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Bridge It! Programme Year Started with a BANG! [Jul. 24th, 2017|12:39 pm]

[Current Location |Warsaw, Poland]
[mood |angryangry]
[music |William Steffe. Solidarność naszą bronią]

See original at www.bridgeit.eu/en/news

When young people from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Russia join together, you know something is going to happen. On 5-13 July 2017, 27 participants took part in the first seminar of Bridge It! Non-Formal Education Programme. They divided into two groups - one near to Veliky Novgorod, the other to Glubokoe. The notions reflected by the end of the seminars were simply wonderful - participants felt empowered, full of ideas and ready for action.

The two remote areas gave the perfect possibility for getting acquainted with a slightly different side of Russia, places where you usually might not end up. Moreover, getting out from the urbanised environment helped to get a broader perspective on the two topics of this year introductory seminars - “Cultural diversity: connective rather than separative?" and  "Eco-communities: following a trend or a real need?"
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"Bridge It!". 2017 Edition [Jul. 8th, 2017|08:03 pm]

[Current Location |Berlin]
[mood |anxiousanxious]
[music |Gilus Depas. Tavo]

On 5 July 2017, the 6th edition of the "Bridge It!" Programme of non-formal education for young people aged 18-28 from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the South-East of Finland, and the North-West of Russia started. 

Two introduction seminars — "Cultural Diversity: Connective rather than Separative?" and "Eco-Communities: Following a Trend or a Real Need?" — will be running until 13 July 2017.

Good luck to the participants and facilitators of both events!

Read more...Collapse )
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Andris Piebalgs at the Baltic Development Forum [Jun. 24th, 2017|09:30 pm]

[Current Location |Russian Federation]
[mood |nervousnervous]
[music |Sīpoli. Lielā vienotība]

Last week I attended the 19th Baltic Development Forum (BDF) in Berlin. I met a lot of inspiring people there as well as at the 8th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), which followed the format. Many of them were from Latvia, including Andris Piebalgs, former European Commissioner for Energy (2004-2010) and European Commissioner for Development (2010-2014) currently serving as the leader of the "Unity" Party (Vienotība). At the BDF, Mr Piebalgs was one of the panelists discussing the Political State of the Region Report prepared prior to the Forum.

Andris Piebalgs was born in 1957 in Valmiera. He holds a degree in physics from the University of Latvia. Initially, he worked as a teacher and later as a headmaster at the Secondary School No. 1 in Valmiera. Afterwards, he moved to the MInistry of Education and was quickly promoted to the minister's position (1990-1993). From that time on, his career as a politician has been blossoming. He used to be a Saeima deputy (1993-1994), a MInister of Finance (1994-1995), an Ambassador to Estonia (1995-1997) and to the European Union (1998-2003), Deputy Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2003-2004)... Before taking the office of the European Commissioner for Energy, he was apponted the Head of Sandra Kalniete's Cabinet.

In 2015, Mr Piebalgs came back to Latvia and became an Advisor to the President first. On 4 June 2016, one year prior to the self-government elections throughout the country, he was elected the leader of the "Unity" Party. He will be probably leading the party through the next Parliamentary Election on 6 October 2018 and the European Parliamentary Election in May 2019. Let us wish him good luck with this ambitious task.
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There is an "Ir" in Latvia [Jun. 3rd, 2017|05:28 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |crankycranky]
[music |Lai ir]

Whenever coming to Latvia, I always know, which journal is worth reading, - "Ir" (There Is in English). This is quite a new weekly released in 2010 and focused on social and political topics. In this short period of time, "Ir" has succeeded in attracting 7,650 subscribers and reached out to 79,000 people. It also may be proud of having received various national and international awards.

"Ir"'s founder is Pauls Raudseps, one of the co-founders of the biggest national newspaper "Diena" (Day), where he worked as the first deputy editor-in-chief, a "Diena.net" director, and finally an editor of the comments' page in 1991-2009. Journal's editor-in-chief is Nellija Ločmele, who worked as a political observer for "Neatkarīga Cīņa" (Independent Struggle, now "Neatkarīga Rīta Avīze", or Independent Morning Paper) in 1992-1993 and "Diena" in 1994-2000. Afterwards, she served as the editor-in-chief for various media and media outlets - politika.lv (2001-2006), "Diena" Regional Papers' Group (also its director, 2006-2008), and "Dienas Mediji" (Diena's Media, 2009).

In May 2017, the publisher also launched an economic journal - "Ir Nauda" (There Is Money), which appears once in two months. Both are highly recommended. 
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Upcoming Local Elections in Latvia [May. 20th, 2017|07:50 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |nostalgicnostalgic]
[music |Ночные снайперы. 31 весна]

On 3 June 2017, local elections of the city and municipal councils will be held in 9 cities and 110 municipalities of Latvia. The vote will also include the election of the deputies of the City Council of Rīga, the country's capital. The citizens from other EU member states are eligible for voting, once they have been registered in the Population Register 90 days prior to the election date.

