THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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When we first posted the recipe for Kugelis 26 February we had no idea that it would result in so many responses and Emails. It seems that what is in question is the origin of Kugelis. Some say that the origin of Lithuanian Kugelis is from Kugel which is a very popular traditional dish of the Jewish Faith with the only difference being that Kugelis is with meat and Kugel is without. To compound the issue there is the very old traditional Lithuanian dish called Bulvių Plokštainis whose recipe is absolutely identical to Kugelis.
We would like to highlight this recipe for a number of reasons. One reason is that no matter what you call it or where it came from it is a delicious and easy to make dish. The other reason is that we think it would be very interesting to find out from our dear readers any input they could share in regards to the origin of these three dishes – Kugel, Kuglis and Bulvių Plokštainis
I just grabbed my camera today, this first day of March. Because I wanted to share with you, dear readers, what Vilnius looks like today. Still snow and ice many places, but the melting process is now obvious. Spring is here!
Photos: Aage Myhre
Text: Giedre Paliusytė
Lithuania is a beautiful country, situated at the western end of the East European Plain, on the endless white sand southern shores of the Baltic Sea. Though Lithuania is small. It is, for example, almost 148 times smaller than China and has only 3,5 million inhabitants – which is almost 444 times less than China. Still Lithuania has amazingly much to offer...
Everything is possible here! You can spend your time actively or find a place to relax in untouched nature; choose from a plethora of cultural events, explore the cities-open air museums and much more!
Why did I compare Lithuania to China? In 2010 Lithuania took part in the global exhibition Expo in China, Shanghai. Over 5 million people visited Lithuania’s Pavilion. For many of them it was the first acquaintance with this unknown, far away country which the exhibition visitors found definitely worth visiting! A hot air balloon was chosen as the symbol for Lithuania’s pavilion. Visitors of the exhibition were invited to take an impressive virtual flight... But Lithuania itself is nothing but hot air!
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Reasons to visit us in 2011?
The European Basketball Championship 2011 will be held right here, In Lithuania!!!
For a large part of Lithuanians Basketball is more than a game, we can even hear people calling it our “second religion”. Lithuanians know how to support their teams and how to celebrate victories.
If you are not sworn enemies with this a game, you probably know that one of the most important events for Lithuania this year will be the European Basketball Championship 2011. Lithuania will be hosting the European Basketball Championship for the second time in countries history - the first was a tumultuous 1939.
Host cities will be Alytus, Klaipeda, Kaunas, Siauliai, Panevezys and Vilnius. First tickets will go trade in March 2011.
For more information about the European Basketball Championship of 2011 please see FIBA EUROPE.
An independent republic in the middle
of the city!
The (un)official Independence Day of Republic of Užupis is a celebration for everyone!
Almost fourteen years ago a district of Vilnius Old Town Užupis started celebrating its Independence Day. This year on April 1st we will again be able to spend a day partying, observing and learning to make traditional handicrafts, exploring the district that has its own president, a constitution and is one of the coziest parts of Vilnius, the UNESCO-listed capital of Lithuania.
Užupis is often being compared to Montmartre in Paris, or Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen because of its artistic atmosphere, events and people who living and creating there.
International Hanseatic in Kaunas May
From May 19 to 22 International Hanseatic days will rock the Kaunas city. Guests from about 100 cities in Europe will come to contribute to the feast and celebrate together. More than 100 different events will take place and all of them will all be for free!
Most Lithuanians are very much interested in their history old customs and traditions, they want to keep them and demonstrate them to their friends and guests from other countries on numerous occasions.
For more information please see: http://www.hanzakaunas.lt/
VILNIUS – LITHUANIA’S VIBRANT CAPITAL
Vilnius is a city full of color, with a historic centre registered in the Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, and for a good reason. The countless Baroque churches, narrow cobblestone streets, impressive squares and some unusual sites such as the statue of Frank Zappa, a statue of a giant egg or of a mermaid, artistic districts, mysterious legends and true stories gives it the right to be called the most funky destination in Northern Europe!
Vilnius Old Town’s Pilies gatve (Tower St.), The street is filled with life, people and music year around!
The capital of Lithuania – Vilnius, is a place where history, culture and new tendencies in culture and politics can be felt. A medieval castle and the centre of the city and the remains of the defensive wall reminds us of the XIII century when pagan Lithuania had to withstand direct campaigns of Teutonic Knights. The Cathedral of Vilnius– is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania and also is the place where the movement for independence from the Soviet Union began in 1989. The Old Town of Vilnius is a World Heritage site where you can find architecture examples of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern architecture. Lithuania is an Independent country since 2004 a member of European Union and NATO.
