VilNews

THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

23 February 2017
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The world in Lithuania

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I continued to make aggressive,
unflinching eye contact with her
while she described her mother's
passion for cooking the traditional Lithuanian dishes
“kugelis”and “balandeliai”
By Paul Cataldo
American Songwriter in Lithuania
 
It was the biggest musical tour of my life. Over 42 thousand kilometers and 175 performances ranging from Boston, MA ,South to North Carolina, West to L.A. California and straight North to Alaska. I towed along with me my (13ft) fiberglass camper which I have named Maybelle. The layout of the camper is very efficient and comes equipped with a two burner gas stove, sink, toilet, shower, and bed. On April 1st, 2015 the tour began. I recall feeling bright eyed, sprightly and vigorous...light even, ready for the wind.
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Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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The Kaunas mosque has become
an important contact point for old
and new Muslim communities
 

By Daiva Repečkaitė
http://www.daivarepeckaite.com/en

The community of Kaunas mosque provided an opportunity for anyone interested to go inside the unique Tatar mosque of Kaunas, to see a Muslim prayer, look around and enjoy food from various countries and cultures. The mosque has become an important contact point for old and new Muslim communities, the latter consisting of foreign students, workers, spouses of Lithuanians, expats and local converts. The 3000-strong Tatar community has been around for centuries and is can help their sisters and brothers in faith with accessing Lithuanian institutions, networking and, most importantly, feeling at home in this relatively homogeneous European society. Other functioning mosques are in distant small towns. Vilnius doesn′t have a mosque, and the current mayor, Remigijus Šimašius (liberal) made it clear that he will not do anything in his power to help establish one, even though, when Syrian and Iraqi refugees are resettled according to the EU scheme next year, the Muslim community in Vilnius will grow. There is not a single Shia mosque (most Shia Muslims are apparently from Azerbaijan), but Shia believers can attend Sunni services.

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Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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Lithuanian pajamas business

By Aage Myhre

When thinking about fashion centers, one generally thinks about Milan, Paris, London or New York and not about Vilnius or Lithuania.  However Vilnius is home to many innovative designers. It is also the manufacturing hub for several European brands. For many, Vilnius is attractive due to the combination of European quality and lower costs compared to many other European countries.  To find out more, I had a chat with American Gene Emmer, living in Vilnius since 2008, owner of the company that makes the Kajamaz adult footed pajamas.

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Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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African living in Vilnius:

Lithuanians should learn tolerance

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In an effort to build a closer relationship with the locals, Lithuania’s African community appealed recently to the Vilnius municipality, delfi.lt writes. They asked them to provide forums where they could introduce young people with their culture and to advise mixed-families facing difficulties. According to the community’s manager Chijioke Nkemka, the municipality already promised such places in Vilnius. 

“We are planning outreach centers where young people could play pool, socialize and do many other activities together which would not cost a lot of money. Also, we would have a place to invite students because currently we ourselves are visiting Lithuanian schools – we do not have the locations where to develop these positive activities” ,said Nkemka, who has been living with his family in his wife’s native Lithuania for the past 5 years. 

READ FULL ARTICLE IN “THE LITHUANIA TRIBUNE”

http://www.lithuaniatribune.com/27947/african-living-in-vilnius-lithuanians-should-forget-occupation-and-learn-tolerance-201327947/

Category : The world in Lithuania

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Lifestyle of an American-

Finnish-Lithuanian family

image009 (8)

LITHUANIAN-AMERICAN ATTORNEY MARIUS JAKULIS JASON
WITH HIS WIFE LIISA LEITZINGER FROM FINLAND

By Liisa Leitzinger

Our family has lives in Finland, US and Lithuania. All these countries are different, Finland organized and safe, USA multicultural and full of opportunities and Lithuania full of charm and change. The best quality for the money in life is in Lithuania, but also in mental level, Lithuania is still the country where individuals can make a change, individual matters and has a voice. Benefits of a small country.

