roots here. My response was that 'I have my branches here, and branches are as important as roots'. I obviously was referring to my two children, who I hope one day will feel real pride being 50% Lithuanian. Because the downturn of this country will not continue forever. One day the negative trend will reverse.

Let me also state that VilNews will continue and increasingly evolve as an important link between Lithuanians and their homeland. More and more people are reading VilNews, more and more writing for us or contributing in other ways.

I think such a common communication platform will prove important in the 'reconstruction' of Lithuania as a nation, and of 'all Lithuanian' as a common, strong bond between all of us with Lithuania in our hearts.

Click HERE to read my last week editorial…

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here a few of the comments we have received:


Gaila Mucen,
Australia
Maybe the Government will listen and start doing something when even westerners who wanted to build a thriving Lithuania start leaving
Your thoughts reflect the sentiments of other foreigners who came to Lithuania with big expectations of what a great country it could be but the situation today is a far cry from these expectations.
Read more…

Lars M. Hansen,
Denmark/
Lithuania
Our love and hate relation to the lovely place called Lithuania
Very well described, the love and hate relation to the lovely place called Lithuania. With so many opportunities and still with such grim prospects of the future. I say STAY. And not let the negative, departing nor disillusioned part of population decide which way their country will go…
Read more…

Rajinder
Chaudhary
,
India/Lithuania
Let us sail together and if at all sink – then sink together
Aage, Most of all feel much the same way for our dear Lithuania as we all came here not only to do something for ourselves but for this country too. I can say with confidence that things have improved but the impact is hardly felt. The Outflow of the young manpower who are the future of this country is a very worrying factor…
Read more…

Kestutis Eidukonis,
Arizona/Lithuania
What this country needs is a Leader who believes in Lithuania
It is always darkest before the storm. Being close to the problems is difficult. But we cannot give up! We cannot be quitters. The fight must go on. Lithuanian partisans gave their lives for their country, countless thousands of Lithuanians suffered in Gulags. Others suffered the loss of their country for years. The "Soviet" apparatus is very good…
Read more…

Irene
Simanavicius
,
Toronto, Canada
If you wanted to create a ruckus or take a stand, then moving to Lithuania was probably not your best choice
Moving to a foreign country is one of the biggest life transitions you can ever make. While it can be challenging and fraught with paperwork, it can also be an immensely rewarding and enriching experience. Whether the move is for business purposes or for personal reasons.
Read more…

Read more...

Category : Front page

- Posted by - (1) Comment

Time to leave Lithuania?

By Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief

I asked this question in my editorial last week, referring to the massive migration that takes place from Lithuania these days. We talk no longer about emigration, but about evacuation.

I also ventured to express some criticism on how this country has been ruled for the past 22 years, as it is my conviction that the mass exodus is due to these years’ mismanagement and inadequate facilitation for new jobs, new investments and new businesses.

I forgot, by the way, mentioning rule of law and system critical press as key ingredients for a country that wants progress. In these two areas Lithuania is still an undeveloped nation.

I used myself as an example. That was perhaps a mistake. What I wanted to convey was that foreigners who have come here to work or develop business do not feel particularly welcome. I also wanted to say that the same largely applies to the country’s own population, not least to all those who are now 'fleeing' from here, looking for a new and better country to live in.

Let me also stress that I myself will never leave Lithuania as such. A prominent Lithuanian-American once asked me why I do so much for Lithuania, although I do not have my roots here. My response was that 'I have my branches here, and branches are as important as roots'. I obviously was referring to my two children, who I hope one day will feel real pride being 50% Lithuanian. Because the downturn of this country will not continue forever. One day the negative trend will reverse.

Let me also state that VilNews will continue and increasingly evolve as an important link between Lithuanians and their homeland. More and more people are reading VilNews, more and more writing for us or contributing in other ways.

I think such a common communication platform will prove important in the 'reconstruction' of Lithuania as a nation, and of 'all Lithuanian' as a common, strong bond between all of us with Lithuania in our hearts.

Click HERE to read my last week editorial…

Here a few of the comments we have received:

 

Gaila Mucen

Maybe the Government will listen and start doing something when even westerners who wanted to build a thriving Lithuania start leaving
Your thoughts reflect the sentiments of other foreigners who came to Lithuania with big expectations of what a great country it could be but the situation today is a far cry from these expectations. The govt. chooses to ignore the mass exodus over the years of its people (not only young) but maybe it will listen and start doing something when even westerners who wanted to build a successful and thriving Lithuania start leaving taking their businesses, good ideas with them but more importantly they are sending a message that Lithuania is a sinking boat.

