Town wages war of pigs with Denmark

  • 2008-07-09
  • By Adam Mullett

PIGGY IN THE MIDDLE: Town residents may eat pork but they do not want too many pigs.

VILNIUS - Just to prove that the English speaking world doesn't have a monopoly on NIMBIES (not in my back yard) people from the northern town of Mazeikiai rallied outside the Danish embassy in Vilnius July 6 in anger at a Danish pig farmer whose operation they say is will create a nuisance that they can not stomach.
The owner of the farm, Erwin Nissan,  plans to expand his farm permit from 3,000 to over 12,000 pigs. He had previously attempted to get a permit for 54,000 pigs, but the local municipality and community fiercely opposed this.

Danish Ambassador Laurids Mikaelson collected the 3,000 signatures against the expansion of the farm, which currently has only 500 items of livestock.
The issue went to the highest court in Lithuania after the Mazeikiai municipal government's case was rejected and then rejected again on appeal.
Ironically Nissan  still has to fight for what he already had a right to, despite winning the two court cases.
"When he bought the farm, it was already rated for 12,000 pigs," Danish Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Mette Kruse said.

Despite winning both cases for the right to have his farm expansion, Nissan is still having problems and is trying to negotiate with the neighbors, who are required to give permission to him. The municipality's arguments against his plans  were found to be invalid, but they are still opposing him.
The municipality insists that the farm would not be environmentally friendly. Nissan has said an environmental investigation will take place on his farm.

The Danish embassy is backing their citizen and have slammed  protests against expansion.
The Danish embassy claim that a lack of "rule of law" was  stifling Lithuania in terms of economic development.
So strong is the feeling in  Danish diplomatic circles that the ambassador took a trip to the region in the far northwest of Lithuania to mediate the issue. Kruse, who is standing in for Mikaelson while he is on holiday, said the ambassador wants Lithuanians to respect the rulings of the court.
During the rally, Mikaelson tried to please the crowd by buying them pastries from the local bakery. After they refused the pastries, he ceased to communicate with the protesters.
Protester representative Vaidotas Jarmalavicius was angry  that the  ambassador was so patronizing to believe he could butter them up with pastries.

The ambassador saw this move differently. He intended the pastries as a gesture of good will whereby protesters could negotiate more comfortably.
"The ambassador thought this would be normal to have coffee and pastries because they got up early in the morning and had a long bus ride behind them. He wanted a good atmosphere," Kruse said.
Following the pastry debacle, the ambassador broke off communication with the protesters. "This was supposed to be a hand forward for communication," Kruse said. "It is seen some ways in some countries and other ways in other countries," she added.

The issue has become a sore spot for the ambassador who was forced to post an open letter regarding the issue.
"I feel indeed sorry about the negative reaction that Danish agriculture meets in some circles in Lithuania. Nobody, even the most environmentally conscious Lithuanian opposing Danish farming in Lithuania can deny that Denmark and the Danish people for decades have been among the leaders 's or the leader 's of the world when it comes to environmental policies and environmental consciousness of the population," Mikaelson wrote  on the Danish Embassy Web site

He went on to rubbish claims that Nissan's farm is not environmentally friendly.
"Why should Danish farmers doing business in Lithuanian agriculture be a threat to the Lithuanian environment? What about other farmers? My embassy supports modern farming as a genuine business, like any other business, on equal conditions and of course with full respect for all Lithuanian and European Union rules and laws, including environmental rules," Mikaelson wrote.