In 1994, the Old Town of Vilnius was included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. It is one of the largest (comprising around 360 ha) and most scenic old towns in Europe, founded by Grand Duke Gediminas in 1323 (you can see the last existing tower of the former fortress with his name on the hilltop at the street end).
Vilnius’ light-coloured manors and church towers remind one of the of the old rich Italian cities such as Rome and Florence. Vilnius is the most northward capital-city having inherited the architecture styles of the Mediterranean, and is sometimes referred to as the world’s most Italian city outside Italy.
Vilnius of the 14th and 17th centuries is considered the major European cultural and educational centre of Western civilisation that reached farthest into the East. The Old Town of the capital reflects the apogee of the city grandeur and beauty of this period, while the rapidly growing Vilnius of today, with its around 600,000 inhabitants, is found among the world’s 20 most remarkable cities - that should not be missed by any world traveller.
THE VILNIUS CHURCHES AND SHRINES – DON’T MISS THEM!
The St. Peter and Paul Church, The Orthodox church of Holy Mother of God
Vilnius has been known as the city of churches since the Middle Ages, several dozen of them can be found in the Old Town alone. Almost every style of architecture can be found in the churches and shrines of many religions in the city: gothic, renaissance, baroque and classicism. The Cathedral of Vilnius (top picture), from which we invite you to start the tour, is the most important piece of 18th century classical architecture.
These are the churches and shrines you simply have to see while visiting Vilnius:
|- The Vilnius Cathedral
- St. Anne's and Bernadines' Churches
- The Church of St.Michael
- The Orthodox Church of St. Paraskeva
- Sts. John‘s Church
- The Temple of God‘s Mercifulness
- The Church of the Holy Spirit
- The Great Vilnius Synagogue Place
|- The Evangelical Lutheran Church
- The Church of St.Michael the Archangel
- St. Casimir‘s Church
- The Church of the Holy Trinity
- The Church of the Holy Spirit
- The Church of St. Teresa
- The Gate of Dawn
- The St. Peter and Paul Church
LITHUANIAN SCIENCE, CULTURE AND MORE…
When Vilnius University (above) opened its doors in 1579 this became another strong manifestation of Lithuania’s strong position as a leading nation for fine intellectualism in Eastern and Central Europe.
Vilnius University is the oldest and largest Lithuanian higher education institution, an active participant in international scientific and academic activities and boasts many prominent scientists, professors and graduates.
Let the amazing University Library be your starting point for a study of Lithuania’s many roles within science and intellectual development fields…
Eimuntas Nekrosius is one of the best theatre directors in Lithuania. I Chose him to represent countries rich cultural life. I believe you will be surprised seeing what a variety this country has to offer – with several well-known professional symphonic and chamber orchestras, choirs, opera singers, ballet dancers and artists within many fields. Cultural events take place all year around; marvellous summer festivals of classical music, theatre, cinema and poetry performances by many Lithuanian and foreign artists, and much, much more. Lithuania is also widely known as a jazz country, famous for its several international jazz festivals organized by jazz performers and fans in several cities.
TRAKAI – LITHUANIA’S MEDIEVAL CAPITAL
You can’t leave Lithuania without visiting Trakai! It is located in one of Lithuania’s picturesque lake districts, just 30 km from Vilnius. Trakai was the administrative, economic and defensive centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the beginning of the 14th c. The majestic Gothic castle on an island on Galve Lake is the only castle surrounded by water in Eastern and Central Europe. Inside the castle, there is the Trakai Historic Museum where visitors can see old armament collections as well as other historic exhibits. Also worthwhile seeing is the Karaim quarter with its restaurants originating from the Black Sea area!
DRUSKININKAI AND GRUTAS PARK (LENIN’S NEW HOME)
ABOVE LEFT: DRUSKININKAI IS LITHUANIA’S SPA CAPITAL
Druskininkai is Lithuania’s spa capital since the 19th century. This is the place you simply have to go to if you need any sort of treatment for your soul or body. Thousands of others, from around the globe, are already cured!
For more information see http://info.druskininkai.lt/
MEETING LENIN FACE-TO-FACE
The Grutas Park in Druskininkai includes statues of Lenin and many other Soviet leaders, all removed from their former official locations in the wake of Lithuania’s regained freedom in 1990 – 1991. We got them, didn’t we?
