January 31 is the birthday of this distinguished personality, who unfortunately left this world almost 9 years ago. Sharing their memories, R. Ozolo’s comrades remember him as a true guardian of the state, who was very concerned about the future of Lithuania.
At the event, memories of R. Ozolas were shared by residents of Sajju, signatories of the Act on the Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence, and ministers of the first Government. Archival video footage was also shown, in which R. Ozolo’s speeches on various topics were immortalized.
“I cannot listen when even a very high-ranking person says about Lithuania: “This country”. What do you mean by “this”? It’s not your country? Unfortunately, the state as something below you, something you can stand on, something you can exploit, sell, betray, is talked about with great calmness of heart, without thinking at all. In the 1990s, we got things that we couldn’t even think about in the 1970s.
And we got it in the form of the second Republic of Lithuania. Everyone should remember that the restoration of the state was the greatest work done by Lithuania at the end of the 20th century, the work done by Lithuanians. The state of Lithuania was restored, and it implemented all the ideas that floated in Lithuania during the Renaissance period. What we have lost in 20 years, what hopes have been dashed – another question. But this does not mean that you can talk about “this” Lithuania with disdain – as if it is not your Lithuania, your state”, said R. Ozolas in 2012.
The signatory was troubled by the thought that we entered the restoration of Lithuania’s Independence unprepared, doing many things impromptu, improvising according to the circumstances.
“Of course, the revolution cannot be planned or designed as a social project. But in order to have a more coherent plan for the restoration of the state, a plan for building the state – this is what we lack today. And in many cases it has become of very little consequence. I remember the Sąjūdis convention and the adoption of its program. Such a general meeting of the Nation, where such a document as the Program of the Movement was considered, has never been held again. In most cases, even today, the most fundamental document is the Sąjūdis program, which shows the outline of the creation of a national state,” R. Ozolas added.
In the same 2012, he reasoned whether the hopes related to the restoration of the state were fulfilled.
“I did not think that such a layer of poverty and such a layer of ruthless wealth would appear in Lithuania. That confrontation is a result that I really did not expect. We thought there would be a welfare state, we would live like the Swedes. We live with Swedish banks, but not as Swedes. I really did not think that we would have such fallow fields, I really did not think that we would destroy forests like this, I really did not think that we would have such an emigration, which is probably more terrible than all the previous emigrations and exiles, probably put together.
And such a surrogate of culture that we see every lovely day through our mass broadcasts, through our yellow press… The true values of culture are almost underground. And, of course, I did not expect that there would be such apathy, despair, such dislike for one’s country. This is not what I thought we would get when we were rebuilding our country,” R. Ozolas said.
MEMORIES ABOUT R.OZOLA
Prof. Vytautas RADŽVILAS, philosopher, member of the initiative group of the Lithuanian Movement for Reorganization
“The name of this event itself shows that this is not a normal academic conversation about R. Ozolo’s views. First of all, of course, political views. And his historical role. Such conversations will continue to be necessary, but they do have one characteristic. When we enter the realm of political science or history, we sort of objectify the things we’re talking about, look at them from the outside. And the genre of today’s event opens up the possibility of starting a new story thread. We are starting to create the myth of the statesman of the modern, restored state of Lithuania.
This myth is simply existentially important in the changed conditions, when everyone who has a national and state feeling probably understands that we are at the crossroads of another choice. Challenges and tasks arise for us, about which R. Ozolas would undoubtedly say: “They are no less than those we had to face and solve 30 years ago”.
Yes, this is a time of geopolitical turmoil. Now the fate of Lithuania will depend, as it did then, only on whether we will be able to orientate ourselves once again in that confusion, focus our mind and will in order to get out of the endless labyrinths of chaos”, V. Radžvilas said during the event dedicated to R. Ozol.
According to him, first of all, R. Ozolas was a statesman.
“R. Ozolo’s role is unique in one respect: he is probably the closest among the politicians active in Lithuania to the ideal that is described in Plato’s “The State”. He is a philosopher-thinker and at the same time a guardian of the state. It is true that there are people who think , are engaged in various cultural creations and do it very well.There are also people who occupy high positions in the state, administer it.
But the statesman, as Plato aptly says, is like a watchdog of his kind. This is a special kind of person who measures the state all his life. Generally, just as a mere mortal measures his prospect of salvation by his constant standing before God, or a family man measures his worth and deeds by the extent to which he embodies the ideal of the family, so there are people in this world who are guardians of the state in the deepest and most fundamental sense of the word.
Therefore, they sense dangers and problems before they arise. And it does more than give precise, clear answers to those problems. The art of a true statesman is to see challenges when no one else does. R. Ozolas had this unique gift”, emphasized V. Radžvilas.
He talked a lot with R. Ozolu on fundamental issues, because the friendship between the two started during his studies.
“When talking about politics with R. Ozol, we never talked about the so-called intrigues of the political estate. R. Ozolas was a politician and a thinker precisely because he saw even specific problems arising in Lithuania from the perspective of the state’s survival,” V. Radžvilas emphasized.
One of the most painful topics for R. Ozol was the bloody events of January.
“And not because they are related to Romuald’s enormous personal tragedy (the philosopher’s only son was killed on January 1, 1991, – author post). R. Ozolas understood very well the true significance of those events for the future statehood of Lithuania. The resignation of the first state, in his view (and I agree with him), meant that the nature of the state and its ultimate purpose had changed. The first Government was a socially oriented Government. And this means that the fundamental principle underlying its activities was the idea of a united and solidary Nation.
When, after its replacement, the time of rapid reforms came, the state understood in this way no longer existed. The fight for sharing the property began. The state began to turn into a tool that allowed to create a particularly good, privileged position in the conditions of this struggle. When we talk today about an incredibly high social and economic position, it started then. Almost no one could see this, because they were primarily concerned with defending the state itself. But behind all this defense there was a silent process: one part of the nation was ready to sacrifice their lives for Lithuania, while others were already sharing the assets of the Lithuanian state in the cabinets at that time”, V. Radžvilas recalled.
R. Ozolas also spoke very often about the relationship with the EU.
“Very deeply understood the extent of this problem. He was in no way an opponent of the EU. But he objected to joining (it was a very unpopular and risky position at the time), because he understood: after independence with an absolutely destroyed national and state feeling, the EU can only be perceived as a resource distributor, as a bulwark that had to replace Moscow, which was once considered a bulwark. R. Ozolas did not believe that our politicians would be able to willingly defend the interests of Lithuania, as, for example, the Polish Government has so far defended, which understood how important it is to receive EU support, but at the same time understood such a thing as the survival of the nation and the state and that there are issues that there can be no compromises,” V. Radžvilas taught.
R. Ozolas understood well that we are entering Menshevik Europe.
“He always understood that a slightly modified neo-Marxist Europe was coming to us: the same ideas that came in the form of an open society. Although he was the most ardent supporter of European unity, he said that such a Europe would not last. Because it is not built on that foundation. Because phrases about European values… If we go into it, these are the values of neo-Marxist ideology. They have irreparable flaws, which is why today we are witnessing a structural crisis in the EU,” V. Radžvilas summed up.