Books on Lithuania
Update No: 290 - (25/02/05)
To attend or not to attend; that is the question
History weighs down heavily on the Baltic states as in few other places in
Europe - excepting the Balkans of course! No Lithuanian has forgotten the rape
of their country by the Soviet Union in 1940 and the long years of police state
A report that Russia would unveil a new statue to Joseph Stalin on May 9th all
but made President Valdas Adamkus make up his mind not to participate in the
Victory Day celebrations on that day, although Moscow city officials moved
quickly to deny the information.
Oleg Tolkachov, a member of Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of
Parliament, told the Echo Moskvy radio station that Moscow would erect a statue
to Stalin, whom many Russians credit for winning World War II, at the Poklonnaya
Gora memorial complex. But Mikhail Solomentsev, a Moscow city spokesman, denied
the statement, saying the city intended to erect a statue depicting four typical
soldiers of the anti-Hitler coalition.
Despite assurances from Moscow officials, there was a report that a monument to
Stalin would appear in the Belgorod region, site of the Kursk tank battle - the
largest armour confrontation in warfare - and another complex of sculptures,
including one depicting Stalin, in Crimea. Both new monuments will reportedly be
unveiled in May.
Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia Rimantas Sidlauskas felt obliged to inquire at
Russia's Foreign Ministry if the information could be confirmed. Adamkus has yet
to make up his mind about whether to attend the WWII ceremonies, but Lithuanian
politicians categorically opposed his participation should the unveiling of a
Stalin statue be part of the events.
Adamkus' foreign affairs adviser, Edminas Bagdonas, admitted that any such
monument would seriously affect the president's final decision.
Lithuania indignant over not being invited to Davos
Whether Adamkus attends the celebration in Moscow is one delicate affair of
diplomacy. But the fact that no Lithuanian leaders were invited to the annual
meeting of the World Economic Forum, which opened in Davos, Switzerland, on
January 26th, is regarded as deeply offensive in Vilnius.
Adamkus, who was vacationing in Mexico at the time at a health resort, did not
receive an invitation to Davos. But nor did Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas,
recently re-appointed to the job and the stayer among Lithuanian politicians.
Members of the Lithuanian government believe that "Vilnius is now taking
the consequences of the impeachment, as a result of which President Rolandas
Paksas was removed from his post," said Nemira Pumprickaite, press attache
of the Lithuanian prime minister.
The architects of the Lithuanian foreign policy from the Seimas (parliament) of
Lithuania believe that the organisers of the World Economic Forum made a
Vaclovas Stankevicius, head of the Seimas commission for NATO affairs, described
the situation as "an insult to the Lithuanian state." He reminded his
press conference audience of the fact that Lithuania had been invited to Davos
even in those days when it had not been a member of the European Union and NATO.
The Lithuanian Dubcek-cum-Gorbachev
Actually, the man that matters in Vilnius is not Adamkus at all, but a very
different figure from a totally different world, Brazauskas.
Both are now old men, Adamkus being a septuagenarian and Brazauskas being almost
that at 68. But the ABC of the matter, if A stands for Adamkus and B for
Brazauskas, is C - what country you were living in for all those years. Adamkus
was a US resident and citizen for half a century before coming back to preside
over his original homeland. Brazauskas has remained a Lithuanian resident all
his life, even though that meant being a Soviet, not Lithuanian, citizen for
half a century.
What is this all about?
The political landscape in Lithuania is strewn with the corpses of those who
have underestimated Algirdas Brazauskas. He has been communist president and
prime minister and then ex-communist president and now prime minister again.
Yet more bodies litter the ground after the ex-president and one-time communist
recently manoeuvred himself into none other than the prime minister's chair. As
a former ranking communist, the 68-year-old certainly doesn't seem to have the
credentials to lead a nation that is as devoutly anti-communist as it is
devoutly Catholic. But he has proven consistently throughout his career that he
has uncanny political instincts-a remarkable ability to quickly determine which
way the winds are blowing, and to adapt accordingly.
