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Photo: Š Alfredas Pliadis


Ambassador’s Words Two small Nordic countries – Iceland and Denmark – stepped up and ‘rocked the boat’ when Lithuania became the first to break away from the Soviet Union in 1990 and proclaim the restoration of pre-war independence. Iceland was the first to recognise Lithuania on 11 February 1991. Denmark pursued a foreign policy activism towards Lithuania and the other two Baltic states, seizing the challenges and opportunities posed by a dramatically changing world. Their actions encouraged others to follow suit, proving that in a world of big powers, small countries can influence events. This support was not forgotten. It now inspires Lithuania to do the same. As we mark 100 years of diplomatic relations in 2021, Lithuania celebrates friendly political relations, strong defence co-operation and hearty trade ties with Denmark. Many links anchor us as friends and allies. We are like-minded on security and defence, we believe in strong alliances and multilateralism, we share democratic values and defend freedom, we see the benefits of a single European market, we place importance on political and practical co-operation in the Nordic-Baltic region – to name but a few areas of national and mutual interest. Last but not least, about 15,000 Lithuanians live, work and study in Denmark. More and more are returning home with useful know-how and Danish life experience, with a new sense of community and creative approaches to problems, which is good for Lithuania.

Ambassador Gintė Damušis

Like Denmark, Lithuania wants to live in a rule-based international order, where freedom, democracy and peace can prosper – and territorial integrity and inviolability is respected. We want Europe to be a continent without dividing lines, where people, ideas, trade and investment can move freely across borders. Lithuania’s EU integration and membership was a gamechanger, which helped us to reap enormous economic and socio-political benefits after decades of an artificial East-West divide that plagued generations. Even in the face of today’s pandemic shock, the Lithuanian economy continues to defy expectations. We feel fortunate to be part of the EU, which makes small export-based economies like ours less vulnerable. These and other successes have turned us into strong advocates of the European integration project and of bringing countries in our Eastern Neighbourhood closer to the EU. The Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, finds much common ground in this area with his Danish colleague Jeppe Kofod.

Photo: ©Delfi.lt

They and the other Nordic-Baltic Foreign Ministers are actively engaged with Belarus, calling on authorities to pursue genuine political dialogue with the opposition and to stop further use of violence. As the unofficial capital of Belarusian civil society, Vilnius hosts activities for many Lithuania’s new female-led coalition government (left-right): Aušrinė Armonaitė, Ingrida Šimonytė and Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen

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Belarusian and foreign NGOs, including from Denmark, in support of civil society. Lithuania has actively co-operated with Denmark in the field of military defence since the early 1990s. Our first international deployment in the UN Peacekeeping mission, UNPROFOR, took place within a Danish battalion. Almost 30 years later our co-operation has reached a new level – particularly since Lithuania joined NATO in 2004. We contribute to NATO missions and operations, often punching above our weight. Denmark regularly sends fighter jets to the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission at Šiauliai Air Base, while Lithuania invests heavily in defence infrastructure, building capabilities, and tackling hybrid and cyber threats.

At the Queen’s reception With Uffe Ellemann-Jensen

For the ease of doing business, Lithuania ranks fourth in the EU, while Denmark is number one. It is no surprise that over 250 companies with Danish capital are registered in Lithuania. An equivalent number of Lithuanian construction companies are offering their services in Denmark. The metal, textile and agriculture sectors account for a great part of Danish exports to Lithuania, whereas furniture, pre-fab buildings and wood products, chemicals and plastics, and mechanical equipment are primary exports of Lithuania to Denmark Other sectors – i.e energy and ICT – show promising growth potential. We have cut greenhouse gas emissions by half since the 1990s (the largest drop across the EU). Renewables and private sector investment is an essential part of the country’s energy future. Our ambitions in wind energy keep growing. ICT companies are offering digital solutions in the health and financial sectors. A number of Danish companies are choosing Lithuania for IT development, from Danske Bank with its 4,100+ employees in Vilnius, who are developing and providing products and services to the bank's customers in 12 countries, to startups taking advantage of Lithuania’s talent pool and friendly business environment. Lithuania’s new female-led coalition government – the 46-yearold former Finance Minister and Presidential candidate from the Conservative Party, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė; the 37-yearold Liberal Movement leader and European chess champion, Parliamentary Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen; and the 31-year-old Freedom Party leader Aušrinė Armonaitė, the Minister of Economy and Innovation – is driving new domestic policies and reaching out to Denmark for closer political co-operation, innovation opportunities, more trade and investment, tourism promotion, cultural ties, and academic exchanges.

With former Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen and former PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen at Siauliai Air Base

This special supplement published by the Copenhagen Post will give you a taste of Lithuania. It will introduce you to current trends in business and innovation, culture and tourism, whilst hopefully enticing you to visit when conditions permit. Flying from Copenhagen to Vilnius takes little more than an hour. If not this year, plan a trip in 2022 to Lithuania‘s second city of Kaunas, when it assumes its place as European Capital of Culture with creative flair. “Laukiame atvykstant!” – Awaiting your arrival! Gintė Damušis Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the Kingdom of Denmark and the Republic of Iceland

Working lunch with Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod

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History

BROTHERS ACROSS THE BALTIC

A century on from the establishment of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Lithuania, the countries share much in common By Ben Hamilton

L

ithuania and Denmark have many things in common – not least geographically. Located in northern Europe just 900 km apart, they both have significant Baltic shorelines. With 65,300 sq km at its disposal, Lithuania is slightly larger than Denmark (42,933), which in turn has a population more than double the size: 5.8 to 2.8 million. Politically, both have strongly democratic, pro-business governments that are open to foreign investment and attracting international workers, whilst quick to

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condemn abuses of power.

