23 February 2018
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Sport & leisure sidebar

Toronto Raptors select Jonas Valančiūnas

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Jonas Valančiūnas

By Mike Ulmer

This week the Toronto Raptors drafted Jonas Valanciunas out of Lithuania and while it matters little where he is from, it matters quite a bit where he will stand.

At centre.

When, of course is anybody's guess. Still, the Raptors decision to draft him at number five at Thursday's NBA draft was great fun to dissect.

First, the whole deal was a surprise. It had widely been assumed that given the chance, the Raptors would opt for either Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight. Both were point guards and explosive athletes who could supercharge the Raptors in the open count and supplement Jerryd Bayless and Jose Calderon.

It turns out no one was more shocked than the 19-year-old Lithuanian.
“I was so surprised, so happy,” he said from New Jersey moments after being selected. “I didn’t think I was going to be drafted so high.”

Valanciunas, a kid whose 231 pounds is spread on a surface about the size of PEI knows he must get bigger but he covets the chance to bang bodies in the low post. He sees himself as a centre, now and forever.

“I’m not ready yet but I will work hard and improve. I will get my body bigger and stronger.”

At 19, it will take a while for Valanciunas to reach Toronto.

There are media reports of a necessary buyout with his European team and the fact that he is probably still growing means immediate immersion in the NBA is highly unlikely.

All this, in turn, means that while Andrea Bargnani pines for more time at power forward, his immediate future looks to be at centre where he will be subject to the defensive demands of new coach Dwane Casey. There will be help for Bargnani. It will be Valanciunas but it will not arrive soon.

The selection will prompt the usual eye-rolling that the Raptors are Euro-centric. By selecting a European big man instead of an American guard, the Raptors will invite still more people to buy into that notion.

Truth is, the Raptors got the best potential centre in the draft. Valanciunas pocketed 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in just 21 minutes a night in Lithuania. He is smooth for a big man with a great motor and a hunger for defence and rebounding.

Finally, there is the question of timing. When GM Bryan Colangelo signed a two-year contract extension with a club option for the third no one thought he would invest in something as slow to mature as a green banana. Yet he drafted a player whose journey to the roster could take years.

It speaks to an enviable confidence. Say what you want about Colangelo, his only term is long.

Read more about Jonas Valančiūnas:čiūnas

Category : Opinions / Sport & leisure sidebar

Please place Johnny Podres in your gallery of great players.

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Keeping the conversation going about famous Lithuanian American sports giants: Johnny Podres, born in Upstate New York, helped the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles Dodgers) win their first series championship in 1955 against the formidable New Yankees. The links have invaluable information about Podres who as pitcher won 2 games (4-2 and 2-0) in October, 1955. Please place him in your gallery of great players.

Aciu ir linkeimais,
Tony Mazeika,
Mission Viejo, California, USA

P.S. You have put together an outstanding interactive website. Congratulations.

Category : Opinions / Sport & leisure sidebar

Lithuanian sportsmen in the US

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Text: Vin Karnila

Mention the words Sport and LITHUANIA and the next word you hear is always BASKETBALL. While a number of Lithuanian players have gone on to careers in the NBA it may surprise you to find out that quite a few Lithuanian athletes have had succesfull professional careers in the U.S.A. in other sports as well. What may be even a little more surprising is that these athletes excelled in what are considered "American" sports. As an example, did you know that the two players that most people say were the greatest players in the National Football League were Lithuanians?



Basketball is the sport that has tied Lithuania and USA closest together, so let's first introduce you to the Lithuanian basketball stars "over there".


Sarunas Jasikevičius

July 2005 Sarunas Jasikevičius signed a three year contact with the Indian Pacers of the NBA. The point guard, who won three consecutive Euroleague championships, agreed to a three-year deal with the Pacers. Back in 1998, he was a solid wing player with Maryland, known for his shooting and intelligent play. He went back to his native Lithuania and plied his skills in club ball in Europe, becoming one of the best at his position. Arunas said "European ball is getting closer to the level of the NBA. I don't feel I have to play there to prove myself as a player,"


Žydrunas Ilgauskas

After being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Žydrunas Ilgauskas was selected to play in the 1997-98 Schick All-Rookie First Team. He was named MVP of the game, totaling a game-high 18 points and 7 rebounds, during the 1998 NBA All-Star Weekend in New York. Zydrunas led the Cavaliers in 1997-98 in field-goal percentage and blocked shots, ranked 2nd in rebounds, and 3rd in scoring.  Unfortunately, he missed the entire 1996-97 season after undergoing surgery on his right foot. Ilgauskas rebounded to be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team in the 2002-03 season.