I came to Lithuania from Finland 20 years ago. Raising three boys, freelance work as a Vilnius city guide for Finnish tourists and keeping an eye on little guest house Mano Liza kept me busy at the beginning, later I got Bachelor’s Degree in history from Vilnius University and was a co-founder of Vilnius International School. Little shop Dancemakers for dance clothing and shoes together with my brother was another niche I found in Lithuanian market. As kids got older and businesses established, I got a bit homesick of Finland and started spending time more there studying for Master’s Degree in Helsinki University. I never get tired of comparing my efficient Scandinavian home to my often bohemian adopted country.

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Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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More and more young people

are now moving to Vilnius

image011

It has in recent years been focused a lot on young people who emigrate from Lithuania. But the fact is that now there are many young people who travel here to study and work. A dynamic, vibrant environment of young people from many countries is already in full swing, and increasing numbers of youngsters are finding that Lithuania again is about to become the exciting melting pot this country was for centuries. 

Foreign youngsters in Vilnius now also have their own Facebook page:

See: https://www.facebook.com/groups/209733365824002/

Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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PENNSYLVANIA-LITHUANIA
It is said about Pennsylvania that it was like a Western Lithuania about a 100 years ago, after hordes of people had left their home country to work in the Pennsylvanian coal mines. Carol Luschas is one among thousands of their descendants now committed to restore the close contact between this U.S. state and Lithuania.

Read below her story about Kaunas.

Hordes of Lithuanians came to Pennsylvania to work in coal mines in the late 1800s
The Pennsylvanian “Knights of Lithuania” keep on fighting 
Movie Star Charles Bronson (1921-2003)
Son of a Lithuanian coal miner from Pennsylvania
 

Kaunas seen through
Pennsylvanian glasses

By: Carol A. Luschas, Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Lithuania is a remarkable country with a fascinating history! It is located in the geographical center of Europe. One can discover buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Art Nouveau periods. There are unique museums, enchanting castles, specialty shops, quality restaurants, and affordable accommodations. The Lithuanian landscape is dotted with picturesque lakes, small rolling hills, and thick lush forests.  

I decided to embark on a trip to Lithuania to visit my boyfriend, Mindaugas, and his mother, Irena. I spent the majority of my time in Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. Senamiestas or the "Old Town" is small but cozy. Tourists can enjoy strolling clean, peaceful medieval cobblestone streets, while admiring beautiful buildings. Vilnius Street (Vilniaus Gatve) is the most popular street in the Old Town. It is filled with chic restaurants, cafes, art galleries and souvenir shops. I really enjoyed shopping and eating in the "Old Town!" The "Town Square" is the most picturesque area! During the spring and summer months wedding parties can be spotted outside the town hall. It is the BEST place in the "Old Town" for a Kodak moment!

The Kaunas Castle is the 13th century building, built by Kestutis to defend the road to Trakai. Today this small castle has been renovated and modernized. Inside the castle art exhibits can be seen. There is also a lovely bridge over the former moat. One will enjoy taking pictures of the beautiful and historic landmark. It is a very lovely spot

There are a countless number of stunning Churches in Kaunas. Christ's Resurrection Church is just one of them and is a breathtaking white beauty! The church was designed during Lithuania's independence when Kaunas was the capital. After the Soviets took control of the country the unfinished church was converted into a radio factory. It was later completed after independence. Great panoramic views of the city can be seen! Pazaislis Monastery Complex is the “Baroque Masterpiece of Kaunas.” It is a functioning monastery occupied by the Sisters of St. Casimir. It boarders the western tip of the Kaunas Sea or Kauno Marios. The interior of the church is jaw dropping, a true wonder of the world! There is a lovely new museum which traces the history of the church and the origin of the Sisters of St. Casimir and its founder, Mother Maria Kaupas.