The Central Election Commission has been well prepared for this country-wide event by creating a special website, where the voters can review the lists of candidates. Further information on the voters' activity will be available online starting from 31 May 2017. The results of the elections as well as the lists of the elected deputies will be published there, too.

The voters are welcome to come to polling stations starting from 31 May 2017, 5pm-10pm, for a voting beforehand. Two other slots for voting beforehand are on 1 June 2017 (9am-12pm) and on 2 June 2017 (10am-4pm). On the Election Date, the polling stations are open from 7am till 10pm.

Final countdown is ticking down. Steady!
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Čiurlionis [May. 6th, 2017|08:57 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |groggygroggy]
[music |Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. Miške]

Last year I finally did it - visited the National Čiurlionis Museum of Arts in Kaunas. This museum has a special mysterious atmosphere, like the personality of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis per se. Born in 1875, he counted just 35 years, when he died in 1911, but he entered the history of Lithuania and the whole world as an outstanding composer and painter.

The idea of the museum devoted to Čiuriionis emerged in the 1920s already, the first permanent collection of his works was opened to the public in 1925. The modern building at 55, V. Putvinskio Street in Kaunas resembles the very essence of Čiurlionis - with shaded halls, bright and obscure spots, and a separate room for a musical meditation.

As a teaser, I selected two masterpieces of Čiuriionis - his famous picture "Karalių pasaka" (Kings' Tale) above and his marvellous symphonic poem "Miške" (In the Forest) you can hear while taking a look at the former. Yet, it is worth enjoying his pieces of art in an authentic surrounding - be it Kaunas or Druskininkai, where the Čiurlionis Memorial Museum is situated.
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Missing Mark [Apr. 22nd, 2017|10:08 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |ditzyditzy]
[music |Rūtoj bite, rūtoj saule]


While the New National Gallery in Berlin is still closed for restoration works, I went to take a look at the Scharf-Gerestenberg Collection today. I had a good luck to still manage to see the "Surreal Objectivity" Exhibition on its second last day of operation - with some works from the New National Gallery.

Yet, there was no painting by Mark Rothko there, and I realised how I was missing him here in Berlin. By accident, I found out that his art was commemorated in his native city of Daugavpils in Latgale, Latvia. Although he left the city as a child (he was born in 1903 in then Dvinsk, as the city was called in the Russian Empire, and emigrated with his family in 1913), there is a visible connection between his works and Daugavpils.

Mark Rothko Art Centre in Daugavpils opened its doors in 2013. Since those times, it became a mecca for those, who like Rothko's masterpieces. Well, it is a good moment to go to Latvia, while the New National Gallery has still been under re-construction.

P. S. Don't be confused about the pictures above. The first one is Rothko's "Orange and Yellow" indeed, the second one is Max Ernst's "Capricorn" from the exhibition in Berlin.
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Baltic Poetry and Art(s) [Apr. 1st, 2017|11:46 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |touchedtouched]
[music |Mad Money. Mano menas]

Good start into a real spring is some beautiful pieces of Baltic poetry, this time with the word "art(s)" included, - "Kaštanas pradeda žydėt" (Chestnut Tree Is Starting to Bloom) by Henrikas Radauskas (1910-1970) from Lithuania and "Pasaule" (The World) by Rihards Rudzītis (1898-1960):from Latvia:

Kaštanas pradeda žydėt

Velniop nueina aukštas menas,
Ir nebegalima liūdėt,
Kada pavasarį kaštanas
Už lango pradeda žydėt.

Jis verčia lyti karštą lietų
Ir pūsti vėjus iš pietų,
Jis žydi taip, kad išsilietų
Kaip upės širdys iš krantų,

Kad nuo stalų nulėktų knygos,
Kad alptų tvankūs vakarai,
Kad imtų siausti tokios ligos,
Kurių nežino daktarai,

Kad viskas degtų ir putotų,
Kad paukščiai švilptų, kol užkims,
Kad naktį motinos raudotų,
Namo negrįžtant dukterims...

O medžiuos dega tylios žvakės -
Baltuos žieduos rausvi taškai, -
Ir pareini namo apakęs,
Ir plunksna rašalą taškai.

