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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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Šiauliai - A Financial Centre of Lithuania [Feb. 12th, 2017|05:25 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |highhigh]
[music |Šiaulių banko daina ]

In 1992, the nowadays biggest local bank in Lithuania - apart from the Bank of Lithuania per se - was founded in Šiauliai. Originally, the Šiaulių bankas (Bank of Šiauliai) was focusing on small and middle-size enterprises. Nevertheless, after the Ūkio bankas had got bankrupt in 2013, the bank became active also in the retail sector.

Šiaulių bankas counts 719, or 861 employees for the entire group (as of 2015). Its major shareholder is the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with 18.24%. Its Chief Executive Officer is Vytautas Sinius, Chair of the Board is Algirdas Butkus.

Šiaulių bankas is for sure another good reason for Samogitia to be proud of.
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Latvia's Citadel [Jan. 28th, 2017|07:42 pm]

[Current Location |Russian Federation]
[mood |hipster]
[music |Līksamais terors. Naudas mums nebūs]

In 2008, I was writing about the extension of the world finanical crisis in the Baltics. That was exactly the time, when the mighty Parex Bank fell in this struggle.

Now we can be sure that the plan of saving the largest independent Latvian bank was successful. Its successor - the Citadele Bank founded in 2010 - has become one of the most popular banks with a broad net of branches throughout the country and a part of the diversified Citadele Group. According to the latest data as of 30 June 2016, Citadele with its Board Chair Guntis Beļavskis achieved the operating income of 70.6 million euros. The shares of Citadele are held by Ripplewood and co-investors as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Let's wish Citadele further success and a much longer life than that of its predecessor.
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Karosta - A Place of Ghosts from the Past and Marketing Tricks [Jan. 11th, 2017|11:42 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |tiredtired]
[music |Raimonds Pauls. Spoku dziesma]

While spotting on the net Liepāja, the 3rd largest city in Latvia, I found a special neighbourhood in the city called Karosta, or "Military Port" in English. Karosta was founded under Tsar Alexander III in the 1890s, when Courland was still a part of the Russian Empire, and has been used as a military base since that time - by Russians, Latvians, Soviets, and Latvians again.

Nowadays, the most remarkable place there is the Karosta Prison erected in the beginning of the 20th century. Originally, the building was supposed to be used by a hospital but actually it never was and served as a military prison instead. A couple of years ago, a unique museum was opened there. Since then, the Karosta Prison has become a great attraction for tourists from all over the world - by not only offering excursions of different kinds but also a spy game, enigmatic rooms, tours to the adjacent Northern Fort and even an opportunity to spend a night in a real cell or to participate in a strict regime show. They say the Karosta Prison is wildly populated by ghosts and other extraordinary creatures.

Even if I don't support the idea of making enterntainment of such a sad place, I should admit that the museum staff is good at marketing tricks and succeeded in returning interested people to such remote areas as Liepāja and Courland.
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Lithuanian at the University of Leiden [Dec. 25th, 2016|08:08 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |giddygiddy]
[music |Wim Zonneveld. Aan de Amsterdaamse grachten]

When I studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, I went to a lecture on Baltic languages by a professor from the University of Leiden (Netherlands). In 2015, I had an opportunity to visit Leiden and to enjoy a unique atmosphere of this town with old research traditions (the university was founded here in 1575).

Although there are no full-course Baltic studies available in Leiden, many lecturers are capable of at least Lithuanian etimology and teach this to their students. So, Dr Tijmen Pronk is offering a seminar of Lithuanian for bachelors in linguistics in the winter semester 2016/2017 and - along with Dr Rick Derksen - organised a Symposium on Lithuanian in February 2016.

Certainly, Leiden is not the main destination in the Baltic world but a place worth being visited for sure.
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“Bridge It!”: Ready for the Next Five Years [Dec. 11th, 2016|02:51 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |artistic]
[music |Mártiņš Grunte. Kā tevi sauc?]

On 30 November - 4 December 2016, the evaluation seminar - the final stage of the 5th year of the “Bridge It!” Programme - took place in Rīga, Latvia. This non-formal education Programme was initiated in 2012 and is directed at involvement of youth from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and the North-West of Russia in the development of the Baltic Sea region, finding solutions for current social problems, and establishment of good neighbouring ties between the targeted countries.

The main goals of the seminar for the participants were to discuss experiences gained from the 6-month Programme, to submit narrative and financial reports, and to thoroughly evaluate the social activities together with their mentors. This year’s projects dealt with such topics as natural products, waste separation, women’s objectification, raise of attractiveness of depressed areas, integration of people with disabilities, sexual harassment, cinema art for understanding between nations, and others.

The highlight of the seminar was the Public Event “THINK & ACT” at the “Kaņepes” Cultural Centre – prepared by “Bridge It!” participants and alumni, - admits Laura Leimane, one of Programme Coordinators. - The guests were welcome to attend not only the Programme presentation but also workshops divided in three thematic areas – critical thinking, green thinking, and non-formal thinking – as well as to celebrate our fifth anniversary together. Now we can look with optimism into the next five Programme years.

Throughout the whole afternoon, a Living Library was open, a unique opportunity to hear first-hand stories and ask guests various questions. As living books, Sandris Ādminis, activist of animal rights from “Freedom of Animals”; Sandra Dejus from the Improvisational Theatre “Spiediens” (“Pressure”); Inga Gaile, poet and member of the Latvian Writers’ Union; Alma Vītola, winner of the Jungle Marathon in Brazil 2015; and further fascinating people have joined.

At the evaluation seminar, the participants also visited local initiatives in Rīga – the “Gaiziņš” Social Centre, the “Mana jūra” (“My Sea”) Campaign, and the Resource Centre for Women “Marta”, tapped inspiration for future activities as well as learnt on follow-up educational opportunities available within and beyond “Bridge It!”.

For Your Information. The “Bridge It!” Programme has been implemented in the sense of the EUSBSR Horizontal Action “Neighbours”. To learn more on the Bridge It!, please go to www.bridgeit.eu or https://www.facebook.com/bridgeitprogram
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Re-Located to Rīga for a Couple of Days... [Nov. 26th, 2016|11:08 pm]

[Current Location |Latvia, Riga]
[mood |nervousnervous]
[music |Knīpas un Knauķi. Piparkūkas danco]


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Oh Vienna... You Even Speak Lithuanian [Nov. 13th, 2016|03:23 am]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |accomplished]
[music |Ultravox. Vienna]

Vienna proved itself as a multi-cultural capital with a speacial treatment of East European countries. At the University of Vienna, the students also have an opportunity to learn Lithuanian. This is a language course offered within the Baltic Sea Region Studies Programme, a cooperation of the Department of Scandinavian Studies and the Department of Finno-Ugric Studies, - along with further languages of the region (Danish, Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish) as well as further seminars and lectures on literatures and cultures of the Baltic Sea Region.

Lithuanian is taught by Lina Pestal, who was born in Klaipėda, studied at the Vilnius Pedagogical University (now Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences) and then at the University of Vienna and have been holding the current position since 2005.

I don't know how about you but it is another good reason for me to go to Vienna.
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100 Years of Restored Lithuania [Oct. 30th, 2016|02:27 pm]

[Current Location |Germany, Berlin]
[mood |predatory]
[music |Stano ir Zvonkus. Šimtas metų]

As announced in the latest post, Lithuania is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018. Although the Day of Restoration of Independence is on 11 March - marking the Independence Act by the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet from 1990, the slogan chosen for the current celebrations reads as "100 Years of Restored Lithuania" - referring to 16 February 1918, when the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet signed the act of the first independence.

On the official website of Lithuania's centennial, they write that the celebration will be lasting for four years - from 2017, the 100th anniversary of the Vilnius Conference (18-22 September 1917), until 2020, the 100th anniversary of the Seimas convocation (15 May 1920).

Yet, the website not only looks into the past but also "inspires" and "is inspired" by the future, as another slogan of the celebration reads. On 27 May 2016, the "Me for Lithuania!" Project (Aš už Lietuvą!) started, which has gathered around 33,000 volunteers from 54 Lithuanian settlements so far. Besides, the webpage contains useful information on facts about the country, famous personalities, conditions of living and residence, search for a job or studies, language courses, and guidelines to start a business throughout Lithuania, including its special economic zones. All the data are available not only in Lithuanian and English but also in French and German.

Let the celebrations start: 2017 has been around the corner already!
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