Laisves Aleja is a lovely street in the “New Town” with cafes/restaurants and shops. I like the fact that is closed to traffic and can be enjoyed by foot. The street is lined with trees making it very green and beautiful during the spring and summer months. It needs some care and renovation, but it is still very nice!

You will never get hungry in Kaunas! Hundreds of cafes, restaurants and bars will be able to satisfy your hunger. Visitors can feast upon Lithuanian, Italian, French, German Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. The prices are pretty cheap compared to western and American cities. You will “eat like a king and pay like a pauper.” Berneliu Uzeiga is located in the cozy "Old Town" of Kaunas. Waiters and waitresses are dressed in beautiful traditional Lithuanian costumes. I had a mouthwatering chicken with cream sauce and apple pie with vanilla ice cream. I highly recommended this restaurant for a true taste of Lithuanian cuisine.

Shopping is simply a JOY in this city! The OLD TOWN is bursting with art galleries and unique specialty shops with souvenirs HANDMADE in Lithuanian, NOT China. The Kaunas Akropolis Shopping Centre is truly a shopping paradise and the nicest mall I have ever seen! This high-class multiplex has EVERYTHING your heart desires! Clothing, shoes, books, electronics, jewelry, perfume, restaurants, cafes, cinema and even an ice rink! The clothes are extremely fashionable and well designed.

Mega is another topnotch shopping center! It is not as large as the infamous "Akropolis" but it has a lovely array of shops and restaurants to choose from. Bajoru Kiemas and Charlie Pizza are my favorite restaurants in MEGA. 

There is also a lovely cinema with comfortable stadium seating. Guests can purchase sweet or buttered popcorn, beverages, and beer before they enter the theater. I was surprised because alcoholic beverages are usually NOT allowed in the US depending on the state you live in.  What a pleasant difference!

A gorgeous RIMI supermarket is also housed in the complex. It happened to be one of the nicest food markets I have seen! It would be hard to find anything comparable in the US. The market is clean and well-kept with an abundance of products that are displayed beautifully!

Rumsiskes Open-air museum outside of Kaunas is worth a visit. I was transported back in time and learned how Lithuanians lived in the 19th and 20th century. The museum is divided by the four major ethnic regions in Lithuania: Aukstaitija, Zemaitija. Dzukija, and Suvalkija.  It is best to visit in midsummer when the flower gardens are in bloom. During my visit I was able to stop in a shop that sold hand-made pottery. There is also an interesting amber shop as well. I highly suggest a guided tour.          

I had an exhilarating time in Lithuania and was pleasantly surprised with Kaunas. It is definitely a city worth seeing! There are plenty, museums, restaurants and cafes to keep everyone on your list happy. Plus the prices are extremely reasonable and less expensive than the capital, Vilnius. The Old Town is cozier and walkable making it easy to explore.  I loved strolling from the Old Town to Laisves Alelija. Kaunas is slowly being renovated and is blossoming into a stunning city that is just waiting to be discovered!  

 
ABOVE AND BELOW: Pazaislis Monastery Complex is the “Baroque Masterpiece of Kaunas

 

 

 
Vilnius Street (Vilniaus Gatve) is the most popular street in the Old Town 

 

 
Berneliu Uzeiga is located in the cozy "Old Town" of Kaunas

 


Mega is another topnotch shopping center!


The Kaunas Castle is the 13th century building, built by Kestutis to defend the road to Trakai 


Rumsiskes Open-air museum outside of Kaunas is worth a visit!

Category : The world in Lithuania

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My name is Erica,
I write from Italy


VilNews has earlier written about the extraordinary Italian – Lithuanian relationship since 1323, mentioning that Vilnius over centuries  was known as ‘The world’s most Italian city outside Italy’ and ‘Europe’s most Baroque city north of the Alps’. Today we tell a contemporary Italian-Lithuanian story, penned by Erica (30) from Bologna in northern Italy. You can also find her story in Italian, at her blog https://mybaltics.wordpress.com/

http://mccltd.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/ironwolf1.JPG

Amazing Italian influence
on Lithuania since 1323

http://vilnews.com/?p=8389

Searching for the Holy Grail? Come to Vilnius!

http://vilnews.com/?p=8381

Santa Claus and Lithuania’s Grand Duchess buried in same South-Italian basilica

http://vilnews.com/?p=8127

 


Erica’s Lithuanian story:

In 2009 I spent the spring time in Lithuania. I fell in love with this country, and here is why.

