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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

18 November 2017
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The world in Lithuania

Lido Marine – a Norwegian success story in Klaipėda

- Posted by - (3) Comment

 
Norwegian Gunnvald Laukhammer, the main person behind the success of Lido Marine,
is not exactly thrilled with the way the Lithuanian authorities often are acting.

LIDO Marine is a Norwegian owned Lithuanian company, established originally under the name Lauremija in 2002, with roots in the maritime business back to 1977 and as own firms since 1986.  The company's founder and general director, Gunnvald Laukhammer, has long experience in building and contracting, ship interior outfitting, industrial insulation and ventilation systems in the Norwegian onshore and offshore industry.

By basing the company in the port city of Klaipeda, LIDO Marine has been able to take advantage of the wealth of experience in the ship building industry of the city.  During post-war soviet times, Klaipeda was one of the major centres of ship repair and ship building for the Soviet shipping industry.  Four major ship building yards and numerous related businesses operated in the city; even today Klaipeda is host to 43 ship-repair, building and technical services companies.

In 2006 the company also bought facilities in Kretinga, a town not far from Klaipeda, and established Baltic Marine Furniture to produce furniture and interiors to supply the mother company’s ship and offshore fitting operations.

LIDO Marine currently has a staff of around 75, mostly Lithuanians divided into teams of 5 to 30 people, who travel all over Europe (sometimes also in other parts of the world) to furnish ships and offshore platforms. Baltic Marine Furniture employs twelve persons at the factory in Kretinga.  

The authorities do nothing to facilitate or help us
Gunnvald Laukhammer is not exactly thrilled with the way the Lithuanian authorities often are acting. "Sometimes I feel they are more eager to create problems than to help out," he says. "Take as an example that our company Baltic Marine Furniture now for a long period of time has tried to get permission to extend the furniture workshop building in Kretinga.  But instead of welcoming new jobs and investments with open arms, the local authorities seem to do what they can to thwart us, and we still have not received a building permit for a rather simple building extension, on our own land, after about two years of waiting. Now another winter may come before we can start building," he says. 

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

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

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

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

What should Klaipeda focus on for the years to come?
Gunnvald Laukhammer came to Klaipeda first time 14 years ago. It was during this first visit that he met Džiuginta, the woman who eventually became his wife and moved with him to the Norwegian west coast, where their two boys Eivin and Simon were born. In 2003 the family moved to Klaipeda and has lived here ever since. 

“That was a period of decline in the construction of new vessels in Norway, while in Lithuania it was at that time generally  many opportunities. And such opportunities are still existing here. We also thought of our children's upbringing and the opportunities this country in the future could offer. Therefore, we chose to move here eight years ago.” tells Gunnvald.

He has, in other words, a good basis for comparing Norway and Lithuania, and I asked him what he thinks Klaipeda region should pursue in the future. 

"Tourism," he replies immediately. "The coast here in Lithuania is a real gem that too few tourists still have discovered.  But the government must do more to facilitate - with better infrastructure and a more comprehensive range of accommodation, entertainment etc., as found in Western Europe." 

“In addition, one must focus on things that are natural for this region and which is already available, like the maritime  sector.”

“Agriculture should continue to be a priority. Lithuania has large agricultural acreage, and in a time of rising food prices the country should go for their own food production rather than imports. Export of food products to other populous countries  such as Asia should also be explored possibilities for.”

“It is export-oriented industry that creates value, while imports represent drain of money. Norway has exported more  goods and services than those imported, and consequently the nation has now money in the bank, a good social security system and standard of living for its citizens.”

“Many countries in Europe have lost much of its industry and we are now seeing the results of such a policy. The world countries that now succeed are those that have received industry the West has not protected and cared enough about.”

“The most important in all business operations is to think long term, demonstrate stability, quality/service and reliability.”

The basketball players understand how to think collectively
“How do you see the situation that now occurs due to the huge wave of emigration from Lithuania?”

“It is regrettable that too many "young" people leave the country. Some for a period, others for good. It was these people who should be the country's future, as they are some of the most creative and best workers Lithuania has fostered.”. 

“They were the ones who in the future should develop, build and run the country. This migration will be a bigger and bigger problem that politicians must now approach in earnest. What do we do, how do we act, how do we create  confidence  so that people  after leaving school with qualifications, will have faith in the future and wish to remain in their home country?”

Lithuania is among the best basketball nations in the world. Because these young sportsmen understand how to think collectively. Such thinking should also be implemented into all other relationships in the Lithuanian society. Today’s situation encourages too much selfishness where each individual is only self concerned. Just being able to smile at each other in everyday life should not cost so much energy, you would think.”

“Lithuania is a small country, and it should not represent too much trouble to get to the attitudes change, if there is an real will to do so.”

“And, again, to give and receive trust as well as think collectively are essential elements to success, in my opinion.”

