‘By 2017, all Jewish graves will be marked, memorialized and maintained,’ Lithuanian PM pledges

Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has promised that a government project to mark, memorialize and maintain Jewish burial grounds in his country would be completed by 2017. In a speech before the Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR) and the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in Jerusalem, Butkevičius said: “I can assure you that this obligation will be fulfilled. The history of Lithuania is unthinkable without the Jewish presence.”

Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius addressing the event in JerusalemAddressing the gathering after his talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Butkevičius stressed that he was “pleased with the excellent cooperation” between Israel and Lithuania in many fields.

The Lithuanian leader was accompanied by a delegation that included Deputy Foreign Minister Neris Germanas; Government Chancellor Alminas Mačiulis; and Lithuanian Jewish Community head Faina Kukliansky.

Asked about whether the Lithuanians would admit Syrian refugees, he said that his government had decided to accept 342 people but was considering granting sanctuary to more. However, Butkevičius added that Europe had to “fight the causes, not the consequences” of the refugee crisis.

ICFR board member Prof. Shlomo Avineri, who chaired the event, welcomed the prime minister by saying that the Lithuanian leader had come “from Vilnius, the ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’, to the real Jerusalem.”  Avineri stressed that Lithuanians and Jews shared a common history, which at times constituted a heavy burden.

“Today, we can recognize, understand and transcend that history,” he said. He urged Butkevičius to facilitate contacts and cooperation between universities in the two countries in order to further that goal. 

In 2014, the WJC’s Yiddish Center aimed at contributing to the preservation of the Yiddish language and culture was established in Vilnius. Since then, some 2,000 people from around the world have participated in its programs.

Photo: Andres Lacko

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Dovid Katz

Wed, 09 Sep 2015

Greetings from faraway Vilna! We congratulate the Lithuanian prime minister on his words of wisdom and hope that this means that the deeply painful project of building a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of Vilna's oldest Jewish cemetery has now been cancelled, and the convention center project moved to another location in this beautiful city, to a location where it can be enjoyed by all people of the city and the planet. For more background on the international opposition and the paper trail to date please see: http://defendinghistory.com/who-is-opposed-to-the-convention-center-on-the-old-vilna-jewish-cemetery-at-piramont-in-snipiskes/75558,
and
http://defendinghistory.com/2015-dispute-on-vilnius-reconstruction-of-sports-arena-on-site-of-old-vilna-jewish-cemetery.
A gut gezunt yor un a gmar khsime toyve! Leshone toyve tikoseyvu!

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