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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

29 March 2017
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Archive for November, 2012

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The Presidential Palace
in Kaunas is a must-see


Read more about the Palace at http://www.istorineprezidentura.lt/?lang=en 
Photo: Aage Myhre

The Historical Presidential Palace in Kaunas is a must-see place for everyone, whether native-born or a visitor to Lithuania. It is one of the most important memorials of the Republic of Lithuania in 1918–1940.

Visitors are offered an introduction into the evolution of modern Lithuanian statehood, the opportunity to feel the pulse of a growing city that suddenly faced the challenge of becoming a capital and rapidly changed from a fortress into a modern city.

The building was at the centre of major political events of the time. It housed the President’s meetings with the Cabinet, as well as numerous meetings with the representatives of foreign countries, military, clergy and various organizations. It was a fundamental landmark of Foreign Policy; emissaries of foreign states here offered their credentials to the President of the Lithuanian Republic. The building also witnessed the Coup d’état of 1926, a crisis of parlamentarism and a turn towards authoritarian regime. In the face of imminent Soviet occupation, the Last Meeting of the government of the independent Lithuania took place here on the night from June 14 to 15 of 1940.

Today the Presidential Palace in Kaunas functions as a memorial-educational institution of Lithuanian modern statehood. The permanent exposition at the Palace reflects the history of the First Republic of Lithuania (1918 – 1940). Periodic temporary exhibitions commemorate outstanding historical figures and events. Many other social and cultural gatherings – such as scholarly conferences, concerts, book presentations, public lectures and meetings with outstanding public persons – are aimed at stimulating discussions about modern statehood and civic society.

Presidential Palace

 - Presidential Palace. Kaunas, 1920s. Property of NČDM
 - Interior (2nd floor) of the Presidential Palace. Kaunas, 1930s. Property of LCVA
 - President Antanas Smetona in the Conference room of the Presidential Palace, ca. 1928. Property of LCVA

The former residence of the President of the Republic of Lithuania

History of the Presidential Palace

  • Construction of the future presidential palace began in the middle of the XIX century.  In 1869 the chancery of the Kaunas provincial administration set itself up here.
  • On February 16, 1918, the Council of Lithuania declared Lithuania an independent state. In 1919 the capital was transferred from occupied Vilnius to Kaunas and the Chancery of the President moved into this former governor’s palace on September 1st.
  • From 1919 to 1940, all three presidents resided in this palace: Antanas Smetona (1919-1920 and 1926-1940), Aleksandras Stulginskis (1922-1926), Kazys Grinius (June-December, 1926).
  • The Last Meeting of the government of the Republic of Lithuanian took place in the Presidential Palace on June 15, 1940.
  • After the Soviet ocupation a Pioneers’ palace was established in the palace; from 1955 on it was the Teachers’ House.
  • After the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1990, the palace passed to the Vytautas Magnus War Museum. The building underwent a major restoration.
  • On July 3, 2005, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus officially transferred the Historical Lithuanian Presidential Palace to the M. K. Ĉiurlionis national art museum.  On July 5 the Historical Presidential Palace opened its doors to the public.
Category : Lithuania today

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“Vilnius catches and changes
your soul”
(Daniil Granin, Russian writer)


Go to SECTION 23
TRAVEL LITHUANIA!

__________________________


Bernard Terway 
Yes it does - I loved the time I was there, albeit too short.
__________________________


Rolf Hanssen 
I lost my heart in Vilnius city
Category : Opinions

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Butkevičius approved


Lithuania's parliament approved Algirdas Butkevicius as prime minister on Thursday, giving the Social Democrat leader 15 days to present a Cabinet and policy program for approval.

Lawmakers voted 90 to 40 with 4 abstentions to appoint Butkevicius, according to a live broadcast from the parliament in the capital, Vilnius. The 141-seat chamber, which convened this week after October elections, currently only has 139 members as ballots in two districts were declared invalid and will be repeated in March.

The premier-designate's Social Democrat party formed a coalition with the Labor Party, the Order & Justice party and the Lithuanian Polish Election Action. President Dalia Grybauskaite, who proposed Butkevicius for the post and must approve the new government's composition, opposes Labor's participation as it is suspected of fraud and voting violations.

Butkevicius, 54, served as finance minister in 2004-2005 and as transportation minister in 2006-2008. Speaking in parliament earlier this week, he quoted U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, saying the new government would seek to be "for the people" by focusing less on fiscal discipline and more on economic stimulus.

Read more…

Category : News

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Kaunas stories from
previous VilNews issues

Former President Valdas Adamkus:
Hiding in the woods near Kaunas

"I thank my friend Gabrielius Žemkalnis, brother of Vytautas Landsbergis, that I’m still alive. In the years of World War II, he and I joined the resistance movement for Lithuania's independence, together with Leo Grinius, by publishing and circulating the underground, anti-Nazi newspaper “Jaunime, budek!” (Youth, Be on Guard!) in Kaunas.

