Lithuania in the News
10th June 2018
Lithuania Joins the OECD
The signing ceremony.
Photo courtesy Daèkus
At the end of May Lithuania was admitted to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the 36th member of the organisation which represents highly developed countries.
This body has been the last important international organisation for Lithuania to join, after the UN, NATO and the European Union, to confirm its status as a country ”that punches above its weight” in international affairs.
President Dalia Grybauskaitë signed the OECD accession papers at the OECD headquarters in Paris on May 30. At the accession ceremony President Grybauskiaitë was warmly congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron and the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. No other country had managed to go through the OECD application process as speedily as Lithuania has done.
According to President Grybauskaitë, “the OECD is a highly influential organization, as it is de facto secretariat for the Group of Seven powerful states and an idea forum for the G20. Therefore, the membership will provide Lithuania with more possibilities to contribute to shaping global economy”.

Further information:

Lithuania in the News
8th April 2018
Lithuania’s Diplomatic Triumph in Washington
During the US – Baltic Summit in Washington last Tuesday, 3 April 2018, the Baltic States secured important security guarantees from the United States. The Summit was organised on Lithuania’s initiative. Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitë met with US President Donald Trump before attending the Summit together with other Baltic leaders. In view of the prevailing geopolitical situation, the US – Baltic Summit generated of a great deal of media attention, despite competing major news stories.

At the US-Baltic Summit. President Grybauskaitë (centre) opposite President Trump, second on the her right –
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevièius. Photo courtesy / photographer Robertas Daèkus

Lithuania’s Summit initiative had been carefully coordinated with the other Baltic States, as well as Poland and Ukraine. In keeping with Lithuania’s increasing stature as a regional leader, Lithuania was asked, according to sources, to be the spokesperson for Ukraine’s interests.
The US President and the Presidents of Baltic States strongly reaffirmed the core principle of NATO's defence: “All for one, one for all”, enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. This joint political declaration, together with other aspects of the Summit, coming ahead of a forthcoming meeting of President Trump with Russia’s President Putin, could be seen as a pointed reference to strong American support for the Baltic States, as part of the deterrence strategy against potential aggressors.

Presidents at the Summit press conference: (L-R) Raimonds Vëjonis (Latvia), Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonia),
Dalia Grybauskaitë (Lithuania), Donald Trump (USA). Photo courtesy / photographer Robertas Daèkus

Other important outcomes of the Summit included United States’ commitment to continue stationing forces in the Baltic States and to seek a solution to air defence. As President Grybauskaitë emphasised “Lithuania heard very concrete US guarantees. It means that the bond uniting us remains strong and that the security of the Baltic countries and the United States is indivisible”.
Cybersecurity, strategic communications, nuclear safety and energy security were other issues on which firm commitments to cooperate were made. United States has committed itself to establish a joint Cybersecurity Centre with Lithuania; this in parallel with an already functioning NATO Cybersecurity Centre in Estonia – again a reflection of Lithuania’s regional leadership.
President Grybauskaitë also visited the US Congress, attended the US-Baltic Business Summit and met up with the US Chamber of Commerce. An important memorandum on the importation of American LNG to Klaipëda was signed and significant trade contacts were made. The Lithuanian port of Klaipëda is more and more valued as the northernmost ice-free port on the Baltic Sea and is becoming a port of choice for America.

Further information:

Lithuania in the News
18th March 2017
Lithuania Celebrates a Century since Independence Restoration
A huge Lithuanian flag, larger than a
basketball court, hung from the TV Tower
in Vilnius for the Centenary celebrations.
Photo courtesy
, photo Telecentras
One hundred years ago, on February 16th in 1918, Lithuania declared restoration of its independence, after a century of Russian occupation. The Centenary of this historic event this year is commemorated and celebrated with pride by all Lithuanian communities, in Lithuania and around the world. Many festive events have already taken place with many more scheduled throughout the year. The spirit with which Lithuanians are responding to the anniversary amply manifests itself in this video clip: “RestoredLithuania100 – Labas!”
“100 Years” sign in front of the Presidential Palace in Vilnius.
Photo courtesy , photo Robertas Daèkus
Lithuania’s history of statehood 1253-1795 temporarily came to an end in 1795, to be restored in 1918. In the 15th century Lithuania had been the largest state in Europe. Even after its conquest by Russia in 1795, Vilnius was still the third largest city in the then Russian empire. Vilnius University at that time not only was the oldest in North-eastern Europe, but had more students than the universities of St. Petersburg and Moscow combined. So the tradition of independence in Lithuania remained strong even under Russian rule. This led to Lithuania to be the first among the Baltic States to declare independence in 1918, to be the first to declare independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 and to be the first to be free of Soviet army in 1993, ahead even of Poland and Eastern Germany.
For the actual February 16th anniversary, Lithuania was honoured by the presence of many international guests, presidents and crowned heads. Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council, declared that the closing words of Lithuania’s national anthem – “Let unity flower” - could be suitable for an EU anthem. Of interest to Australians, Australian-born Crown Princess Margaret of Denmark was due to attend the festivities, but the unexpected death of her father-in-law prevented her from coming. Greetings from very many countries were also received – from Pope Francis, US President Donald Trump, Queen Elizabeth II, Japanese Emperor Akihito, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, NZ Prime Minster Jacinta Ardern among many others.
Lithuania’s Centenary was noted by international media. The British journal “The Economist”, introduced Lithuania’s centenary with the headline as “100 not out”, a term familiar to cricket enthusiasts. The article stated “Lithuania has a history of statehood stretching back to the Middle Ages. ..... It was the first Baltic state to assert its independence in 1918. ..... It also inspired Lithuania’s audacious declaration of independence in 1990, the first in the crumbling Soviet Union, which initially shocked its Baltic neighbours and unsettled some outsiders. ..... The long struggle has left Lithuanians with a singular sense of European purpose.”
Australian Lithuanians were honoured by a delegation from Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for their celebrations. The delegation was led by Darius Skusevièius (Vice-Minister) and included Gediminas Varvuolis (Lithuania’s Ambassador-Designate to Australia), and MFA officials Marijus Gudynas, Asta Slavinskaitë and Diana Mickevièienë. The delegation met with Australian Lithuanians and Australian government and parliament officials and business leaders.

