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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

24 August 2016
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Lithuania today

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Is Lithuania’s national bird getting lazy?
Many storks no longer
bother flying to Africa


Lithuania has the highest density of white storks in the world,
considered the country’s national bird.

Photo: T. Marčiukaitis
www.lietuva.lt

A new project will try to identify why the stork has changed migratory pattern. This writes Science Daily. The investigation has been launched by the University of East Anglia. Since the mid-1980s, a steadily increasing number of storks dropped their annual migration from northern Europe to their winter quarters in Africa.

Instead, both Portugal and Spain are now the final winter destinations for many storks, which feed on large open garbage dumps instead of crossing Sahara as they previously did.

The project will follow 15 adult storks in a year using GPS transmitters. The goal is to examine why they have changed their migratory behavior. GPS transmitters will reveal where storks forage for food and what movements they make between feeding areas.

Before 1995 there were only about 1000 wintering storks in Portugal whereas in 2008 there were over 10,000 wintering storks and the number continues to grow.

It is believed that a combination of climate change and the many open dumps that exist both in Portugal and Spain are among the factors why storks have dropped the long winter trip to Africa.

Read more…

25 March is Lithuanian Stork Day! See: http://vilnews.com/?p=12622

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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By Vin Karnila
See my slide show:
KAZIUKO MUGĖ 2013
from Vilnius, Lithuania

CLICK: http://youtu.be/pamXdIGDm2A

Every year in every town throughout Lithuania, March starts off with the Kaziukas Fair, a ritual that marks the coming of spring, dedicated to St. Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania. The festival originated in the 17th century, and by the 19th century it had developed into the fair and festival that is now known internationally.

During more ancient times many pilgrims came to Vilnius from various places for the celebration of St. Casimir's Day on the 4th of March which was the day of his passing. After services in the cathedral, the people lingered for a while. And it was this that gave rise to the Kaziukas Fair. Thousands of sellers, buyers and visitors came to these fairs which were held outdoors as they still are today.

I hope you enjoy the slide show of this year’s Kaziuko Mugė I put together for VilNews.com E-Magazine

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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SAINT CASIMIR
1458 – 1484


The young prince, Casimir
died at the age of 25 on the 4th of March 1484.

St. Casimir, Lithuania's only Saint, is celebrated on the 4th of March (his death day). This celebration is the origin of the nation's annual Kaziukas Fair.

After his death, St. Casimir was so cherished by Lithuanians that stories of his life and miracles quickly went beyond the church walls and spread through the population and became tales and legends, hence no wonder that he has been so much remembered and celebrated, since the 17th Century primarily through the Kaziukas Fair.  

St. Casimir was a true Lithuanian by birth, descending from the famous and respected Gediminaitis clan. The Lithuanian grand dukes Kestutis, Algirdas, Vytautas the Great and others belonged to this family. St. Casimir's father was Kazimieras Jogailaitis who ruled Lithuania (later along with Poland) from 1447.

Kazimieras Jogailaitis married the daughter of Emperor Albrecht II, descended from the Habsburg family. They had six sons and six daughters. Casimir was the second son, born in 1458. He was renowned for a life of great piety, good works and virtue. Upon contracting tuberculosis, he died at the age of 25 on the 4th of March 1484 in the city of Gardinas. He was buried in Vilnius.

Shortly after his death, people started coming in large numbers to visit the holy prince's tomb and pray for intercession with God. His body was associated with numerous miracles and blessings from God. The process to canonize (declare a saint) St. Casimir was begun soon after his death, but for various reasons was delayed until 7 November 1602 when Pope Clement VIII officially proclaimed St. Casimir's feast on the church calendar. It was believed that Casimir had been canonized by Pope Leo X (before 1521) and that Clement VIII merely officially confirmed the fact.

People appealed to their saint at times of various misfortunes. His first miracle is considered to have been his apparition in 1518 at the Dauguva River during the war with Moscow. A large Russian army had assembled and threatened the city of Polotsk. A rather small force of Lithuanians stood to defend the city and fortress. The Lithuanians had to cross the swollen Dauguva River. Unable to find other help, they prayed to the saintly prince to intercede. St. Casimir is said to have appeared to the Lithuanians astride a white horse, wearing a white cloak. He urged the army to fight and rode first into the roaring river. The Lithuanians followed his example, fought fiercely and defeated Moscow's troops. The news of the prince's miraculous apparition and the victory spread throughout the country. The miracle was investigated by bishops of that time and confirmed as authentic. The very fact that St. Casimir came to help in a battle against Lithuania's eternal enemy Moscow elevated him even higher in the eyes of the Lithuanians. The saint became a symbol of the fight against the Russians and Russian Orthodoxy.