Arvydas Sabonis

Arvydas Sabonis, now retired from the NBA, has been considered the best big man in the basketball world. In 1995 he said: "There's nothing left for me to prove in Europe or in the basketball world. Only the NBA remains."

But before that, he had been leading the Soviet national team to a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He also helped Lithuania to a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and a second-place finish in the 1995 European Championships in Greece. In an 11-year professional career spent with club teams in the former Soviet Union and then in the Spanish League, Sabonis has led his squads to five league championships and has been named European Player of the Year four times by various publications. On August 20, 2010, Sabonis was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in recognition of his great play in international competition.


Šarunas Marčiulionis

Šarunas Marčiulionis was a deadeye jump-shooter and capable of ferocious drives to the basket. He was a 1988 Olympic Games Gold Medal Champion in Seoul with Arvydas Sabonis.

Marčiulionis started his pro basketball career with Statyba Vilnius in the USSR League, the forerunner of the VTB United League in 1981. Drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the 6th round of the 1987 NBA Draft. He moved to the NBA in 1989 and he played four years with the Warriors, finishing as the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year Award in both 1992 and 1993. Marčiulionis became one of the first Europeans to get significant playing time in the NBA, helping to lead the way for the internationalization of the league in the late 1990s. After missing a year and a half with a leg injury, he was traded to the Seattle Super Sonics in 1994, then traded to the Sacramento Kings in 1995, and he finished his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets in the 1996-97 season. Having a career hampered by injury, he was on brink of making a real impression on the league before getting hurt.

Sarunas is today known as a hotel owner in Vilnius, as Founder of the Basketball Funds in Lithuania and the USA, as Founder of a private Basketball School and the Lithuanian Basketball League. In April, 1998 Sarunas became Extraordinary and Minister Pleni Potenciary of the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the USA, and in 1999 he founded North European Basketball League NEBL and became its Commissioner.


Frank Lubin / Pranas Lubinas

Frank Lubin / Pranas Lubinas (1910 - 1999) is often called the Grandfather of Lithuanian basketball as he promoted basketball in Lithuania and helped Lithuania win its second European championship in a row. He became an Olympic champion with the US team in 1936 in Berlin, and a European champion with the Lithuanian team in 1939 in Kaunas. He was born in Los Angeles in a family of Lithuanian emigrants, studied at UCLA University and was entered into the UCLA hall of fame in 1997. He played in AAU tournaments for about 30 years. 



Johnny Unitas / Jonas Jaunaitis

Johnny Unitas / Jonas Jaunaitis (1933 - 2002) was a professional American football player in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Unitas is considered by many to have been one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. He was the National Football League's most valuable player in 1957, 1959 and 1964. Unitas was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1933. Johnny's father died when he was five years old and he was raised by his Lithuanian immigrant mother who worked two jobs to support the family.

Unitas set many passing records during his career. He was the first quarterback to throw for more than 40,000 yards, despite playing during an era when NFL teams played shorter seasons of 12 or 14 games (as opposed to today's 16-game seasons). His 32 touchdown passes in 1959 were a record at the time, making Unitas the first QB to hit the 30 touchdown mark in a season. His 47-game touchdown streak between 1956 and 1960 is a record that still stands and is considered by many the football equivalent of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game baseball hitting streak

Here is a short list of some of his other achievements:

Unitas held the record for most Pro Bowl appearances (10) by a quarterback until Brett Farve broke his record in 2009.

Unitas set the original standard for most wins as a starting quarterback with 118 regular season victories.

