Lithuanians in the News
16th July 2017
Lithuanian Heritage Rūta Šepetys Wins Britain’s Most Prestigious Literary Prize
Rūta Šepetys. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Lithuanian American writer Rūta Šepetys was last month on June 19 awarded the Carnegie medal, Britain’s oldest and most prestigious prize for literature. The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book in English for children and young adults. Many noted English writers have been recipients of this prize in the past.
Rūta Šepetys won her award for her latest book, “Salt to the Sea”, published last year. Its setting is the tragic events in East Prussia in 1945 near the end of World War II, when the German cruise ship “Wilhem Gustloff” was torpedoed by a Russian submarine in the Baltic Sea. The ship was crammed with more than 10,000 people, mostly civilian refugees. When the ship sank, more than 9,000 people died. About 5,000 of them were children. Though regrettably little known generally, it still ranks as the greatest single maritime disaster to date. Tragically, it is but one of the many shocking atrocities in East Prussia at that time, about which most people know nothing. Šepetys’ “Salt to the Sea” brings to the world’s attention this little-known piece of wartime history, but which most certainly deserves to be much more widely known.
The story in the “Salt to the Sea” also has a personal relevance for the author. She was born in America, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. In fact her father’s cousin was meant to sail on the “Wilhem Gustloff”, but luckily was prevented from boarding the ship.
The author is already well known for an earlier book, “Between Shades of Gray”, which has now been translated into thirty languages, has been published in over fifty countries and a film based on the book is currently being produced.

Further information:

Lithuania in the News
2nd July 2017
Spectacular Rise in Lithuania’s Standing in the European Innovation Scoreboard
Innovation performance of EU Member States. Photo courtesy
As announced by the European Commission, the latest results in European Innovation Scoreboard show that Lithuania’s innovation standing has risen spectacularly between 2010 and 2016.
It now holds the 16th position in the EU, just short by 2 positions from the EU median and one position behind neighbour Estonia, which is in 15th position. Lithuania is now well ahead of neighbours Poland (25th) and Latvia (24th) and most of the recent EU members, as well as older EU members Spain, Italy and Greece. The top innovator in the EU remains Sweden.
The chart, illustrating the performance of the 28 EU countries according to the European Innovation Scoreboard, shows that Lithuania (LT) had the largest growth (21%) in the innovation score between 2010 and 2016. In the chart the coloured bars represent performance of EU countries with respect to the EU average in 2010 (set at 100), while the grey bars represent their performance in 2010. The horizontal bars show their performance in 2015.

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Lithuania in the News
25th June 2017
Major Runway Reconstruction at Vilnius Airport
Vilnius International Airport. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
For over a month from 4 July till 17 August 2017 Vilnius airport will close, to allow a major reconstruction of the Vilnius airport runway. During this time 14 of the 16 airlines normally operating from Vilnius airport will divert their flights to Kaunas.
The works to be carried out will include replacing the old runway pavement and strengthening its foundation. Also there will be work on new drainage and lighting systems. The works are expected to cost €25 million.

Further information:

Lithuanians in the News
8th January 2017
Australian Lithuanian Community Federal Council Makes Important Decisions
The Australian Lithuanian Community (ALC) Federal Council met for its biennial meeting at the Melbourne Lithuanian House in Melbourne, 29-31 December, 2016. It was part of the 29th Australian Lithuanian Days (Australijos Lietuvių Dienos - ALD) Festival, a biennial event this year admirably hosted by ALC Melbourne. During the ALD the Australian Lithuanian Community comes together to debate the community’s affairs and to celebrate their Australian Lithuanian heritage in a festival of cultural and sports activities.

