Emigration in Lithuania is becoming a threat to national security.
A special place among threats and challenges to national security, modern states assign to the demographic problem. Among the reasons for the decline in the number of indigenous people are urbanization, the emancipation of women, as well as the crisis of the traditional family. All this has an impact on the birth rate in the country. Serious loss of the number of people who are socially active and possessing a considerable creative potential is also caused by emigration of citizens abroad as a permanent place of residence.
As for Lithuania, fresh data from the Lithuanian Department of Statistics show a steady trend of outflow of the country’s population.
In the current year for 6 months from Lithuania 22,6 thousand people left (for the same period of 2014 – 17 thousand people) – this means an increase of 24%. This year, therefore, has every chance to repeat the record for the rate of outflow of population in 2011 – 54 thousand people.
In 2014, 36.6 thousand people emigrated from Lithuania (2013 – 38.8 thousand people, 2012 – 41.1 thousand people). In 2011 – 2014 years. on the average, 45 thousand people emigrated per year, and about 8 thousand emigrated, that is, the annual balance of emigrants exceeded the number of emigrants by 37 thousand people.
Most of the people of Lithuania traveled to the UK – 50%, Ireland – 10.4%, Norway – 7.1%, Germany – 7%, Spain – 3.6%, the USA – 3.3%, Sweden – 2.4% and Russia – 2%. Half of the departing were young people aged 20 to 29 years. At the same time, young people aged 20 – 24 make up almost a third of those who leave Lithuania.
Over the past 10 years, according to the Department of Statistics of Lithuania, the population of the country has decreased from 3.484 million people in 2001 to 3 million people in 2011 (a decrease of 14%), when the population census was last conducted.
According to Eurostat forecasts, by the year 2040, less than 2 million people will live in Lithuania (a decrease of 34% compared to 2011). Thus, for the departure of citizens abroad per capita, Lithuania occupies one of the first places on the European continent.
A recent sociological survey of Vilmorus company, commissioned by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs among Lithuanian citizens living abroad, revealed the reluctance of a third of respondents to return to their homeland.
At the same time, the ruling power in its inherent manner is not inclined to see in these figures a negative trend. Thus, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Mantvydas Bekiasius, “these 30% of defectors are a small indicator, because two-thirds of emigrants still would like to return.” Audra Sipaviciene, the head of the Vilnius Bureau of the International Organization for Migration, does not share the optimism of the authorities, since he believes that Vilnius does not have information about who comes back: specialists, pensioners or those who could not adapt to emigration?
The representative of the international organization, commenting on the results of the sociological survey, pointed out that one third of respondents noted difficulties in integrating abroad, as well as negative attitude towards themselves from local residents, which is explained by the behavior of Lithuanians-emigrants, ignorance of the local language, differences in social and cultural norms of behavior, etc.
The international observer emphasized that “even knowing about these difficulties, people still leave”. Instead, migrants arrive in Lithuania, mostly citizens of Belarus, Ukraine, China and Turkey (today there are only about 35,000 foreigners in Lithuania). His vision of the situation A.Sipavichene sums up the conclusion that “temporary emigration is a normal and even a positive phenomenon, but when it becomes one-sided, it shows that something is wrong with the country.”
In Lithuania, the problem of returning compatriots to their homeland is engaged in a large number of institutions of power: the Department for National Minorities and Lithuanians from Lithuania, the Information Center for the return of Lithuanians to their homeland, etc. At the same time, according to official data, state policy is ineffective: the country’s leadership is limited to one-time participation in foreign conferences such as “Back to Lithuania!”, Where working and Lithuanian students are campaigning for return to their homeland. To date, since the government of Lithuania approved the program “Global Lithuania” (2011 – 2019) in 2011, only four such events took place, the last of which took place in May 2014 in London, which has the largest diaspora in Europe ( more than 100 thousand Lithuanians), and which the head of state, despite the announcement of his participation, chose to ignore. At that conference, the main speaker in front of Lithuanian compatriots was Gitanas Naudsa, the president of the SEB Bank, who positioned Lithuania as an attractive state for a return in terms of good financial position, high living standards, salaries, declining unemployment, and a rapid inflow of investments in view of the forthcoming introduction of the euro .
Apparently, Lithuania’s chief economist was not believed, as evidenced by official statistics.
In Russia there is also a large Lithuanian diaspora, numbering about 32 thousand people, which in number many times exceeds, for example, the Norwegian Lithuanian diaspora (20 thousand people). According to Birute Nenartaviciute, chairman of the commission for eastern countries of the World Society of Lithuanians, the majority of Lithuanians who settled in Russia have well-paid jobs, are respected in the society, which causes their unwillingness to return to their homeland.
The Lithuanian authorities, in the framework of the Global Lithuania program, could quite well hold a conference in Russia for Lithuanian citizens, as was the case in a number of other countries. Yes, and the statements of the Russian leadership on the readiness to build relations with Lithuania on the basis of “equality and mutual respect” would help implement Vilnius state program for the return of compatriots.
What does the Lithuanian government think about emigration? Today, the official position on this issue is voiced by the chief economist G. Nauseda, who explains the increase in the rate of monthly emigration from Lithuania “by a more favorable competitive environment in Western Europe”. According to the economist, GDP growth slowed to 1.5% does not promote the generation of new jobs, but only supports existing places. Perhaps a sixfold reduction in Lithuania’s GDP growth rates in 2014 (8.5% in 2014) and could be called, as was the case with the Lithuanian authorities, a successful overcoming of current economic challenges, where the national economy demonstrates “elasticity and high resistance “, But for the permanent deterioration of the economic indicators. The general unfavorable situation is aggravated by demographic problems, as well as by the state pension policy.
According to the Eurostat “Atlas of Mortality”, Lithuanian citizens (66.3 years old) live the least in terms of the average European life expectancy. The projected average fertility rate per fertile couple in Lithuania in 2015 decreased to 1.29 children, which will be one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. According to the findings of the chief economist of Swedbank bank Nerijus Maciulis, Lithuania “is experiencing the demographic problem so sharply that even a cardinal increase in the birth rate does not compensate for the shortage of the working-age population, which will lead to chronic problems in the area of keeping pensioners.” According to the economist’s calculations, provided that there are an average of 2 children in families, by the year 2050 there will be 1.584 million people of working age in the country. According to the Department of Statistics, in 2014 in Lithuania the number of people of working age was 1.797 million people.
In addition, in 2011 the Saeima approved a progressive increase in the retirement age of up to 65 years for both men and women, which, according to economists, also contributed to the growth of unemployment (more than 300 thousand people), which resulted in the acceleration of incessant emigration .
Thus, the state, bringing the retirement age in accordance with the “European norms” to improve the situation with public finances and save the state insurance system, itself provokes the acceleration of outflow of population.
People are eager to leave for more prosperous European countries in terms of social protection. So, for example, a Lithuanian with a dependent child in the UK receives from the state a benefit of 1,200 euros, as well as the opportunity to earn no more than 125 euros a week. In Lithuania, a single mother receives about 20 euros a month from the state, as well as small discounts for utilities, electricity and gas, although the prices for food and clothing in both countries are almost comparable.
What awaits Lithuania in the future? Most likely, Lithuania will eventually suffer the same fate as Latvia, where Western countries slowly began to curtail their diplomatic presence. The first bell sounded from Belgium, which in its plan of financial optimization of foreign institutions recognized Latvia as “peripheral”, announcing the closure of its embassy.
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Emigration in Lithuania is becoming a threat to national security.