Gunnvald again shrugs his shoulders... 

They have dug up our street four times in one year!
I did this interview with Gunnvald Laukhammer in his private home in the Klaipede district of Melnrage, a few kilometres north of the city centre. Getting there was easy, until a few hundred meters remained. What then met me, didn’t look much like a street at all, more like a ditch or a dry riverbed covered with crushed stone and manhole covers that towered a foot or more over the ground level in an uneven pattern along what once was a street. I was happy that it wasn’t dark outside.  That could have caused fatal consequences for the car I drove. 

Arriving 'in security' at Gunnvald’s he tells me that the municipality dug up the street more than a year ago to lay down new pipes for water, drains and sewers, and eventually cables for street lights. The plan was also to cover the road with cobblestones. 

"But now this farce of a road story has gone on for more than one year, and during that period, the municipality has managed to dig up the street four times," Gunnvald tells with an ironic grin.

"The authorities in Lithuania must learn to manage the taxpayers' money in a much better way. Our road problem is just another example of how badly the authorities here are wasting the people’s money because of poor planning and coordination,” he says. 

“If you have little money, which is understandable, one should consider alternative solutions, not choose the most  expensive ones to the delight of some and chagrin of everyone else - solutions other countries, with far better economy, cannot afford. In short, the money one has available should be to the benefit for most possible people.”

With a certain hope in his voice that he and his family will not have to experience one more winter with a ditch instead of a street outside their Melnrage home, our little interview has come to an end... 


Džiuginta and Gunnvald Laukhammer on one of the manhole covers sticking more than
a foot up from what once was the street outside their home in Melnrage, Klaipeda.

Category : The world in Lithuania

- Posted by - (2) Comment

Next time you eat bacalao* in Spain or Italy...

* The word bacalao is Spanish, and simply means cod. Actually, in many Latin countries like Brazil, Italy, Greece and of course Spain, the term bacalao is used for stockfish or salted cod. In Portugal, bacalao is said to be prepared in at least 365 different ways – one for each day of the year.


Reidar Inselseth is General Director of the Espersen fish factory in the Klaipeda Free Economic Zone, where cod from the Baltic Sea and Arctic Ocean is converted to delicious fish fillets for southern European markets.

Every day, all year round, a truck drives out from the Espersen fish processing plant in the Klaipeda Free Economic Zone, fully loaded with over 20 tonnes of finished fish fillets for the south and west European markets. Not many days later, these fish products are to be found at a restaurant table in Spain, Italy and Greece as delicious dishes prepared by chefs who so often are amazing fish experts and know to appreciate the wonderful ingredients the Baltic Sea and Arctic Ocean have to offer. Because it is from these seas Espersen Lietuva gets its fish raw material, roughly 40 tonnes per day. 
About 50% of the fish they purchase from the Baltic countries Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden and Denmark, while the remaining half is purchased from Norway, caught in northern Atlantic waters. Some of the fish is purchased fresh, some frozen. 

Espersen was the first company that was established in Klaipeda Free Economic Zone. The opening took place in January 2003. Now 275 people work here in this fish processing company, and the company has already invested EUR 10 million here in the course of these years. The facility stands as a magnificent specimen of a modern fish processor, one of the very best in the world and has become an almost indispensable and important partner for the fishermen in Lithuania and other Baltic nations. 

Fish products from the plant are eaten at present by people in the UK, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. 

The mother company of Espersen Lieutva, A. Espersen A/S, was founded in Denmark in 1937 with the purpose of taking advantage of the abundance of cod in the Baltic Sea region. The company was established by J.P.A. Espersen with its first premises on Bornholm, an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

Since then, constant growth has transformed it into one of the world´s most important white fish processing corporations with a staff of more than 1.100 employees in modern production plants in Denmark, Poland, Lithuania and China.

Among its milestones, Espersen was the first food processing company in Europe to establish its own laboratories to monitor quality control.
In 1971 the entire equity capital of Espersen was turned over to “Direktør J.P.A. Espersen og hustru, fru Dagny Espersens Fond”. The yield of the Foundation contributes with financial investments to Espersen and is distributed among charity organisations.
Today, with an annual turnover of more than 200 million Euros, Espersen is considered a financially well consolidated company basing its transactions on strong partnerships with both suppliers and customers.

For contingency reasons Espersen has chosen to have production in several at countries - Denmark (Bornholm), Poland, Lithuania, China and Vietnam.


The new Espersen office building in the Klaipeda Free Economic Zone
is shaped as a ship bridge.

Interview with General Director Reidar Inselseth
I sit with the director of the Espersen plant in Klaipeda, Norwegian Reidar Inselseth, in the new office building his firm has just built. The building is designed as the wheelhouse of a ship, with a shiny blue glass surface, and the 'bow, roof top and masts' in stainless steel. 