At the gate to Grutas Park you will be met by Soviet militiamen and soldiers. Well inside the park you will meet them face to face – the individuals Lithuanians and many around the world learned to hate for their cruel, gruesome behaviour to innocent people. You may also feel as if you are in a Siberian concentration camp in the section of the Park that is surrounded by a moat and barbed wire fences with watch-towers. The atmosphere of a Soviet canteen permeates
the park café where the food is served in metal bowls. The aluminium cutlery is a popular souvenir.
For more information see http://www.grutoparkas.lt/
KAUNAS – LITHUANIA’S PRE-WAR CAPITAL
Kaunas Old Town is an amazingly lively and attractive place to be. Have you been there?
Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania, with a population of around 415,000. Kaunas was founded in the 12th century and owes its existence to its favourable geographic position at the confluence of Lithuania’s two biggest rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, 100 km from Vilnius and 200 km from the port city Klaipeda. Kaunas was the capital of Lithuania between 1st and 2nd World War, when Vilnius was occupied by Poland. Kaunas enjoys a remarkable Old Town which is a concentration of ancient architectural monuments: the remnants of the 13th century Castle, the Cathedral, the Jesuit and St. Trinity Churches as well as the Old Town Hall, nicknamed the "White Swan" for its charming architecture. The Old Town Hall Square, the most important architectural accent of the Old Town, is reminiscent of the Middle Ages with the early Gothic Vytautas Church and the late Gothic Perkunas House not far away. The Old Town squares and buildings of the surrounding streets are brisk with numerous restaurants, bars and cafes as well as art galleries and Lithuanian folk art souvenir shops, popular among tourists.
LITHUANIAN LANDSCAPES – NEMUNAS RIVER
Mingė often nicknamed Lithuanian Venice is a unique fishermen's village where the main "road" is the river!
Lithuania has a diverse landscape - three hilly uplands, and three lowlands plains. The highest point is Juozapine Hill, not far from Vilnius; it rises to 293.6 meters above sea level. There are over 4,000 lakes and 722 rivers in this country. The longest river is the Nemunas (above), which is 937 km long totally whereas its length through Lithuania is 457 km.
But these are only the hard facts. The Lithuanian countryside is so much more than just facts. It is only when you begin your walk through the woods here, as you slowly float down one of the rivers in a canoe or a raft, when you sit down at one of the many amazing lakes, or when you first put your foot down in the Baltic Sea’s salty water that you really understand that this country is different. It is now, in the year of 2010, that you will have the great opportunity of feeling close to Lithuania's highly inspirational nature. Why wait?
SIAULIAI – THE HILL OF CROSSES
The Hill of Crosses near Siauliai city in North Lithuania is a most unique historic site where, except for some intervals, people have been continuously building crosses since the 19th century, asking for celestial help or paying back for it.
Today, there are over 200,000 crosses that have been counted on the site including fine artefacts by local folk artists as well as plain wooden crosses. ]At the Hill of Crosses, one can also see pope John Paul’s II cross made by a Lithuanian folk artist and built during the pope’s visit to Lituania in 1993.
There is a place in Lithuania, which is named “Hill of croses”. Why this place is so popular? Because in one place here you can find thousand of croses. This hill is a symbol of faith. Every year here are coming a lot of people and leaving at least a small cross in token of hopes and dreams, which comes true.
PALANGA – THE LIVELY BALTIC SEA RESORT
You can be at the Baltic Sea’s most attractive beaches only a few minutes after landing at Palanga Airport!
If you want to have a calm holiday at an empty beach, then don't expect to find this in Palanga during the mid-summer months. Here, the beaches are always crowded, even in the evenings. If you like crowds of vibrant people at the beach, music, rhythms, games; then Palanga is for you. Though, at the end of the summer and in September, when the weather is still summer-like, the beach is less crowded and you can enjoy a much calmer atmosphere.
There are, however, a lot of other beaches nearby that are much less crowded also during the summer months, if that would be more to your preference. After all, Lithuania has the very top beaches of the Baltic Sea and Nordic area, with around 100 km soft, white sand beaches, all around 50 m wide and with the clear blue sea waves constantly rolling softly in… Did I mention that the country is called Lithuania?