My name is Erica, I am 30 and I write from Italy. Three years ago I got the chance to be selected within the European program “Marco Polo” [1] for an internship as translator at Via Hansa Vilnius UAB [2], a major tour operator.

For my first real European experience I was confronted with a world which I honestly barely knew. So I left with two huge suitcases and a very superficial knowledge of Lithuanian language and culture with 15 fellows flying to Vilnius, which that year happened to be the “European Capital of Culture” [3], a lucky and appreciated coincidence.

Vilnius through an Italian camera lens
Photo: Erica from Bologna, northern Italy

The first days were not easy,  mostly because of the tough climate and the nordic cuisine, but after a while things went better; also because, I suspect, we were getting cool advices both from the tutors of Mec Baltic UAB [4], where we were attending a course of Lithuanian 101, and from other locals we were getting to know, in my case the girls working at Via Hansa.

Getting to stay in a flat in old town, near the Vilniaus rotušė, meant being able to reach any destination easily, beside having the chance to live in a dreaming contest for any art lover.

So, what can young people do in the Lithuanian capital? Well, we liked gathering in the late afternoon in some park to chat a bit and watch the sunset, or spending the evening in the most popular clubs downtown, the ones usually packed up with young boys and girls, university or Erasmus students. But in my free time I did much, much more.

  • I explored all the Old Town (on foot of course and taking a map with me from the first to the very last day) and part of the most modern suburbs, until I learned streets and places by heart;
  • I took pictures day after day of what struck me most, a habit that I don't usually have, and I collected my favourite shots on my Flickr account [5];
  • I visited churches, monuments, cemeteries, parks and whatever looked interesting after reading about it on Vilnius In Your Pocket [6], my definitive reading since day 1;
  • I travelled around the country – and beyond, since I also took a trip to Riga – to discover the many faces of the “rainy land”: Nida, Klaipeda, Palanga, Trakai, Kernavė, Purnuškės... (and boy, wasn't it raining cats and dogs while I was visiting the coast...)

I felt like I was living in a sort of big village: maybe I did not know the neighbours, but life seemed easier, stressless, I walked a lot, I felt secure even at night alone in the street, I shopped at small shops near home, I took part to the events planned for Vilnius '09, including the amazing “Tebūnie Naktis”. And sometimes, while watching the old ladies selling flowers in the streets, I almost thought I could find my grandmother among them...

I chose to dine sometimes at the canteen near Šv. Onos bažnyčia, to get the chance to taste truly local dishes (more than  Šaltibarščiai or cepelinai, today I miss the taste of grietinė, varškė,  kibinai), and I am proud I did that.

I am glad I explored so much on my own and taking some time for me every day for things like reading a book while sitting on the bank of the Vilnelė or enjoying a dessert in the cozy atmosphere of a Double Coffee.

So yes, I have fond memories of my staying and often long to go back. I know that for many colleagues of mine it is not the same at all, while others... did go back at some point: Lithuanian girls have charming powers!

My impression is that the Lithuanian people is “young” but painfully aware and proud of its history and independence.

Unlike what happens elsewhere these years, young people in Vilnius find a job early, they start a family quite soon, their children look much more well-mannered than here in Italy, and generally speaking people just look more relaxed.

But these young people too look conscious of what it took to be finally free, and willing not to waste the chance of living in a country which looks forward, but always paying attention to the past and to the traditions.

I felt like I could breath the attachment to their nation, to their flag, to the historic dates everybody knows very well, children included, but always under a modern europeism optic, in a city where skyscrapers and hovels coexist, in a state which tries to invest in tourism, the way to meet the world par excellence.