Reidar has been director of this facility for four years now, and among other things, been responsible for extensive new investments and developments of the company. My first question to him is what he finds hardest by being entrepreneur and company leader in Lithuania. 

"The lack of predictability," he replies immediately. "Unfortunately, that is something that to a far too high degree characterizes this country. For my company this is so serious that we hardly had chosen Lithuania for our production if we eight-nine years ago had known what we now know."

"This country is steeped in corruption, which we feel very directly when we often are subjected to strange inspections etc. from the authorities; something we do not see anything like in any of the other countries where we have fish processing plants. We are, for example, constantly subjected to unreasonable disclosure requirements and controls, even if we always follow highly acclaimed and transparent international principles of production, environmental control, bookkeeping and treatment of employees. It feels as if here in Lithuania companies like ours still have to prove their innocence instead of being greeted with open arms and cooperative attitudes."

"Do you see these things as something that remains from the Soviet times?" 
"Yes, I think so. There is, for example, too little of free and open competition, far too many monopolies, generally too low level of knowledge in public administration, and too big distance from the country's legislature to where things really happen." 

"What do you think the Lithuanian authorities should do with this?"

"First and foremost, they must streamline their anti-corruption efforts and substantially increase transparency in the entire state administration. And those who are appointed to executive positions must be selected on the basis of merit, not because of party affiliation." 

"Are there other, more practical problems you face for your business in today's Lithuania?" 

"The biggest problem in this respect is undoubtedly the increasing shortage of labour here due to the massive emigration that has taken place in recent years. Many of those we have trained in fish processing in our firm have travelled to the west, and now we are seriously struggling to find qualified workers. What we see in the Lithuanian society today is becoming a daunting demographic composition with too many old and very young and too few in working age." 

"This is a problem that the authorities immediately should take more seriously. Society should be organized so that it again becomes safe and interesting to live and work here. We must have safe, good schools, health care and jobs. Today these things combined are just so negative that too many choose to leave their home country." 

"The lack of labour is, by the way, now so precarious that the government should allow for greatly increased immigration from countries farther east." 

Reidar Inselseth is clearly engaged in these issues, probably partly due to the fact that he has a Lithuanian wife, with whom he has two school-age children. The family would like to live in Klaipeda, but hope the negative trends in the country soon will turn so that they can again feel the optimism and satisfaction of living and working here. 

Meanwhile, truck after truck rolls out from this top modern fish processing plant here in Klaipeda. 

Restaurant guests in Rome, Madrid and Athens hardly have a clue that the delicious, tasty dinners they are about to eat origin just from here...

 

Recipe for Bacalao a la Vizcayna

Bacalao a la Vizcayna is a Spanish dish. It is basically sautéed salted fish that is popularly known as a staple food during the Lentewn season.

Ingredients:
half a kilo of dried and salted bacalao (dried salted cod fish)
1 tbsp flour
half a cup olive oil
5 cloves minced garlic
1 medium chopped onion
2 medium chopped tomatoes
half a cup of water
200g tomato sauce and 1 cup canned garbanzos
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into strips
pepper grounded and salt
2 medium cubed potatoes

Procedure:
1. Soak the dried fish in water for at least 1 hour and drain out the excess water. Afterwards, boil the fish, drain and set aside. When cool enough to handle, flake and discard the bones of the fish and then set aside.
2. Sprinkle flour over flaked fish, then fry it in olive oil until light brown in color. Afterwards, set it aside.
3. Sauté garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Add water and simmer the mixture for 2 minutes. Pour in tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
4. Add prepared fish, garbanzos, and pepper. Season with salt and pepper
5. Add fried potatoes and simmer.

A recipe from: http://myrecipehouse.com

Category : The world in Lithuania

- Posted by - (1) Comment

VIC

VILNIUS INTERNATIONAL CLUB

 

New board for

Vilnius International Club
 

NAME/COUNTRY/
VIC BOARD POSITION

 PHOTO

 PERSONAL INFORMATION

Aage Myhre
Norway
Board Chairman
 
 

 

Telephone

+370 699 33 222

Email

aage.myhre@VilNews.com
aagemyhre@aam.lt

Web page 1

www.VilNews.com

Web page 2

www.aam.lt

Info

VilNews Editor-in-Chief. Has lived in Lithuania for more than 20 years. M.Sc. of Civil Engineering (dept. of Architecture) + Architectural Psychology, Strasbourg, France. Journalist, editor, photographer, architect, developer, philanthropist.

