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 “Mūsų Pastogė” introduces the work of Prof. Doniela to Lithuanian readers. It is reproduced below, courtesy of “Mūsų Pastogė”.

“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 Koncevičius.
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 Šimašius 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 “LinkMenų 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 Grybauskaitė 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 Grušas, 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 Žemkalnis - 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 Žemkalnis – Landsbergis, an eminent Australian Lithuanian and a distinguished member of the Lithuanian community worldwide. The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, has expressed her condolences on his passing.
Gabrielius Žemkalnis 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 Grybauskaitė & UN Secretary-General Guterres.
Photo courtesy Dačkus
This week on September 18-19 Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė 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 Grybauskaitė 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 Grybauskaitė drew attention to Russia’s aggressive actions and in particular to threats posed by the Russian current military exercise “Zapad 2017”. President Grybauskaitė 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 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.

Further information:

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