NOT LIKE CHINA AT ALL

For example, the Lithuanian foregin minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis – who is in fact the grandson of Vytautas Landsbergis, the head of the independence movement and then head of state from 1990 to 1992 – was particularly vocal in his condemnation of Belarus.

Between one another, trade is healthy. According to 2019 figures, Danish imports to Lithuania totalled 484.8 million euros (3.607 billion kroner), with 720,1 million euros (5.357 billion kroner) heading in the opposite direction, according to Statistics Lithuania.

They are both members of the EU, NATO and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For Danish exporters, Baltic markets have long held an advantage: they have good infrastructure, a large production capacity, low salary levels, and easy access to a welleducated workforce.

Both countries are very much open for business!


Photo: courtesy KaunasIN © Andrius Aleksandravičius

Photo: Juškos Museum of Ethnic Culture © Vida Sniečkuvienė

And most crucially, and this is where they really stand out from the likes of China, Lithuania is geographically close and culturally similar. It’s no surprise to note that Denmark is among the top five leading investors in Lithuania, and that there are over 200 companies with Danish capital registered in the country.

LONG ROAD TO FREEDOM

All of this didn’t happen in a day, of course. This special edition may mark the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries, but for almost five decades Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. On February 16 the country will celebrate its Independence Day of 1918, but it is March 11, its Restoration of Independence Day of 1990 and subsequent admission to the UN, which is more significant to the modern day country. Diplomatic relations were duly restored in September 1991, and representatives in each other’s countries established seven months later. When the Lithuanians joined their first ever UN peacekeeping mission, it was the Danes who showed the most welcoming hand, offering help where it was needed. Their troops have since then co-operated in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as through their NATO commitments. And when Lithuania applied to join the EU and NATO, which it eventually did in 2004, Denmark was quick to provide assistance

fragmented multi-party system, so like Denmark most of its governments are coalitions. Also like Denmark, its prime minister Ingrida Šimonytė is female, and so is pretty much half its cabinet (6 of 13) and also the speaker of its Parliament, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen – a chess master (and former European champion) married to a Danish chess master, no less. In fact, its commitment to equality has always been strong, as in 1918 it became one of the first countries to give women the vote. Equally strong was its quest for independence from the Soviets. As the first of its states to break away, it was subjected to a 74-day economic blockade, but if the Soviets thought a few months of no heating or hot water was going to break their resolve, they were mistaken.

CENTRE OF EVERYTHING

Regionally, Lithuania actively co-operates with its fellow northern European and Baltic states. It was a founding member of the Baltic Council in 1993, as well as the Baltic Development Forum, and it also co-operates with its neighbours and the nearby Nordic states through the NB8 and NB6 (for EU members only). It is also a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, which was established in Copenhagen in 1992, and it regularly engages in political cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers. It is also a member of the Nordic Investment Bank, which enables it to participate in the NORDPLUS education program.

THE HONORARY NORDIC

Further afield, it has served as a member of the United Nations Security Council.

Seventeen years later, Lithuania’s government and parliament wouldn’t look out of place in the Nordics.

As a side-note to its inclusiveness, did you know that the true geographic centre of Europe is in Lithuania, just 26 km north of its capital Vilnius.

Its foreign policy is proactive and it operates a

At the heart of Europe … watch this space.

GRAND DUCHY OF LITHUANIA

It’s crazy to think that Lithuania once stretched from the Baltic (although it only had a miniscule coastline back then!) to the Black Sea, and that the likes of Minsk and Kiev played second fiddle to Vilnius, but for 300-odd years up until 1569 that was the case with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Forget the superpowers of Spain, France and England, it was the biggest state in Europe. Filling the vacuum left by the collapse of the Mongol Empire, it included modern-day Lithuania, Belarus and Latvia, as well as parts of Estonia, Moldova, Poland, Russia and Ukraine. From Trakai Island Castle, the grand duke reigned over his lands, exercising prudent power and religious tolerance, but when Lithuania needed to fight, it did, famously together with Poland seeing off the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1514. And unlike the Mongols, it did not end badly. It saw off numerous religious crusades and invasion threats to eventually merge its domain into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – a kingdom that remained intact until the invasion of Russia in the 1790s.

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Economy

PULLING POWER OF THE PEOPLE Many companies have come to Lithuania with modest ambition, only to find out they are unable to resist the many assets at their disposal By Ben Hamilton

Photo: Courtesy of Invest Lithuania ©Matas Jankauskas

Photo: Courtesy of Kaunas IN © Andrius Aleksandravičius

I

n the 30 years following its second independence, Lithuania has emerged from the Soviet era to rapidly become a probusiness country of great interest to global investors, particularly as it is so easy to start a company. The World Bank rates it 11th in its global Ease of Doing Business rankings – in just 24 hours, a new business can be registered, and all that is required is an e-signature – and the help is always at hand thanks to governmental agencies such as Invest Lithuania. Furthermore, it ranks among the top 10 EU countries for the simplicity of paying taxes, and it is generally recognised as having some of the lowest commercial rental costs in the union.

IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

It might be no surprise, therefore, to learn that Lithuania’s economy was rapidly growing before the coronavirus slowdown. With GDP growth of 3.6 percent in 2018, it enjoyed decreasing unemployment rates. This is testament to the continued efforts of a government to optimise its business environment to facilitate job creation, stimulate the labor market and encourage foreign investment. For example, its new labour code to liberalise employment relations has succeeded in making them

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more flexible. Overall, Lithuania’s stable political environment offers ideal conditions for businesses wanting to flourish, while the country’s membership of the EU (joined in 2004), NATO (2004) and OECD (2018) has removed any teething doubts that might have once existed.