Such veneration, so closely linked to anti-Russian feelings, did not go unnoticed by Russia which often occupied Vilnius. Whenever the Russians approached the city, St. Casimir's relics were hidden and taken outside the city; after the danger had passed they were again returned to the church. The Russians made every effort to prevent St. Casimir's veneration; they banned his feast, but were unable to squash the people's enthusiasm. Thousands gathered annually on the 4th of March to pray at the tomb of their beloved saint.

The first church named after St. Casimir was built in Lithuania in the middle or the end of the 16th century near the town Ukmerge. It was built by the Jesuits. At approximately the same time, a church in the saint's honour was built in Vilnius. In Lithuania there are some twelve churches named for St. Casimir.


St. Casimir's Church in the centre of Vilnius is the oldest
Baroque church in Vilnius.

Category : Lithuania today

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Paul Krugman, New York Times:
Is there any country where austerity policies have been a success?

The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has little good to say about the world’s austerity policies that we’ve seen during and after the financial crisis, policies that also were strenuously advocated by Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

Photo: Fred R. Conrad/
The New York Times

In an opinion article in New York Times this week, Mr. Krugman writes:

Today I’d like to talk about the frantic effort to find some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded. For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity.

For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity.

And let nobody accuse the austerians of lacking a sense of romance; in fact, they’ve spent years looking for Mr. Goodpain.

Read more…

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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The 2012 Parliament

Political groups

     Social Democratic (38)
     Homeland Union (33)
     Labour (29)
     Order and Justice(11)
     Liberal Movement (10)
     Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania(8)
     The Way of Courage (7)
     Others (4)

The Seimas of the Lithuanian Republic (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas), or simply the Seimas is the unicameral Lithuanian parliament. It has 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. About half of the members of this legislative body are elected in individual constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected by nationwide vote according to proportional representation. A party must receive at least 5%, and a multi-party union at least 7%, of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Latest election

Party

Proportional

Constituency
seats

Total
seats

+/–

Votes

%

Seats

Social Democrats

251,610

18.37

15

23

38

Increase 13

Homeland Union

206,590

15.08

13

20

33

Decrease 12

Labour Party

271,520

19.82

17

12

29

Increase19

Order and Justice

100,120

7.31

6

5

11

Decrease 4

Liberal Movement

117,476

8.57

7

3

10

Decrease 1

Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania

79,840

5.83

5

3

8

Increase 5

The Way of Courage

109,448

7.99

7

7

New

Peasant and Greens Union

53,141

3.88

1

1

Decrease 2

Liberal and Centre Union

28,263

2.06

Decrease 8

YES

24,129

1.76

New

Socialist People's Front

16,515

1.21

Steady

Christian Party

16,494

1.20

New

For Lithuania in Lithuania

12,854

0.94

New

Young Lithuania

8,632

0.63

Steady

Democratic Labour and Unity Party

4,383

0.32

New

Emigrants Party

4,015

0.29

New

Republican Party

3,661

0.27

New

Lithuanian People's Party

3,399

0.25

New

Independents

3

3

Decrease1

Invalid/blank votes

57,924

Total

1,370,014

100

70

70 (1 to go)

140

Registered voters/turnout

2,588,418

52.93

Source: VRK

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

Russia fumes as U.S. Senate passes Magnitsky law aimed at human rights

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A tombstone on the grave of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, at a cemetery in Moscow. A new law blacklists Russians connected to the death of Magnitsky in police custody.

The Washington Post
MOSCOW — The U.S. Senate on Thursday repealed a trade sanction imposed 38 years ago to force the Soviet Union to allow Jews and other religious minorities to emigrate, replacing it with a modern-day punishment for human rights abuse that has enraged Russian officials.
The old law, one of the last vestiges of the Cold War, was called the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, named after a U.S. senator and a representative. The new law, passed 92 to 4, grants Russia and Moldova permanent normal trade relations, but it is coupled with the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which honors a dead Russian. The law blacklists Russians connected to the death of Magnitsky in police custody and to other gross human rights violations, prohibiting entrance to the United States and use of its banking system. office in 2000, Vladimir Putin has expanded the powers of Russia's presidency, consolidating authority in the Kremlin and weakening other democratic institutions.

