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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

28 May 2017
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Lithuania today sidebar

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“Zuokas Airline” – AIR LITUANICA – to take off in June:
Is this sensible use of taxpayers’ money in a time of crisis?
Follow the debate in our VilNews Forum

Ulf Hallan Richard Branson: “If you want to become a millionaire, start with one billion dollars and open an airline company.”Aage Myhre My personal comment is that this smells like failure. We have over many years seen state owned airlines in the Baltic and Nordic countries, all bankrupt or on the brink of bankruptcy … The funny thing is that the people of Vilnius seem to accept this without protests… I can only imagine what the reactions would have been in a western capital …

I fully understand that Lithuania needs an airline, and I think the name is very good! But I think, with due respect, that a mayor should be active with totally different things and leave it to experienced business people from the aviation industry to take care of establishing a new airline …


Matilda Allen I am sorry, they’re idiots! Well, maybe we have to look deeper? Paksas , Zuokas….? Money laundry


Aage Myhre to Matilda Allen: We see something similar with regards to how the Lithuanian government has handled the crisis over the last 5 years … People in Southern Europe, where wages and living conditions are much better than here, take to the streets for massive protests against their governments austerity measures, while here in Lithuania people only bow their heads or leave …


Irene Simanavicius to Aage Myhre: You are 100% correct about the Mayor reaching out to the experts. Canadians almost paid billions for an aircraft carrier for our Military Defense, and because one aviation mechanic that lived in Houston who used to be part of our Air force and flew to the Arctic on a regular basis before he retired recognized the plane as NOT HAVING a twin engine. He mentioned it to someone and it got on the news and our politicians were RED FACED for being so stupid and falling for the marketing hype without thinking or asking the experts. It was just a shiny new brand new toy to them. The mechanic said when he flew in the severe cold one engine would completely seize up and if he didn’t have the reserve, well…he wouldn’t be here nor anyone he transported.(so many examples are out there from cocky politicians trying to make their mark):)


Sergey Kanovich Well, owning 83% of the stake while also owning 1 billion LT debt is something worth of Nobel in finance and economy. I bet that this will be a flying tram… On the other hand it is an excellent PR stunt at someone else expense (guess who’s:)) again. And if it fails like other projects failed – who cares…

It also says that the MD of Air Lituanica without the wings is being paid 30,000 LT monthly salary. Municipality last year has allocated 0,5mio, then this year almost 3mio LT. It is not intended to be low cost airline. it is intended to suck monies out of already existing 1 billion LT whole… Unbelievable
Eugene Rangayah  I have come across the a slide highlighting the proposal for the airline and noticed a Brian Joffe in the midst. Mr Joffe has been CEO of the Bidvest group in South Africa, which has a huge investment portfolio spanning the continent. With the support of people like him, with a good entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, the airline could turn out to be a success. However, I do think that it is very ambitious growth that had been forecast over the next 5 years. It does not seem apparent that any consideration had been taken on the competition from low cost carriers which have positioned themselves at VNO!


Arvi Vaalivonis This is more about the LT pride than business…

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

KLAIPĖDA OPINIONS

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17 – 24 July was our week with 'Focus on Klaipeda’. Below we bring a selection of comments and perceptions we were presented to from people who responded to us during the week.

Aage Myhre
Editor-in-Chief
aage.myhre@VilNews.com

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

KLAIPĖDA MAYOR

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Mayor of Klaipeda,
Vytautas Grubliauskas

A few days ago I interviewed the new Mayor of Klaipeda, Vytautas Grubliauskas. and I am in the following repeating three of the questions and his answers.

- Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

1) Klaipėda, and I personally, welcomes gay prides and gay communities

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QUESTION:
Lawmakers in Lithuania's Committee on Legal Affairs, under the leadership of MP Petras Gražulis, voted recently to make even more stringent censorship legislation against homosexuals in this country, saying that they should be able to fine people for the "propagation of homosexual relations" in public. This has earned condemnation from EU groups who say this is just another step in furthering an ultra conservative agenda in Lithuania. How gay hostile can Lithuania become before someone starts appealing to normal common sense?

THE MAYOR’S ANSWER:
Opposite to any former mayors of Vilnius and Petras Gražulis himself, Klaipėda, and I personally, welcomes gay prides and gay communities. The whole idea of censorship is based on ridiculous logics, as psychologist O. Tapinas said once correctly “if you observe birds for a while you will become bird yourself”. I think we are talking about so called “10% society” and the rest 90% can’t be “persuaded” into homosexuality. Denial will only increase frustration in society.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

2) More transparent municipal services

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Klaipeda Coat of Arms

MY QUESTION:
I have heard said that if Lithuania’s politicians and bureaucrats were half as interested in the country they are supposed to serve as in their own pockets, this would already have been a fine, prosperous country. Fraud, corruption, briberies, lack of teamwork and transparency have all too often become terms used while describing the way Lithuania is managed. Do you have any clean-up plans ready?