Zilvinas Beliauskas
Lithuania
Board Member
VIC Director

 

Telephone

 +370 687 76 625

Email

zilvinas@zilvinas.be ; zilvinas.beliauskas@vilnius-international-club.com ; zilvinas.beliauskas@vilnews.com ;

Web page 1

 http://vilnius-international-club.com/   

Web page 2

 http://www.zilvinas.be/

Info

Psychologist. Psychology teacher, Mykolas Romeris university - http://zilvinasb.home.mruni.eu/. Research fellow, Lithuanian Culture Research Institute - http://lkti.lt/en/aboutus . Manager of cultural activities, Vilnius Jewish Public Library - http://vilnius-jewish-public-library.com/ .
VilNews Associate Editor – www.vilnews.com/ 
 

Torben Pedersen
Denmark
Board Member
Leader, BUKIME KARTU – read more at:
http://vilnews.com/?p=1589
http://vilnews.com/?p=1763
http://vilnews.com/?p=6211
 

 

Telephone

+370 685 16 060

Email

ttpedersen@yahoo.com 

Web page 1

 

Info

Deloitte Partner (retired). VilNews Board member. Danish Chamber of Commerce Board member. Has lived in Lithuania for 18 years. M.Sc. In Auditing, State Authorized Public Accountant (Denmark).

Kristina Janusauskaite
Lithuania
Board Member
Legal Advisor

 

Telephone

 +370 612 16 789

Email

 kristina.janusauskaite@lt.blslawfirm.com

Web page 1

 

Info

Advocate, Law Firm BLS Lithuania, Vilnius; Lecturer, Vilnius University Law School; Arbitrator, Vilnius Commercial Arbitration Court; External Consultant, World Intellectual Property Organization (Geneva)

Andrius Koncius
Lithuania
Board Member

 

Telephone

+370 699 43 449: +370 5 21276 10 (office)

Email

ANKO@cowi.lt

Web page 1

www.cowi.lt

Web page 2

www.COWI.com

Info

Managing Director of UAB COWI Lietuva.
Provision of engineering and consultancy services

Amelija Rudenko
Lithuania
Board Member

 

Telephone

 +370 699 19 135

Email

 amelija.rudenko@gmail.com; amelija.rudenko@ell.lt

Web page 1

www.ell-realestate.com

Info

General Manager of UAB "E.L.L. Nekilnojamas turtas", lecturer at www.ttvam.lt (Hotel and lodging general management), former professional in hospitality industry (10-year experience in international hotel business), author of the book "Viesbuciu darbo organizavimo pagrindai".

Audrius Sakalauskas
Lithuania
Board Member

 

Telephone

+ 370 698 38 156

Email

 sakalaudrius@gmail.com

Web page 1

 

Web page 2

 

Info

Freelance business development consultant, food & beverage expert, tea taster

David Telky
United Kingdom
Board Member

 

Telephone

+370 865 44 592

Email

dtelky@aol.com

Web page 1

www.pentland.lt

Info

Clothing manufacturer in Lithuania for 20 years.

Web page for VIC: http://vilnius-international-club.com/

Category : The world in Lithuania

Lietuva is the best country in all the world for four reasons:

- Posted by - (3) Comment

Labas Aage Myhre,
I learned of your website through the British-Lithuanian Society, of which I have been a sustaining member for four years.  The B-LS does a wonderful job of promoting Lithuanian social and cultural events in the United Kingdom, and helps to promote initiatives in Lietuva through The Tiltas Trust, a registered charity.  For details, go to www.britishlithuaniansociety.org.uk.
 
I am very proud to tell you that the best man I ever knew was my maternal grandfather, who was Lithuanian.  The spelling of the family name changes from document to document, but his father's surname was Markauskus (Markowskas?  Markauskus?) and his mother's maiden name was Janusraitus (again, different spellings).  There is NOTHING that would make me happier than to be able to trace my roots within Lietuva.  If you - or anyone you know - can help me, I would be most grateful.  Do you know which part of the country people with these names came from originally?  You don't know how much this means to me.

My great grandparents left Lietuva in 1897, moved to Liverpool for four years and then went to Pittston, Pennsylvania, where my grandfather was born. He worked as a coal miner, but after an accident in the mine, decided to try his luck at securing a job at Henry Ford's factory in Michigan. Sadly, after a long time waiting in the hiring queue, he never got the job. So, he knocked on the door of another great American, and this time he got the job. The man who hired him was Thomas Edison. He raised his family in the Vailsburg section of Newark, New Jersey, and when he retired from the Edison Company he presented me with his retirement medal. I was his first born grandchild, and he raised me as if I were his son, which isn't surprising considering that he, a real "soldier's soldier" had daughters but no sons.

My grandfather gave me everything that money cannot buy. In return, I hope to honour his memory by doing whatever I can that will help Lietuva. My resources are limited - I do not have "extra" money, but I can make my contribution in other ways.

I have visited Lietuva twice and am happy to report that never once was I swindled by a taxi driver or a rogue trader. All the people were honest to a fault. Service in the restaurants is very slow (a holdover from Soviet times?), but everything else in the country is wonderful.

Lietuva is the best country in all the world for four reasons: The best food (cepelinai), the best beer (Svyturys), the best basketball players (Sabonis, Jasekevicius, etc.), and - most obviously - the most beautiful and charming women!!!