In 2004, The Sporting News ranked Unitas No. 1 among the NFL's 50 Greatest Quarterbacks, with Joe Montana No. 2.

Since 1987, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award has been awarded to the top senior quarterback of the current year in college football.


Dick Butkus

Dick Butkus is the man about whom the American sports press wrote; "It is possible that Butkus was the meanest, nastiest, fiercest linebacker to ever put on a helmet". More than a quarter of a century after his retirement, there remains the Butkus image: the middle linebacker wrapping up a running back and viciously slamming him to the ground like an unwanted toy.

He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and was all-league six times. In his rookie season, Butkus led the Bears in tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries, and regularly led the team in these categories throughout his career. Butkus recovered 27 fumbles in his career, a NFL record at the time of his retirement. He was one of the most feared players of his era and even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1970 with the caption "The Most Feared Man in the Game." He had one of his most productive seasons in 1970 with 132 tackles, 84 assists, 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. He was forced to retire after multiple knee injuries in 1973.




Vito Tamulis

Vito Tamulis (1911 - 1974) was born in Cambridge, MA. He was a sensation at Boston English High, pitching his school to the city championship in 1930. Turning down several college scholarship offers, Yankees scout Gene McCann signed him shortly before his 19th birthday. He worked his way up the Yankee chain, with a carreer culminating in 1934 with the Newark Bears. The Newark teams during the 1930 are rated as among the one hundred best minor league teams of all time. Vito Tamulis continued to live in the Nashville area until his death in 1974.


Joe Krakauskas

Joe Krakauskas (1915 – 1960) was a Major League Baseball pitcher who played for seven seasons. He played for the Washington Senators from 1937 to 1940 and the Cleveland Indians from 1941 to 1942 and 1946. He was 11-17 at his most active, with the 1939 Senators.


Eddie Waitkus

Eddie Waitkus (1919 – 1972) was the baseball player who inspired the movie, The Natural, starring Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs. This is a true story of a great baseball player, whose entire life was totally changed, because of an act of a single obsessed fan.

As the son of Lithuanian immigrants, Edward Stephen Waitkus grew up in Boston and served in the Pacific during World War II. His army service in some of the war's bloodiest combat earned him four Bronze Stars. On the night of June 14, 1948, at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, Waitkus's bright career took an infamously tragic turn. He received a cryptic note summoning him to meet a young fan, Ruth Steinhagen. When Waitkus entered her hotel room, she proclaimed, "I have a surprise for you," and then she just as quickly shot him in the chest. He survived, and in his final summers he worked with youngsters at the Ted Williams baseball camp. Cancer claimed him in 1972, just days after his fifty-third birthday.



Eddie Miksis

Eddie Miksis (1926 - 2005) was 17 years old when he made his major-league debut on with Brooklyn. In 1953, he had a career-high with the Cubs and appeared in eight World Series Games -- five with the Dodgers in 1947 and three with the Dodgers in 1949. He was traded to the Cardinals in 1957 and finished up his career with Baltimore (1957-1958) and Cincinnati (1958). He lived in Philadelphia following his retirement from baseball.



Bill Sudakis

Bill Sudakis homered for Los Angeles in his first major league game. The Dodgers' third baseman in 1969, he was made a catcher and had won the everyday job in 1970 when he broke a finger. He became a versatile utilityman. More than one-third of Sudakis's hits were for extra bases.



Jack Sharkey / Juozas Zukauskas

Jack Sharkey / Juozas Zukauskas (1902 - 1994) is the only man to have fought both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis. But he may be best remembered for a pair of controversial title fights with German Max Schmeling. Sharkey fought for the vacant world title in 1930 against Schmeling but was disqualified for hitting below the belt in the fourth round. In 1932, he met Schmeling once again. The champion appeared to have a clear decision but the fight was awarded to Sharkey on a split decision. In his first title defense, Sharkey was knocked out by the mob-connected Carnera in the sixth round. As he did in 1931, Sharkey began by easily outboxing Carnera for the first five rounds. But he was floored with a right uppercut in round six and counted out. Many felt the fight was fixed but Sharkey denied the accusation until his death.