 “Today, we close a chapter in U.S. history,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), one of the prime movers of the Magnitsky bill, said during the debate on Jackson-Vanik. “It served its purpose. Today, we open a new chapter in U.S. leadership for human rights.”
How the United States can best promote democracy and human rights in Russia — and elsewhere — became a matter of agonizing and often bitter debate as pressure grew to repeal Jackson-Vanik. Not only was it widely considered a relic with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and freedom to emigrate from Russia, but, under the regulations of the World Trade Organization, which Russia joined this year, it also penalized American exporters.

The House approved the measure last month. President Obama said he looked forward to signing the law because of the WTO benefits for American workers, although originally the administration had argued that the Magnitsky bill was unnecessary because the president could — and would — create the desired blacklist by executive order.

“My administration will continue to work with Congress and our partners to support those seeking a free and democratic future for Russia and promote the rule of law and respect for human rights around the world,” Obama said in a statement.

“We need the Magnitsky act to fill the gaps in President Obama’s policy,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), criticizing Obama for what he called unseemly efforts to avoid offending Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia, as expected, was infuriated. Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, Moscow’s special representative on human rights and democracy predicted a tough response, Interfax reported.

“We regard it as unjust and unfounded,” Konstantin Dolgov said. “This is an attempt to interfere in our internal affairs.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz) said the bill should have applied to all countries. The House, however, had already passed the Russia-centric bill, and the Senate decided to go along.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said, though, that the United States intends to pay attention to human rights everywhere.

“We will stand up for those who dare to speak out against corruption,” she said. “This bill is for all the Magnitskys around the world.”

Cardin, chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, has been pushing for a Magnitsky law since 2010, when most of his colleagues stumbled over pronouncing the Russian name. Debating the bill Wednesday, senator after senator recounted Magnitsky’s life story, his name rolling familiarly off their tongues.

Magnitsky was working for an American law firm in Moscow, advising Hermitage Capital on tax issues, when he discovered a $230 million tax fraud being carried out by Russian police and tax officials using documents stolen from the investment company, run by the American-born William F. Browder.

When Magnitsky accused officials, they arrested him. Magnitsky died in pretrial custody in November 2009 after nearly a year in jail. Despite evidence that he had been beaten and tortured, no one has been punished, and Magnitsky is being prosecuted posthumously.

Browder first testified to the Helsinki Commission about Magnitsky’s imprisonment several months before the Russian’s death. On Thursday, he said he hoped the Senate action would encourage passage of a similar law in Canada and Europe.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the United States had a moral obligation to speak out for Magnitsky, as well as others who are still alive and languishing unjustly in Russian prisons.

“I continue to worry about them,” McCain said, “and I pray for them.”

U.S. LIFTS RUSSIA, MOLDOVA TRADE BARRIERS;
PASSES MAGNITSKY SANCTIONS

Richard Solash
December 6, 2012

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate has voted to permanently lift Cold War-era barriers to trade with Russia, a move long sought by Moscow that could increase commerce between the countries by billions of dollars.
In the same vote on December 6, senators also backed sanctions against Russian officials implicated in the death of anti corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and in other perceived gross rights violations in Russia.

Moscow has railed against that move, which has overshadowed the trade benefits to come.

The Senate's 92-4 vote follows the passing of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in November. In a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama said "I look forward to receiving and signing this legislation."

When he does, Moscow will be exempted from the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which imposed trade restrictions on the Soviet Union for its policy of limiting Jewish emigration. The restrictions have been waived for nearly two decades but remained on the books as a symbol of U.S. objections to Russia's human rights record.

Citing the weak U.S. economy, the White House had pushed Congress to lift the restrictions and grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to Russia, the world's seventh-largest economy.
The move allows the United States to take full advantage of Moscow’s August entry into the World Trade Organization, which has already benefited China and Europe.

Over White House objections, lawmakers from both parties said they would only agree to lift the restrictions if the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act were passed concurrently.

The legislation requires Obama to deny visas to, and freeze the U.S.-based assets of Russian officials whom the United States has implicated in Magnitsky’s prosecution and death, as well as officials implicated in other gross violations in Russia who have acted with impunity.

