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Vytautas Landsbergis : biography

18 October 1932 -

Professor Vytautas Landsbergis (born 18 October 1932) is a Lithuanian conservative politician and Member of the European Parliament. He was the first head of state of Lithuania after its independence declaration from the Soviet Union, and served as the Head of the Lithuanian Parliament Seimas. Professor Landsbergis is an intellectual who has been active in Lithuania's political arena for almost two decades, and is a notable politician who helped contribute to the demise of the Soviet Union. He has written twenty books on a variety of topics, including a biography of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, as well as works on politics and music. He is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, and a member of the international advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Honorary doctorates

Vytautas Landsbergis has received honorary doctorates from the following institutions:

  • Loyola University, Chicago, 1991
  • Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania, 1992
  • Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, 1992
  • He was nominated for an honorary degree of Doctor of Law by Yale University, but he could not participate in the award ceremony, because of his required presence concerning political matters at home.
  • Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania, 1998
  • University of Law, Lithuania, 2000
  • Helsinki University, Finland, 2000
  • Cardiff University, Wales, 2000
  • Sorbonne, France, 2001
  • Art Academy, Lithuania, 2003

Political career

Landsbergis entered politics, in 1988, as one of the founders of Sąjūdis, the Lithuanian pro-independence political movement. After Sąjūdis' victory in the 1990 elections, he became the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania.

On 11 March 1990, he headed the Parliamentary session during which the restoration of Lithuanian independence from the Soviet Union was declared. Lithuania became the first Soviet Republic to do so. According to the temporary Constitution of Lithuania, Landsbergis had constitutional authority over both the Leader of the State and the Speaker of the Parliament. He held this post from March 1990 until the next elections in November 1992.

The Soviet Union attempted to stifle this activity by economic blockade in 1990, but it failed, and other Soviet Republics soon followed suit and declared their independence from Moscow, as well.

Iceland was the first state that officially recognized the restoration of Lithuanian independence; Landsbergis was somewhat critical of certain Western powers (such as the United States and United Kingdom) for not showing enough support in Lithuania's bid to restore its independence after more than 40 years of Soviet occupation. He was also extremely dubious of the claim that Mikhail Gorbachev was trying to liberalize the Soviet Union and that Lithuania should not prevent him from doing so.

In 1993, Landsbergis led much of Sąjūdis into a new political party, the Homeland Union (Tėvynes Sąjunga). It gained a landslide victory in the 1996 parliamentary elections. Landsbergis served as Speaker of the Seimas from 1996 until 2000. He ran, although unsuccessfully, for President in 1997 (coming up the third after receiving 15.9% of the votes). During the runoff, he supported Valdas Adamkus, who had finished second in the first round. V. Adamkus eventually became President.

In 2004, Landsbergis was elected by Lithuanian voters to the European Parliament in Brussels (the total number of MEPs from Lithuania in Brussels is 13), and has been returned at every election since then.

In 2005, Landsbergis became an international patron of the newly formed Henry Jackson Society.

Attempt to ban Communist and Nazi insignia

In January 2005, Professor Landsbergis, backed by another Member of the European Parliament from Hungary, urged a ban on the Soviet and Nazi symbols. He also sent a letter to Mr. Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner of Justice and Internal Affairs, where he suggested that in case the EU decides to ban Nazi symbols, Communist symbols should be banned too. The Commissioner became interested in this proposal and said: "I am ready to join this discussion. The Communist dictatorships no less than the Nazi ones are responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people". A bit later, however, the Commissioner decided that he would not attempt to ban any symbols, as there was no agreement in respect to which symbols that should be banned.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine