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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

18 November 2017
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The world in Lithuania sidebar

Drunk as a skunk!

- Posted by - (4) Comment

 

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.

One of the biggest worries in a heavily wooded countryside with a majority of wooden houses, is fire. When I got to the tree I found that someone had set fire to the grass - and gone. The fire was moving towards another new house being built by another Iki brother.

Now the fun begins - I called my Dutch neighbour who came charging along in his 4x4. He looked and said he would go and call the 'fire brigade' (I use that term very loosely) He left and minutes later his lovely Lithuanian wife came along in her 4x4. She looked, asked if I knew whether our 'difficult neighbours' had had anything to do with it. She then drove over to their house and gave them a severe tongue lashing. (you do not want to get on the wrong side of Irina)

She came back and between us we tore off lilac branches and proceeded to put the fire out. Our neighbour then returned and said the Fire Inspector was on his way. We waited, and we waited, and we waited. Then we saw a cloud of dust coming from Rudiskes. The truck pulled up at the house of our difficult neighbours way across the fields from the fire. Irina got in her car to go and get the fireman and came back to say ---- he was drunk!!! We then saw him and the truck career off in totally the wrong direction way over the fields. Irina got back in her car and went to get him again and after 15 minutes or so came back with the fire engine behind her.

He stopped next to where the fire had been and draped himself out of the open window shouting where was Barbarra. Over and over again. My Dutch neighbour pointed to me as I walked up behind the truck (may I say that by this time, me Wim and Irina could not stop laughing - Keystone cops had nothing on this )

The driver got out, staggered to the lilac tree and broke off flowers which he presented to me at the same time as kissing my hand.

The truck was another sight to behold! A large red pickup truck with a pile of plastic hoses in the back. No sign of water!!

He was as drunk as a skunk. God help us if we ever have a real fire - good job there is a cemetery near by.

Barbara Isherwood

Category : Opinions / The world in Lithuania sidebar

- Posted by - (2) Comment

 

Finland in Klaipeda

Letter from Krister Castren, Finland’s Honorary Consul in Klaipeda

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

The roots of the relationship between Finland and the Klaipeda region are hundreds of years old. The Baltic Sea, with its naval and fishery activities have been of mutual interest in the old ages and will probably be in the future as well. Even during the dark Soviet times, sometimes Finnish cargo was unloaded at the port of Klaipeda. Especially Aland Island, well known for its long maritime history, still being a big factor in the branch, had an exchange of captains and other crew with colleagues in Klaipeda. Part of that history will be found in the National Sea Museum in Klaipeda.

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

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

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

Also Klaipeda is really far for Finnish tourism. No scheduled ferries, even in summer time, to ease your 650 kilometers drive from Tallinn. The network and services of camping are still weak on the way down there and from what I have heard, the promotion of the extraordinary possibilities to have a Mediterranean type of beech holiday with a really low budget is not marketed enough to the Finnish consumers. Those Finns with a passion for sailing still are waiting for a chance to safely come to the Curonian Sea with their boats and find proper facilities for their needs.

In spite of the absence of Finns and their money in the Klaipeda region, the good reputation of Finland as one of the best countries in the world to live has made the youngsters of Klaipeda interested in the Finnish language. Every autumn more than twenty students start their studies of the language. Many of them have an opportunity to continue their studies in Finland supported by international student exchange programs. Those who return to Klaipeda, not finding their fortune in Finland, have tried to find a work place to use their knowledge. Unfortunately only a few have managed.

The exchange of cultural has been more successful than financial or educational have been. Many Finnish exhibitions have been erected in the art halls of Klaipeda. There have been Finnish sauna, flags and posters exhibitions just a few to mention. Scanorama, the Scandinavian film show, is presenting many Finnish movies. Musical and dancing groups are taking part in international events in Klaipeda. The traffic is not only one-way, artists from the Klaipeda region have had successful exhibitions in many Finnish cities.

Not only the students are interested in Finland but also the elderly Klaipeda inhabitants. In the 90s Klaipeda senior citizens created a Finnish-Lithuanian association to commemorate the friendship and cultural exchange between their home-ground and Finland. The oldest and best known Finn, Santa Claus, in Finnish “Joulupukki”, visited Klaipeda a few years ago with a huge audience never forgetting where Santa comes from – Finnish Lapland.

Krister Castren and his son Markus.

 

Krister Castrén

- Age 62 nat. Finnish, a son from 1st marriage, Markus 32

- Married now to Rita who is Lithuanian

- Moved to Lithuania in 1996

- Honorary Consul of Finland to Klaipeda region since 2003

- Owner of UAB Castrade, energy technology, construction projects, housing services

- Hobby, bird-watching since 1962

- Consulate located in Juodkrante, Neringa.

Category : The world in Lithuania sidebar

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.

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...
* * *
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