Please keep me on your mailing list. Your website is excellent!

Yours sincerely,
Brian Holmes, United Kingdom

Category : The world in Lithuania

- Posted by - (1) Comment

Mark your calendars:
The Christmas Charity Bazaar will take place on Saturday 3 December!


‘Team Ireland’ at last year’s bazaar.

The 9th International Christmas Charity Bazaar (ICCB) will take place on Saturday, 3 December, 2011 at the Vilnius Town Hall (Rotuše) under the kind patronage of Mrs Alma Adamkiene. The Bazaar, organised by the International Women’s Association of Vilnius (IWAV) in cooperation with the international diplomatic and business communities and Lithuanian friends, has become the unofficial start to the Christmas season.

The 2010 event was attended by more than 5.000 visitors and raised nearly 300.000 Litas for beneficiaries, including: Kaunas Medical University Clinic, Vilnius Residential Home for Children and Youth, Ekklesia Charity Foundation, Vilnius University Children's Oncology Unit, Kijeliu Home for Severely Disabled Children (specialusis ugdymo centras), Alantos Nursing Home for the Elderly, Children-Youth Day Care Centre “Musu Namelai”, and the Training Centre for the Blind and Visually Impaired. More information is available from: www.iwavilnius.com/iccb.

All the organisers of the Christmas Bazaar are volunteers, who commit to the requirement that all money collected on the day of the Bazaar and related activities go directly to the beneficiaries. Sponsorships help to cover organisational costs; sponsors also have the option to fund the beneficiaries directly. The beneficiaries do not receive cash; the projects funded through the Christmas Bazaar are directly paid to the suppliers as per invoice. Potential beneficiaries for support this year are being evaluated presently and will be announced in October.

The attached description will present you with the opportunities to become involved in the Christmas Bazaar, a traditional event which becomes more successful each year in spite of challenges. We do hope that you will be able to join us in making a difference in the lives of the ill, less fortunate and disadvantaged.

If you have any question, please contact either Mercedes Sprouse, Co-Chair of the Organising Committee (e-mail: mercedes.sprouse@gmail.com; Mob.tel: +370.65568114), or Rima Ingstad, member of the organising committee responsible for sponsorship (e-mail: rima@svcentras.com ; Mob.tel: +370 687 73733).

Partnership and sponsorship opportunities

Sponsors participate in ICCB by invitation only under the following categories:

Benefactor:
A capital investment over 40.000 Lt which supports a particular beneficiary in substantive development and reconstruction. Benefactors receive highest priority in publicity.

VIP sponsor:
Principle investment over 5.000 Lt in materials, supplies, equipment, services and development of the event. VIP sponsors receive priority placement in publicity materials.

Contributors:
Sponsorship under this category may include cash donations of any kind, vouchers for goods or services for the Lottery, and facilities for organisation of the event.

Regarding the Lottery, Top Raffle Donors contribute prizes worth more than 1,000 Lt. The minimum contribution can be a combination of prizes however the total value must be no less than 200 Lt.

Information Partners:
Organisations which provide free advertising space and publicity in substantial quantity and length of time shall be recognised as a media sponsor, according to the value of the contribution.

Volunteers opportunities

About 50 key organisers work over six months to prepare the event. Another 200 volunteers become involved in the days before and during the Christmas Bazaar. Anyone interested in joining a particular country stand or contributing toward the overall organisation of the event is warmly welcome to contact the Chairs.

Category : The world in Lithuania

Christmas Charity Bazaar background

- Posted by - (1) Comment


Gunilla Possenius with Professor Vytautas Landsbergis.

By: Gunilla Possenius 

Vilnius´ International Christmas Charity Bazaar is approaching - but how and when did it start?

For the ninth year Vilniaus Rotuse will open its doors for the International Christmas Charity Bazaar (ICCB) on December 3. This annual event has become one of the true signs that Christmas is approaching.

But how many know today how it all really started? Over the years, inaccurate information regarding how ICCB started was circulating. So now it is time for the true story to be told.

Of course, other kinds of Christmas bazaars were arranged in Vilnius before the first ICCB in 2003.
IWAV, the International Women´s Association of Vilnius, under whose umbrella the ICCB now is organized, many years had a bazaar-like event at its November or December Monthly Membership Meetings with handicrafts and Christmas things from local organizations or artists.

Also, SWEA Vilnius (the local branch of Swedish Women’s Educational Association International, Inc.) together with the International Church of Vilnius had its Christmas Bazaar in Sandora Hall in connection with its Lucia celebration in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Vokieciu 1999-2003. 
In 2000, the Swedish Embassy organized a Swedish Christmas Bazaar in the exhibition hall of the Embassy. In 2002, the Austrian Embassy organized an Austrian Christmas Bazaar in the residence.

However, none of these could qualify as International Christmas Bazaars. Not even the SWEA/International Church Bazaar, although the SWEA Vilnius membership counted ten different nationalities and the Church many more.