The Australian Lithuanian Community Federal Council

The ALD 2016 was honoured with the attendance of Dalia Henke, president of the Lithuanian World Community (LWC) Council (Pasaulio Lietuvių Bendruomenės (PLB) Valdyba). She attended the Federal Council meeting and made a number of presentations during the ALD. Another distinguished visitor was the director of Lithuania’s National Culture Centre, Saulius Liausa, who also spoke at a number of functions about the forthcoming celebrations in 2018 relating to the 100 year anniversary of the declaration of Lithuania’s independence in 1918.
The ALC Federal Council is the supreme ALC decision making body. A major and very important task during this meeting was to consider and adopt a new Constitution (Statutas), which will allow the ALC to be incorporated. Wide community consultations had taken place before the presentation of the proposed new Constitution to the Federal Council and in the end it was adopted unanimously. To produce this document a tremendous amount of work was required to be done by the outgoing Federal Executive, with outstanding work by Antanas Čibiras, whose legal
Outgoing ALC Federal Executive with LWC president Dalia Henke.
(L-R) Ramutis Zakarevičius, Eglė Garrick, Dalia Henke, Monika Čyplienė,
Antanas Čibiras
expertise was indispensible. The Federal Executive members for 2015-2016 were Ramutis Zakarevičius (president), Eglė Garrick (vice-president), Monika Čyplienė (secretary), Laurie Cox (treasurer) with Antanas Čibiras and Kęstutis Protas as members.
The ALC Federal Council voted for the 2017–2018 ALC Federal Executive to reside in Melbourne. Elected to the new Federal Executive were Dennis Gaylard, Eugenijus Klimas, Gaila Muceniekaitė, Zita Prašmutaitė and Andrius Vaitiekūnas, together with Andy Mašanauskas ex-officio (as president of the Australian Lithuanian Youth Association). The elected members included two outgoing Federal Executive members, who were re-elected to help with continuity and strategic planning. They were Ramutis Zakarevičius and Antanas Čibiras, whose legal know-how will again be required to implement the new Constitution.
The Federal Council for 2017-2018 has Romas Cibas as president, with Henrikas Antanaitis and Irena Stumbras as vice-presidents. Elected to the Federal Audit Committee were Algis Šimkus and Bronė Staugaitienė, while Rasa Mauragienė, Eglė Garrick and Irena Stumbras were elected to the Disputes Resolution Committee. Secretaries for Federal Council meeting werre Danutė Baltutienė, Aurelia Sadauskienė and Ieva Arienė.
The delegates elected to the next LWC Congress (PLB Seimas) were Girius Anatanaitis, Monika Čyplienė, Rasa Mauragienė, Irena Stumbras and Algis Milvydas. Eglė Garrick will continue to be a delegate to the LWC Congress as a current member of the LWC Council. Henrikas Antanaitis will continue as Australia’s representative on the LR Seimas and PLB Commission, with Eglė Garrick as his deputy.

Lithuanians in the Community
11th December 2016
Lithuanian Community Elections in Sydney
In Sydney on November 20, 2016, two elections were held for Australian Lithuanian community organisations, both elections taking place at the Sydney Lithuanian Club in Bankstown.
On that day the Lithuanian Community Publishing Society, which publishes the weekly “Mūsų Pastogė”, held its Annual General Meeting. Re-elected as directors were: Romas Cibas (President), Jurgita Bieri (Vicepresident), Alis Migus (Secretary) and Petras Vegys (Treasurer).

The re-elected Lithuanian Community Publishing Society directors - (L-R) Alis Migus, Romas Cibas, Jurgita Bieri, Petras Vegys.

Later that same day the Australian Lithuanian Community of Sydney held its Annual General Meeting. Elected to the new Committee were: Monika Čyplys (President), Aida Abromas (Vicepresident), Jurgita Bieri (Secretary), Audrius Čyplys (Treasurer), Raimonda Kniūkštė and Alfonsas Stonys. Onto the Auditor’s Committee re-elected were Laurie Cox and Kastytis Stašionis.

The new Sydney Australian Lithuanian Community Committee, from left in second row - Aida Abromas, Raimonda Kniūkštė, Monika Čyplys, Audrius Čyplys, Alfonsas Stonis, Jurgita Bieri (absent). In first row from left - former Committee members Kristina Dičiūnienė, Jadvyga Burokienė and chairman of the meeting Romas Cibas.
Photo courtesy “Mūsų Pastogė”

Three weeks later at its Annual General Meeting on December 11, 2016, Sydney Lithuanian Club members elected a new Board of Directors: Romas Cibas (President), Jonas Penkaitis (Secretary), Monika Čirbienė (Treasurer), Maritsa Cibas, Jurgita Černiauskaitė, Emilis Lenkauskas.

The newly elected Sydney Lithuanian Club directors - (L-R) Monika Čirbienė, Romas Cibas, Jurgita Černiauskaitė, Jonas Penkaitis. Absent - Maritsa Cibas, Emilis Lenkauskas.

Further information: “Mūsų Pastogė” 2016.12.07 No. 46

Lithuanians in the News
13th November 2016
Latest Poetry by Lidija Šimkutė
The noted Australian Lithuanian poet Lidija Šimkutė, who often publishes in both Lithuanian and English, has seen two of her poetry books published just recently.
Her latest bilingual book of poetry - "Baltos vaivorykštės - White rainbows" has just been published by Lithuanian Writers Union in Vilnius, Lithuania. In Jan Owen’s foreword to "White Rainbows", her poetry is described as "highly original. There’s a cool reality appraisal, a certain distance, yet an intimate tone. The poetry is poised and assured, yet vulnerable. The unsaid and the unsayable are present within and around the poems, white space on the page equating to silence and the passing of time."
Also Lidija’s earlier bilingual poetry collection "Kažkas pasakyta - Something is said", originally published by the Lithuanian Writers Union Publishers in 2013, has now been translated into Japanse by Kōichi Yakushigawa and published in Japan. (Publisher - CHIKURINKAN, Osaka, Japan, 2016). A review of the Japanese translation stated: "These poems touch the heart and tenderly bruise the soul. They don't require a detailed explanation and nor are they difficult to understand. While the poems themselves are not complex in nature, their meaning and emotion are clearly felt."