KLAIPEDA – THE HANSEATIC SEAPORT CITY
Klaipėda city (population around 200,000) is the northernmost ice-free port of the Baltic Sea; an outstandingly important sea port and commercial centre since the 13th century. The 1st of August 1252 is considered to be the date Klaipėda was founded. In 1257 the city was granted the Lübeck City Rights
By its old architecture this seaport city is close to the Nordic Countries and Germany; the Hanseatic styles and league. Some of the buildings that have survived in the cosy Old Town have a pronounced Fachwerk style.
Klaipėda cherishes nice marine traditions; it has hosted the Sea Festival on the last weekend of July every year since 1934,
an event that includes a number of performances of artistic companies and craftsmen’s fairs. The festival attracts many participants and guests not only from Lithuania but from abroad, too. The Kopgalis Fort complex, built in the 19th century, houses the Maritime Museum with an attractive exposition of marine nature and the history of navigation. These unique structures also accommodate a rich Aquarium and a Dolphinarium hosting shows of trained dolphins and Californian sea lions, which attract many spectators.
THE CURONIAN SPIT AND NERINGA
The Curonian Spit (Neringa) is a long and narrow sand peninsula that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. This natural wonder, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, still exists today solely due to human efforts to counter the natural erosion process. The Neringa landscape is truly unique, dominated by picturesque sand dunes and pristine beaches. The area has a distinct ethnographic flavour, characterised by wooden fishermen cottages and the local
speciality of smoked fish. Those looking for a quiet seaside vacation in picturesque surroundings will most definitely not be disappointed.
The huge sand dunes of the Curonian spit are the largest in North Europe.
You reach them by ferry from Klaipeda (takes only 10 min).
NIDA – THE FORMER FISHERMEN’S VILLAGE
The Nida home of the German writer Thomas Mann, today the Thomas Mann Museum.
The quiet resort village of Nida is based at the Curonian Spit near the Kaliningrad border, less than one hour’s drive from Klaipeda. With a beautiful Baltic Sea beach on the west side, the large Curonian Lagoon on the east side and the largest sand dunes of Northern Europe on the southern side, this is a truly unique place for a relaxed vacation. You should spend one or two weeks in a self catering Fisherman's cottage or a few days in a guest house or hotel. Take it easy!
"I have never visited anywhere that had such a relaxing effect on me as the view from the sun clock on the Great Dune
in Nida. The silky-smooth lagoon to one side of the golden spit and the sparkling waves of the Baltic Sea to the other side was breath-takingly beautiful. We did lots of walking, running and cycling including a walk along the Baltic Sea beach from west of Preila back to Nida”.
- The Barrett Family
THE CURONIAN LAGOON
The Curonian Lagoon is separated from the Baltic Sea by the Curonian Spit. Its surface area is 1,619 square kilometres. The Nemunas River supplies about 90% of its inflows; its watershed consists of 100,450 square kilometres in Lithuania, Belarus, and the Kaliningrad Oblast. At the northern end of the Spit, there is a passage to the Baltic Sea, and the place was chosen by the Teutonic Knights in 1252 to found Memelburg castle and the city of Memel. The Lagoon, formed about 7,000 years BC, is classified as brackish. Water depths average is 3.8 meters.
Lithuania has become one of the biggest victims of the global economic crisis. The economy has shrunk dramatically and the hangover from Soviet rule continues to cast a long shadow over domestic politics and foreign affairs. Still, in a recent Hard Talk session with the BBC, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius insisted that the country's economy is stabilising.
Most analyst believe that, in 2011, Lithuania’s GDP growth will be about 3 percent; exports will rise approximately 11 percent, while the average salary will go up 3 percent. The high unemployment rate will, however, remain one of the biggest problems. It will probably go down a bit, but it will remain high overall – about 16 percent. An unemployment decrease should be related to laying a general foundation for economic growth. It is very important not to adopt what at first sight seems attractive, but, at the end of the day could be situation-worsening decisions; this could be, for example, not to increase the minimum wage. The shadow economy will also remain a burning head ache for the government, and a very bright scenario for 2011 is therefore not likely.
Text: Torben Pedersen
Moderate optimism for 2011….,still a number of challenges to be addressed.
For the year 2011, she foresees record highs in Lithuanian exports, approximately 12 percent growth which, however, is a slower gain compared to last year. “Trends in exports will remain positive, as all our major export markets - Poland, Latvia, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - will grow faster this year than in 2010. Besides, the upcoming European Basketball Championship will prompt a positive impulse to service exports as well,” the Swedbank chief analyst maintained.