THE MAYOR’S ANSWER:
Clear bureaucratic rules, short deadlines, e-government, well managed outsourced functions and motivated workforce is a key to more transparent municipal services. I see lots of space for improvement in Klaipėda. Biggest expectations I have towards introduction of electronic tender system and HR department.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

3) Now it is time for pure living and jazzy souls

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The Mayor has background as a professional jazz trumpet player and singer.

MY QUESTION:
Finally, please let our huge, international VilNews readership know what are your visions and plans for Klaipeda and the Baltic Sea region over the years to come?

THE MAYOR’S ANSWER:
I will strive for Klaipėda to become an Eastern European avant-garde city in life quality and culture. For many years we had wrong priorities. Now it is time for pure living and jazzy souls.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

An Irish success story in Klaipeda

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James A. Clarke,
Managing Director of BNTP (Baltic Real-Estate Developments).

James was only 21 years old when he came to Klaipeda and Lithuania for the first time. The building engineer who had grown up at an Irish family farm had come here to buy horses on behalf of his uncle, Ireland's largest horse-farmer.

Something out here at the Lithuanian coast must have caught James' interest and curiosity even then, so after having travelled around and seen more of the world, he came back in 2003. And now the business got serious.

That very same year, BNTP (Baltic Real-Estate Developments) was established in Klaipeda, where it successfully developed the first modern business park in Lithuania - Klaipeda Business Park. Since then BNTP has expanded its portfolio through developments and acquisitions to include commercial centres and land plots in Lithuania and Latvia.

James has been very active and successful in his real estate endeavours since the start-up eight years ago.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

Get rid of your taboos. We are all just human beings…

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Clifford Lont, Chairman of Klaipeda International Business Club, has moved the long way from Suriname in South America to a much colder climate here at the Lithuanian coast.

At the end of my interview with Clifford Lont, I said to him:

"Clifford, I have two remaining questions for you this Sunday afternoon here at the river edge in Klaipeda."

Question number 1: "Do you have something to say to all the young people who are about to leave Lithuania in an emigration flow that seems to have no end?"

Question number 2: "Have you experienced racism here in Lithuania, and what is in case your normal reaction?"

It should be noted that Clifford does not seem to be much hampered by his dark skin colour, even here where so few stand just as much out as he does. He flirts lightly with the waitress in the outdoor restaurant where we sit. He smiles and nods to people passing by. He has obviously become a familiar face to many over the years he has lived here. Then he answers my questions:

To question 1: "Do not run away. Because by doing that you contribute to emptying your home country for dynamic young people and good workers. Stay here. Those who dare to stay behind will be the winners in the end!"

To question 2: “Well, let me first say that many do not know that there are black people also in South America. And to those with racist tendencies I would simply say: Get rid of your taboos. We are all just human beings..."

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

The biggest challenge is to find people willing to work at our shipyard

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Arnold Šileika, General Director of Klaipeda’s Western Shipyard

Arnold Šileika has been working in Klaipeda’s Western Shipyard since 1989, first as foreman, then as the company’s General Director for the last ten years.

The company has now 2.000 employees, plus 1.000 more working on the territory for the shipyard on contract basis, totally 3.000 persons.

"You have, in other words, seen the whole transition from having been Soviet-ruled to becoming a Western company," I state.

And the director responds, still just as open and straight forward, that the biggest challenge has been to get workers to change their mentality from eastern to western ways of thinking.

"But now, today, the biggest challenge is actually to find people who want to work here," he says. "This despite the fact that we pay almost twice as high wages as what the labour market in Lithuania in general offers. We actually have had to start to bring in workers from Bulgaria and Romania to fulfill our obligations," he says.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

Sometimes I feel the authorities are more eager to create problems than to help out

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Gunnvald Laukhammer, General Director of Lido Marine

Gunnvald Laukhammer is not exactly thrilled with the way the Lithuanian authorities often are acting.

"Sometimes I feel they are more eager to create problems than to help out," he says. "Take as an example that our company Baltic Marine Furniture now for a long period of time has tried to get permission to extend the furniture workshop building in Kretinga. But instead of welcoming new jobs and investments with open arms, the local authorities seem to do what they can to thwart us, and we still have not received a building permit for a rather simple building extension, on our own land, after about two years of waiting. Now another winter may come before we can start building," he says.

Gunnvald is not overexcited when he talks about the many bureaucrats and politicians he thinks Lithuania has too many of.

"I simply no longer allow myself to get annoyed at how poorly the systems in this country often works," he says in his laconic, Western-Norwegian, manner.

"It is, however, strange to see," he says, "that an investor and export company like ours is getting no support or help from the local Lithuanian authorities. I feel, on the contrary, that they sometimes are attempting to cheat and take unfair advantage of us and other foreign companies here."

“For a company like ours, maybe not so large but still engaged in important export-oriented industry, bringing value to the country in terms of wages, taxes, purchase of equipment /materials and trade with other local business, etc., etc., the authorities should exercise benevolence to give us best possible conditions to ensure that companies like ours can evolve as quickly as possible. They should not create unnecessary delays and obstacles. We all loose on that.”

