Books on Lithuania
Update No: 297 - (29/09/05)
Independence from Czarist rule was declared in 1918, but was to prove a troubled
and short-lived affair. The country was soon at war with Poland, which took
Vilnius. A series of authoritarian nationalist governments followed.
Vilnius was recovered with the partition of Poland in 1939. But a year later
Lithuania was invaded by and annexed to the USSR. Germany invaded in 1941 and
Lithuania's large Jewish community was virtually exterminated. The Communists
returned in 1944 and Independence declared again in 1990.
This time it has a more permanent feel about it. No more foreign invasions are
at all likely. With abundant resources of processed foods, petroleum products,
textiles, agriculture, forestry and fishing, Lithuania is becoming known as the
'Baltic tiger,' dubbed as such by the Economist last year.
GDP per capita (est 2004) is US$11,390 (£6,296), 46% of EU average. It is
growing by 7% or more per year. On the north bank of the Neris River in the
capital, Vilnius, there are new buildings going up everywhere.
It is really a case of Lithuania Recidivus.
The following is the view of David Aaronovitch in the Times of September 23rd:-
"Lithuania is a success story. Economically, at any rate.
"Politically it's another matter. I travel by bus to the second city,
Kaunas, to meet Leonidas Donskis, Dean of the Political Science and Diplomacy
School at the Vytautas Magnus University of Kaunas, a smiling, bright man and
presenter of a non-confrontational current affairs programme. He shudders when I
mention the pipeline and energy policy. "The whole country's political
life," he tells me, "has revolved around this question."
"It went something like this. A few years back there was a split between
President Adamkus and his Prime Minister, Rolandas Paksas, on the issue of
whether the Mazeikiu Nafta state oil refinery should be sold to the American
Williams corporation. The Russians also wanted the refinery, and this contest
led to Paksas standing for the presidency on a populist anti-American ticket,
backed by Russian money and PR companies. Paksas narrowly won the election and
Yukos got the refinery.
" 'The Russians,' says Donskis, 'backed Paksas.' Unfortunately for them
their man was subsequently accused of corruption, impeached and dismissed from
office. Last year Adamkus was re-elected. Donskis remains disgusted and marks a
relationship that has been visible on other parts of this journey. 'There is a
fusion of the media world, politics and business and this fusion is a big
problem. It is a shamelessly obvious feature of public life.'
" 'Lithuania,' he continues, 'escaped this time. But there is no normal
political life. The nouveau riche can simply rule our political system.'
"Every time this class fails, it reinvents itself through populism. And
though the economy is dynamic and foreign policy - the work of young technocrats
- is respected abroad, he believes that what he calls the
"degeneration" of political life will catch up with the economy
eventually and drag it down. Donskis reposes his confidence in the young and in
civil society more than in conventional politics which, he characterises as
appealing to the worries of the old. Maybe in five to ten years, he muses, the
students whose laughter we can hear coming from a nearby lecture theatre will be
able to influence politics in a less corrupt, more open, more progressive
"So, I ask him, is there any other Eastern or Central European country that
he would take as a model? 'Slovenia is a wonderful country. It combines the
Balkan/Slavonic tradition with Western political culture. I like Slovenia.'
Jansa meets Lithuanian President and Parliament Speaker
A singularly appropriate sentiment and timely expressed - for, as it so
happens Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa was on an extended tour of the
Baltic states in mid-September, with the aim of bringing relations to a new
intimacy, now that they are all co-members of the EU. He held talks with
Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus and Parliament Speaker Arturas Palauskas as
he visited the Baltic country on 12th September.
PM Jansa and the Lithuanian president discussed the current world issues,
including the political situation in Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Kosovo, the PM's
office said in a press release. They also exchanged views on the EU and its
enlargement. Adamkus was reported as saying that Slovenia plays a leading role
among the EU newcomers.
The Lithuanian parliament speaker was also interested in Slovenia as one of the
most successful EU newcomers. Palauskas and Jansa also talked about Croatia and
economic cooperation between Lithuania and Slovenia.
Later on, the Slovenian PM visited the University of Vilnius, the oldest
university in the region, established in 1576, where he met Chancellor
Benediktas Juodok and around 30 students studying Slovenian. Jansa thanked the
chancellor for including the study of the Slovenian language in the university
programme. The university signed an agreement on cooperation with the University
in Maribor on 30th September.
Ministers discuss ways to boost Lithuanian-Slovenian business ties
Lithuania and Slovenia have a lot of room to expand bilateral business ties,
especially in IT, tourism and pharmacy, Economics Minister Andrej Vizjak said
after holding talks with his Lithuanian counterpart Kestutis Dauksys in Vilnius
on 12th September.
Vizjak, who visited Lithuania with Prime Minister Jansa, and Dauksys focused
their talks on economic cooperation and EU-related issues. The pair reviewed the
EU services directive and the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy, Vizjak told
the press. "We agreed of need for the prompt adoption of this directive in
view of the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy," Vizjak said. According
to him, Dauksys was particularly interested by the exceptions Slovenia would be
seeking in the implementation of the directive, particularly in health and
The pair also reviewed efforts to attract foreign investors to their respective
countries and to help domestic companies go global.
Lithuania is Slovenia's most important trading partner in the Baltic, with trade
standing at EUR 32.2m, the bulk of that made up by Slovenian exports. Although
there are no barriers to intensifying trade, the countries are struggling to
overcome the distance between them and the relative smallness of their
The ministers also discussed interests to join forces in penetrating third
markets, especially in SE Europe, as well as the use of port of Koper for
Vizjak was accompanied on his visit to Lithuania by a delegation of business
officials, who took part in a Slovenian-Lithuanian business forum. As part of
the forum, representatives of the respective commerce chambers outlined the
economic situation in their countries.
Speaking after the forum, CCIS President Jozko Cuk said he was impressed by the
extensive global experience and self-confidence of Lithuanian business
officials. "Lithuania is a very important Baltic country, which represents
almost a half of the all the Baltic economic power, and is also a bridge to the
Russian and Scandinavian markets," he said, reported Slovene Press Agency
Thales to modernise Vilnius
French electronics company Thales has won a 2.63m Euro contract to modernise
Vilnius International Airport, Lithuania's state-owned flight management
company, Oro Navigacija, said, New Europe reported.
Under the project, outdated landing systems will be replaced to allow planes to
land in automatic mode at low visibility.
The European Union will cover about one-third of the cost of the project.
Vilnius International Airport served 14,671 flights in the first half of 2005.
Finnish Omnitele wins Lithuania deal
The Finland-based group, Omnitele, a member of the Finnet Group, clinched a
contract by Lithuanian Railways for technical supervision of telecommunications
systems restructuring on the international railway line (Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw)
and on line IX D (Kaisiadorys-Kaunas-Kaliningrad) in Lithuania, Telecom &
Mobility News reported.
Under the agreement, Omnitele will give technical supervision of the
installation of an optical fibre cable-based telecommunications system, and
telephone and subscriber lines for integrated and operation communications,