Gaila Mucen, Australia

 

Lars Malte Hansen

Our love and hate relation to the lovely place called Lithuania
Very well described, the love and hate relation to the lovely place called Lithuania. With so many opportunities and still with such grim prospects of the future. I say STAY. And not let the negative, departing nor disillusioned part of population decide which way their country will go.

Lars Malte Hansen, Denmark/Lithuania

 

 

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Let us sail together and if at all sink – then sink together
Aage, Most of all feel much the same way for our dear Lithuania as we all came here not only to do something for ourselves but for this country too. I can say with confidence that things have improved but the impact is hardly felt. The Outflow of the young manpower who are the future of this country is a very worrying factor but looks like the Powers that be do not care. In this connection I am equally intrigued and confused by the influx of a large number of Indians who are opening Companies right left and center here in Lithuania. If they were solid investors and would create jobs, there would not be such anxiety but most are heading here not knowing what to do and how to do. Primarily they are interested in the Temporary Residence Permits and in the bargain the Law

Firms and the Companies dealing with such activity are having a field day.I am sure it must be much true for other Countries too especially from Asia and Africa. But Stay on my friend-you area powerful pillar of this city and of this country. Let us sail together and if at all sink-then sink together.

Rajinder Chaudhary, India/Lithuania

 

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What this country needs is a Leader who believes
in Lithuania, believes in the Lithuanian people
It is always darkest before the storm. Being close to the problems is difficult. But we cannot give up! We cannot be quitters. The fight must go on. Lithuanian partisans gave their lives for their country, countless thousands of Lithuanians suffered in Gulags. Others suffered the loss of their country for years. The "Soviet" apparatus is very good. It finds legitimate problems, blows them out of proportion and demoralizes citizens. It is the most effective "Marketing" program I have ever studied. I went through the affects of "Soviet" propaganda in the Vietnam War. I watched a military dispirited by opposition fall prey to drugs and rebellion. I was part of the rebuilding of this military! It can be done. VilNews will be part of the solution.

What this country needs is a Leader who believes in Lithuania, believes in the Lithuanian people. The Lithuanian people must unite - not just in Lithuania but also in the Lithuanian diaspora. We must quit living in expectation of help from the government of Lithuania. The Government cannot help. We must report bribe takers, we must not give them anything. We must unite and fight for the Lithuania we believe in. I believe in Lithuania! I especially believe in the young people of Lithuania. I believe it is our duty to expose problems with the government - but we need to come up with solutions - not just repeat the problems.  Aage - hang in there you have more people behind you than you know.

Kestutis Eidukonis, Arizona/Lithuania

 

 

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If you wanted to create a ruckus or take a stand, then
moving to Lithuania was probably not your best choice
Moving to a foreign country is one of the biggest life transitions you can ever make. While it can be challenging and fraught with paperwork, it can also be an immensely rewarding and enriching experience. Whether the move is for business purposes or for personal reasons. 

Another form of culture shock is learning what you cannot do, even though you could do in your old country. You aren't in a position to question it—you need to instead reach an acceptance that this is how things are done here. Whether the society you've gone to is more or less permissive than what you're used to, be sure to do the right thing to fit in.

If you wanted to create a ruckus or take a stand, then moving to Lithuania was probably not your best choice, nor any other country. (lol) 

Moving countries is right up there at the top of the stress scale. Some days it'll be fun. Other days it'll be the worst experience ever. And other days, it'll feel just like home, because it has become home. Your roller coaster of emotions deserves to be taken care of. If you suffer from anxiety, unabated fears, depression, etc., Do not suffer in silence—it will only be compounded by the foreignness of everything and everyone around you and you can end up feeling completely isolated and disillusioned! 

All in all Aage, I guess you know all this and we are going to miss you. Your family and your well being should always come first. 

A lot of us have never met personally, so for us, nothing has changed and nothing will change because of social networking. Bless you and your family and thank you! thank you! 

I have never ever enjoyed myself more as I have getting to know all of you, reading the paper and learning things about my heritage from all the different viewpoints and stories shared by all. See you on FB. 

Irene Simanavicius, Toronto, Canada

Category : Lithuania today

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...
* * *

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...
* * *

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...
* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >



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