REAPING THE REWARDS Lithuania's economic growth has been greatly aided by the combined skills set of its people - not least in the IT sector, which the government has invested heavily in, increasing its spending on studies by 50 percent. Lithuanians are increasingly likely to have completed higher and further education, and there is an 84 percent proficiency in English among young professionals. The Anglophone wave has coincided with a state-backed drive to recruit skilled foreigners through talent attraction programs such as ‘Work in Lithuania’. The repat figures also speak volumes for the recent progress, as 69,000 Lithuanians reimmigrated back between 2014 and 2018.

CORRIDOR FOR INVESTMENT Just last year, the Lithuanian Parliament adopted a package of investment and

corporate tax laws, which offers a new instrument aimed at attracting large investments of local and foreign capital. Dubbed the ‘green corridor for investment’, it provides for much faster and simpler establishment procedures for investors as well as incentives for municipalities hosting investors. The government believes it will also create 2,000 new jobs over the next five years.

EYEING RETURNING COMPANIES

“The adoption of the investment and corporate income tax package will strengthen Lithuania’s ability to attract manufacturing companies coming back to Europe from Asia,” enthused Invest Lithuania head Mantas Katinas. It complements Lithuania’s standing as a convenient manufacturing hub in the middle of Europe. Most notably, 75 percent of the country’s engineering/technology industry products are exported – accounting for 23 percent (3.35 billion euros) of its total exports. In total, manufacturing accounts for 21 percent of the GDP. “We must seek a further improvement of the national investment environment if we are to overtake our competitors and attract big projects and players like Continental, Hella or Hollliste,” contended Katinas.


Photo: Courtesy of Kaunas IN © Andrius Aleksandravičius

DANSKE BANK

Danske Bank is well established in Lithuania where, with 4,000 employees, it has the country’s fifth largest workforces – more than the country’s next two biggest banks combined. The bank established operations in Lithuania in 2000, and until 2019 provided banking services to customers there. It was only in 2012 when things started to take off exponentially with the establishment of its service centre. This was because Lithuania has always been a working project for Danske Bank. During its first decade of operations it went about raising its brand awareness, for example as a long-term sponsor of the Vilnius Marathon, and improving the financial literacy of the population. The original plan was to only have 350 employees, but it was so impressed with the potential of the local population that it became confident it could employ the necessary personnel to provide professional financial consultancy and contemporary banking solutions to private and corporate customers in the areas of F&A, banking, IT infrastructure & development, AML, HR, legal operations and other support services. Most significantly perhaps, its immensely successful mobile app MobilePay, which today is installed on most Danish smartphones, operates as an independent brand and was to a large extent developed with the help of Mobile Pay’s team in Lithuania.

UNITY TECHNOLOGIES

GBS PULLING POWER

Lithuania already has a mature but unsaturated Global Business Services (GBS) industry, consisting of 81 centres employing around 20,000 specialists, of which a third work in IT, with finance, customer service, compliance, HR, engineering and marketing accounting for a lion’s share of the rest. Nasdaq, Moody’s, Western Union and most of the Scandinavian banking sector all have a presence in the country, and they attract highly qualified talent. Six out of the top ten most desired employers in Lithuania are GBS industry participants. Robotics has a strong profile in the GBS sector, which maintains a strong collaboration with academia to ensure a continuous supply of talent.

NEGLIGIBLE CORONA EFFECT

Despite the coronavirus, the Lithuanian economy is only forecast to contract by 1.8 percent in 2020 – well below the EU average of 8.3 percent. And the country’s natural resilience to hardship was best exemplified by the example of the telemedicine company Teltonika, which last year managed to produce the world’s first professional artificial lung ventilator. Thirty specialists took just one month to make it: from conception to completion.

Founded in Copenhagen in 2004, Unity Technologies, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating interactive real-time 3D (RT3D) content, quickly recognised the impressive work rate of Lithuanian employees. In fact, the first full-time employee was a talented engineer from Kaunas. Unity went on to hire several other world-class engineers in Lithuania and has now established a strong collaboration with the universities in Vilnius and Kaunas. Unity has since opened two offices in Vilnius and Kaunas and is investing in training students to become excellent engineers. Since 2009, Lithuania has been the company’s main mobile technology engineering hub, innovating strongly in efforts that were exemplified when Unity became the first major player to offer a fully-featured game engine for iPhones.

SATALIA

According to Daniel Hulme, the British founder of Satalia, it was the chance to employ Lithuanians that led to his AI/data science company merging with Kaunas-based Data Dog, and then taking it over in 2019. He praises their “creativity, diligence, consistency, responsibility, and a sense of duty”, predicting they will prove to be “the key masterminds and innovators of our current and future products”, with the “vibrant and successful ecosystem of the university city’s start-ups, IT companies, and academic institutions” playing “a key part in our future success”. Hulme applauds Lithuania as “one of the least bureaucratic countries in the world” following “policies to open, systematise and use publicly managed data could be a major impetus for the development and innovation of IT and artificial intelligence.” Lithuanians are “hungry for knowledge, experience, challenges”, he continues. “For the investor, this means strong talent and incredible motivation that translates into great results.”

