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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

23 June 2017
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Has the spirit of
January 1991 returned?


Is there a new Lithuanian awakening in the making?
What do you, dear reader, think?

By Aage Myhre, editor-in-chief
aage.myhre@VilNews.com

The 22 years that have passed since January 1991, when the Lithuanian people in an exemplary, peaceful manner stood up against the violent Soviet re-occupation, have only rarely lived up to the expectations I and many with me had by then.

Neither Landsbergis, Brazauskas, nor later leaders delivered when the new statehood was to be developed during the 1990s.

The country's newfound freedom did not lead to the type of growth and better living conditions for the broad masses, that had been expected. Also, the warmer, friendlier and more human society we all waited for never occurred. When the people who had shown their support for the new won independence from the Soviet Union returned to their towns and villages in the spring of 1991, much of the community spirit was gone and did not appear since.

Different leaders have since those days made ​​some half-hearted attempts to regain team feeling, cooperation and community spirit within groups of the Lithuanian people. These attempts have largely been met with shrug and distrust, and few politicians have gained genuine respect of their own people.

The EU membership in 2004 did not become the boost that had been expected. Certainly, the economy enjoyed a positive step forward, but not much positive happened for the broad masses of the people.

Therefore, the most striking result of the membership and the open borders to the West, was a mass exodus unparalleled in and for any other country of today.

The enormous crisis that began in 2008 made ​​the situation even worse, almost unbearable for many, and one felt that it was only a matter of time before the country would collapse, emptied of inhabitants.

Then, a year or two ago, I felt that something was happening down in the grassroots of business people and others. I discovered more and more young professionals who began to define their own paths, no longer waiting for the older generations of leaders to show the way.

When I this year marked 13 January in the Lithuanian Parliament Building, 22 years after I in 1991 stood there with Professor Landsbergis looking out the window at the bonfires, barricades and the huge crowd of unarmed people who had gathered to protect their president and the country's future as a free nation, I saw something completely new to me.

I was, now in 2013, there with a group of young Lithuanians, most of them so young that they do not have their own memories of what happened there 22 years ago. Yet the memories of the sad events in January 1991 were obviously alive and present for them. They wanted to underline that freedom and independence is not something one can take for granted. I was there with some of Lithuania's future politicians – young, well-educated, smart leaders that this country a few years ago could only dream about.
I walked around with them in the Parliament this 13th January. I saw their interests, and their pride in belonging to a great nation like this.
I also saw large photographs on the walls, with Lithuania's parliamentary history of the interwar time and from the years after the Declaration of Independence 11 March 1990. The sadness I felt when I walked around in these corridors 22 years was gone, now I felt only joy, and optimism regarding the country's future and its political leaders for the years to soon come.
I had, before this visit, seen young Lithuanian business people in full swing building up more professional structures and attitudes. That I now saw the same happen among young politicians was very gratifying.

Both of these groups feel to some extent that our brand new government is a step backwards, back to the "nomenclature times", but their young, Western-type way of thinking is certainly very encouraging and I think we are facing a crossroads which bodes well for Lithuania!

It is precisely such attitudes I now see more and more of among young Lithuanians. And this time, it appears that they are ready to take matters into their own hands, no longer waiting for the older politicians and leaders to show the way. It almost feels as if the spirit of January 1991 is back, now in a structured, pragmatic and professional manner.

What do you, dear reader, think? Is there a new awakening in the making? Has the spirit of 1991 returned?

Category : Featured black / Lithuania today



VilNews e-magazine is published in Vilnius, Lithuania. Editor-in-Chief: Mr. Aage Myhre. Inquires to the editorseditor@VilNews.com.
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