Latviski English По-русски
Wednesday 20.11.2019 | Name days: Anda, Andīna

Latvia and Lithuania: two Baltic sisters but with superiority issues?

(+1 rating, 1 votes)

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

Danute Domikaityte (R) of Lithuania in action against Anastasija Grigorjeva (L) of Latvia during their semi final bout of the women’s wrestling tournament at the Minsk 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Latvia and Lithuania have long been dubbed «two Baltic sisters» due to their intricately intertwined history, but sisterly unity is more and more tested by ardent competition between the two. In Lithuania, we just need all to admit it, we are convinced that it is us, not Latvians, who are better, smarter and, well, just cooler folks on the whole. Yet can Lithuanians overcome their haughtiness and think of anything where Latvians, not Lithuanians, seem bigger achievers?

Latvia is Lithuania’s best neighbour ever?

The Baltic News Network (BNN) spoke in Lithuania both to Latvian- Lithuanian relation pundits and ordinary johns in an attempt to hear some unbiased opinions. To sum up the amateur survey, the words of Arvydas Juozaitis, Lithuania’s former plenipotentiary and extraordinary ambassador to Latvia, who is also known for his book about Latvia, «Riga: The Civilization of Nobody», are particularly noteworthy: “Lithuania cannot even dream of having a better neighbour than Latvia, but, yes, superiority issues occasionally pop up.»

Latvians’ national identity is stronger

«What I envy is the extremely strong national idea that Latvia is engulfed with on many levels, on the political level, too. Look, they have a very strong national party, the National Alliance, officially the National Alliance «All For Latvia!» – «For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK» (Nacionālā Apvienība) that has gained tangible political influence – the party is in the ruling coalition now. I just frankly cannot see a situation where a national party would be allowed to be part of a government in Lithuania. The Conservatives, who rode the national tide back in the early 1990s, have drifted towards the interests of big capitalists,» Juozaitis emphasised. «A Latvian national youth party is doing well in Latvia too, which, again, would be unimaginable in Lithuania,» he added.

According to Juozaitis, who is seen as the best expert on Lithuanian and Latvian relations, history and culture, Lithuania ought historically to be «endlessly grateful» to Latvia for the return of Palanga and having the current Lithuanian border stretching till Būtingė, a settlement close to the border.

«If Latvians had gotten very stubborn in 1921, when the territorial exchanges between the-then Latvia and Lithuania were taking place, they just could keep Palanga and Nemirseta (the latter is a small village on the Lithuanian Baltic coast – L. J.). I am pretty sure that, without Palanga in our hands, our chances to retake Klaipeda (known as Memel during in the interwar period – L. J.) would have been very slim,» the expert concluded.

Latvians cherish their traditions more earnestly

Juozaitis believes that Latvia’s culture traditions as part of the cultural heritage and the national narrative are cherished better and more profoundly.

«In Lithuania unfortunately we see a rapidly deteriorating Lithuanian language and the formidable expansion of English. National Eurovision Song Contest and even our national children song contest Dainų Dainelė are teeming with singers singing in English. As a matter of fact, we tend to look down upon our national song festivals, sneering at the participants. In that regard, Latvia has retained much more respect and passion to their national song festivals,» Juozaitis underscored.

As the presidential candidate, Juozaitis has significantly emphasised necessity to bolster Lithuanian and Latvian cooperation.

«If we both were driven by true unity and cooperation, we could tackle old and new existential and geopolitical challenges well better. We need to move from the romantic unity of our two nations to a very concrete model of bilateral relations, which would envision giving the existing interparliamentary institution big authority in moving further our mutual relations,» he called during his presidential campaign last spring.

Latvians are good sport managers

What do ordinary Lithuanians like about Latvia? Where do they believe Latvians outdo Lithuanians? The question asked by BNN caught many off guard, with the most emphasising ostensible superiority of Lithuania.

«I personally like the Latvian approach towards sports. They have strong sport organisations on both national and local levels. Latvian football clubs have accomplished more on the top-tier European football stage and, without saying, Latvian ice hockey traditions are a lot deeper and stronger than in Lithuania,» Romas Zubernis, a former football owner and entrepreneur now, told BNN.

Latvian citizenship law is tougher than Lithuanian

For Gintaras Tomkus, publisher of a daily newspaper in Klaipėda seaport, Latvia is an example of a once major economic power. «I marvel the importance Latvia has had as part of the Russian empire and during the interwar. My grandfather would go to work to Latvia, as it was paying bigger wages then,» the told BNN.

«My admiration for Latvia also rises from its ability to make smooth transition to 1990 independence restoration. What they did was huge considering the complex ethnic issues they had in the early 1990s,» Tomkus said. «In terms of our citizenship laws, Latvians’ law is much tougher, leaving fewer loopholes than ours. This also earns my respect for Latvians,» he added.

