Friday, March 12, 2010

Quo vadis, Lithuania

In Lithuanian press of the recent days there are some interesting thoughts about the achievements of the country in the last 20 years. A lot of people look at the positive things and point out the economic prosperity, freedom of movement and thought, memberships in the international organisations. There are pessimists who point out at the bureaucracy and lost or botched opportunities - such as the pathetic deal with Williams or failure to progress with the construction of the new nuclear power plant.

I have experienced the transition of Lithuania from a Soviet Socialist Republic to the independent Lithuania. I remember the Gorbachev's perestroika, calls for more openness and more power in the regions. In a sense the Gorbachev's perestroika was hijacked in Lithuania - democratically elected Supreme Soviet of Lithuania declared that it - expressing the will of Lithuanian people - declares that Lithuania is independent from the Soviet Union. All went according to the Soviet Constitution, but of course the Soviet Union's leadership was not happy. The Western leaders, happy at the thaw in the relations when the Gorbachev came to the power, were also not very happy - they were confused, and perhaps unwilling to jeopardise their relations with the Soviet Union.

Iceland was the first country that recognised the fact of Lithuania's independence. The small great country had the internal fortitude to do what is right and not what feels comfortable.

Meanwhile, Gorbachev asked Lithuania to think it over. Other countries were not rushing it, either. Think it over, go slow; perhaps be less dependent - but not fully free. Things like that.
To make the offer more convincing, the soviets imposed an economic blockade on Lithuania - stopping supplies to the factories and stores, not delivering oil and gas, and not buying any production. There were barely any cars in the streets, there were lines at gas stations. Food was rationed - people got coupons that gave them a privilege to buy flour, sugar and things like that. See what it is like being free! Fortunately, Latvia and Estonia were spared of this - their independence was proclaimed about a year later.

For some reason, at least I or people whom I know did not feel that we need to backtrack. People dug in and kept going. As they say - 'as the going gets tough - the tough keep going'. This thing lasted for months, and the soviets perhaps started feeling uneasy about this prolonged stand-off and the international attention this was generating. Finally it erupted - on January 13, 1991 the soviets attacked the TV tower in order to stop the flow of the local news. People came in their thousands to defend the TV tower and the Parliament building. There were casualties - unarmed people killed or injured by the soviet army. Perhaps then - it is easy to say it now - the soviets have lost. I would say 90% of the country was against them, those who were on the sidelines before by now have chosen their side. It would be very hard to pretend having a democracy and keeping the military all over the place to suppress demonstrations etc.

The things that followed - the coup d'etat in Moscow (calling for harsher measures and removing Gorbachev) and final recognition of the independence was the result of the events that were set off on March 11, 1990.

Now I would like to go back to Lithuanian press. There is a couple of interesting articles that provide some food for the thought. One is by E.Lucas, and the other one is by K.Girnius. Both of them are interesting, and I feel they provide different points of view. Should Lithuania be paying the price for having a principal position with Russia and at the same time being sidelined by the 'great' European powers like Germany or France? Is it not curious that not ONE high EU official came to this very important commemoration - the 20th anniversary of the Independence of Lithuania? Is this the kind solidarity that the EU values? I just hope that they fix the mistake the next year - and come to the 20th anniversary of Latvia's and Estonia's independence.

I believe after the next 20 years the things will be much different. The EU will be much more coherent body that looks for its own, it will have a great common market, and I hope it will be able to compete in the changing world. Lithuania and Russia will be good partners, who honour each other's history and self-determination. And I hope the whole region that was known as Eastern Europe will be able to break this vicious circle of being on the clash line of warring fractions - and we will have a region famous for its tolerance and with diverse and unique traditions and customs. Customs and traditions that anybody would be proud of.

Happy 20th anniversary, the free Lithuania!

P.S. on a later date there was a very interesting interview with W.R. Mead.
Also, here is The Economist article from March 31, 1990 and E.Lucas' diary from a recent visit to March 11, 2010 celebration.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Su Kovo 11-ąja

Spaudoje labai daug gerų straipsnelių šia proga. Siūlau keletą - sakyčiau gana tipiškų:
* Prof. V. Ladsbergio kalba
* Pokalbis su E.Gentvilu
* L.Donskio pamąstymai
* L.Pečeliūnienės straipsnelis
* JAV Valstybės sekretorės Hillary Clinton sveikinimas

Su Švente visiems!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pokalbis su Rachel Margolis

Siūlau pažiūrėti ir pagalvoti ar mes viską padarėm kad praeities klaidos būtų ištaisytos:

P.S. geras A.Čekuolio straipsnelis yra čia.

P.P.S. 2012.10.10. An article in English on a related issue

Friday, March 5, 2010

Eastern European kind of funk

Here is the Lithuanian finalist for this years Eurovision song contest - a band called "Inculto". Enjoy ;-)

Here is the lyrics for the song:

You've seen it all before
We ain't got no taste we're all a bore
But you should give us chance
Cause we're just victims of circumstance
We've had it pretty tough
But that's ok, we like it rough
We'll settle the score
We survived the reds and 2 world wars

Get up and dance to our Eastern European kinda funk!

Yes Sir we are legal we are, though we are not as legal as you
No Sir we're not equal no, though we are both from the EU
We build your homes and wash your dishes,
Keep you your hands all soft and clean
But one of these days you'll realize Eastern Europe is in your genes