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Science

By Orsolya Albert

TRAILBLAZING LASERS

L

aser technology is a key industry for Lithuania, allowing the country to create innovative solutions and make its mark internationally. It accounts for more than half of the global market of pico-second lasers spectrometers, exporting them to other European markets, the USA, Asia and Australia. SYLOS, one of the world’s most powerful laser systems, was developed by Lithuanians in 2019. The system creates ultrashort impulses of big intensity: the pointed power of which is believed to be over a thousand times more than the most powerful US atomic power plants. These impulses are used during the fundamental research into the peculiarities of electron movement in atoms and molecules. Additionally, the laser can be used to neutralise nuclear waste, thus aligning with the climate-conscious choices Lithuania has been making over recent decades. There are currently 10 organisations engaged in laser production, but there are also a handful of universities carrying out world class research. One of them is the state-owned and worldrenewed Centre for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC), which has a mission to

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generate and capitalise scientific knowledge. It has a staff of more than 650 people, including 500 excellent researchers and 105 PhD fellows. Meanwhile, the Department of Laser Technologies is offering support to a EU Commission-led project, the Hub of Application Laboratories of Equipment Assessment in Laser Based Manufacturing (APPOLO), which is dedicated to implementing lasers for industrial needs. The ongoing project involves 36 partners from the EU and Israel and has a workign budget of 11 million euros.

FINTECH: COINING IT IN Even in a time of crisis, Lithuania has been steadily emerging as one of the EU’s leading fintech hubs. In 2020, the country was featured in the prestigious Z/Yen Global Financial Center’s Index as the 13th leading fintech centre, but the story begins way before then. Bank of Lithuania board member Marius Jurgilas attributes the success to “forward thinking and sector-friendly regulation, access to payment infrastructure and a pool of highly talented and educated people”.

Previously, the Lithuanian domestic financial market used to be limited as mostly Scandinavian banks were taking a substantial share of the market. Realising this, the government switched gears towards developing the fintech industry, declaring it to be among its top priorities back in 2016. The primary goal was to create a competitive market that would breed innovation and develop services. Currently, there are more than 200 fintech companies established nationwide employing 3,400 specialists. The Bank of Lithuania has been at the forefront of the fintech industry: through several initiatives and the introduction of several cryptocurrencies. It provides guidance through its Newcomer Program, which is a one-stop shop consultation platform attracting over 500 companies worldwide. Nevertheless, it does not neglect the risks associated with fintech, as it closely watches how the industry is handling risk management, anti-money laundering, consumer protection and liquidity. It also operates CENTROlink, a payment system that provides access to the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) – not only to banks and credit unions, but also to electronic money

Photo: Courtesy by Unseen Lithuania © MARIUS JOVAIŠA

INNOVATION & ENVIRONMENT


and payment institutions. And the bank has also created the first blockchain-based collector coin in the world, LBCOIN. The coin is dedicated to the Act of Independence of Lithuania in 1918 (with its 20 signatories), and it consists of 24,000 digital collector tokens.

PRIME OF LIFE SCIENCES

One of the fastest-growing life science sectors in Europe can be found in Lithuania, where annual growth is currently 26 percent. But it is not a nascent sector, as it dates back as far to 1957 and the establishment of the Institute of Enzymology, and it has been on a steady rise ever since. Operating in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, chemistry, agriculture and environment, the sector is regarded as one of the most developed in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2019, around 90 percent of all its pharmaceutical products were exported to the USA, Poland, Germany, China and the UK, and its annual growth rate stood at 21 percent. Currently, there are six universities and seven colleges dedicated to life sciences, as well as international companies investing in Lithuania, such as Teva Pharmaceuticals. In light of this, the government has proposed an ambitious goal to generate 5 percent of the country’s GDP from the sector by 2030. One of the key events of the industry is the ‘Life Sciences Baltic’, which is a regionleading biennial forum. It provides a unique opportunity to turn ideas into real-life projects in the fields of global biotechnology, allowing pharmaceutical and medical devices leaders to showcase their findings. The event functions as an incubator for innovation, and many startups are launched there. One of these, Ligence, developed software for an automated heart ultrasound that makes it more effective and cost-efficient. The tool can also be used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, as it can detect cardiovascular infections faster and more effectively. Lithuania was also at the forefront of confronting the challenges of the pandemic. In March 2020, a group of scientists developed an artificial lung ventilator that is affordable and available for hospitals in need. The technology was breakthrough, but what is even more impressive is how it only took 30 days to develop the first prototype!

STILL HAUNTED BY OLD ERA

Lithuania has left behind the energy-production infrastructure of the Soviet era to stride forward as a leader in renewable energy. Up until 1990, the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Visaginas provided 70 percent of Lithuania's electricity, but since the dissolution, Lithuania’s economy has rapidly developed, allowing it to quickly decommission the nuclear program. It closed the last plant in 2009. Since then, the country has focused on local power generation while reducing its dependence on imported fuels, and today it promotes renewable energy as a means to combat climate change. Lithuania’s commitment to a green future was underlined when it reached its 2020 goal of deriving 23 percent of all its energy needs from renewable sources as early as 2014! Ever since the ratio has been steadily growing, and it accounted for 24.21 percent in 2018. In the same year its parliament adopted an ambitious plan, the National Energy Strategy, which aims to increase the ratio to 45 percent by 2030 and fully transform the industry by 2050. The strategy relies on wind energy covering 5055 percent of electricity generation. Wind energy has been a major electricity source for years, in fact, as Lithuania was among the first countries in the world to develop wind energy capacities. In 2019, wind parks generated 1.45 TWh (1453 GWh) of its electricity, and in 2020, Lithuania approved a development project to produce wind energy in the Baltic Sea. The first offshore wind auction is scheduled to take place as early as 2030. One of the challenges Lithuania faces today in its pursuit of clean energy is the threat of the Astravets Nuclear Power in Belarus, which is 40 km from the capital of Vilnius. The Lithuanian government has long opposed

its construction, arguing that it threatens the safety of its breaches and that there is a general lack of transparency regarding the plans. The government has already filed two health and safety reports in a bid to exert pressure on Belarus to ensure international safety requirements are met. The dispute is ongoing.