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

At first glance the planned LNG terminal shouldn’t represent a negative risk for the environment

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Rokas Masiulis, General Manager of Klaipedos Nafta

“Klaipedos Nafta plans the new LNG terminal to have a capacity of 2-3 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and that it will cost some EUR 200-300 million to build. Can you elucidate more on these figures? Maybe also exemplify a bit on how many gas tankers (ships) that will represent per year, etc.? And what about the environmental risks, pollution etc. having the LNG terminal located so close to Klaipeda city?”

“The main parameters are so far preliminary, so this is not the time to speculate. In 3-4 months, with Fluor advice, we will determine the main parameters and then we will have a vision of the business plan.

Environmental impact assessment will determine any existing environmental risk, pollution and other risks. It is planned to have EIA report ready by the end of 2012. At the first glance it shouldn’t be a negative risk. There are several examples in the world where terminals are located very close to a city, i.e. Barcelona (Enagas).”

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

I was astonished to see what a nice area this is, when I first came here

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General Manager Tobias Ammon at Radisson Blu Hotel in Klaipeda.

The Radisson Blu Hotel in Klaipeda has just celebrated its first ten years as the only truly international luxury hotel at Lithuania’s beautiful seacoast.

Two months ago the hotel got a new General Manager, German Tobias Ammon (35), and I am sitting down with him in the hotel’s breakfast room this early July morning to let him explain to you, dear readers, why you should visit Klaipeda and his hotel – this summer as well as when the autumn winds already make the endless Baltic Sea waves powerfully roll in towards the port city shores.

“I must admit that I had to ask where Klaipeda is when I was offered this position, but I was astonished to see what a nice area this is, when I first came here,” tells the young manager, who now has moved here with wife and little daughter. He and his little family are now in full swing “testing Klaipeda as travel destination”, and they are using their bicycles to do exactly that!

“This area is really ideal for bikes, and we are now using our weekends to bike to the fantastic beaches in the outskirts of the city, riding through beautiful coastal pine tree forests, villages and over the wavy, green landscapes that characterise this area,” he tells.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

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CONSUL GREETINGS

From Krister Castren, Honorary Consul of Finland in Klaipeda


Krister Castren, painted by Žygimantas Augustinas.
http://www.augustinas.lt/ind_ang.html

The roots of the relationship between Finland and the Klaipeda region are hundreds of years old. The Baltic Sea, with its naval and fishery activities have been of mutual interest in the old ages and will probably be in the future as well. Even during the dark Soviet times, sometimes Finnish cargo was unloaded at the port of Klaipeda.

Especially Aland Island, well known for its long maritime history, still being a big factor in the branch, had an exchange of captains and other crew with colleagues in Klaipeda. Part of that history will be found in the National Sea Museum in Klaipeda.

One of the symbols of the City is the sailing ship now standing with visible commercial sails in the river Dane. The origin of the ship is interesting. It was built in Turku, Finland after WW2 as part of the compensation for war damages to Soviet Union. It had dozens of sister ships of which only three are left, Klaipeda’s “Meridianas” being the best, but not in very good shape. Its history is well known having last served as a Soviet sailors’ training ship in Kaliningrad from where it was taken to Klaipeda and put in the river with the idea of preventing it from sinking. Although it is now in private hands, we hope that this old lady still has got another 60 years in her to decorate Klaipeda’s old town.

Finnish business activities in the Klaipeda region are not very remarkable. The most visible Finnish trademarks are, as everywhere in Lithuania, Neste Oil and of course the giant Nokia. The other Finnish giant, Fortum, is a minority share-holder of Klaipeda Energija and plans to make some huge investments in the energy production field in the near future. Kuusakoski, a recycler of metal waste, has its Lithuanian head office in Klaipeda. Another well known company holding its office here is Lemminkainen, having been working for years to improve the quality of Lithuanian roads.

But, Klaipeda is still on the waiting list to achieve Finnish investments and the reasons for that are partly pretty well known. The first question is how to reach the city in a reasonable amount of time. This means in modern business terms, one day. There are no flexible flight connections to the Palanga airport from Finland. The closest place to land is Kaunas, but first you must manage to drive to Tampere, 200 kilometers away from Helsinki and then there is another 220 km drive to Klaipeda. Or try your chances flying to Vilnius with a 300 kilometers drive one way to Klaipeda. Not so comfortable. It doesn’t matter how attractive the local objects are if you cannot check your investments in a reasonable time - Put your money elsewhere!

Read his story here...

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

Recession in Klaipeda lasted much shorter than in other cities

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Mayor of Klaipeda,
Vytautas Grubliauskas

What can you tell our readers about today's situation and the outlooks for the economy of Klaipeda?

Recession in Klaipeda lasted much shorter than in other cities. Thus it's still present in real estate sector, we bounced quickly back in other sectors. We kept quite stable consumer demand due to Klaipeda's large workforce share (appr. 40%) employed in harbour related activities that hardly experienced recession.

Positive economical outlook for local companies continued city economy running in difficult times. For future, I see much unused capacity in harbour and free economical zone activities that are already best performers in whole Baltics. On the other hand I watch with uncertainty demographic decline as most difficult macroeconomic challenge for municipal budget and consumer demand. We have to cope with a shrinking city scenario.

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
* * *
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