Congratulatiions, Lidija!

For more information please see Šimkutė's pages on this website:
Culture/ Literature/ Lidija Šimkutė

Lithuania in the News
16th October 2016
A Change of Government Predicted After the 2016 Lithuanian Parliamentary Elections
Gabrielius Landsbergis with a greetings message as TS-LKP President
on the occasion of Lithuania’s Independence Day , February 16, 2016.
Photo courtesy
The first round of the 2016 Lithuanian parliamentary elections took place last Sunday, October 9, with the second round to follow two weeks later, on October 23. The first round produced an upset for the current coalition government, led by the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (“Lietuvos Socialdemokratų Partija” – LSDP). The largest number of seats were won by the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats (“Tėvynės Sąjunga - Lietuvos Krikščionys Demokratai” – TS-LKD), with the Lithuanian Peasants and Greens Party (“Lietuvos Valstiečių ir Žaliųjų Sąjunga” - LVŽS) close behind.
In Lithuanian Parliament (“Seimas”) there are 141 seats to be filled. Slightly more than half of the seats (71 seats) are elected in single-seat constituencies elected by majority vote. For the other 70 seats there is a nationwide constituency, in which seats are allocated on a proportional basis.
In only a few of the single-member seats a majority was achieved by any candidate. The remainder of these seats will be decided in the second round, when the candidates with the largest number of votes in the first round will compete against each other. On the other hand, in the nationwide constituency TS-LKD won largest number of seats (20) and LVŽS won 19. With the TS-LKD also doing well in the single seat constituencies, it is on track to be the leading party in any coalition government to be formed.
The leader of TS-LDK is Gabrielius Landsbergis, who also won the largest number of votes by any candidate, is on track to become next Prime Minister. Aged 34 years, he would then become the youngest Prime Minister in the EU. He is currently an active member the EU Parliament. His grandfather, Vytautas Landsbergis, was the de-facto first President of Lithuania after Lithuania re-established its independence in 1990. He is also the grand-nephew of Gabrielius Žemkalnis, an Australian Lithuanian from Melbourne, who in 2013-2014 was the President of the Federal Executive of Australian Lithuanian Community.

Further information:,_2016

Lithuania in the News
24th July 2016
Lithuania Welcomes Important NATO Security Decisions
At the NATO Summit. Front row (L-R): President Dalia Grybauskaitė, NATO Summit
host Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,
US President Barrack Obama. Photo courtesy, by Robertas Dačkus.
“We can call this day historic for the security of Lithuania” declared Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė after the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, July 8-9 2016. This historic day came after intense lobbying over recent years by Lithuania for NATO to take the threat from Russia seriously.
The NATO summit concluded that Russia is the main threat to NATO members on the eastern Baltic seaboard and in the Black Sea region and took concrete steps to counter this threat. Among the measures agreed to was the permanent deployment battalion-size NATO troops in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. This was one, among a whole range of concrete decisions, that NATO took in response to Russia’s aggressive actions.
No wonder Lithuania’s leaders were pleased. President Grybauskaitė continued:
“From today, our people can really feel calmer and more secure as a whole arsenal of specific military measures to deter threats and ensure peace has been approved. We will be able to use full allied assistance and reinforcements if necessary. For the first time since we joined NATO we have guaranteed sophisticated, long-term military capabilities”.

Further information:

Lithuania in the News
17th July 2016
President Dalia Grybauskaitė Meets Lithuanian World Community Council
President Dalia Grybauskaitė meeting Lithuanian World Community Council.
Photo courtesy, by Robertas Dačkus.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė last Wednesday, 13 July 2016, met the Lithuanian World Community (LWC) Council (Pasaulio Lieuvių Bendruomenės (PLB) Valdybą) at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius. This was ahead of the meeting of the presidents of the various Lithuanian communities in the world on July 14-17, 2016, in Ukmergė. Australia was represented by the Vice-president of the Federal Executive of the Australian Lithuanian Community, Eglė Garrick. She heads the LWC Council Finances & Fund Raising Commission. In the photograph she is third from left, front row.
During her meeting with LWC President Grybauskaitė emphasised that Lithuanian communities around the world have a strong role not only in maintaining a connection to Lithuania, but also in helping solve distressing social problems. She called on all Lithuanians to take part in the campaign “For a safe Lithuania”, to help deal with the problems of violence, bullying, suicides and drug dependencies.
The President also discussed ways of strengthening and safeguarding Lithuanian heritage and how the active participation of the Lithuanians in the world can help present Lithuania’s position on important political questions and counteract hostile propaganda against Lithuania and its history.

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