For a Bazaar to be International a number of countries must be represented and/or participating, selling items from different countries.

History of ICCB

In autumn 2002, Gunilla Possenius (President of the Swedish Women’s Association, SWEA Vilnius) and Åshild Hauge (wife of the Norwegian Ambassador), during a walk in Vingis Parkas discussed the possibility of setting up an International Christmas Bazaar in Vilnius. From previous postings, both of them had experience of International Christmas Charity Bazaars in other countries.

Already, a number of international ladies were involved in the mini-Bazaar and the annual Lucia celebration which, since 1999, SWEA Vilnius was running together with the International Church of Vilnius (of which Åshild was a board member) in the Lutheran church on Vokieciu.

In early December 2002, at an Austrian bazaar at the Ambassador’s residence, Gunilla, with her talks with Åshild in mind, asked Rosie Schwarzinger, the wife of the Ambassador,  whether she would be interested in joining a group with some potential other ladies Gunilla would contact, to try to put together an International Christmas Bazaar. Rosie said she would absolutely not be able to be the motor herself or play an active part, but could join a group in case one was to be formed.

At that event, Gunilla informed Agne Zuokiene, of her plans to try - together with some other ladies - to give Vilnius what other capitals already had, an International Christmas Bazaar. Agne was pleased and would inform her husband, the Mayor of Vilnius.

In January 2003, Åshild and Gunilla informed VIC’s Charity Group (chaired by Ambassador Kåre Hauge)    about the Bazaar plans.  Åshild and Gunilla agreed that the Bazaar was to be run in a truly "Scandinavian" way, i.e. not let any person, organization or entity - private or public - use the Bazaar for their own promotion or ends, but always present it as an endeavour and achievement of a group of women. Nobody would be able to arrange a Christmas Bazaar on her own, anyway.

In January, Gunilla had also contacted Charlotte Davnie, IWAV’s longtime Charity Chair, from the US, and Birute Vizgirdiene, a much needed Lithuanian addition to the group with excellent contacts in Lithuania.     
The five ladies met at the Norwegian residence, on March 19, 2003. There, Birute booked Rotuse for November 22, 2003, and it was agreed that Gunilla should send out an invitation to all embassies, to AISV staff and parents, to IWAV for its members and to SWEA members to a first meeting later in April, again at Åshild’s.

At two meetings in April at Åshild´s, working groups were created and various crafts groups were formed involving well over 40 ladies. As a working name, Gunilla suggested International Christmas Charity Bazaar (ICCB), which was accepted by the group as the permanent name. Anne Elsérius, having some years earlier created the labels for our SWEA glögg bottles, sold at the SWEA Bazaars, was asked to suggest some logos.
One of them was later accepted by the group as the official ICCB logo.

Three of the ladies asked by Gunilla to join her, also took on special tasks for the joint Bazaar working groups, in addition to being responsible for and working with their own country stands: Charlotte Davnie was in charge of Charity, Åshild Hauge coordinated baked products for the Bazaar Café and Birute Vizgirdiene handled contacts with Lithuanian authorities and media as well as translations.
All other contacts, administration and anything that fell between the chairs landed on Gunilla’s table. 
The other four in the original group suggested Gunilla, who started it all, be the first ICCB Coordinator, which was approved by the larger group. 

Our partners Radisson SAS Astorija, who ran the Bazaar Café and arranged for security, and Visus Plenus, who arranged stands and all equipment, both kindly signed all necessary documents for us, since we at that time did not yet have IWAV as our umbrella. 

The first International Christmas Charity Bazaar (ICCB) in Vilnius took place on Saturday, November 22, 2003, 10 a.m.-16 p.m., in Vilniaus Rotuse (City Hall), Didzioji 31.

Participating with stands were Austria, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), Romania, Turkey, USA and the EU Delegation.
Vilnius International Rotary Club and the school Siuolaikines mokyklos centras also had stands of their own. The Lithuanian organizations Mazoji Guboja, Mes Esame, Markuciai and day centre Sviesa as well as Unicef and Atsigresk were invited to display and sell their items for their own charities.

The Bazaar was opened by the then First Lady, Mrs.Laima Paksiene, who at her own request sold her home-baked cookies at one stand. Mr. and Mrs. Adamkus both attended the Bazaar and expressed their joy and gratitude for us having arranged this first International Christmas Charity Bazaar in Vilnius.

The amount raised, LTL 63,000, was divided between Vytatuto Landsbergio Fondas for Vilnius University Children’s Hospital at Santariskes, Vilnius Municipality’s Social Support Centre (Socialines paramos centras), Gelbekit Vaikus (Save the Children) and Sv. Jono Vaikai’s home for street children.

A lengthy report on the first ICCB was published in IWAV’s newsletter, December 2003.

