country in northeastern Europe

Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika), officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in Northern Europe. One of the three Baltic states, it is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.9 million people as of 2015, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius.

Lithuania continues to serve as a model to others, by advancing democracy and security on a global scale. ~ Barack Obama

Quotes edit

If Lithuania needs to defend itself again, we will not be alone as we were in some fatal historical moments. ~ Dalia Grybauskaite
  • While separatist nationalisms developed and were increasingly expressed, there was no protracted attempt to use the extensive military resources of the Soviet state to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union. Already, in 1986–7, the government had refused to employ force to support party leaders in the Baltic Republics. When the crisis rose to a height, counterreform attempts by the Soviet military, keen to preserve the integrity of the state, led to action against nationalists in Georgia (1989), Azerbaijan (1990), Lithuania (1991), Latvia (1991), and Moldova (1992). However, these steps were small-scale, and there was no significant violent supporting action by the 25 million Russians living within the Soviet Union but outside Russia, those, for example, who played a key role in crises in Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014. Gorbachev, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice of Marxism without there being, as in the story, any Sorcerer to restore order, had never sought the disruption he created.
  • Article six of the Soviet constitution, which guaranteed the Communist Party a monopoly of power, was abolished in February 1990. However, the Party proved unable to compete effectively in the new political situation. Moreover, Gorbachev wanted to preserve the Soviet Union, if necessary only as a loose confederation. Thus, when the republics declared their independence, Gorbachev supported the attempt to maintain the authority of the Soviet Union by sending troops into them in January 1991. This policy led to clashes in Riga and Vilnius, the capitals of Latvia and Lithuania respectively. Fourteen unarmed people protecting the television tower in Vilnius were killed and five civilians in the seizure of the Interior Ministry in Riga. These steps did not intimidate the nationalists but led to the building of barricades in both cities. Iconic moments and locations were provided both for the nationalist movement and for post-independence memorialisation, notably in Vilnius.
  • For as politics opened up while prosperity lagged behind, it became hard to see what benefits a state like Lithuania got from being part of the Soviet Union. The Lithuanians resented how that had come about—Hitler and Stalin had arranged their annexation in the 1939 Nazi- Soviet Pact. They followed closely what was happening now in Germany and Eastern Europe. Whatever lingering doubts there were disappeared in January, 1991, when Soviet troops in Vilnius fired on a crowd of demonstrators, and on February 19th, the Lithuanians decisively voted for independence. Much the same sequence of events occurred in Latvia and Estonia. Gorbachev, still hoping for love, was not inclined to resist. But if the Baltics seceded, why could the Transcaucasian republics not do the same? Or the Moldavians? Or even the Ukrainians? These were the questions confronting Gorbachev in the spring of 1991, and he had no answer for them. "[AJlthough we were slaying the totalitarian monster," Chernyaev recalled, "no consensus emerged on what would replace it; and so, as perestroika was losing its orientation, the forces it had unleashed were slipping out of control.
  • If Lithuania needs to defend itself again, we will not be alone as we were in some fatal historical moments.
  • Around the same time, communism in Central and Eastern Europe finally fell, but its economic rivalry with capitalism had, of course, long since been decided. It’s easy to think that these countries were never close to the market economies, but in 1950 countries such as the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary had a GDP per capita about a quarter higher than poor Western countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece. In 1989, the eastern states were nowhere close. The eastern part of Germany was richer than West Germany before World War II. When the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989, East Germany’s GDP per capita was not even half that of West Germany’s. Of these countries, those that liberalized the most have on average developed the fastest and established the strongest democracies. An analysis of twenty-six post-communist countries showed that a 10 per cent increase in economic freedom was associated with a 2.7 per cent faster annual growth. Political and economic institutions have improved the most in the Central and Eastern European countries that are now members of the EU, not least the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Today, they are some of the freest countries in the world and have more than tripled average incomes since independence. But one can also observe a recent reformer like Georgia. It was seen as an economic basket case, but after the Rose Revolution in 2003 it increased per capita incomes almost threefold and cut extreme poverty rates by almost two-thirds.
    • Johan Norberg, The Capitalist Manifesto: Why the Global Free Market Will Save the World (2023)
  • Please accept the best wishes of the American people as you celebrate the 98th anniversary of Lithuania's declaration of independence. Lithuania continues to serve as a model to others, by advancing democracy and security on a global scale. Your dedication to helping other counties complete their own democratic transformation has been made clear through your work in the EU Eastern Partnership. In addition, you have continued to show leadership beyond your borders by standing with Ukraine and by maintaining your consistent support of Afghanistan.
  • In the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—the return of the Red Army also provoked lasting resistance. Having become independent from Russia in 1918, the three countries were occupied by the Soviets in 1940, after Stalin’s pact with Hitler. The occupation was vicious, and the German invasion in 1941 had been greeted with relief by many Balts, who now turned their wrath on Russians and other local minorities, including Jews. The German defeat meant the return of the Red Army and the start of another round of bloodletting. In all three Baltic countries resistance coalesced around former officers, most of whom had collaborated with the Nazis; they were known collectively as the “Forest Brothers.” The fighting lasted for almost a decade and cost up to fifty thousand lives, mostly in Lithuania. Around 10 percent of the entire adult population of Balts was deported or sent to Soviet labor camps between 1940 and 1953.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (2017)

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