However, according to her, the labor market will recover slowly, both in creating new jobs and in salary growth. “In the new year, we predict job creation for 40,000 people, mostly in the private sector, which will decrease the current unemployment rate by 2 percent, to 15.5 percent. However, a slow salary increase, considering the speed of inflation and, consequently, price rises, will not be tangible,” Vrubliauskiene emphasized to The Baltic Times. She sets the inflation rate at 2 percent in 2011. As for household income this year, she sees it similar to the previous year’s level. “However, consumption recovery will be further induced by a slower savings rate due to the reduced savings interest rates. Lithuanian households have saved nearly 2 billion litas (579.7 million euros) over the two year crisis. Since unemployment risk is lessening and consumer trust is growing, household consumption will grow approximately 1 percent, particularly for non-primary necessity articles,” Vrubliauskiene pointed out.
In the short- and medium-term, she foresees the biggest domestic risk being related to the condition of the state’s finances and slowly proceeding structural reforms. “Though this year the budget deficit can be decreased up to 6 percent of GDP, it will surpass the 3 percent GDP level set by the Maastricht criteria and will be higher than the needed balanced budget level,” Vrubliauskiene said.
“Let’s do what we have done best for centuries – agricultural products”
Bronius Markauskas, chairman of Lithuania’s Chamber of Agriculture, is convinced that Lithuania ought to pursue what it has done best for centuries – grow agricultural products, produce food products and export them. “In 20 years, EU and world experts predict that food products, due to several important reasons, such as climate change, world population increase, economic growth and higher food product demand in Asia and Africa, will become strategic commodities. Will Lithuania take advantage of the developments and increase its agriculture product output? The positive response lies upon several conditions – whether Lithuania will have sufficiently high and stable procurement prices of agriculture production, proper general EU agriculture policies after the financial period is over in 2013, and the bureaucratic load decreasing for farmers,” Markauskas said.
He admits that agriculture production prices are very hard to predict. “In recent years, food provisions were getting more expensive in world markets. I reckon this year will be more stable in many senses. However, in the long term, food provision demand and, therefore, their prices should be increasing. As far as post-2013 European agriculture is concerned, we still have many unanswered questions. The European Commission has not made up its mind as to agricultural financing after 2013. Likely, we will find out about its decisions in the midst of next year. They will have a long-lasting effect not only for Lithuanian farmers, but for all EU farmers as well,” Markauskas asserted.
Despite brighter general assessments for Lithuania’s economy, “its very bright scenario for 2011 is unlikely.”
Vytautas Zukauskas, expert at the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI), says that, despite brighter general assessments for Lithuania’s economy, “its very bright scenario for 2011 is unlikely.” According to LFMI, in 2011, GDP growth will be about 3 percent; exports will rise approximately 11 percent, while the average salary will go up 3 percent. LFMI’s expert asserts the high unemployment rate will be one of the biggest problems for Lithuania this year. “It will go down a bit, but it will remain high overall – about 16 percent. An unemployment decrease should be related to laying a general foundation for economic growth. It is very important not to adopt what at first sight seems attractive, but, at the end of the day could be situation-worsening decisions; this could be, for example, not to increase the minimum wage,” Zukauskas said.
He emphasizes that the shadow economy will remain a burning problem in 2011. “Its share in the gross domestic product will reach approximately 27 percent this year. At least 36 percent of all households will do a part of their work activity in the shadows. Thus, the shadow economy scenery will not be much different from what we saw in 2010. We have to admit that the shadow economy, for a good many people, remains as an alternative to poverty and unemployment. Due to its vast spread during the crisis years, Lithuania has avoided major social unrest. It is the state’s concern to pull its inhabitants out from the shadows,” Zukauskas contended.
He claims that export growth will be one of the very few buoyant indicators in the Lithuanian economy in 2011. However, he cautions, it will affect positively only some enterprises. “It makes sense to take advantage of export possibilities; however, it cannot be a foundation for Lithuania’s economic recovery and growth,” the expert warned.
Zukauskas maintains that the state sector’s deficit and debt will be a burdensome issue in 2011. “The downturn has exposed a lack of flexibility in the public sector. It is estimated that in 2011, the state’s debt will make up 40 percent of GDP, while in 2008 it comprised only 16 percent. In comparison with other EU states, Lithuania’s debt is not very high. However, we should have in mind that, even during the double-digit GDP growth years during the economic boom, Lithuania was not capable of decreasing its debt. Since 1998 it has been constantly growing in Lithuania. Thus, it purports that Lithuanian officials are not good at managing it. Likely, with the recovery spreading, politicians may not be willing to handle it in 2011 either,” Zukauskas asserted.
