Central and Eastern European Reformists Gather in Vilnius

Dr Charles Murray has just opened LFMI's conference in Vilnius, Lithuania || LFMI

Today, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute is gathering Central and Eastern European reformists to evaluate the past reforms and discuss future challenges. This international conference “Twenty Five Years on the Road to Freedom: Past Reforms and Future Challenges” also marks the 25th anniversary of LFMI’s establishment.

The biggest problems are now plaguing those Eastern European countries that did not remove Lenin monuments in time,” – says LFMI President Žilvinas Šilėnas. The region has implemented vast reforms and gained enormous experience, but we are still facing the question how to preserve reform achievements under changing governments and public opinion as well as the expansion of state paternalism. We want to evaluate whether the reforms were timely and comprehensive enough, to see how our economic perceptions have changed since then and to apply those insights to prepare for future policy challenges,“ – Žilvinas Šilėnas says.

The keynote presentation “Reforms, freedom and prosperity” will be delivered by a renowned US political scientist, sociologist and author Dr Charles Murray. His 1984 publication “Losing Ground” is credited as the intellectual foundation for the US Welfare Reform Act of 1996. 

The first panel “Twenty Five Years on the Road to Freedom: Past Reforms“ will feature former Prime Minister of Lithuania Dr Aleksandras Abišala, a Slovak politician and the former Minister of Finance of Slovakia Ivan Mikloš, who also served as Deputy Prime Minister for Economy and was named the top business reformer by the 2014 World Bank’s Doing Business report, also Dr Lajos Bokros who is best known for the so-called ‘Bokros package’, a string of austerity measures implemented during his term as Hungary’s Finance Minister, and the former Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria Simeon Djankov, who was the second-youngest finance minister in the EU.

According to Mr. Mikloš, “at the beginning of the post-communist transition, reforms were both technical and political challenge. Now 25 years after, reforms are much more political than a technical problem.” Politician argues that “in this regard, leadership, ownership and communication of reforms are the key preconditions for success.” Dr Lajos Bokros notes that “reforms have a tendency of showing their costs before they produce results and this gap has to be bridged by good politics which is always the key for the implementation of good policies.” Mr. Bokros believes that “timing is key as well as maintaining momentum by keeping in touch with public opinion and conduct a relentless campaign of explaining and defending reforms.”

The second panel will discuss future political challenges and priorities in maintaining a free society as well as the 2040 vision for Lithuania and Europe. It will feature Lithuanian MPs and party leaders Andrius Kubilius and Eligijus Masiulis, Professor at Vytautas Magnus University Egidijus Aleksandravičius, Director of the Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations of Vilnius University Dr Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, President of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists Robertas Dargis, and Joseph G. Lehman, President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The finishing touch of the conference will be the speech “Scarcity Beyond Economics: Bridging New Domains” by Elena Leontjeva, Chair of the Board of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute.

The conference will also gather around twenty US and European think-tank leaders from the US and Europe.

Conference venue: Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, 20 Konstitucijos Ave., Vilnius. Languages – Lithuanian and English (simultaneous interpretation).

The conference starts at 1 p.m.

For more information please contact Aneta Vainė by phone +370 687 46353.