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Tuesday 20.02.2018 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris

How will Lithuania look like in another 100 years?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

In order to tell it, one needs to know the past and the presence. Yet the predicting how the centennial celebrations-engulfed Lithuania will look like in another hundred years is not easy at all even for political and business pundits.

«We should still be around, but with the pace of the technological and societal developments, the next one hundred years will see Lithuania, Europe and the entire world change beyond recognition,» the analysts pondered.

«Indeed, the establishment of the state of Lithuania was a result of sweeping changes of geopolitics in early 1900. Let’s remember dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918 and the dethroning of the Russian tsar and the October revolution in Russia in the previous year. Then there was the rising understanding that power comes from bottom up, not in the opposite way. Against that backdrop, all the efforts by the signatories of the Act of Reinstating Independence of Lithuania, or Act of February 16, 1918, were very thought-out, goal-oriented and far-reaching,» Vytautas Dumbliauskas, a Lithuanian political analyst and associate professor of humanitarian sciences, told BNN.

Asked how he sees Lithuania in another 100 years, the analyst sounded quite gloomy on the future not only of Lithuania but entire Europe, too.

«I reckon that the demographics of Europe will have been changed unrecognisably in a hundred year, with the Muslims prevailing in all the continent. As much as I am tolerant, I believe that the European Union has made a major blunder accepting the deluge of migrants and we will see the consequences later,» the analyst emphasised. «I think this is a tragedy for Europe. It will not be able to absorb the mass of people. I’d not be surprised very much therefore if Lithuania, ethnicity-wise, will be a whole lot more different by 2118, if not gone off the map at all. Especially if little birth rates and emigration continue.»

In a more cheerful scenario, Dumbliauskas still sees Lithuania on the map in another hundred years, however with a whole lot more different ethnic composition.

«Taking into account the demographical changes, as well the languishing of our entire regions, the life in Lithuania will likely swirl about the major cities and there will likely be large deserted swaths of land in the provinces. I fear that that migrants will predominantly dwell in the country,» the analyst predicted.

Asked about the factor of Russia in Lithuania’s 100-year future, Dumbliauskas replied it will be «important to an extent,» however pondered that Russia might disintegrate in the centuries to come.

«Look, Chinese schoolchildren are taught now that the Russian Far East and Siberia are temporarily occupied by Russia and that the territories historically belong to China. A collision of China and Russia may be imminent in long term and China has an edge over Russia in all the aspects. The scenario means that Russia will be a rather toothless national state someday, with no menace from it to its neighbours, and Lithuania, too,» the analyst underscored. «However, it is a hypothetical possibility.»

Approached by BNN, Kęstutis Girnius, a renown Lithuanian political analyst and associate professor of the Institute of International Relations and Political Sciences at Vilnius University, agreed that February 16, 1918 was «a little of a coincidence.»
«In order for independence to take place, you have to have the sort of a miracle. The loss of Russia, part of which Lithuania was then, and Germany, two the-then major opponents of the world, created a vacuum in which Lithuania could step forward and claim its independence,» Girnius noted. «If the war had ended with the Russian victory or with the German victory, the opportunity for Lithuania would have decreased radically,»he added.

Girnius said he is «sure» that in another hundred years Lithuanian state will continue to exist.

«It will remain on the map for certainly- our EU and NATO memberships guarantee that. However, the major question is how many Lithuanians will be living then? You have to remember that, in 1989, in the dawn of the re-establishment of Lithuanian state, there were 3,7 million Lithuanians and now only 2,9 million or less is left. The current birth rates are much lower below the replacement level, which coupled with massive emigration and with English being an international language can produce a situation in a hundred years in which, with Lithuania still here, there will be very few Lithuanians in it,» the analyst predicted.

He tends to downplay the factor of Russian menace to Lithuania in the 100-year period.

«I believe that the Russian threat is being exaggerated. I don’t believe that Russia is a genuine danger. It is rather a nasty neighbour who is more than willing to make trouble. Yet it has no genuine territorial desires. What is the point of occupying a neighbour in which service economy is dominant and where people will work slowly and sabotage things easily?» Girnius asked rhetorically.

Tomas Janeliūnas, a professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, predicts that the future of Lithuania in the next one hundred years depends on the changes of perception of the national state on the global level.

«I see two possible scenarios in the regard. First, the national states can change to a point where will be seeing new units of unions, a result of mutually beneficial cooperation and integration. In this case, the prevailing ethnicity will not be a defining factor. With this scenario in place, Lithuania will see a whole more immigrants, particularly if it will have created high standards of living by then,» Janeliūnas predicted to BNN.

In the other scenario, the European nations, and Lithuania, too, can shift to more ethnically pronounced states.

«Especially with disintegration of the international bodies like the European Union, for example. Should it happen, Lithuania, as a small state, would be facing many challenges. It is hard to say at the point which of the two scenarios is more probable,» the analyst noted.

Speaking of challenges related to proximity to Russia, Janeliūnas pondered that the Russian factor is «inevitable.»

«How it behaves and how it will be behaving in the future is up to our guesses. Yet it is evident that all the neighbours are aware of Russia at its door and draw and will continue drawing their policies accordingly,» the analyst emphasised.

Robertas Dargis, president of Lithuania’s Confederation of Industrialists, pays attention to low birth rate and the weaker workforce.

«Before the restoration of independence in 1990, Lithuania had around 59 thousand newborns yearly and now the number is ca 31 thousand. And the forecast is that it will go down to 25 thousand in 2030. With the tendency intact, the average age of the Lithuanian citizen will be 50 years in 2030. It will ill-effect our industry and the state’s life on the whole,» says Dargis.

Meanwhile, Vladas Lašas, a prominent businessman, is among the few upbeat Lithuanians on the future of the state.

«The world is changing so rapidly today that our current thinking cannot catch up with the changes and is does not suit to make predictions. As the speed of the processes is exponential and considering that they are very intertwined, it is therefore less possible than even before to say what the future holds for each country,» he said recently.

«In any case, it will be a very impressive journey and we are its pilots. I can bet that in another hundred years Lithuanians will be all over, in Mars and on the Moon and in international space missions, too. However, we can expect that happen only if we exert the opportunities ourselves,» Lašas underscored, adding that a small country always stands a «better chance» in terms of adapting to changes.

Who was right and who was not we can tell in 2118.

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