Asked about euro introduction prospects, he answered, “The euro future will depend on how quick most economic hardship-stricken countries will be able to recover and see their economies growing.”
“2011 will be a bit better than 2010”
Gitanas Nauseda, advisor to SEB Bank’s president, and a notable financial analyst in the country, predicts that 2011 will be a bit better than the last year. However, he cautions, not to be excessive with expectations. “For 2010, we expected faster GDP growth, to be exact, about 4 percent, and domestic market recovery; however, expectations have failed. Domestic consumption was impeded not only by fundamental reasons, such as a high unemployment rate and salary decrease, but also by the pessimistic expectations that reflected the population’s tensions and uncertainty about the future. However, in 2011, the situation should improve, but slowly,” Nauseda said.
Asked about loan market prospects, he replied, “Crediting directly depends on client solvency.” The analyst contends that if the circle of clients, being able and willing to use financial services, does not expand considerably this year, it will be difficult for banks to enliven the market. “In the last months of 2010, there were observed tentative loan portfolio growth trends, which have become a good introduction to 2011. I think that credit resources should not get very expensive this year, as the European Central Bank will try not to stifle the frail economic recovery and will go ahead with a ‘cheap money’ policy. However, in the second half of 2011, EURIBOR interest rates will likely go up, counting in a possible base interest rate increase in 2012,” Nauseda predicted.
As for euro introduction in Lithuania, the analyst anticipates “it can be introduced in 2014 at best.” He warns that “In order to achieve this, it is necessary to decrease the fiscal deficit to 3 percent of GDP in 2012 and keep up a modest inflation, not allowing it to exceed that which is set by the Maastricht criteria. Considering that elections to the Seimas will take place in 2012, it will not be simple to follow strict fiscal discipline, as pressure for the ruling coalition to implement its given social promises, such as pension restoration to the pre-crisis level, will only increase.” Nauseda expects that exports in 2011 will keep growing, particularly to eastern markets and neighboring countries Latvia and Poland. However, he warns, it is important not to give up the positions that have been seized in Western markets in 2010.
“SEB Bank’s analysts see 2011 in a considerably brighter light than 2010”
Julita Varanauskiene, a SEB Bank analyst, says that households’ financial life started to return to normal in 2010. “Starting with the second half of 2010, there appeared more positive news for households – very slowly, but assuredly salaries began to grow, new jobs numbers started to increase, fractionally. Public polls also speak about lower pessimism,” Varanauskiene said. She says that SEB Bank’s analysts see this year in a considerably brighter light than last year. “According to the analysts, in 2011, unemployment will fall from 17.5 percent to 16 percent, while the average salary should increase by 3.5 percent. Therefore, household income will rise slowly and, likely, it will be easier to find a job this year. Increasing prices will diminish the positive effect of a larger income, though. Our analysts envisage price increases in the commodity and service basket by 2 percent in 2011. Due to a higher excise tax for fuel, energy resources may get more expensive in 2011. It also can be a result of increasing oil and gas prices in international markets. Therefore, prices of some commodities, including food products, may go up,” Varanauskiene guesses.
Viewing the data of 2010, she emphasizes that in some market sectors, for example, in the pharmaceutical industry, salaries have already increased by 14 percent, while in the computer, electronic and optics industries average pay has gone up by 12 percent. “Certainly, the crisis has been over in some market sectors. The trend will likely prevail in the new year,” Varanauskiene expected.
“Economic trends in Western and Eastern markets being served by Lithuanian haulers are favorable”
Algimantas Kondrusevicius, president of Lithuania’s National Road Carriers’ Association, asserts that economic trends in Western and Eastern markets being served by Lithuanian haulers are favorable. “However, our carriers frequently encounter with neighboring countries administrative hurdles. With the newly adopted order, load declaration procedures should be shortened to 5-10 minutes, facilitating our carriers’ work. However, in the domestic haulage market, I do not see much optimism. Due to the increased excise tax for diesel, load haulage and passenger transport will become more expensive for all. Therefore, other merchandise and services will jump in price as well in 2011,” Kondrusevicius predicts.
Public opinion polls show returning optimism to Lithuanian households, which can probably be considered as the most anticipated sign for a better year and life.