One day, in 1944, I was suddenly visited by Žemkalnis' sister. She said her brother had been arrested by the Gestapo, but that he had managed to whisper my name to her as he was led out of the apartment. She immediately understood that it was something he and I had together that I had to be warned about. I was still only 17 years old, but realized that this could be extremely serious, so I ran to the woods and hid there for a long time. Read more...

Professor Irena Veisaite:
Escaping from the Kaunas ghetto

In August 1941 all the Kaunas Jews were imprisoned in the ghetto which was located in the Kaunas suburb Vilijampole. Irena stayed in the ghetto with her grandparents and one aunt. The 7th of November 1943 is a date Irena will never forget. Lithuanian friends of her parents, the Strimaitis family, had managed to convey a message to her in the ghetto, saying that she should follow one of the labour brigades out of the ghetto to the work place in town. They also had procured false documents for her. An agreement was reached with a Jewish policeman who was responsible for the list of workers that she should not be included on the list that day, but still follow the group out and then try to escape unnoticed into a side street as soon as they passed the ghetto gates. The moment of stepping out of the column of Jewish workers was the most horrifying and dangerous one in young Irena's life. But fortunately she made it without being detected. Read more...

Attorney Regina Narusiene:
Hiding behind a blue Kaunas curtain

“I was almost five years old, but I still clearly remember the day when a truck with Soviet soldiers drove up to our home in Kaunas. My father ordered me to hide behind the blue curtains in the home’s living room and not make even the smallest move or sound. Our family was to be deported to Siberia and the soldiers had come to take us. It felt as though it took an eternity before my father returned and told me I could come out from my hiding place. A truck with German soldiers had come up behind the Soviet truck, forcing the Soviets to leave. That probably saved our lives. As the Soviets were returning to Lithuania in 1944 we escaped to Germany, and after living in Displaced Persons camp for 5 years, in 1949 we emigrated to the United States.” Read more...

Dr. Jonas Sliupas:
Declining the presidency (1926)

The year is 1926. It is a very dark late autumn evening in Kaunas, Lithuania's capital between 1st and 2nd World Wars, when three officers from the Lithuanian army rush up to the house where Dr. Jonas Sliupas now lives while he teaches at the University of Kaunas. It is nearly midnight when the officers knock heavily on his door and asks to come inside. The officers bring shocking news. They tell that since the early autumn of 1926 key officers within two army groups have been in full swing of planning a coup d’état in Lithuania, and that they have now reached the point that they want to depose of President Kazys Grinius and insert a new President. The question to Dr. Sliupas is therefore whether he can accept becoming the country's new President.
But Dr. Sliupas is not willing to accept. Read more...

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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Vilnius
Where old meets new


Pól Ó Conghaile, Irish Examiner

"Art may be a particularly good medium for distilling and reflecting the characteristics of a nation, but contemplation of it does not give us the vivid and visceral experience of them that we may crave," as Alain de Botton wrote recently in BA’s Highlife magazine. 

"We’re learning that what we might really want to do is to talk to people," the philosopher continued, with his usual — and irresistible — knack for nailing ideas so simple you wonder why nobody had nailed them before. "This is remarkably hard." 

Our increasing desire for stories, for the sweet sensation of living and breathing a city rather than digesting its historical data, hit me afresh in Vilnius. 

Lithuania’s capital is a gem. Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a European Capital of Culture in 2009. It’s a small place by any measure, but one spilling over with Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance churches, town halls and other buildings. 

Yet none of these things puts the hook in me. What puts the hook in me is the moment I wander into a small chapel above the Gate of Dawn to find a wedding underway. An older couple exchanges vows — she in a cream bonnet, he with a bouquet of blooms under his arm and trousers bunching around his ankles. A Handycam is propped atop of the organ. 

Beneath vaulted ceilings, a priest in a golden robe takes a step backwards. The couple leans in together and delivers a quick, bird-like kiss. The small crowd around them claps. 

And there it is. Interesting and all as the 16th century Gate of Dawn is, or the fact that its famous icon of the Virgin Mary is said to have healing powers, or that Pope John Paul II took time to say the rosary here in 1993, the strongest memory I’m taking away is of that little kiss. 

That moment in time. That stolen insight into two Lithuanian lives…  

Read more…
Category : News

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National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame


A world class novel

and Oscar worthy film

 

 


Internationally-renowned Lithuanian film director Tomas Donela, behind the film Farewell

 Anatanas Sileika, Canadian-Lithuanian author of the highly-acclaimed novel Underground 

By Jon Platakis, National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame

Electricity filled the air as the audience packed the main hall of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, November 3, 2012. 

As Jon Platakis, founder and chairman of the National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame which sponsored the event, began his introduction, first, second, and third generation Lithuanian Americans, along with a contingent of students from Daley College, sat in eager anticipation.

Read more...

Category : Front page

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National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame


A world class novel

and Oscar worthy film

 

 


Internationally-renowned Lithuanian film director Tomas Donela, behind the film Farewell

 Anatanas Sileika, Canadian-Lithuanian author of the highly-acclaimed novel Underground 

By Jon Platakis, National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame

Electricity filled the air as the audience packed the main hall of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, November 3, 2012. 

