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Mars 16, 2011

Leonidas Donskis spent the holiday weekend of the 11th of March in England. The MEP visited London as well as Cambridge, where he met the Lithuanian community and gave public lectures at two universities.

In the meeting on the 11th of March, which was organised by the British-Lithuanian society as well as the Lithuanian embassy in London, held at the SSEES (School of Slavonic and East European Studies), UCL, Leonidas Donskis gave a public lecture in English “Two Europes bound to become one: a Lithuanian perspective on the EU“. In the lecture which attracted the Lithuanians living in London as well as the students from UCL, L. Donskis emphasised that the term “Eastern Europe“, which we often use in the cultural context, is in essence superficial and artificial. It appears to be just like the attitude seeping from the 18th Century, dividing people into “intelligent and educated“ Westerners and “barbaric“ Easterners, which has no grounds in today‘s Europe. According to L. Donskis, today, no-one has the right to one historical interpretation. Both sides should be more receptive to each other‘s experience. For example, Eastern European nations could enrich the Western experience with their ability to strike up an intensive dialogue amongst cultures.

On the 12th of March Lithuanian embassy in London, together with the Santara-Sviesa London club, organised another meeting where L. Donskis gave a lecture on “Lithuania at the beginning of 21st Century: dilemmas, hopes and disappointments“. The meeting, which was conducted in Lithuanian and dedicated to the Lithuanian community in London, was mainly informal, and was unique in its direct communication style: propositions raised in the lecture were an incentive for further discussion. L. Donskis was exceptionally successful in getting the audience involved in the conversation about Lithuania‘s problems by attentively listening to how people who live in London feel about them, and then very precisely wrapping their opinions up. If you would like to find out more about this meeting, please read the “Delfi“ portal publication.

The last final lecture of this visit “Identity and Dilemmas of Small Nations in the EU“ was held at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, with extensive attendance from students of Cambridge and Oxford. With the introduction from the Czech writer‘s Milan Kundera‘s novel “The Unbearable Lighteness of Being“, Professor Donskis gave examples of Lev Karsavin, Vosyliy Sezeman, Stasys Salkauskas and others who have chosen to live and create in Lithuania, and emphasised the importance of their humanistic work  in which they look at the questions of identity.

Leonidas Donskis was faced with very varied questions which now would be very difficult to put in certain groups – ranging from issues of life in Lithuania to the situation in Libya. However, a repeated question that came up in each meeting was emigration and its consequences for Lithuania. The Professor suggested that one‘s choice of where to live is a basic human right; emigration itself is not our main worry, it is merely the scale of it. In L. Donskis‘ opinion, common effort  should be able to create a country in which people would be attracted to live. On the other hand, emigration has already proved that the emigrants have learned to live with Lithuania, the question now is whether Lithuania will learn how to live with its diaspora.

Based on publication by the Lithuanian Embassy in London (Rimantas Vingras)


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