Despite some progress in developing the domestic financial markets over the last two decades, the overall liquidity of the markets remain inadequate for any large scale development in Lithuania. At the same time, the corporate debt market remains negligible. Overall, among the potential factors hindering development of the securities markets in Lithuania are the small size of the domestic market, lack of institutional investors (pension funds, mutual funds etc.), prohibition of issuing debt securities denominated in foreign currencies domestically and a poor investment culture. For the above reasons the Lithuanian financial markets provide only limited resources for the private sector. For example, the value of private...
Traditional Lithuanian handicrafts, such as artistic linen, ceramic or amber articles, can make beautiful decorations for your home or great gifts. Many tend to think that amber and linen products are just souvenirs, but here in Lithuania you will find these two materials used also in very exclusive jewellery, fashionable outfits and much more. There are linen and amber shops at all tourist routes and shopping malls, but probably the best time for such shopping is in the beginning of March, when the traditional Kaziukas fair is held in Vilnius. The fair is also famous for its verbos traditional ornately beautiful Palm Sunday arrangements of dried plants.
Many reforms are needed in Lithuanian higher education. Changes in the elementary and secondary levels are not considered here. By and large, these sectors, though delinquent in teachers’ salaries and school infrastructure, do prepare students reasonably well for their futures with rigorous and disciplined instruction. The need for change is noted by visiting volunteer groups from the U. S. and Canada, working with Lithuania’s teachers on continuing education programs. Students who complete the elementary and secondary levels do well when studying abroad, but are short changed in their higher education. We propose urgent reforms and major changes to this postsecondary level. Reforms in higher education must give serious priority to four areas: adequate financial resources; curricular changes to create a better system for imparting knowledge; outreach, wider service areas and new learning centres; and productivity and excellence in creating and imparting new knowledge in school and on the job
Text: Olga Medvedeva
To write about the higher education reform in Lithuania… - why me?!
That was my first reaction to the request to look into how the higher education (HE) reform is going on and to write about it.
I have always tried to avoid giving opinion about something I don’t think I know well enough. Indeed, there are people who study all the figures and ratios about HE: numbers of students by age, by type of studies, by future qualification, the labour market supply & demand, investment and outcome (in whatever units of measurement), trends in demography and vectors of migration, intra- and extra- factors etc. They diagnose the state of things and recommend what is to be reformed, transformed or introduced…
On the second thought, isn’t education one of the areas we are all involved in? First as students, then as parents, then just as common people who do care what specialists treat them in hospitals, design houses, set prices or calculate taxes? And as citizens, who are concerned about lots of university graduates leaving Lithuania in search of a job elsewhere…
A few facts about the HE reform in Lithuania:
Lithuania has switched over to the European model of higher education that makes a clear distinction between university and non-university studies; it is divided into undergraduate, graduate and post graduate studies. The common time- and workload framework allows for a bigger mobility of students and comparability of degrees. At present there are 21 universities (state and private) and 27 colleges in Lithuania; the country is well above the EU average by the proportion of students per 1000 to the total population aged 20-29 ( LT- 73.21; EU-52,8). The changes in the legal status and governance of universities have granted rights to engage in business activities: purchase and sell property, set up companies, get loans. The most disputable innovations of the reform are changes in financing: the notorious “student basket”, which includes teachers’ salaries, costs of study materials and scholarships, has caused a real commotion in universities’ hunt for potential students with their full baskets. The more students are admitted, the more finance a university or college gets…
No reform would be true to its name if it were not challenged and questioned at each step. Almost 50 HE institutions in Lithuania - is it just enough or too many? In 2009-2010 45,6 % of the emigrants from Lithuania were of the age of 20-39, how many of them carried away their university diplomas and educated brains?
Tertiary education “…equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity,…” –shouldn’t there be more weight given to measuring or assessing capacity? Otherwise, we face an eternal clash between quantity and quality. With no intent to hurt anyone’s feeling, let me remind you Ezra Pound’s words about education:
“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing–the rest is mere sheep-herding”.
When going to universities in other countries rather than in Lithuania, most young people justify their choice by the reasonable prices for a better quality there… Quality is a complex concept; it is probably more complicated to define and assess “quality” in education than in the production of tangible things. But one cannot start wondering about quality when you see that financing per student in Lithuania is approximately 2 times less than the EU average, not to speak about Sweden, Finland or Denmark. And why do many university lecturers feel awkward when their peers from Belgium or Ireland talk about salaries? Is it because they are paid adequately for their lower-quality work?