In 1989, he was the Dubcek of the Baltic, leading a Baltic Spring, far more
likely to outlast the short-lived Prague Spring of his Czech predecessor. He led
the Lithuanian Communist Party when it formally cut ties with Moscow, a bold
move at the time that appeared to anticipate the very collapse of the Soviet
Union. While Brazauskas started positioning himself early for the inevitable
break-up, it took most other Soviet-era leaders-not least of all Mikhail
Gorbachev-years to grasp what was happening then. (Some are still trying.)
The window of opportunity opened for Brazauskas again when the centrist
government of Rolandas Paksas suddenly collapsed in July of 2001 after the
centre-left New Union, citing differences over economic policy, withdrew its
support and formed an alliance with Brazauskas's Social Democrats. In a speech
following his approval by parliament, Prime Minister Brazauskas promised to
continue the country's pro-EU, pro-NATO course while also doing more to help the
poor. "We will seek to channel Lithuania's progress and growth towards a
socially oriented market," he said.
In contrast to typically weak-kneed ex-communists and in spite of his track
record as an opportunist, the burly, white-haired Brazauskas has at times shown
surprising political backbone. Over the grumbling of some of his countrymen, for
instance, he travelled to Israel when he was Lithuanian president to apologize
on Lithuania's behalf for the role some of his countrymen played in murdering
Jews during the Nazi occupation. When one Holocaust survivor stopped Brazauskas
on an Israeli street explaining that his family was massacred by Lithuanian
collaborators, he leaned over, kissed the man, and asked him for forgiveness.
Brazauskas was president as a member of the Democratic Labour Party, made up of
reform-minded ex-communists, until 1998. Afterwards, he spent much of his time
on hunting trips and many believed he'd stay in the political background;
convinced of that themselves, local journalists dubbed him "Lithuanian
Pensioner No. 1." Before elections last year, though, he stormed back,
helping the Social Democrats win more legislative seats than any other party. He
expressed anger when his party was locked out of power by the centrist Liberal
Union-New Union coalition.
Many average Lithuanians see Brazauskas as affable and down-to-earth. But some
businessmen worry that he'll raise taxes and delay what they say is a badly
needed war on bureaucracy. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus is thought to
prefer centre-right parties; but reluctantly nominated Brazauskas when it became
clear he was the only candidate capable of winning parliamentary approval. But
Adamkus said he would be watching and wouldn't hesitate to criticize the new
Continuity in foreign and domestic policy
Brazauskas intends to maintain the continuity of the country's foreign
policy, he said after his candidacy for the post of head of government had been
submitted by President Adamkus. According to Brazauskas, the government's main
aims would remain the country's membership of NATO and the European Union and
friendly relations with neighbours.
As for domestic policy, Brazauskas noted, it should be more socially-oriented.
In a socially-oriented free market the initiative and competition should be
agreed with social justice. For a country which has unemployed and poverty,
social justice is especially important, the premier believes. According to
preliminary data, Brazauskas has the support of more than 80 members in a
Lithuania oil production falls 21% in 2004
Lithuania reduced oil production by 21% to 303,600 tonnes in 2004 compared to
the previous year, Jurgita Miliukiene, a specialist with the country's
geological service said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
The drop is due to limited oil reserves in the country, depleted existing fields
and because new fields are not being explored or developed, she said. Lithuania
produced 384,000 tonnes of oil in 2003, the service said.
The Lithuanian-Danish Minijos nafta and Geonata, which is under the management
of Polish investors, are producing oil in Lithuania, along with Genciu nafta and
Manifoldas. Lithuania has onshore oil reserves of some 40m tonnes and offshore
reserves of 20-23m tonnes.
Klaipedos Nafta oil product loading falls 1% in 2004
Lithuania's Klaipedos Nafta oil terminal loaded 6.527m tonnes of petroleum
products last year, down 1.1% from 6.6m tonnes in 2003, Interfax News Agency
Klaipedos Nafta Director General Jurgis Ausra told BNS that earnings totalled
118m litas and pre-tax profit totalled 29.3m litas. Klaipedos Nafta planned to
close 2004 with net profit of 11m litas. Earnings in 2003 totalled 115.929m
litas and net profit totalled 22.529m litas. The company paid 9.012m litas in
dividends for the year. Ausra said the company plans to use 11m litas for
dividend payments for 2004, including 8-9m litas in dividends to the state.