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Feb 16 2021

Lithuania's Independence Day

Today is Lithuania's Restoration of State Day, so in honour of their national celebration we'd like to celebrate one of the several Lithuanian's working here at SHAPE!

Meet Lieutenant Colonel Gediminas Latvys.  We sat down to ask a few questions on what is special about not only this day but also his nation! 

See his answers below.



Lieutenant Colonal Gediminas Latvys
Political and Security Analysis Branch

1. What do you miss most about home? 

I miss my hometown, Vilnius, which is world renowned for the architecture in its old town (it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994).  Beyond Vilnius, we are a country of deep forests, beautiful national parks, serene lakes, and many cozy little towns.  In addition, I miss our cuisine, which is unique and very traditional. My favourite dish - a bowl of šaltibarščiai (pronounced shal-tee-barr-shay) – a cold, thick beet soup seasoned with dill and cucumber, and garnished with chopped boiled egg – guests have to try it when they visit!

2. What have you learned working at SHAPE in an international environment that you can take back to your national military? 

There are several things I would like to mention. First, the opportunity to work in a strategical operational environment and see all the different types of activities conducted here at SHAPE has been extremely beneficial. Second, is the experience that I have gained serving in the Political and Security Analysis group in the CCOMC. I have been impressed with analytical capability and experiences of the team, who have served in several NATO missions, in EU, UN, academia and different think tanks. Overall, it has been an excellent opportunity to experience the coming together of many different cultures and ways of thinking. And I am convinced that all of this makes NATO as strong as it could be.

3. What is something unique about Lithuania that others might not know? 

There are several interesting facts:

  • Lithuanians celebrate two independence days:  one on 16th February, and another, the Day of the Restoration of Independence, on 11th March
  • Lithuania is the geographical center of Europe - according to a study made by a French scientist in 1989 
  • The Lithuanian language belongs to an Indo-European language group and of all the languages spoken today – Lithuanian is the closest one to the ancient Sanskrit. 
  • Basketball is the most popular sport in Lithuania, and it is said to be the second religion of our people.  Lithuanian has one of the best national basketball teams in the World, which has won three bronze medals at the Olympics.

4. During normal non-COVID times, how would you usually celebrate this national day? 

There is a tradition in Lithuanian community here at SHAPE and invited guests to celebrate our national day and Lithuanian Army day by organising a road march in different places in Belgium. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year we conducted a road march with just family members, and missed our colleagues who would have otherwise joined us on this occasion.

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