My reflections on the changes in HE in Lithuania are fragmentary and subjective. Though formally “a teacher “, I believe in Shaw’s interpretation of teaching: “I am ….only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as of you”.
The French daily “Le Monde” has recently published an article about Lithuania’s world-leading laser manufacturers. According to “Le Monde”, Lithuania is the biggest exporter of femtosecond lasers in the world. The Lithuanian laser technologies producer UAB “Šviesos konversija” only holds 80% of the global market of femtosecond lasers. A country of 3.5 million people, Lithuania, has about 15 laser producers, employing about 300 laser specialists, half of which are engineers and doctors of sciences. Lithuania’s laser sector grows about 15-20 % annually, which is twice faster than the whole economy of the country. The Lithuanian laser production is demanded by the best scientific laboratories in Europe and the US.Read more...
The most famous Lithuanian SPA town – Druskininkai in Southern Lithuania, famous for its mineral water and remarkably nice environs, is only one of several SPA spots in this country! We invite you to indulge yourself in an outstanding exotic SPA treatments and dive into the sea of SPA pleasures. Massage masters will reveal you the ancient secrets of relaxation, while aromatic bathtubs and various baths will help you to regain your strengths after a hard working day. SPA treatments revive your skin, pamper your body and calm your spirit.
Druskininkai is a year-round international resort offering mineral bath, mud and climate therapies.
Mineral waters of different mineralization, similar to the well-known European mineral waters, and cure mud are found in the resort. Nature also endowed Druskininkai with mild climate, many lakes and beautiful parks and groves, where the guests can find their peace. Since 1794 the small town that has rapidly grown into an attractive tourist center offering all the benefits of a carefree and safe vacation.
Druskininkai offers a wide variety of health treatment services: herbal, bubble, honey and other baths, massages, krio- and magnet therapy, various health care, beauty and weight loss packages, etc.
Here are several worth-seeing sights: soviet sculptures museum “Gruto parkas”, woodcarvers’ parks, etc. Visit one of the largest Aqua-parks in Europe and 70-level adventure park ONE.
Tulpė Medical SPA in Birstonas
The resort of Birstonas was founded in 1846. At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, the first patients not only from Lithuania but also from the major cities of Russia and Poland used to come to the sanatoriums that applied the mineral water and curative mud procedures. Birstonas has two perfect specialized rehabilitation sanatoriums for treatment and recreation that provide treatment for various illnesses by applying the latest methods as well mineral water and curative mud, where one can recover from the mental or physical fatigue as well. Another factor, which significantly attributes to the treatment quality and health recovery in Birstonas, is the air of this resort, surrounded by forests and the loops of the Nemunas river, which is especially mild and saturated with phytoncides and light negative ions having the effect of a huge inhalator on a human body.
The resort boasts beautiful environment: houses scattered among trees, elegant villas constructed in late 19th-20th centuries, the neo-Gothic church with its tower rising towards the sky, the buvette of mineral water, the monument to Vytautas the Great, the Hill of Songs, and artificial lakes. The resort town is surrounded by the scenery environs approached by a great many special roads and paths for pedestrians and cyclists, riders and horse-drawn carriages. The lovers of water entertainments are offered to rent a canoe at the Sport Centre and try the bends of the Nemunas. Impressive panoramas of nature open from the high banks of the Nemunas and hill-forts. The Bird Watching Site is established in the area of the Nemunas islands. But you can enjoy the most beautiful loops of the Nemunas only from an air balloon or a plane taking off from Pociūnai Airport. Birstonas is developing into a winter resort as well. The downhill skiing track is equipped here. One can also go skiing as well as ride on horse-driven sleigh through snow-covered forests.
The resort often hosts concerts, poetry evenings and sport events. Birstonas is a perfect place for conferences and seminars where the fatigue of intensive activities will be quickly removed with the help of relaxing procedures or spending free time in harmonious and pure nature. The biggest Lithuanian river, the Nemunas, which wings spectacularly in the middle of the country as it flows towards the sea, has formed three loops. The structure of the landscape of this region is one of the most peculiar in Lithuania. Birstonas, one of the most beautiful resorts of Lithuania, is situated in the south of the country.It has been famous for its curative waters, sanatoria and beautiful nature since the olden times. The Nemunas River surrounds the resort on all sides and forms a unique loop there.
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