The prominent Klaipėda man regretted that Lithuanian schools do not offer Latvian classes. «They should be mandatory. It is abnormal when our children know more Polish or even Japanese words than Latvian words,» he added.

Latvians are better at organising their cultural events

Vita Petrauskienė, a culture executive, praised Latvians for what she called «strong expressions and manifestations of national identity» in Latvian ethnic culture.

«To me, Latvians seem to be prouder of their national costumes and the cultural heritage on the whole.  Unlike in Lithuania, where all of that is often deemed relics of the past and therefore are unworthy of cherishing, their national song festivals are huge, encompassing everyone. Besides, in the terms of communications, Latvians outdo us in sending messages about their cultural events. They do it engaging more various platforms, both traditional and digital. No surprising that attendance of their cultural events is higher than of most cultural events here in Lithuania,» she told BNN.

Riga restaurants serve larger dinner plates

Erenestas Doržinkevičius, a well-known sambo and wrestling coach in the resort of Palanga, could not think of anything where Latvians would hold an edge over Lithuanians, but noted humorously that Riga restaurants serve larger food portions. «For the price I pay in Vilnius, I get considerably more in Riga,» he said smirking.

Journalist praises Pape for its affordability

Journalist Alvydas Ziabkus told BNN that noticeably nicer and more modern Latvian border towns drew his attention on his recent trip to Liepaja and its surroundings.

«Generally speaking, our roads are kept better, but Latvians have recently improved the quality of their regional roads a lot,» Ziabkus noted. He also praised Papė, a Latvian resort village at the Lithuanian-Latvian border, for its affordability. «It has become a major destination for Lithuanians owing to the fact that it offers the best price -quality ratio,» he accentuated.

Latvian banks issue loans easier

For entrepreneur and financier Evaldas Petrauskas from Klaipėda county, Latvian banking sector is not only about money laundering and bank shutdowns.

«Yes, they are dealing with many problems related to huge amounts of money held in Latvian banks by non-European citizens, but Latvians are a whole lot more flexible in issuing loans for businesses. Besides, their bankruptcy procedures are easier and more applicable than ours,» the businessman told BNN. «In Lithuania, only Šiaulių bankas is more eager to deal with small and medium-size businesses. The Scandinavian banks are too choosy who to credit and who not,» he underscored.

Latvians go by economics, not by politics

Vidmantas Jankauskas, a well-known Lithuanian energy expert, had to scratch his head for a moment before answering the question where Latvians outdo Lithuanians.

«In most cases, Latvians lag behind us when it comes to dealing with energy issues. I am surprised that, with the huge green energy potential they have, the level of their employment of solar and wind energy is far from being impressive. But Latvians are smarter on energy issues – in dealing with them, they go by economics, not politics like us. I have in mind their decision to purchase Belarusian electricity (Lithuania has outlawed electricity from the Astravyets nuclear power plant – L. J.) Thence they can have more accessible energy sources at the end of the day,» the expert told BNN.

Leave a reply

Terrorist attack victim numbers decline, but many countries remain at risk of terrorism

The number of people who died in terrorist attacks around the world had dropped 15.2% in 2018. Nevertheless, the number of countries that are under risk of terrorist attacks has only increased since then, as reported by the Institute for Economics and Peace on Tuesday, 20 November.

Swedish TV: U.S. investigates Swedbank over violations of Russia sanctions

With U.S. and European Union’s sanctions banned from cooperating with Russian weapon maker Kalashnikov, Swedbank has been involved in sending large sums between the shareholders of the Russian firm and the owner of Kalashnikov USA, Swedish television SVT reports.

Saeima’s committee views residents’ request on postponing increase of party funding

On Wednesday, 20 November, Saeima’s Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee conceptually supported the legislative draft on the initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents in regards to the significant increase of funding for political parties and its submission to the parliament’s Budget Committee for review.

Estonia sees no alternative to NATO and says it’s strong

Estonia’s top diplomate Urmas Reinsalu has announced prior to a meeting with counterparts from other NATO nations that he considers the alliance strong and sees no alternatives to it.

Supplying all Latvian residents with food would cost nearly EUR 12 million per day

In the event of a threat to the state, supplying Latvian residents with food would cost the state budget approximately EUR 12 million per day, according to estimates from Agriculture Ministry, which were performed in line with adoption of a comprehensive state security system.

State Revenue Service employees’ «glances» at sensitive files and symbolic penalties

Employees of Latvia’s State Revenue Service have been punished multiple times for leaking sensitive data in the past. People received insignificant disciplinary penalties while the leaked information may have ended up in the hands of less than honest people. Why is it that state security matters protected as well as empty hockey gates and who should be held responsible?

