Last Saturday, immigrants from Lithuania met in Reykjavik as part of an establishing congress. According to reports in the Baltic Course, Lithuanians have decided to establish a more formal community in Iceland.
The establishing congress was held in order to elect a board of directors as well as to discuss and plan future activities of the new organisation. Reports indicate that the organisation is most likely to focus on children’s education, the preservation and promotion of culture, and sports.
Inga Minelgaite was one of the people behind the establishment of the new organisation. She explained that the Community of Lithuanians in Iceland will feature open membership so that any resident of Iceland with a connection to Lithuania is welcome to join.
Minelgaite pointed out that many Lithuanians do not intend to become permanent residents of Iceland. According to the statistics available to her, there are approximately 1,500 people of Lithuanian origin in Iceland, the majority working as unskilled labourers or in construction. Despite joining together for activities while in Iceland, with the new organization, Minelgaite predicted that many would return to Lithuania.
Lithuania and Iceland have warm diplomatic ties. On a visit to Iceland in 2006, the government of Lithuania officially expressed its gratitude to Iceland for being one of the first countries in the world to recognise its independence in 1991.
“Lithuania has always remembered and will always remember with exceptional gratitude that Iceland was the first to stand up and speak out before the world in defence of our nation and its ultimate goals,” said President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus in a letter to the people of Iceland written in 2006.