Gunilla Possenius

ICCB Initiator and Coordinator 2003

Category : The world in Lithuania

- Posted by - (1) Comment


Above: Signatures by VIC’s initial ‘working group’
in October 2001, 10 years ago. 

Visit the VIC web page:
http://vilnius-international-club.com/ 

Vilnius International Club (VIC) has since October 2001* been a leading club and a dynamic meeting point for local people with international interests and for expatriates from many countries. The club’s mission is to support and encourage the cultural, historic, and economic vitality of Vilnius as a capital city and of Lithuania as an outstanding historic and contemporary scene for interaction and constructive activities between fine people from many countries. Men and women from the expatriate and Lithuanian communities, working in diplomatic, business, and cultural spheres, fulfil VIC’s mission through fellowship, monthly meetings, and occasional charitable programmes.

*VIC started its activities in October 2001, and was formally established in February 2002.

***************************************************************************************************

Opinions about VIC over the years

VIC has built a new bridge...
VIC is a refreshing initiative that has built a new bridge between local Lithuanians and foreigners in Vilnius. The success of the Club is a result of good balance between many different nationalities and great variety of cultural and social activities. It is important to maintain high share of Lithuanians in VIC as expatriates do not need a club to meet foreigners..

- Bjarne-Espen Christiansen, Manager of Scandinavian Airlines (Denmark)

 

The VIC format is very unique...
I think VIC format is very unique. It encompasses many features that many other clubs/organizations, between which we share our off-duty time, lack. It has planned events schedule, as well as beautiful ad-hoc social surprises; and, most importantly, diversity of people and themes. 

- Vygandas Juras, Partner of Baltcap Management (Lithuania) 

 

Potential to integrate Vilnius community into modern Europe...
It is a creative organisation with huge potential to integrate Vilnius community into modern Europe.

- Daiva Vitkute, Managing Director, Vilnius Consult (Lithuania)

 

I am extremely grateful for Vilnius International Club actions...
I am extremely grateful for Vilnius International Club actions enhancing cultural, historical and economic life in our city. I am also thankful for charity programs set for unprivileged inhabitants of the city. The variety of activities you accomplish in the city contributes to the philanthropic movement development as well as assists with the implementation of tangible social projects in Vilnius...

- The Mayor of Vilnius City Municipality, Arturas Zuokas

 

Always useful presentations and interesting people...
Always useful presentations, interesting people and comfortable surroundings...

- Dr. Kaare Hauge, Ambassador of Norway (Norway)

 

Well done with this great initiative...
I am very impressed with the diverse and extensive activities of VIC in Vilnius. I am sorry I can not participate in them while in Israel, but your detailed reports convey the sense as if I am there in the meetings. Well done with this great initiative.

- Amos Eiran, Lithuanian Consul, Tel Aviv (Israel).

 

I was thrilled to know that such an organization exists...
I was thrilled to know that such an organization exists and is dealing with such important past and present issues. It is organizations and events such as these that make me long for living in Lithuania...

- Jonas R. Bielkevicius, Electric Engineer, Boston (USA)

 

Something utmost wonderful I have experienced so far...
The VIC is something utmost wonderful I have experienced so far. It is very nice, democratic and intelligent. Unfortunately it is not possible to attend all events. Looking forward to meet at VIC soon!

- Andrius Koncius, General Director of COWI Baltic (Lithuania).

 

It has been a useful networking source...
I very much value the VIC. It has been a useful networking source as well as an excellent venue to discuss issues that I face as a professional in Vilnius with other thoughtful, insightful ex-pats.

- Michael Sessums, 2nd Secretary of US Embassy (USA)

 

Magnificent atmosphere and a very warm audience...
It really was a magnificent atmosphere and a very warm audience...

- Judita Leitaite, Lithuania's leading mezzo-soprano, after her VIC performance.

 

Atmosphere where I can combine my business interests with...
VIC meetings provide the atmosphere where I can combine my business interests with my common human need for communication, education and self-development. I hope I put my contribution to this atmosphere as well.

- Vaidotas Variavicius, General Director of Vilniaus Margarino Gamykla (Lithuania)

 

I am so impressed...
I am so impressed by VIC! Meeting theme suggestion: LITHUANIAN BUSINESS ATTITUDE AND HABITS. Several foreigners doing business in Lithuania have said the business in Lithuania is slow. Everything takes much longer time than estimated. Locals give impression they are ready to sign contracts any time, but still there are many arguments to postpone signing.

- Arne Brattetaule, Director of STATOIL Lubricants (Norway)

 

One of my most important opportunities...
VIC -  one of my most important opportunities to join with international others in appreciating Vilnius as a place to live and as a total experience. Exiting men and women who are making a difference in Vilnius and Lithuania are members of VIC would like you to join them in celebrating and developing Vilnius. Don't miss the opportunity!

