Vilnius turns up the heat but locals are left out in the cold

  • 2007-10-10
  • By Kimberly Kweder

FIVE-STAR TREATMENT: The exclusive Reval Hotel Lietuva hosted the conference

VILNIUS CONFERENCE -- Lithuania stole center stage on Oct. 10 -11 as host of the largest energy security conference in Eastern and Central Europe this year.

"It's really heartwarming that Vilnius' conferences are becoming such a good tradition," said President Valdas Adamkus, the driving force behind the event.

Seven presidents, 12 ministers, top-ranking officials of the United States and the European Union, energy experts and representatives of energy companies discussed the framework for the EU external energy policy and global energy security at the Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007.

A large number of security guards and state police enforced the inside and outside the Hotel Lietuva, the President's Palace, main roads, and nearby bridges during the two-day conference.

Morning traffic came to a halt as Vilnius police led a parade of state-owned vehicles carrying high-profile delegates to and from the Hotel Lietuva. A large number of security guards and state police also  enforced the hotel inside and out, the President's Palace, main roads, nearby bridges throughout all day and night.

After a long day of speeches from global energy experts, professors, and delegates from 240 people who attended Oct. 10, an official reception at the Vilnius Town Hall included a wide array of dishes, cocktails, wines and desserts.

The presidents' dinner menu was salmon fillet baked with lander soufflé served with chanterelle sauce and vegetables, and for dessert - a chocolate pudding with white chocolate sauce and berries.

The second day, President Adamkus hosted a luncheon that included scallops and crab legs, ruccola salad and baked cherry tomatoes, beef rossini, sautéd vegetables and lemon grass crème brûlée as a sweet.

The president's press team said the total cost of the conference is not disclosed at the moment and the hotel accommodation was coordinated by individual embassies.

It was 10 years ago delegates from Central and Eastern European countries were invited to the Vilnius  on a conference about resolving regional conflicts and showing progress on good neighborhood relations. Vilnius Conference 1997 was held at the President's Palace.

Although high-profile guests warmed up to sharing common policies in the EU energy market, locals The Baltic Times talked to on the streets say they have been left out in the cold.

Alma Ziberkiene said she understands energy resource is a financial problem in Lithuania, but she doesn't know any of the topics and is disinterested.

"Energy use is a problem for me and my family. We work for state-government jobs and aren't paid well," said Ziberkiene.

Tom Rutkauskas said he heard the buzzword 'energy' from local media but had no idea what it meant for Lithuania or the EU.

"What's it all about?" he asked.

"I see alternative energy resources as important but I don't really look at the global aspects of it all. I'm just a simple guy, go to work and go home. I can't take care of it all!" he said.