Rihards RudzītisCollapse )

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The “Different Wars” Exhibition Has to Be Continued in Lithuania [Mar. 18th, 2017|12:22 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |pensivepensive]
[music |Monika Katunskytė. Meilė vis likimais žaidžia]

The “Different Wars” Exhibition
Has to Be Continued in Lithuania

Statement by the Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
and the Working Group “Historical Memory and Education”

The Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and the Working Group “Historical Memory and Education” condemn the request by Žygimantas Pavilionis and Povilas Urbšys, MPs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, to close down the Exhibition “Different Wars: National School Textbooks on World War II” published on 16 March 2017 on the Seimas’ webpage.[1]

The “Different Wars” Exhibition is the common product of scrupulous work by representatives of independent civil society organisations and historians from six European countries – the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia. No government officials or advisors from any country were involved. The exhibition was financially supported by the European Commission and other institutions and donors.

The exhibition reveals the differences in the narration and perception of the history of WWII in modern high school textbooks. None of them is presented in the exhibition as the only one holding the ultimate truth. That is why it is absolutely incorrect to say that ‘Soviet crimes presented at the exhibition are not only not condemned but justified’, as said in the request by Žygimantas Pavilionis and Povilas Urbšys.

We are upset by the fact that the participating NGOs, some of which have to operate under difficult conditions in their countries, specifically in Russia, are subjected to ungrounded accusations in an EU member state. Furthermore, the call to close down the exhibition goes against the spirit of European values, in particular the freedom of expression. Intolerance to critical thinking, pluralism of opinions, and dissent is something one does not expect from politicians of a democratic country.

The Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and the Working Group “Historical Memory and Education” is convinced that an open dialogue about the most dramatic events in the past and a discussion on our common European history are necessary to develop critical thinking in our societies, overcome stereotypes and propaganda that allowed the tragedy of WWII to happen, learn important lessons from the past, and prevent such terrible crimes from happening again. Discussions and critical reflections on historical memory are more important than ever in the turbulent times Europe is experiencing now.

The Steering Committee and the “Different Wars” team are open for comments and encourage members of the public to visit the exhibition and form their own opinion on the items shown.

17 March 2017


Harry Hummel, Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Netherlands Helsinki Committee, The Hague, Netherlands, tel. + 31 653 22 46 72, e-mail: hhummel@nhc.nl

Yuri Dzhibladze, Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Moscow, Russia, tel. + 7 916 673 5153, e-mail: yuri.dzhibladze@gmail.com

Kristina Smolijaninovaitė, Working Group “Historical Memory and Education“, Secretariat of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin, Germany, tel. + 49 151 58 13 48 49, e-mail: kristina.smolija@eu-russia-csf.org

Nikita Lomakin, Working Group “Historical Memory and Education“, Memorial International, Moscow, Russia, tel. + 7 926 119 64 58, e-mail: lomakinu@gmail.com

[1] See http://www.lrs.lt/sip/portal.show?p_r=119&p_k=1&p_t=170489

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“Different Wars”: Famous Exhibition Comes to Lithuania [Feb. 28th, 2017|09:53 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |peacefulpeaceful]
[music |Inga Jankauskaitė, Šorena Džaniašvili, Tamara Museridze. Karas nesibaigia]

On 6 March 2017, at 6pm, the opening of the English version of the Exhibition “Different Wars: National School Textbooks on World War II” will take place at the Grey Hall of the Vilnius Town Hall (31, Didžioji St., 01128 Vilnius).

The “Different Wars” Exhibition reveals the differences in the narration and perception of the history of the Second World War in modern high school textbooks of the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. The choice of the subject was motivated by the fact that WWII remains one of the most painful and conflicting episodes of the European nations’ memories. The modern high school textbooks were chosen as they communicate the spirit of their time and express the culture they are written in.

The exhibition was successfully shown in Prague, Strasbourg, Milan, Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Perm, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, and St. Petersburg. Photos and media items from previous openings may be found at http://eu-russia-csf.org/home/projects/different-wars/exhibition-on-tour.

Welcome speeches will be held by:

  • Giedrius Sudikas, Head of Press Sector, Representation of the European Commission in Lithuania

  • Laima Nerkevičienė, Deputy Director of the Town Hall

  • Natalia Taubina, the Steering Committee member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (tbc)

We would be happy to see you at the opening of the exhibition in Vilnius and look forward to interesting reflections and discussions together with the authors of the exhibition - Nikita Lomakin, Memorial International, Moscow; Algis Bitautas, Lithuanian University of Educational Science, Vilnius; Kristina Smolijaninovaitė, Secretariat, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin. The discussion will be joined by the history textbook author Evaldas Bakonis and civic activist Irena Veisaitė. The event will be moderated by Vidmantas Valiušaitis, journalist, Director of the Adolfas Damušis Democracy Study Centre. The event will be held in Lithuanian and translated into Russian. 

The exhibition will be displayed in the Grey Hall of the Town Hall until 31 March 2017. The entrance is free of charge.
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