Dainius Zubrus

Dainius Zubrus, born in Elektrenai, Lithuania, was drafted 15th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. He made his NHL debut on October 5, 1996, scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers. In his rookie season, he helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup final.

The Flyers traded him to the Montreal Canadiens on March 10, 1999. He registered his first career hat-trick on October 14, 2000, against the Chicago Blackhawks, and was traded by the Canadiens to the Washington Capitals on March 13, 2001.

During the 2005-06 season he posted a career-high 57 points. In the 2006–07 season, Zubrus continued his impressive form posting 52 points in 60 games before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres February 27, 2007.

On July 3, 2007, Zubrus a free agent, signed a six-year, $20.4 million dollar deal with the New Jersey Devils. On November 23, 2008, Dainius Zubrus had one of the best offensive games in Devils history. Zubrus tied a team record with four goals to help New Jersey win its season-high fourth straight game, 7–3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

At 6 ft 5 in/1.96 m and 224 lb/102 kg. he is considered a "power forward" in the NHL. His size allows him to effectively use the body when needed but in spite of his size he is considered one of the most graceful skaters in the league along with being a good scorer and a very effective play maker.


Darius Kasparaitis

Darius Kasparaitis gave up his parental home in Elektrenai, Lithuania at the age of twelve to pursue a dream of becoming a professional hockey player which was an unusual route in a country that is dominated by basketball.

Kasparaitis played his first professional game for Dynamo Moscow, one of the premier teams in the Soviet Union, at the age of 16 during the 1988–89 season, and won the Soviet League championship with them in 1992.

He was drafted by the New York Islanders with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Kasparaitis is known for his aggressive physical playing style and has led his teams in hits several times, including his rookie season, in 1992–93 NHL season with the New York Islanders. Kasparaitis has played for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers. Playing for Pittsburgh he scored a game seven overtime goal vs. Buffalo in 2001. Kasparaitis eventually wound up with the New York Rangers and during the 2005–06 season he served as their alternate captain.




Vitas Gerulaitis

Vitas Gerulaitis (1954 - 1994) was a highly sucessful professional tennis player. Born in Brooklyn, New York, his biggest success was winning the men's singles title at the Australian Open in 1977, when he defeated John Lloyd in five sets.

Gerulaitis led the Pittsburgh Triangles to the World Team Tennis championship title at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena in 1975. He also won the men's doubles title at Wimbledon in 1975. He was a singles semi-finalist at Wimbledon in both 1977 and 1978. In 1977, he lost a long Wimbledon semi-final to his close friend and practice partner, Björn Borg 6–4, 3–6, 6–3, 3–6, 8–6. In 1978, Gerulaitis won the year end championship WCT Finals for the World Championship Tennis tour, winning over Eddie Dibbs 6–3, 6–2, 6–1.

In 1979, Gerulaitis lost in men's singles finals at the US Open to fellow New Yorker John McEnroe in straight sets. He was a member of the United States team which won the Davis Cup in 1979. In the final, he won two singles rubbers as the US beat Italy 5–0.

Gerulaitis reached his third Grand Slam singles final in 1980, when he lost in the final of the French Open to Björn Borg in straight sets.

During his career, Gerulaitis won 25 top-level singles titles and 8 doubles titles. His career-high singles ranking was World No. 3 in 1978. He retired from the professional tour in 1986.

He died in a tragic accident in 1994 at age 40. While visiting a friend's home in East Hampton, Long Island, a malfunction in the air-conditioning system caused odorless poisonous carbon monoxide gases to seep through the house, leading to his death. Intensely proud of his Lithuanian heritage, Gerulaitis was well known for correcting reporters when they mispronounced his name.

Category : Sport & leisure sidebar


Have your say. Send to:

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?

* * *

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.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

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

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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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
* * *

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
* * *
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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,

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.

* * *

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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مبلمان اداری صندلی مدیریتی صندلی اداری میز اداری وبلاگدهی فروشگاه اینترنتی گن لاغری شکم بند لاغری تبلیغات کلیکی آموزش زبان انگلیسی پاراگلایدر ساخت وبلاگ بوی دهان بوی بد دهان