Viewing cable 05VILNIUS1029

05VILNIUS10292005-09-28 13:59:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001029 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/27/2014 
REF: A. STATE 159129 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 706 
     ¶C. 04 VILNIUS 1402 
     ¶D. VILNIUS 574 
     ¶E. VILNIUS 959 
 AND (D) 
¶1. SUMMARY.  (U) Manifestations of extremism in Lithuania are 
infrequent, mostly localized, and rarely virulent. 
Extremists exist, but their political clout here is minute. 
Expressions of intolerance, including anti-Semitism, are more 
common than acts of violence or vandalism, although 
infrequent acts of violence do occur.  Promoting tolerance 
and acceptance of diversity is a top Mission priority.  We 
strive to raise awareness through formal programs, and stress 
tolerance as a theme in press opportunities and public 
speeches.  The GOL usually takes a strong stand against 
intolerant expressions and acts, and sponsors programs and 
organizations that promote cross-cultural understanding.  END 
Extremism in Lithuania 
¶2. (U) Extremism is rare in Lithuania, a racially and 
religiously homogeneous country that is 98 percent Caucasian 
and over 85 percent Christian.  Religious minorities, 
including various pagan groups, Muslims, and Jews, together 
constitute less than three percent of the population.  These 
minority communities are mostly secular and their members are 
well integrated in society.   Acts of intolerance against 
racial and religious minorities sometimes occur.  Such 
incidents most often reflect a current of anti-Semitism that 
runs through all levels of society.  The most troubling 
recent episode of anti-Semitism occurred when the second 
largest daily paper published a series of editorials, 
complete with cartoons reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, 
claiming that Jews and homosexuals "rule the world" (ref B). 
High-level GOL officials immediately denounced the 
¶3. (U) Several nationalist groups exist in Lithuania, 
although their numbers are small.  Their leaders periodically 
make public statements, often virulently anti-Semitic in 
nature.  These groups have virtually no political power. 
Unabashedly racist groups like the Siauliai United National 
Workers Party rarely even come close to winning an election, 
and racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric is the exclusive refuge 
of minor and/or disgraced politicians. 
Embassy Initiatives 
¶4. (U) One of the central elements of our strategy to 
strengthen democracy and human rights in Lithuania is to 
promote tolerance.  This commitment is emphasized in our 
Mission Performance Plan.  Significant recent Mission 
initiatives in this regard include the following: 
- The Ambassador regularly speaks out against intolerance and 
includes material supporting tolerance in virtually every 
public speaking engagement. 
- We monitor the press and political scene for incidents of 
hate speech and intolerance.  We proactively respond to these 
incidents, where appropriate, by raising them with the GOL 
and by making public statements supporting tolerance and 
condemning anti-Semitism and other manifestations of 
- The Ambassador hosted an Iftaar dinner in 2004 celebrating 
Ramadan for 20 prominent members of the Muslim community (ref 
- We organized a tolerance program for high school students 
to discuss diversity and the lessons learned from World War 
II (ref D). 
- We award small Democracy Commission grants to organizations 
that support tolerance-related issues.  In FY 2005, we 
implemented several programs for NGOs working with minority 
groups in Lithuania, a program to increase intercultural 
understanding in rural regions, a seminar to teach 
kindergarten teachers about gender equality, programs to 
publish books on the Roma and Jewish communities, and a 
seminar and a radio program on prevention of ethnic hatred 
and xenophobia. 
- We coordinate an annual Holocaust teacher-training program 
in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial 
Museum.  This summer, three high school teachers traveled to 
the United States for a week of training in Holocaust 
- We organized an interfaith memorial service for victims of 
terrorism at a Lutheran Church in Vilnius on September 11, 
and recruited the Russian, British, Turkish, and Spanish 
embassies to co-sponsor the event.  The event was the first 
large-scale interfaith service ever held in Lithuania. 
Representatives of six different religious groups and over 
175 attendees, including President Valdas Adamkus, 
participated.  National media covered the event, and it was 
the lead story on several television news programs (ref E). 
GOL Efforts 
¶5. (U) The GOL attempts to reduce intolerance through 
education programs and support of racial and religious 
minorities.  No groups overtly incite violence in Lithuania, 
although some people may make more extremist comments 
-- (U) Lithuania is a functioning democracy with a lively 
press and burgeoning Internet usage.  Spaces for open 
intellectual debate are freely available. 
-- (S) The GOL, through its law enforcement entities, 
regularly works to identify and monitor persons who might 
incite violence.  Law enforcement agencies track the 
membership of mosques and monitor the actions of certain 
individuals and foreigners present in Lithuania. 
-- (U) Lithuania has universal public education, with equal 
access for females.  Lithuania's higher education system is 
fully integrated as well, with a recent Statistics Department 
report finding that females now comprise 60 percent of 
students pursuing higher education. 
-- (U) The GOL developed a formal Holocaust curriculum in 
2000, addressing the history of Jewish culture, Jewish life 
in Lithuania, the Holocaust, and the role of Lithuanians in 
the Holocaust.  All students study the Holocaust in three 
different grades. 
-- (U) Senior GOL members speak out publicly against 
anti-Semitic and other acts of intolerance when they occur, 
but occasionally we need to prompt officials to do the right 
-- (U) Just this week (September 26, 2005), the Lithuanian 
Parliament amended the Lithuanian Administrative code to 
impose financial penalties on those found guilty of 
discriminating by age, religion, sexual orientation, 
disability, race or ethnic origin.  Previously, the code only 
penalized gender discrimination. 
-- (U) The GOL materially and financially supports 
quasi-governmental "public institutions" whose goals are to 
promote tolerance, including the Department for Ethnic 
Minorities, the Tolerance Center, and the Commission for the 
Evaluation of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes. 
-- (U) Lithuanian universities are strong in engineering and 
science.  The GOL promotes scientific learning, and Lithuania 
is becoming a well-known center for laser technology. 
¶6. (C) Extremism remains confined to the squalid fringes of 
Lithuanian society.  The country's ethic and racial 
homogeneity means that most Lithuanians see people from other 
cultures as curiosities rather than threats.  Although 
immigration is increasing, most immigrants come from other 
countries in the region, such as Belarus and Ukraine, and are 
unlikely to import extremism.  Because intolerance and 
anti-Semitism remain persistent problems here, however, the 
importance of tolerance will continue to feature prominently 
in the Embassy's public diplomacy efforts and bilateral 
dialogue with the GOL.