- Dr. Woodrow Sears, Management Consultant/University Instructor (USA)

 

I look forward to the next event with eager anticipation...
I have only been a friend of VIC for a short time and so only attended the Opening Concert of the Lithuanian Philharmonic with Muza Rubackyte and Stefan Lano so far. What an evening. An enthralling, moving concert followed by a superb reception with the performers and an opportunity to meet other, very friendly members of the VIC. I look forward to the next event with eager anticipation.

- Andy Williams, Consultant of Policijos Departementas prie VRM (Great Britain)

 

The Club provides interesting programs and events...
I am very happy to participate, whenever time permits, in the activities of VIC. The Club provides interesting programs and events and I wish you success and many more members.

-  Vytas Gruodis, Director General of Baltic Management Institute (Canadian-Lithuanian)

 

A truly splendid idea/creation couched in very noble words...
A truly splendid idea/creation couched in very noble words. It seems to me that VIC has great potential for much real good.

- Dr. Arunas Gasparaitis, Radiologist, Chicago (USA).

 

I always wish I had been there...
I think VIC is a very good organisation doing useful work in modern society. The political and social coverage is very good... I think VIC could usefully develop an interactive platform connected directly to its published activities. When I read what speakers have said at VIC meetings I always wish I had been there to hear and react.

- Mervyn Benford, Lecturer, Oxford (UK)

 

VIC fills the gap...
VIC fills the gap between formal associations and social clubs - it provides a forum for discussion, yet in an informal enviroment. It allows networking without the constrained commitment that one feels in more organized meetings - sometimes this is the best type of networking because the start is on building friendships and not on business contact.

- Arunas Pemkus, General Director of Hill & Knowlton, Vilnius (USA)

 

Doing something to improve the situation...
What I find extremely important is that there is no obligation to attend the meetings, and when you attend it is great pleasure. And I value that we do not just gather and talk but also do something to improve the situation. Meeting theme suggestion:- Why foreigners choose Lithuania for business and living? Perhaps minutes of such meeting could be published in press so that young generation could see that it is worth staying in Lithuania.

- Agne Zinkevciute,  Director of Vilnius Consulting Group (Lithuania)

 

Rich variety...
I think the themes have been interesting, and with a rich variety.

- Bertil Abrahamsson, Director, Lithuanian Telecom (Sweden)

 

Good program...
I think VIC's program is very good!

- Peter Modeen, Consultant, The World Bank (Finland)

 

A wonderful job...
You are doing a wonderful job managing VIC and there was no need to think myself about interesting programs.

- Carl Berneheim, Gen. Director of Cebeco Timber (Sweden)

 

I like the diversity...
I like the diversity of the programs and people. No specific suggestions, other than keep up the interesting programs!

- Chris Helmkamp, Reporting Manager, RIMI (USA)

  

A secret sect...?
It has a reputation of being a secret sect amongst some Lithuanians I know. This is supported by the fact that you get to hear about it only trough others and need to be invited in. I know it's not really like that but that is the impression. Should there be some low key publicity - a listing in Vilnius in Your Pocket? A website? Just something simple? May cause a membership explosion that would be difficult to manage.

- Andy Williams, Consultant, Lithuanian Police (UK)

 

Meetings are great...
Meetings are great, delightful people/guests and relevant topics...

- Rita Sakus, Consultant/Lecturer (Canada)

 

A vibrant and active club...
Allow me to congratulate you on having built a vibrant and active club that continues to address current and relevant issues.

- Sanjay Deva, General Manager of Gothenburg Radisson SAS Park Avenue Hotel (India)

 

This is not just a business club...
This is not just a business club. We meet a lot of different people and our communication is not limited by business topics. That goes perfectly well with the spirit of Vilnius, which through ages recommended itself as a cultural, multinational center. Especially appreciated are cultural and art-related programs. I would also like to suggest some activities which would bring concrete outcome: For example: Maybe our charity programs could be ongoing, so we could follow up on what we have done, and to continue the program for a certain period of time. I also think that we sometimes forget about the conception of our club and do not try to take what is best from our members in order to improve Vilnius, and make it a safe, nice and developed European city. We have very interesting and democratic people within the club, and I wish we could avoid that the club's activity becomes limited to observation of the situation.

- Ruta Bilkstyte, Senior Tax Expert, Deloitte&Touche (Lithuania)


*************************** VIC Mission Statement ***************************

The Vilnius International Club (VIC) supports and encourages the
cultural, historic, and economic vitality of Vilnius as a capital city.
Men and women from the expatriate and Lithuanian communities,
working in diplomatic, business, and cultural spheres, fulfill VIC's
mission through fellowship, monthly meetings, and occasional
charitable programmes.

******************************************************************************************

Category : 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...
* * *


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



VilNews e-magazine is published in Vilnius, Lithuania. Editor-in-Chief: Mr. Aage Myhre. Inquires to the editorseditor@VilNews.com.
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