As Jon Platakis, founder and chairman of the National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame which sponsored the event, began his introduction, first, second, and third generation Lithuanian Americans, along with a contingent of students from Daley College, sat in eager anticipation.    

The first to speak was Anatanas Sileika, Canadian-Lithuanian author of the highly-acclaimed novel Underground.  He would be followed by internationally-renowned Lithuanian director Tomas Donela, whose film Farewell captured the admiration of critics and viewers at the Sundance competitions, and the Silver Crane Awards in Lithuania. 

“Even today the western world is unaware of the plight of post-war Eastern Europe,” Sileika said.  “As the West joyously celebrated the end of World War Two, there were no celebrations in Eastern Europe, where a half century of brutal Soviet occupation, mass deportations, and summary executions on a mass scale were about to begin.”

Courageous Lithuanian men and women, anticipating assistance from the United States and its ally Great Britain, by the tens of thousands stormed into the forests to begin what would be the longest and fiercest war of resistance of 20th century Europe. Despite the massive onslaught of the Red Army, Lithuanian partisans effectively controlled most of the countryside until 1949.

Sileika’s novel Underground tells this chilling story of love and war. The novel’s main character, Lukas, is loosely based on Lithuania’s most famous partisan, Juozas Luksa.

During his presentation, Sileika read an excerpt from his novel in which Elena, the woman Lukas loves, elicits a promise from him in exchange for joining the armed resistance, a vow that portends the novel’s stunning climax.

The second speaker, Tomas Donela, could not contain his excitement over acquiring, through the efforts of National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame, the rights to Underground. Donela has the pedigree to make an Oscar worthy film as his latest efforts include, a short film, The Boy and the Sea, and a full-length feature film, Farewell, that have garnered international critical acclaim.

Donela stressed that, “This should not be a Donela project, but a project with the participation of the entire Lithuanian community.” Further, he said, “It is not only important to support this film project financially, but to also help preserve our history and let the general public know about the supreme sacrifices made by the Lithuanian partisans in laying the foundation for a free Lithuania.”

The night before the event, author and director met in person for the first time at a Lithuanian restaurant and eagerly discussed their plans for making this the most important Lithuanian film to emerge on the international scene.

Their excitement was capped by the enthusiastic reception they received from the audience at the Balzekas Museum as well as by the follow-up presentation at the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont   Among those in attendance at the Balzekas Museum was Agne Vertelkaite, Cultural and Economic Affairs Officer at the Lithuanian Consulate in Chicago.  “I am pleased,” commented Vertelkaite, “That Underground was written to stir interest in an uninformed audience, and even more pleased that this novel will be brought to the cinematic screen, as it is time for the western world to learn historical facts that have been submerged in the fog of time for far to long.”

The National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame has made a commitment to initiate and coordinate all fundraising efforts in support of this educational and historic film project. For information on the many ways you can support this project, please contact the National Lithuanian American Hall of Fame through its website, www.lithhof.org, or email at admin@lithhof.org


At the book & film presentation, standing, left to right: Stanley Balzekas Jr., Sigita Balzekas, Jon Platakis, Justinas Steponavicius, Tomas Donela. Sitting: Antanas Sileika 


At the book & film presentation, l to r: Tomas Donela, Jon Platakis, Antanas Sileika 

Category : Lithuania in the world

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IBM stops activities at Lithuanian research centre


International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) has stopped working at a research center it set up with the Lithuanian government in 2010 as the European Union refused to help finance the initiative, Verslo Zinios reported.

IBM put participation in the project on hold several months ago as Lithuania failed to get financing from the EU to match the company’s contributions, the newspaper said, citing Vice Minister of Economy Adomas Audickas.

Lithuania is negotiating with the EU about funding possibilities and with IBM about reducing the government’s commitments, the newspaper cited him as saying.
IBM may cancel its five-year contract with Lithuania by the end of this year if no agreement is reached, Audickas said, according to the newspaper.

Category : News

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Country comparator:
Lithuania has big
trouble growing

Country Current account balance (BoP, current US$) Inflation, consumer prices (annual %) GDP growth (annual %) GDP per capita, PPP (current international $) GINI index ()
United States -470.902 1.64 3 47153.01 40.81
Canada -49.307 1.777 3.215 39050.17 32.56
Estonia 0.673 2.974 3.105 20663.43 36
Lithuania 0.534 1.318 1.33 18147.98 37.57
Norway 51.444 2.399 0.677 57230.89 25.79
Sweden 30.408 1.158 5.61 39024.17 25

BoP: Balance of Payments.
GDP: Gross Domestic Product.
GINI index: measures the extent to which the distribution of income or consumption expenditure among individuals or households within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution.

The latest comparative data show that Lithuania has big trouble growing even with the unprecedented sacrifices of the austerity policies by the Kubilius Government; and from very low levels. This data confirms my earlier predictions of big financial-economic collapse in Lithuania: bank and company bankruptcies.

Val Samonis
Toronto, Canada

Category : Business, economy, investments / Front page

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.

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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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