In determining who will be sanctioned, the president is expected to work from a list of more than 60 Russian officials compiled by lawmakers who introduced the legislation.

Obama can decide to keep the identities of some of the sanctioned officials classified for national security reasons.

'A New Chapter On Human Rights'
Senator Benjamin Cardin (Democrat-Maryland), the earliest and most passionate advocate of sanctions in Congress, told reporters after the vote that it signaled "a new [U.S.] chapter on human rights."
Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona) said, "Sergei Magnitsky was an ordinary man, but he became an extraordinary champion of justice, fairness, and the rule of law in Russia, where those principles have lost nearly all meaning."

"I think we are sending a signal to Vladimir Putin and the Russian kleptocracy that these kinds of abuses of human rights will not be tolerated without us responding in some appropriate fashion," McCain said.
U.S. rights NGOs also hailed the passage of the measures.

The 37-year-old Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison three years ago after implicating top officials in a scheme to defraud the government of $230 million.

He was repeatedly denied medical care and allegedly tortured during nearly a year in pretrial detention on what supporters say were trumped-up financial-crime charges.
Russia has prosecuted only one low-level prison official linked to his death, while promoting a number others implicated in the case.

Moscow Slams 'Vengeful' Move
The incident prompted an international outcry and several Western countries are considering enacting Magnitsky-related sanctions.

Moscow's reaction to the U.S. move was swift. In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the vote "vengeful" and a "performance in the theater of the absurd" that would "negatively affect prospects for cooperation."

Aleksei Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma, said Moscow could pass similar legislation against U.S. nationals "who have been involved in mass violations of human rights in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and some other countries" and could also respond "asymmetrically."

Later, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia will deny visas to U.S. officials who, as he put it, violate human rights.

Quoted by Russian media, Lavrov said he had informed U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton of Moscow's planned action during a meeting in Dublin on December 6.

In a telephone interview with Russian television on December 7, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the move will have "a very negative effect on our future bilateral cooperation."

"Washington must have forgotten what year it is and continues to think that the Cold War still goes on," Zakharova said, "or the senators are too involved in their personal public relations and they ignore the obvious: each side can already deny entry to its territory to anyone it finds necessary; there is no need for any special legislative act."

Other Russian lawmakers called the U.S. move "hostile," "cynical," and "anti-Russian."
U.S. analysts have suggested that Moscow could also target U.S.-supported civil society initiatives in the country.

David Satter, a senior fellow at Washington's Hudson Institute, suggests that Moscow might respond to the U.S. move by "taking out their anger in unrelated cases" or increasing its anti-American rhetoric. But he maintains that the Russian authorities may be reluctant to mention the sanctions directly.

"I'm not certain that, in terms of their public posture, Russian officials are going to want to call the attention of the Russian population to this piece of legislation," Satter says, "because that also calls the attention of people to [the government's] own abuses."

The U.S. Senate also joined the House of Representatives in voting to grant Moldova normalized trade status, a victory for Europe's poorest country.

In a statement, Chisinau's embassy to Washington told RFE/RL it "strongly welcomed" the vote, which it called "a clear sign of the support for the country."

It called the Jackson-Vanik exemption a "well-deserved and somehow-delayed response to the political changes in Moldova."
________________________________________
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty © 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.rferl.org/content/us-senate-jackson-vanik-trade-barriers-magnitsky-sanctions/24791534.html

Category : Lithuania today

OPINIONS

Have your say. Send to:
editor@VilNews.com


By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

Read more...
* * *


Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

Read more...
* * *

* * *
VilNews
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius


* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
future
By Leonidas Donskis
Kaunas
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political
commentator

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

Read more...
* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!


* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

Read more...
* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

Read more...
* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

Read more...
* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.
MADE IN WALES -
ENGLISH VERSION OF THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS.

Read more...
* * *
IS IT POSSIBLE TO
COMMENT ON OUR
ARTICLES? :-)
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
www.anatanassileika.com

http://www.vdu.lt/lt/rasytojas-antanas-sileika-pristatys-savo-kuryba/
https://leu.lt/lt/lf/lf_naujienos/kvieciame-i-rasytojo-59hc.html
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
HERE.
* * *
EU-Russia:
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

Read more...
* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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