If I think back to my experience, I can't help noticing some contrasts with the reality I live in.

For example, it is strange for me to realize that in the capital a taxi is such a cheap mean of transportation, and that it is also cheaper when booked by phone; that a SIM for your mobile phone is sold at a laughable price, including traffic; that you can attend the première of a ballet in the most important theater of the city shelling out the sum that you would use in my country to buy, say, a women's weekly magazine. I also noticed that shops do not have those family packs so popular here and that much attention is paid to wastages; water cooler bottles instead than regular ones, and little assortment of throwaway kitchenware. Napkins are also hard to find in restaurants!

I find it funny that practically each city there brews its own beer, and that many can even think that it is normal to put so much garlic in tomato sauce for pizzas!

It was odd to notice that the immigration is barely noticeable as it mainly regards people from close ethnic groups/countries, and that the beggars you might happen to meet are local old people or young drug addicts.

I still don't get how a house might miss curtains and shutters, when in the summer there can be up to 23 hours of daylight.

I found it amazing that the folk groups coming from all the corners of the country for the “Skamba skamba kankliai” looked more interested in watching other groups' shows (although the dialect could be so different that they might barely understand it) then performing, as a mark of the national unity.

I condemn that a programme so impressive, involving and full of events like Vilnius '09 was quickly forgotten and its traces on the web deleted by winding down its official site. This is a lack of respect for memory, at the very least.

I was always surprised by the vivid colors of the sunset and, while thinking it could not possibily get more beautiful than that, by the appearance of one, two, three, several hot air balloons in the sky, so close I could almost touch them, making the view unreal.

[1] http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/ldv_en.htm
[2] http://www.viahansa.com/index.php?m1=9&lang=2&ava=1
[3] http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-programmes-and-actions/doc2485_en.htm
[4] http://www.mecbaltic.com/index.php
[5] http://www.flickr.com/photos/39635483@N06/
[6] http://www.inyourpocket.com/lithuania/vilnius

More Erica photos:

Category : The world in Lithuania

Lithuania has a proud 700-year history as home to numerous nationalities

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Text: Aage Myhre

International Lithuania got its “flying start” already in 1323, when Grand Duke Gediminas founded Vilnius as Lithuania’s capital city, and immediately decided to invite merchants, craftsmen, bankers, farmers, and soldiers from all Europe to come to the new capital, guaranteeing all freedom of beliefs and good working conditions. Vilnius became international, though with less of German or Scandinavian influence, as one could expect, rather influenced by Rome – greatly different from the other two Baltic capitals.

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Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

I found my family!

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My first meeting with my family in Lithuania
- we had been searching for 90 years

By KR Slade

It's Saturday, 28 May 2005, 6pm, in Lithuania. I've just returned to my room in the capital city, Vilnius, from my nine-hour day-trip to Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city. Kaunas had been the capital of the first Republic of Lithuania, during the inter-world-wars period, and is 90+ percent ethnic-Lithuanian -- compared to 60 percent in Vilnius. Lithuania is, now and since 1990, in its ‘third’ republic, again free, after its second -- and fake --‘Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic’, when it was occupied and annexed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Kaunas is called ‘the heart of Lithuania’, especially by the people of Kaunas. Today is a very special day for my family in Lithuania: the fifth anniversary of the death of our family’s Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevicius.

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Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

Drunk as a skunk!

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By Barbara Isherwood

I thought I would share this with you all. What an exciting country Lithuania is!!

Yesterday evening, as I looked out of my dining room window, I noticed a lot of smoke. It was very close to a new house being built by one of the Iki brothers but behind a huge lilac tree so I could not properly see what the cause was.

I watched for a while and realised that the smoke was actually moving position. I knew I would not be happy until I had found out what was going on.

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Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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.

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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...
* * *
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.

Read more...
* * *

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...
* * *

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...
* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >



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