Europeans admire nation's culture, disdain corruption

  • 2006-11-22
  • By Arturas Racas
VILNIUS - Lithuania is a politically unstable country ridden with corruption and poor for investment, yet it boasts a rich culture and friendly people live, according to a recent survey. The poll, the most comprehensive of its kind, was conducted in 24 EU member states, as well as Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad exclave by the Lithuanian company Vilmorus and the international group Chime Communications in June-August of this year.

The groups surveyed some 1,000 residents in each country, hoping to discover how EU residents - and citizens of neighboring countries - see Lithuania and its people. In turn, this information will help Lithuania develop a strategy for marketing its image.
When asked if they had a good opinion of Lithuania, 30 percent of respondents in 19 countries were "undecided," according to survey results. Forty-two percent of all residents polled said they were undecided. Italy seems to be the country "most undecided" on Lithuania with 73 percent of its residents describing their opinion of the country as such. Portugal followed with 72 percent of residents being undecided, and Germany with 70 percent.

The same countries - plus Spain - also recorded the lowest number of respondents who had a positive opinion of Lithuania.
The Baltic state's biggest fans appear to be Estonia, with 85 percent of respondents seeing Lithuania in a positive light, Finland (84 percent) and Latvia (81 percent).
Both Lithuania's fans and skeptics believe that Lithuania is a modern country with a booming economy.
More than two thirds of those polled in Estonia, Kaliningrad, Belarus and Latvia see Lithuania as a modern country, while 74 percent in Latvia and 67 percent in Finland believe Lithuania's economy to be "booming."

The same cannot be said for the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal, where less than 30 percent believe that Lithuania's economy is booming. But even worse were the Swedes, Finns and Dutch, the majority of whom replied "no" when asked whether they think Lithuania is a modern country (63 percent, 55 percent and 54 percent, accordingly).
But the truly grim opinions surfaced when EU residents were asked about Lithuania's political stability. Only the majority of Austrians reported that the Baltic state had a politically stable country, with a mere 57 percent. Otherwise, only 34 percent of those polled hold this opinion.

Another weak area in Lithuania, according to survey results, is its tourism and investment potential. The residents of five countries 's Sweden, the Netherlands, Hungary, Greece and Spain 's did not find Lithuania an attractive country for tourism and investment.

Yet, Lithuania's rich culture and outgoing people have seemed to woo much of Europe. An average 54 percent of respondents agreed that Lithuania has a rich culture, with the truest admirers found in Belarus (80 percent). And more than 70 percent of respondents in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Finland, Austria and Sweden think highly of Lithuania's culture.
Overall, 55 percent of respondents agreed that Lithuanians are good and friendly people, with 75 percent of people in eight countries, including Denmark, France, Austria and Sweden, believing so.

Lithuania's reputation fared rather well, given the above indicators. Yet one question in the poll spoiled everything. It read: Do you agree that Lithuania is a country with low corruption? And the answer, regrettably, was a resounding "No."
Only 18 percent of all countries polled reported that Lithuania did have low corruption, with Slovenia in first place (39 percent).
Sweden and Finland topped the opposite category, with 62 percent of respondents perceiving Lithuania as corrupt.
The researchers, perhaps searching for solace, concluded that Lithuania was judged based on general post-Soviet stereotypes.
"But namely this is unpleasant empirics: Lithuania is attributed with roughly the same features as the whole post-Soviet region," read one of the survey's conclusions.