The Economist is wrong, once again…(updated 05-10-07)

September 26, 2007 at 12:36 pm 8 comments

The Economist Intelligence Unit

See this post

There is an article on the Economist Cities Guide on Vilnius called ‘Letter from Vilnius’.  Nice beginning with ‘Vilnius is the place to see three lost civilisations, the ruins of one collapsed empire and an old country newly reborn however I would not agree with all of it.’  However, once again the Economist published a misleading information about Lithuania.  The author states that Napoleon called Vilnius as ‘Jerusalem of the EAST’.I have never hear of such a fares describing Vilnius before.  What I heard is the ‘Jerusalem of the NORTH’.  I cannot deny if the phrase was coined by the great man himself, but I would doubt if those who heard it would have dared to distorted.  Maybe the Economist knows more about it.


Entry filed under: Baltic States, Great Britain, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Poland.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Richard  |  September 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    What parts do you disagree wtih?

    Also, a quick google search shows that both Jerusalem of the East and Jerusalem of the North are used, though none of the websites are authorative. I should find the time to investigate to settle the matter, because it is an easy phrase for any writer to use.

    BTW, the profile, written by Ed Lucas I think, is at least a year old.

  • 2. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  September 27, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Hi there,

    There are only few phrases from various sources, some of them in Lithuanian (you should trust me on them).

    ‘Vilnius has always been a home to different nations. The city has always been developing vigorously and been open to people both from the East and from the West. Polish, Jewish, Russian, German and Karaite communities have strong roots in Vilnius. For centuries Vilnius has been known as the Jerusalem of the North.’ This is a phrase from the Lithuania’s Institute page on Vilnius, Capital of Europe 2007

    An ex Lithuanian president Paulauskas uses the phrase on his speech to commemorate holocaust Randuota liko ir Lietuva. Prieš šešis dešimtmečius per trumpą laiką buvo sunaikinta absoliuti Lietuvos žydų bendruomenės dauguma. Praradome tautą, kuri šimtmečius laikė Lietuvą savo Tėvyne, kuri su didžiule pagarba buvo žydų vadinama Šiaurės Jeruzale’ It would be strange if the President would make such mistakes

    There are musical composition called ‘The Jerusalem of the North book’ has been performed during the commemoration of the Holocaust. ‘M.Ur¬baičio mu¬zi¬kos kom¬po¬zi¬ci¬ją “Šiaurės Je¬ru¬zalės kny¬ga” at¬li¬ko R.Kar¬pis (te¬no¬ras), R.Ma¬tai¬tytė (smui¬kas), Ž.Kar¬kaus¬kaitė (for¬te¬pi¬jo¬nas), L.Ado¬ma¬vičiūtė (čeles¬ta), S.Ast¬raus¬kas, Z.Ba¬ga¬vičius, V.Šei¬ba¬kas ir A.Zimb¬lys’
    and so on and so forth, the ministers, the Lithuanian Jews are mentioning the name Jerusalem of the North. Sorry, I have never heard of Vilnius being called Jerusalem of the East before.

    And the text on Vilnius itself, it is a pity that such respectable publication like the Economist keep the info on such dynamically changing places like Vilnius without revision for a whole year or longer. I respect Ed Lucas greatly. Even though he is a very busy man with his new book at the moment perhaps he should come to Vilnius and find out that this is not a ‘a shy, slightly uncertain member of the European Union and Nato’ any longer. After all, as far as I remember Vilnius is voted the most comfortable city in the Baltics for few years in a row even though the FDI is still lacking.

    Best regards,

  • 3. Richard  |  September 28, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Interesting stuff. Pehaps we should go with Jerusalem of the north.
    Vilnius is also the Athens of the North, but a number of other cities also use that term!!

    Paulauskas was only caretaker president in the interregum following Paksas’ impreachment in 2004. Paulauskas lost the 98 election to Adamkus.

    The thing about Ed Lucas is that whether you agree or disagree about him, he is about the only European Englisf-writing journalist who knows Central Europe (esp the Baltics), for which, as you say, he deserves great respect. All other media outlets parachute journos in from Berlin or Moscow.

    Like him or loathe him, he is the best we’ve got!

  • 4. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  September 28, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Dear Richard,

    Yes, Vilnius is also called as the Athens of the North. Your are absolutely right about Paulauskas, he was an acting President on 06.04.2004–12.07.2004, after Paksas was impeached. However, I presented only very few examples, to illustrate the point.

    I absolutely agree about Ed Lucas, which I have an enormous respect for what he does. I would say that he is one of the most competent commentators on the East Europe in the whole Western Hemisphere. His latest publications such as on Katyn (
    and on the victims of the Communism (, and I am looking forwards to his book “The New Cold War and how to win it” very much.

    However, problem with Lithuania is that we still don’t appreciate the importance of the county brand and positive image building. We are lacking behind Latvia and especially Estonia in Lithuania’s positive brand building. Lithuanians’ most favourite dish is another Lithuanian; hence a message from our country sometimes does not correspond to the reality.

  • 5. Ineta  |  September 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Since Jerusalem is east of Europe, it was obviously a mistake. The author just made a mistake-a slip of the mind. He meant to say North. Just an innocent mistake, it could happen to anyone.

  • 6. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  September 30, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Dear Ineta,

    I agree that this is a minor mistake but I am convinced that mistakes should be corrected. There are too many ‘innocent mistakes’ about Lithuania in the world. One of the main purposes of this blog is to correct those innocent miss understandings that most of the time derives not from bad will.

    Best regards,

  • 7. The Economist is wrong… Not anymore! « Lituanica  |  October 5, 2007 at 11:58 am

    […] 5, 2007 This blog posted an info regarding some data misinterpretation on the Economist Internet site regarding an article on Vilnius on its Cties Guide serious.  The […]

  • 8. janis rops  |  July 6, 2009 at 1:23 am

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    – Translator in 45 languages


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