ONBOARD WITH PARIS

Over the last few decades, Lithuania has been on a remarkable journey in its bid to combat climate change. It has cut greenhouse emissions by half since the 1990s - the largest drop across the EU - and today it accounts for the 9th lowest emission rate per capita in the union. When drafting its National Energy Strategy and Climate Action Plan, the government closely followed the agreed goals of the Paris Agreement to combat the challenges. The Lithuanian Plan spans five interlinked policy dimensions: reducing fossil fuel dependency; energy efficiency; energy security; the internal energy market; and research, innovation and competitiveness. As per the agreement, Lithuania is planning to allocate 3.3 billion euros to climate adaptation through innovative solutions. The plan will provide new infrastructure for electricity distribution, rainwater management and climate-resilient agriculture. As a result of the measures, it is expected by 2030 that 70 percent of rail freight and 14 percent of road vehicles will be electric. This would decrease fuel consumption by 24 percent, simultaneously reducing the country’s fuel dependency. It would also affect other industries, such as agriculture, where decreasing the farmers’ use of mineral fertilisers could result in forest areas potentially growing by 8 hectares annually.

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Diaspora

PROCEED AND PROGRESS, PERCHANCE TO PROSPER By Orsolya Albert

How the Lithuanian diaspora has been making steady inroads In 2018, Lithuanians were the sixth most likely nationality to both immigrate to Denmark and to leave – quite an achievement for a country with a population of only 2.8 million. In fact, worldwide, it is estimated that the Lithuanian diaspora group can claim over a million people, with large accumulations in the likes of the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia and Canada.

STEADILY RISING NUMBERS Denmark is not that far behind. As of 2019, 14,768 Lithuanians were living here, and the number is steadily rising. It is one of the country’s fastgrowing diaspora communities.

DIFFERENT PATHS, DIFFERENT STORIES Many arrive in Denmark to study or to pursue careers paths, and some go on to establish their own businesses and achieve excellence in academia. We have caught up with six successful Lithuanians currently living in Denmark, each with their only very different story. Our contributors walk different career paths to pursue their dreams in various industries.

DR DARIUS MARDOSAS Dr Darius Mardosas is the head of clinic, Mental Health Centre Glostrup, Copenhagen University Hospital. Psychiatric Centre Glostrup is a large university psychiatric hospital in the western part of Denmark's capital Copenhagen. Dr Mardosas’ department delivers psychiatric care, both inpatient and outpatient, to approximately 5,000 contacts per year. The centre consists of a psychiatric emergency department and 170 inpatient beds divided between 62 intensive units and 108 open wards. The department also oversees 16 different outpatient clinics that take care of patients according to their diagnosis such as affective disorder, psychotic disorder, oligophrenia, geriatrics, ADHD or autism etc. The clinic also has a large research department (neuropsychiatry, psychopathology) with three professors. INGA MERKYTE Vilnius-born Inga Merkyte, the chair and co-founder of the Lithuanian Society in Denmark, is an acclaimed archaeologist - a calling she set out to answer when she found a coin hoard at the age of nine. She studied history at Vilnius University and, after moving to Denmark in 1992, continued her studies in computer science and archaeology at Copenhagen University. She holds a PhD in archaeology from Aarhus University. Her research has taken her far and wide: Europe, Russia, Brazil, Kyrgyzstan and since 2002 primarily in west Africa (mainly Bénin and Ghana), where she has co-founded three new museums. Inga is the editor of the Scandinavian annual Acta Archaeologica, author of two monographs and numerous articles. A passionate forest hiker and table tennis player, she has two children and is widowed.

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JOKŪBAS RAGAUSKAS Jokūbas Ragauskas is a cultural curator based in Copenhagen. Some years ago, he founded an art collective named Noisy Beehive, which aims to collaborate with local cultural centres, venues and independent record labels, providing a performing platform for local musicians and artists. Jokūbas collaborates with the Lithuanian Embassy in Denmark, and he is currently running a DanishLithuanian cultural exchange program between a number of cultural houses in Lithuania and music venues in Denmark, facilitating a greater movement of artists between the Nordic and Baltic regions. Educated as an urban anthropologist, Jokūbas’ projects tend to put an emphasis on community building and the use of temporal spaces in urban environments.


DAINIUS KNIUKŠTA Dainius Kniukšta is a senior digital product manager at AP Moller-Maersk. He has been involved with technology as early as his school years and now has more than 15 years of global professional experience working for Maersk, Adform, Vilnius University and a handful of startups. KOTRYNA KURT Kotryna Kurt is the founder of a consulting company called Linkedist, where she helps other businesses grow with the power of LinkedIn marketing and advertising. She is also an active contributor and content creator on LinkedIn, where she mainly talks about entrepreneurship, leadership, sales and marketing. Over the last two years, Kotryna has delivered more than 100 workshops and helped various accelerators educate startups. She is mainly interested in startup ecosystems, investments, MarkTech and digital marketing.

Following his entirely Lithuanian education in IT, data science and business, his career has seen him work on the development and scaling of many analytical ad-tech and log-tech solutions, and he is currently leading a digital platform and product development across all Maersk brands globally. Dainius credits his success with his ability to present innovative solutions, overcome the challenges he sets for himself, and honestly express himself. Dainius believes that participation in the Lithuanian Professionals in Copenhagen is a platform for meaningful connections and solid representation of Lithuanians in Denmark.

MANTAS JURKUS Mantas Jurkus moved to Copenhagen in 2007 with the intention to pursue his studies, but what was meant to be a temporary flirtation with the bar business became a long-term relationship. After a few years behind the bar, Mantas tied a knot with the bar industry and opened the Black Swan craft beer bar on Borgergade in a central part of Copenhagen. Since 2012, Black Swan has been serving craft beers with top cordial service, and it has become a favourite of many.

One bird in the hand then became two in 2019 when the Blue Raven bar opened its doors on Drogdensgade in Amager. Both bars are very popular amongst the expats, as well as the local community. Due to Mantas’ Lithuanian background, Black Swan and Blue Raven are some of the very few establishments in Copenhagen to have Švyturys Baltas, a Lithuanian wheat beer, on tap regularly. Occasionally other small Lithuanian craft beer breweries are proudly represented at the bar, where they share space with some of the world’s best brews.

A TASTE OF LITHUANIA • Two shops in Greater Copenhagen, which are both owned by EuroDeli, stock Lithuanian traditional grocery items. • Your best bet near the centre of the city is Bulgarsk Mad (Åboulevard 32). • But a bigger selection can be found at EuroDeli at Brøndby Strand Centrum 41. Ordering is available online as well. Find out more at eurodeli.dk. • Further stores can be found in Aarhus, Odense and Ikast. • For delicious Lithuanian microbrews visit the Black Swan at Borgergade 93. Publisher: CPH POST • Editor: Hans Hermansen Journalists: Ben Hamilton, Orsolya Albert • Layout: CPH POST • Info: hans@cphpost.dk • Tel: +45 2420 2411

• The famous Lithuanian beer Švyturys Baltas can often be found there. Find out more at blackswanbar.dk.

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Culture

A TRULY CULTIVATED COUNTRY Ten things you didn’t know about Lithuanian culture By Ben Hamilton

Lithuania’s legions of basketball legends epitomise the national identity of a country, as their creativity, guile and indomitable spirit are mirrored in the achievements of their compatriots. This vibrancy particularly shines through Lithuania’s opera scene, where world-class composers, singers and conductors are produced with such regularity that the world is taking notice. Photo: Andrius Aleksandravičius

ALL EYES ON KAUNAS Across the arts, and increasingly in other creative fields, Lithuania is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and this will no doubt be highlighted next year as Kaunas will spend 2022 as a Contemporary European Capital of Culture. Here are ten tasty morsels to whet the appetite.

Lithuanian culture will gain a worldwide audience next year as Kaunas has been named a Contemporary European Capital of Culture for 2022. Organisers are calling their program of 1,000 events featuring both Lithuanian and international creatives “a visual journey from the CONFUSION through the CONFLUENCE towards the CONSCIOUSNESS”. Among the highlights are solo exhibitions by William Kentridge and Marina Abramovich, along with festivals covering international performing arts, storytelling, contemporary Japanese culture and international literature. No less than ten theatre premieres and 40 other international events are planned. More information can be found at kaunas2022.eu.

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Photo: Modestas Ezerskis

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There are an estimated 3.2 million speakers of the Lithuanian language today, of which 2.8 million live within the country’s shores. Modern Lithuanian is one of only two surviving Baltic languages along with Latvian, which it is closely related to. Written in a Latin script, it retains many of the features of its Proto-Indo-European past, including some pretty archaic grammar and phonology, and it is accordingly a popular one with linguistic historians. For example, there are 12 noun and five adjective declensions.

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It should hardly be a surprise that Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla grew up to be a top-level conductor as her family is as musical as the Jacksons. Classic FM named her as the best female conductor in the world in 2019 in recognition of her appointment as music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and she followed it up a year later by scooping the Album of the Year prize at the annual Gramophone Awards for her debut record. What’s remarkable is that she doesn’t even play a musical instrument!

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Coronavirus-permitting, Copenhagen Contemporary will stage the Lithuanian opera ‘Sun and Sea’ in late May. Staged on a

beach full of sun-seekers oblivious to Mother Earth’s suffering at their hands, its focus on pressing ecological themes has won wide acclaim, including the 2019 Venice Biennale Golden Lion award, which was shared by the three female forces behind the opera: Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė. Tickets will hopefully go on sale in March.

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The impact of the career of painter and composer Mikalojus Čiurlionis (1875-1911) on the Lithuanian arts scene was of such magnitude they ended up naming an asteroid after him. His symphonies Jūra (‘The sea’) and Miške (‘In the forest’), both tributes to the Lithuanian landscape, along with his nouveau art, have influenced legions of creatives since his death, not least Jack Ellitt (1902-2001), an ethnically Lithuanian composer and musician of renown, who specialised in film scores. Lithuanian-American filmmaker Jonas Mekas, who died in 2019 aged 96, is commonly referred to as the godfather of American avant-garde cinema. Born in Semeniškiai, he emigrated to the US in 1949, where within two weeks of his arrival he borrowed money to buy a Bolex 16mm camera, with which he started documenting his life. Within the world of avant-garde cinema, he quickly became a legend as

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cinematic past as rich as Lithuania’s has hosted so many renowned stars, but few of them can compete with Donatas Banionis, the lead actor in Andrei Tarkovsky's ‘Solaris’, a regular in most critics’ top 100 films of all time lists. Photo: Severina Venckutė

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What do recent TV series ‘Chernobyl’, ‘Catherine the Great’, ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘War and Peace’ have in common? They were all entirely, or partially, filmed in Lithuania. Production companies are drawn by the close proximity of stunning architecture and landscapes, as well as the authorities’ assistance in lending them whole city districts if need be. Vilnius Old Town in recent years has twice been transformed into Russia - of the 18th century for Catherine the Great and of the 19th century for War and Peace! The latest visitors were Netflix, to shoot season four of ‘Stranger Things’, which was partly filmed at the capital’s Tsarist-era Lukiškės prison. It is fitting that a country with a

As the 2019 winner of the best female singer at the International Opera Awards, Asmik Grigorian is truly a global star, although there are some who might dispute her being her country’s best operatic soloist. Both fellow soprano Violeta Urmana, 20 years her senior, and base-baritone Kostas Smoriginas have strong claims! Other distinguished Lithunian names in the world of classical music today include Žibuoklė Martinaitytė, Osvaldas Balakauskas and Giedrė Šlekytė (composers), and Lukas Geniušas, Julian Rachlin and David Geringas (musicians), while Jascha Heifetz, who died in 1987, is generally recognised as being one of the best violinists of all time. Continuing in the arts, other contemporary names worth mentioning are Stasys Eidrigevičius, Vilmantas Marcinkevičius, Deimantas Narkevičius and Žilvinas Kempinas (artists), Oskaras Koršunovas (stage director), Antanas Sutkus (photographer), Tomas Venclova and Algis Mickūnas (writers) and Vladimir Tarasov and Silvana Imam (contemporary musicians). Finally, as this supplement is marking 100 years of diplomatic relations with Denmark, we must mention the painter Vilmantas Marcinkevicius. On the occasion of Prince Henrik’s 80th birthday in 2014 he had the honour of painting the Prince Consort. He is celebrated as one of their own in the Jutland city of Viborg, where the bishop is one of his biggest fans!

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Unlike Latvia and Estonia, who won back-to-back Eurovisions in the early 2000s, Lithuania has never won the continent’s premier song contest. However, they were responsible for one of the contest’s most memorable songs. LT United finished in sixth place in 2006 – Lithuania's best result to date – with the song ‘We Are the Winners’, a wonderfully subversive number

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Photo: Jurga Urbonaitė

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A number of distinguished American creatives are the children of Lithuanian immigrants, who grew up speaking Lithuanian at home: most notably Golden Globe-winning actor Charles Bronson, Oscar nominee Laurence Harvey and Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of Superman. A great number of others have Lithuanian ancestry, including musicians Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Pink, AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd and Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers; actors Sean Penn, John C Reilly, William Shatner, Jason Sudeikis and Don Rickles; and film directors George Romero and Robert Zemeckis. Over in the UK, both Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, and Billy McNeill, the captain of the Lisbon Lions, were half-Lithuanian.

Photo: D.Matvejev©

a curator, founder, journalist, lecturer and leading light. And he was active in Fluxus, an early 1960s, New York-based, countercultural movement founded by George Maciunas, a fellow Lithuanian. His other collaborators, mostly of that exciting era, included Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Salvador Dalí, and Yoko Ono and John Lennon, to whom he loaned his limbs for their 1971 film ‘Up Your Legs Forever’. In 2007, he released a film every day for his project ‘The 365 Day Project’.

that grabbed a maximum 12 from Ireland and 10 points from the UK. Sample lines included “We are the winners of Eurovision; We are, we are! We are, we are!” and “Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote for the winners”. Did you know that The Roop may very well have won the 2020 edition had it gone ahead. Not only were they the bookmakers’ favourites with ‘On Fire’ , but the song won several simulated contests online. The Roop will represent Lithuania in 2021, but with another song: ‘Discotheque’.

10. LITHUANIAN SPORT Lithuania is the fourth most successful nation in Europe based on wins in EuroBasket. Back-to-back wins in 1937 and 1939, spurred on by a desire to depose inaugural champs beat Latvia, cemented the nation’s love of basketball, and it has been the nation’s most popular sport ever since. A third win followed in 2003. When the Soviets became the first country other than the US to win gold at the 1972 Olympics, the captain Modestas Paulauskas was Lithuanian, and it was widely aknowledged that the 1988 triumph was mainly thanks to the Soviet side’s heavy Lithuanian contingent. Since independence, Lithuania has added three Olympic basketball bronzes to the medal cabinet, while Kaunas team Žalgiris won the top-tier EuroLeague in 1999. Vitas Gerulaitis, the 1977 Australian Open champion, was the son of Lithuanian immigrants and spoke the language at home growing up in Queens, New York. The former world number three, a US Open and French Open defeated finalist, died in 1994, aged 40, as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Today his name lives on at the Vitas Gerulaitis Memorial Tennis Centre in Vilnius. Jack Sharkey, the New York-born son of Lithuanian immigrants, became world heavyweight boxing champ in 1932 after defeating German fighter Max Schmeling. Discus thrower Virgilijus Alekna won backto-back Olympic golds in 2000 and 2004.

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Travel

EUROPE’S BEST KEPT SECRET It’s like heaven: nobody knows where it is, but you won’t want to leave! By Orsolya Albert

Tourism operators in the capital Vilnius have adopted a playful approach to marketing in recent years, making fun of how many Europeans don’t actually know where it is located. In 2018, its ‘Vilnius – the G-spot of Europe’ campaign claimed that "nobody knows where it is, but when you find it – it's amazing”. And then last year, the 'Vilnius: Amazing wherever you think it is’ campaign again poked fun at the city's obscurity.

ALL THE ESSENTIALS! But while Lithuania might not be one of the better known countries in the world, it has all the essentials to offer the best experience to those who visit. From the medieval streets of Vilnius, to the bohemian appeal of Uzupis and numerous majestic natural landscapes, everyone can find their own path. Tag along as we explore the six wonders of Lithuania and get a glimpse into this magical country.

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COSY, COLOURFUL, CHARMING CAPITAL The charming capital has it all: a wide range of sights and a delicious food scene, all in walking distance! A great place to start exploring the magical city is the Gediminas Castle Tower, which is the main symbol of Vilnius and located in the UNESCO-listed Old Town. Crowning Gediminas Hill, the castle offers the perfect spot to catch a panorama of the Old Town. Another must-see spot is the picturesque Cathedral Square, where ‘The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree in Europe’ stood in 2020. Right

next to the square there's the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Gediminas Tower. Enter to learn more about the great history of Lithuania and soak up its mesmerising exterior. Another unique architectural landmark is St Anne’s Church, which has remained almost unchanged for the past five centuries and is arguably the most famous building in Vilnius. The mysterious building has been home to a number of legends – most notably that Napoleon Bonaparte expressed a desire to take the building back to Paris in the palm of his hand!


BOHEMIAN HOSPITALITY IN UŽUPIS

Užupis may be the smallest district of Vilnius, but it more than makes up for that with its unique character and quirkiness. What used to be a seedy part of the city has grown into an independent neighbourhood that is home to a number of artists and intellectuals, along with a few local moguls! One can also find an abundance of cosy cafes, bars, restaurants and art centres. When Uzupians say they’re independent, they mean it: currently they have their own currency, anthem and even a government! Entering the district is like crossing a border, as visitors walking over the Bridge of Užupis will get their passports stamped! The bridge is also a prime spot for placing love locks all year around. The bohemian district adjoins a newly-built part of the city, Paupys, which creates a wonderful contrast between the old classic style and minimalism.

THEY PLAYED NYETS AND CROSSES

This mysterious landmark near Šiauliai packs both a historical and symbolic punch: nobody ever forgets the first time they laid eyes on the numerous crosses on its hillside. The precise origin of the crosses is unknown, but it is believed they originated after the 1831 Uprising. During the Soviet era the crosses were removed by the authorities, only to be continuously restored by the locals. Marking a must-visit place for pilgrims, Pope John Paul II visited the otherworldly site in 1993 and later sent a crucifix to be placed on the hill. Today the hill is a symbol of faith, hope and freedom. To commemorate its importance, the unique annual tradition of the Feast of the Hill of Crosses takes place on the last Sunday of July, attracting thousands of pilgrims.

WET N' WILD AND A LITTLE DRY

Equally aqua-friendly, the Žemaitija National Park is home to the rare Atlantic salmon and offers excellent kayaking opportunities! Furthermore, the stubborn region was the last to convert to Christianity, so a number of pagan altars still can be found at the hill forts. Dzūkija National Park does its best to preserve the beautiful pine forests of the southeast region. Hiking trails make it easy to explore its nature and experience the tranquillity of the park.

THESE WALLS CAN TALK!

There’s nature, and then there’s nurture: the history of human development in the country. Through its many examples of Gothic architecture, Lithuania has quite a story to tell. The most famous and unique example is Trakai Island Castle in Trakai Historical National Park. The legendary castle has served as the residence of the rulers of Lithuania from the 14th century. This Gothic masterpiece is a must-see experience for visitors. And don’t discount Kernavė, the medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which today is a UNESCO heritage-listed archeological site. The five hill forts of Kernavė offer the best views of one of the most beautiful landscapes in Lithuania. The former capital has a courtyard simply full of old churches, where one can see a selection of both Gothic and classical architecture.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD! The food scene in Lithuania is very much alive and bustling thanks to a wide range of delicious offerings. The national dish, the scrumptious Cepelinai, consists of large dumplings made from potatoes filled with pork and served with sour cream and bacon sauce. Other delicacies include the famous chilled beetroot soup, which is also known as pink soup. For dessert, two special cakes stand out on the menu. The tinginys (lazy cake), which does live up to its name, is an uncooked cookie bar. It is an easy and extremely delicious dessert to have, while the Šakotis (tree cake) is traditionally consumed at celebrations. Drenched in batter, it is cooked on a rotating spit over an open fire! Organic and sustainable food is also becoming popular in Lithuania. Senatorių pasažas, a historical mansion in the heart of Vilnius, has two well-known restaurants that are based entirely on a farm-to-table concept – a must try for visitors to the city!

Spoilt for beautiful landscapes and the freshness of its water – after all, the Baltic is barely salty at all – Lithuania offers a range of captivating green zones throughout its national parks. Conversely, perhaps, the most intriguing, the UNESCO World Heritage List inclusion Curonian Spit National Park, is more desert than oasis thanks to the magical Dead Dunes. Indeed, the charming natural park is home to four villages and two old cemetery sites hiding under the sand! With 126 lakes scattered among its woods and hills, the country’s oldest natural park, the breathtaking Aukštaitija, has more than enough water to turn that sand into cement.

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CPH Post Lithuania Supplement 2021  

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Denmark beginning, the Baltic country has much to cel...

CPH Post Lithuania Supplement 2021  

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Denmark beginning, the Baltic country has much to cel...

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