Promoting Lithuania means business for many

  • 2001-08-23
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - There is no specific institution in Lithuania that promotes the country's image abroad as a destination for tourism and foreign capital. It's left up to the Foreign Ministry and the Culture Ministry to demonstrate the most activity in this area.

"Inviting foreign journalists provides the best results for the promotion of Lithuania. We are now awaiting a group of Dutch journalists. Usually, we do it on the eve of the visit of a Lithuanian leader going abroad. We also publish information about our country in the advertising pages of large foreign newspapers, such as The Financial Times," Daiva Ramaskauskaite, head of the Foreign Ministry's press department, told The Baltic Times.

She said that Lithuanian embassies are hard at work on giving the country a good name. "I think we do more than the Estonians and Latvians, especially in Brussels and Moscow. We also have more resources in the United States, because of the huge Lithuanian community there. It's just that Estonians shout louder about their work," Ramaskauskaite said.

At the same time, she complained that there is not enough good literature representing Lithuania. "There are many nice albums and coffee table books. But churches and castles are interesting only for tourists. There's a lack of material about modern Lithuania and business here. The Lithuanian Development Agency works very well in this field. But they are more specialized in promoting investment opportunities in Lithuania and less in promoting Lithuanian business abroad," she said.

Ramaskauskaite added that her ministry organizes the production of video films about Lithuania: "We're now preparing a clip on Lithuania's preparations to join NATO."

She pointed out the successful representation of Lithuania at EXPO 2000 in Hannover, for which the Economy Ministry was largely responsible. The pavilion was designed by five architects and built by the construction company Panevezio Statybos Strestas under the management of the Litexpo exhibition center.

It was a big hit. One of the biggest circulation magazines in Germany, Focus, wrote that Lithuania's pavilion was among the top five at EXPO. The biggest daily in Belgium, De Standaard, nominated Lithuania for third place, after Switzerland and Holland.

In June, the ministries of culture, foreign affairs and education set up the Lithuanian Institute to promote the nation's culture abroad. "The institute was established with the help of the Swedish Institute and is a Lithuanian copy based on the Swedish format. That means we won't establish cultural centers abroad as the French or Italian cultural institutes do. Lithuanian cultural attaches will do all the work abroad.

"Just look at the success of the exhibition of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis' paintings in Paris this summer," Rolandas Kvietkauskas, spokesman for the Culture Ministry, told The Baltic Times. "On Aug. 25, together with our Latvian and Estonian colleagues, we begin Baltic Culture Days in Scandinavia. And on Sept. 5, a Lithuanian cultural festival will be held in Poland. Ciurlionis' paintings will be shown in Warsaw."

Neither Ramaskauskaite nor Kvietkauskas was able to give even approximate amounts of what Lithuania and its ministries spend on promotions abroad. They stated that each project is prepared in cooperation with several institutions. Money comes from different sources and it is "impossible to give figures."