Malta arrests businessman in journalist murder case

Maltese authorities have arrested in the murder case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on Wednesday a well-known entrepreneur Yorgen Fenech. Police and Fenech himself have not yet commented publicly on the operation

Latvia’s finance minister bets on tax reform to find money for healthcare

To find necessary funding for healthcare, Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs proposes creating «a fair system» in the context of the expected tax reform in which all employed taxpayers will be able to participate.

Levits: Principle of irresponsibility is entrenched in Latvia

Latvian President Egils Levits, discussing the issue of doctor wages in the country, has said: «We have developed for a long time a mechanism of irresponsibility». The head of state gave an interview to Latvijas Televīzija’s programme Rīta Panorāma on Wednesday, November 20.

Riga Mayor ready to resign, if no new majority in City Council

Riga Mayor Oļegs Burovs is looking for a new majority after cooperation with his party has been stopped by Harmony party. If no new majority is established, Burovs would resign, he said in an interview with Latvijas Radio.

Lithuanian firefighters protest over low pay and outdated equipment

Lithuanian firefighters have reminded of government commitments in the field in a protest in Vilnius over the average wage of 430 euros and outdated equipment.

Sweden discontinues investigation into Wikileaks Assange over rape

Swedish investigators have decided to end investigation into Julian Assange, the whistle-blower organisation Wikileaks, over alleged rape that has been upheld since 2010.

Saeima committee: reorganization of small state institutions does not yield results

«Evaluation and reorganization of small and very small state institutions so far has not given us desired results. This is because there has not been a reduction of the number of state institution employees or funding,» said chairman of Saeima’s Public Expenditures and Audit Committee Kaspars Ģirģens.

Minister: pressure is needed, but the message of LVSADA’s protest is unclear

Pressure from doctors will be needed in the future, but the message of the protest organized by Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers is unclear, Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele told journalists on Tuesday, 19 November.

While Kļaviņš penalized for fraud with compensations, Lembergs uses expensive cars for state funds

Two very similar cases in which state and municipal resources are used for private needs. However, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has two diametrically opposing judgements. While last year’s reported violation committed by Askolds Kļaviņš by misappropriating nearly EUR 10 000 of state budget funds was declared a crime, Aivars Lembergs’ use of expensive cars is not considered a crime in KNAB’s eyes.

EU bodies agree on bloc’s budget for 2020

The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have reached an agreement on the bloc’s budget for 2020, which has a planned increase in spending and the United Kingdom as a fully contributing member state.

Latvian government decides to divert hospitals’ profits for infrastructure development

The government has decided to allow capital associations in which Healthcare Ministry is a shareholder to divert clean profits and dividends for 2018 towards improvement of infrastructure, as confirmed by Healthcare Ministry.

57 children receive intestinal infections at Smiltene’s secondary school

According to deputy principal of Secondary School in Smiltene Inese Raiskuma, 57 children have received virus-induced intestinal infections.

Anti-money laundering: SEB says most suspicious clients from Estonia operations

Swedish investigative journalists, who are looking into suspicions of money laundering, have submitted to the pan-Baltic banking group SEB a list with 194 people, the company has announced.

Demanding Saeima’s and Viņķele’s dismissal, doctors announce another strike

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers has plans to organize a new protest act outside the Saeima on 28 November. The protest will demand the parliament’s dismissal, as well as voice distrust towards Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele.

«Was never fit for vice-mayor’s post.» Baraņņiks loses post in Riga City Council

With votes from opposition deputies, Riga City Council’s Vice-Chairman Vadims Baraņņiks was removed from his post on Tuesday, 19 November. He was also removed from his post in Riga Freeport board.

Kundziņsala overpass construction splits Riga Freeport authority over cartel case

Last week, Riga Freeport authority decided to sign a contract worth nearly EUR 40 million on the construction of Kundziņsala transport overpass with companies that have ties with people involved in the so-called construction cartel case, as reported by LTV programme De Facto.

Tusk kept reminding EU of Russia being «strategic problem», not partner

European Council’s outgoing chairman Donald Tusk has in a speech devoted to his five years in office revealed that he had to remind member states that Russia was Europe’s «strategic problem», instead of being its strategic partner.

In Hong Kong protests, 400 people arrested

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests a standoff between activists and riot police continues at a university, where around 600 protesters have surrendered and 400 have been arrested, local authorities say.

Riga City Council opposition will likely refrain from Baraņņiks’ dismissal vote

On Tuesday, 19 November, the opposition of Riga City Council will likely abstain or not participate at all in the vote regarding the dismissal of the city council’s vice-chairman Vadims Baraņņiks, as told by For Latvia’s Development faction chairman Viesturs Zeps.

Newest comments

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!