SDCC doesn’t have many experience regarding problems of immigrants in the country. Like we said in our previous report there is low immigration scale in Lithuania. Problems Lithuania faces are more related with emigration rates. Many valuable people migrate to other countries. This situation is more difficult now in the time of economical crisis. Many people lose their jobs and are forced to look for means of living in other countries. We could suppose that they have more problems integrating themselves in socio-cultural environment of other countries that immigrants living in Lithuania.
Immigrants who arrived to Lithuania during the Soviet period currently are naturalized and consider themselves as Lithuanian citizens. The majority of these immigrants came from Russia and the CIS countries. Most of them live in Lithuania for quite long period and therefore know Lithuanian language and Lithuanian socio-cultural environment.
After the Second World War, Russians migrated within the USSR to Lithuania, but in much smaller numbers than to Latvia or Estonia. Ethnic Russians composed only 9.4% of the population in 1989. The 3 November 1989 citizenship law made all permanent residents, regardless of their ethnicity, language, or religion, eligible for Lithuanian nationality. This and other inclusive citizenship mechanisms encouraged nearly 90% of all permanent residents to become Lithuanian citizens. As of 2006, only 0.9% of the population was non-EU nationals (Gelazis, Nida M. "The European Union and the Statelessness Problem in the Baltic States", European Journal of Migration and Law (Nijhoff, Vol. 6, No. 3, Nijmegen, NL, 2004) 225-242. http://www.integrationindex.eu/). There aren’t any significant conflicts regarding social or cultural disagreements between local citizens and long time immigrants from former Soviet Union republics. Of course people from different nationalities have different culture, different traditions but majority of them have right to get an education in their own language. According to I.Zukauskiene all nationalities in Lithuania are represented by communities of ethnic minorities, and their activities and cultural programmes are supported and funded by the Department of Ethnic Minorities and Emigrants under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. In 2002, 266 non-governmental organizations representing up to 20 ethnic communities were operating in Lithuania, including Russian, Polish, German, Jewish, Belarusian, Roma, Greek, Tatar and other organisations. Romanians, Estonians, Georgians, Karaites, Hungarians and Koreans also have their organisations, at least one organisation per each of these minorities. The majority (80%) of these organisations is of a cultural nature. The main motivation to take part in the activities of ethnic communities is related to close relations with people of the same ethnic origin (R.Zukauskiene. Active Civic Participation of Immigrants in Lithuania.
http://www.politis-europe.uni-oldenburg.de/download/Mapping3.pdf). These figures shows that immigrants (even long term immigrants) want to make their integration easier. And they have means to cooperate in these actions with other immigrants of the same nationality.
One of SDCC on-going projects is Grundtvig Learning Partnership “International Peace Promotion Actions”. With this project we seek to educate people about topic of Global Peace and to encourage discussions about means of preventing conflicts and intolerance to differences of people. We think that this is essential for the successful integration of immigrants too. If local people will be sufficiently tolerant to immigrants of other nationalities their integration to local community will be easier. Therefore it would be very interesting to survey what level is a tolerance of Lithuanian people to migrants.
We found one project which represents migrant integration index in Lithuania (http://www.integrationindex.eu/).
Lithuania - Key Findings:
Best practice (100% score):
● Rights associated with labour market access and family reunion
● Definitions and concepts of anti-discrimination law
● Security of nationality
● Political participation policies
Critically unfavourable (0% score):
● Security of employment
● Dual nationality
● Consultative bodies and implementation policies for political participation
As we see anti-discrimination of Lithuanian law ranks comparatively high, but it would be very interesting to investigate attitudes of common citizens. It would help to create a programme for improving level of tolerance to people of other nationalities. Therefore such programme would help adaptation of new immigrants in Lithuania.
Other means of socio-cultural integration of immigrants could be programmes regarding national traditions, national festivals and food culture. It would be useful that participants of such programmes would be not only immigrants but national citizens too. In such way integration of immigrants would be more effective and successful.
Increased promotion of community relations, communication with the neighbours would add significant value too. And of course language courses for immigrants living in Lithuania (improving their skills) and especially newly arrived immigrants are necessary for every immigrant.