Celebrations in Sydney. Photo courtesy “Mûsø Pastogë”

Further information:

Lithuanians in the News
14th January 2018
International Recognition for Australian Lithuanian Philosopher Prof. Vytautas Doniela
Prof. Vytautas Doniela.
The outstanding work of Prof. Vytautas Doniela, a philosopher from the University of Newcastle, has recently been acknowledged internationally. A letter to the editor to the Lithuanian weekly “Mûsø Pastogë” introduces the work of Prof. Doniela to Lithuanian readers. It is reproduced below, courtesy of “Mûsø Pastogë”.

“Letter to the Editor, Your Lithuanian readers, unless they are astronomers by profession or hobby, might not have noticed a Lithuanian name in a recent work about the nature of the cosmos. Debates about, say, the origins and composition of the universe are not new. In fact they have become increasingly complex through the growing power of optical instruments on the one hand, and of mathematics and logic on the other. More precisely, when optical investigations tend to run into dead ends or self-contradictions or apparent limits, it is high level mathematics and logic that may offer new approaches and possibly new break-throughs.
Vytautas at Heidelberg.
The work on the foundations of logic by a Lithuanian, Prof. Vytautas Doniela, formerly of the University of Newcastle, is referred to in the latest of several volumes by Dr. David Seargent (in the series “Astronomers’ Universe”, Springer Internat. Publishers). In a chapter of his volume “Astronomical Theories of the Solar System and Beyond” Dr. Seargent compares and discusses the views on logic of Prof. Doniela and of Prof. Max Tegmark (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
With a soft spot for mathematics and especially for some of its strange problems, Prof. Doniela had naturally gravitated to philosophy and logic, and his early Ph.D. thesis at the German university of Freiburg was written on the relation of logic to ontology. As Prof. Doniela in his advanced lectures and papers at internat. conferences used to go into the logical problems arising re continuum, change, infinity and the like, it is not surprising that Dr. Seargent says that Prof. Doniela’s views “held a great fascination for [him]”, p.232.
It is interesting that Dr. Seargent’s career followed a somewhat similar path. After starting off as a young ardent astronomer (while a uni student he had discovered an unlisted cosmic body which now bears his name), his Ph.D. thesis was much more philosophical/logical, “Plurality and Continuity”. Moreover, when his thesis was published in book form it was dedicated to “Bill” – and Bill is short for Prof. Vytautas Doniela in the context of the friendly and productive company of lecturer and his senior and postgraduate students. And so, Professor Vytautas (Bill) Doniela, a Lithuanian, who probably does not care for the alleged beauty of heavenly bodies is a logician relevant to problems about the cosmos.

A mutual colleague, ex-Newcastle”

For further information:
Please refer to an interview with Prof. Doniela on this website - Community/ People/ Vytautas Doniela

Lithuania in the News
7th January 2017
The 2017 Vilnius Christmas Festivities Astound the World
The Vilnius Christmas Tree in the Cathedral Square.
Photo courtesy
Some cities compete with each other for the best New Year fireworks, while others in the spirit of Christmas compete for the best Christmas tree. For Christmas 2017 Vilnius again amazed the world with a stunning Christmas tree. With a height of 27 meters and an amazing 70 thousand light bulbs illuminating it, it covers a surface area of more than 2500 sq. m. at its base. The Christmas tree makes an impressive sight situated in the Vilnius Cathedral Square, in front of the Cathedral and the Cathedral Bell Tower.
Internationally the Vilnius Christmas tree has received extensive media coverage in print, internet, radio & TV, and social media - described variously as the most beautiful in Europe, inimitable etc. “Now that really is a Christmas tree”, according to the British website The popular German magazine “Bild” also points out that the Vilnius Christmas tree is set off by the city of Vilnius, strikingly beautiful itself. With more than 50 churches in Vilnius, it compares Vilnius to Rome. The designer of the Christmas tree was Dominykas Koncevièius.
On the other extreme end of size magnitude, that at the level of nanotechnology, Vilnius again astounds. Vilnius scientists have made a very small three-dimensional exact copy of the traditional Nativity Scene in the Cathedral Square, on scale 10,000 times smaller, making it the smallest in the world and smaller than a human cell, visible only through a microscope.
The microscopic scale Vilnius Nativity Scene.
Photo courtesy
Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Ðimaðius said: “This is truly a unique initiative, which playfully brings a message to the world about Vilnius’ creative potential and speaks to the talent of our scientists and their ability to understand and implement modern technologies”. Lithuania has for a long time been a global leader in lasers and has again shown its mastery of high technology processes: those of 3D scanning, 3D modelling and 3D laser nanoprinting. Religious art has always employed the best technologies available at the time. In this case nanotechnology has raised Christmas art to a unique new level.
It took three months to execute this project. It involved a team from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and the University’s “LinkMenø Factory” Innovation Centre, together with the Vilnius University Laser Research Centre and the industrial companies “Femtika” and “Idea 3D.” The project was supported by the Vilnius Archdiocese, “Go Vilnius” and “Invest Lithuania”.
In total, five copies of the nano-Nativity Scene were made. One copy was presented to Pope Francis by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitë as a gift from Lithuanian people, who eagerly await his visit to Lithuania in 2018. Other copies will remain with the Lithuanian Presidential Palace, the Vilnius Archdiocese, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and Vilnius Municipality.
In passing it is also interesting to note that the Archbishop of Vilnius, Gintaras Gruðas, is no stranger to high technology. Earlier in his life he had worked as a computer scientist with IBM.

Further information:

In Memoriam
17th December 2017
Gabrielius Þemkalnis - Landsbergis 1929.01.31 – 2017.12.10
An Australian Lithuanian Who Was a Leader in the Lithuanian Community Worldwide
Australian Lithuanians and the whole Lithuanian world community have been saddened by recent death in Melbourne of Gabrielius Þemkalnis – Landsbergis, an eminent Australian Lithuanian and a distinguished member of the Lithuanian community worldwide. The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitë, has expressed her condolences on his passing.
Gabrielius Þemkalnis has served in many posts, including as President of the World Lithuanian Community (WLC), for many years as of the representative of WLC in Lithuania and more recently in 2013-2014 as President of the Federal Executive of the Lithuanian Community in Australia. He has been involved with Australia’s SBS Lithuanian radio program, both as coordinator and as a presenter with eagerly awaited interesting reports from Lithuania. In 1998 he was awarded Lithuania’s Commander Cross of the Order of Gediminas for his efforts in unifying world Lithuanians and in 2009 Lithuania’s Millennium Star for his many years of service to Lithuania.
His brother Vytautas Landsbergis was Lithuania’s de-facto President in the years immediately after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1990. One of his grandfathers was the distinguished linguist Jonas Jablonskis, father of the standardised modern Lithuanian language.

Gabrielius, we all remember your wonderful and uplifting words. Rest in peace!

Further information:

Lithuania in the News
24th September 2017
Lithuania’s Voice Prominent at UN General Assembly
President Grybauskaitë & UN Secretary-General Guterres.
Photo courtesy Daèkus
This week on September 18-19 Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitë attended the UN General Assembly in New York, where she met with world leaders and addressed the General Assembly on September 19.
She met António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, on September 18 and invited him to attend the Centenary celebrations for Lithuania’s Independence Restoration in 2018. On the Secretary-General’s invitation, President Grybauskaitë attended a working lunch on September 19. The world leaders she met included President Donald Trump of the United States, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, President Racep Tayyip Erdo?an of Turkey, all currently faced with and trying to solve grave world crises.
During her annual statement to the UN General Assembly and in her talks with world leaders President Grybauskaitë drew attention to Russia’s aggressive actions and in particular to threats posed by the Russian current military exercise “Zapad 2017”. President Grybauskaitë thanked the US President for his firm stance to guarantee Lithuania’s security and to implement NATO’s deterrence measures.
Lithuania signed the declaration on reforming the United Nations, drafted on the initiative of US President Donald Trump. The declaration was supported by all EU and NATO members and over 120 UN members and it commits the signatories to support the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in reforming the UN, to make it effective and transparent. Further information:

Lithuanians in the News
16th July 2017
Lithuanian Heritage Rûta Ðepetys Wins Britain’s Most Prestigious Literary Prize
Rûta Ðepetys. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Lithuanian American writer Rûta Ðepetys 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.
Rûta Ðepetys 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. Ðepetys’ “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.

Further information: