Emigrants 'have plans' to return home

  • 2008-06-04
  • By Adam Mullett
VILNIUS - Living abroad is not an easy thing to do, but people from Eastern Europe have been trying en masse since the moment the West opened its gates.
Higher pay, potentially better living standards and a chance to learn a new language are all reasons people make the effort.
The mass exodus to Western Europe has caused countless problems for the Lithuanian economy, but a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is confident that the emigrants will one day return home.
Violeta Motulaite, ambassador at large of policy planning, said she believes that the Diaspora will return with new skills.

"We are in contact with some who are living abroad and they told us they have plans to move home after some time. It might not be for five or 10 years, but they will bring new ideas and new skills here," Motulaite said.
Among those living abroad is Jurga Linikaite from Raseiniai. She has been living in England for about five years. She thinks that living in Britain is a good idea for the moment.
"When I left Lithuania, I went in search of adventure 's there isn't anything to do at home. I came over with no expectations and what I found was a culture that I really like," Linikaite said.
Linikaite went to the U.K. in search of adventure and landed in a jewelry shop where she now designs new pieces.
"When I arrived I didn't know anything, but I was looking for work 's they taught me everything," Linikaite said.
While this is not a skill that she thinks she can use in Lithuania, it is an example of what can be learned and taken back from the West. Others, of course, do not gain skills that will necessarily benefit them in life. One exchange student, Birute Dermeikyte, from Vilnius went to live in Zaragoza, Spain for six months.
"I learned to live on my own 's I know that I don't need to keep my old friends to survive. These aren't skills I can use at home in business, but I did learn how to make sangria and calimocho," she joked.
Lithuania is suffering from a brain drain as skilled workers move abroad, leaving behind a diluted work force. This smaller work force increases demand and drives up wages.

"The wages are rising because the people who are left are in high demand 's there is no competition. This is in turn driving inflation," Motulaite said.
Motulaite admitted that authorities are not expecting those who have emigrated to return.
"We know that not all of these people are going to come back. In fact we aren't expecting the majority of them to come back, but some will," she said.

Working elsewhere and earning relatively large wages is not what it seems, Linikaite said. She thinks that it was a good time to leave when she did five years ago, but the situation has changed.
"If someone asked me now what to do, I'd tell them to stay because Lithuania is a much better place than what it was 's stay if you feel comfortable," she said.
The Information Center for Lithuanians Returning to the Homeland is a resource for those wanting to come home after a long time abroad. Luda Martoniene thinks that people are ready to come home.
"In the past 15 years, people have left because the wages were low, but now they can see that things are getting better," Martoniene said.

However, Martoniene revealed that Lithuanians have the same problems returning as anyone moving to a new country. Returning Lithuanians routinely have problems with finding housing, good jobs and schools for their children. Less obvious problems also exist.
Meeting old relatives and introducing foreign partners and children pose problems for those resettling.
"Parents want their children to be able to come back and learn the language, but where can they send them to school and how can they communicate with their relatives?" Martoniene said.