Lithuanians mull question of identity

  • 2008-02-18
  • In cooperation with BNS

BRAVE ART: Vytis the white knight could be in line for a makeover

VILNIUS -- Lithuanian minds are concentrating on the question of national identity with both the prime minister and president musing on the subject in recent days.

LithuanianPrime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has given his backing to the idea of a sharedsymbol for the Baltic states.

"It would be good if all the three Baltic states would agree on acommon symbol. Regional cooperation in the European Union (EU) is expanding.This year the cooperation strategy of all the Baltic Sea states will bediscussed. After accession to the Schengen Treaty, one can freely travel aroundthe Baltic Sea, these are new economic, culture and businessopportunities," Kirkilas said in an interview with Latvian daily LatvijasAvize on Feb 16.

A specially established commission on image creation, chaired by Kirkilas, on Jan. 25 approved a strategic marketing conceptfor the presentation of Lithuania around the world. The plan calls for an imagemakeover underscoring Lithuania's bravery, creating a representative Web site,and possibly changing the country's name in English.

The committee proposed the national slogan:"Lithuania - a bravecountry." It also somewhat optimistically recommended enticing Hollywood studios to shoot a Braveheart-style historical epic about the country to raise its international profile.

"There have been several competitions with participation ofprofessionals. Half a year ago it was decided that there will a symbol for Lithuania, but later it was discoveredthat it was similar to the tree symbol of the city of London in Canada, andeverything had to be started from scratch again," said the Lithuanian premier.

According to Kirkilas, the idea is that bravery links the past and thefuture by developing an economy focused on knowledge and progress 's whateverthat means.

"Presently there are discussions held about the slogan, and we can say thatthese are long discussions as this is the issue on which everybody has his ownopinion. Possibly, we have not chosen the right approach to hold such lengthydiscussions, but society should be involved. There are many areas in whichalmost everybody has something to say, such as basketball, love, and so on... wehave not yet managed to find a common position on Lithuania's image," he said. 

Meanwhile, in a speech marking the 90th anniversary of the declaration of Lithuanianindependence, President Valdas Adamkus urged the populace to be "worthy ofour long and great history and let us purify our aspirations from anger, hatredand short-lived interests. Let us be worthy of our state and nation: let us bethe architects of a new Lithuania."

"Today we are walking down a path where we feel more secure fromexternal threats than ever before in the course of our history. It isglobalization and the rapidly changing world that create crucial challenges,"the head of state declared.

He noted that the agreement signed with Poland on construction of a commonenergy bridge will further enhance the nation's independence, and be importantnot only to Lithuania andPoland, but Estonia, Latvia andthe rest of Europe as well.