One of the most original Lithuanian philosophers, Arvydas Sliogeris, approached in his works the dichotomy of humanism versus hominism. While humanism means, above all, the placing of man and human values at the head of the triangle, ethics, truth, fidelity, hominism, as Sliogeris defines it, is but the unauthentic, anonymous, uniform life, and also the aggressive, devouring, destructive attitude towards world and fellow men. According to the Lithuanian thinker, the ultimate result of hominism is represented by totalitarian ideologies and socio-political systems that destroy the human values.
In such a hominist society was Vladimir Jarmolenko born, on May 15th 1948, and his entire life and intellectual, political and diplomatic activity represented nothing but a rejection of hominism and an attempt to revive humanism. In order to better understand the aggressive hominism in his future country, Lithuania, I remind you that the same month when His Excellency saw the light of day, 40,000 Lithuanians (11,000 of which were children) were taken from their homes and deported thousands kilometres away, in sordid and cold Soviet Union; only a few of them were so fortunate as to see their native homeland again. Even the few lucky ones were often forced to live unauthentic lives, stolen from the death and despair which stalked them each step. Not even those who escaped the wave of deportation and arrests that systematically stroke the Baltic nation lived authentic lives. From this perspective, Khrushchev’s thaw period did not substantially change the features of hominism, it only “modelled” its aggressiveness and used persuasiveness more widely, in order to accept it as surrogate for humanism.
Vladimir Jarmolenko refused from the very beginning to accept this malformation of the ethical values. On the contrary, the passions of the young Vladimir were theatre and poetry, which, in other words, meant authenticity, memory, cultural and spiritual heritage, values which he upheld his entire life. Although gifted with exceptional intellectual qualities, he did not choose to transform any of those passions into a carrier, on one hand because he was aware from the very beginning of the impact that the ideology had on humanist sciences and arts, in general, and on the other hand as a consequence of the exceptional results obtained in mathematics and physics and his desire to become a researcher. Therefore, in 1966 he chose to attend the Faculty of Biophysics of the Medical Institute in Kaunas, from which he graduated six years later, in broad Brezhnevian era, a period whose symbol remained in history the insipid face and medal-covered chest of the Kremlin leader. The same year, on May 14th 1972, “the young people’s rebellion” set off in Kaunas, after the 19 years old Romas Kalanta set himself on fire in front of the musical theatre of that town. Those events have certainly left their mark on the young researcher who was working at the laboratory of the Lithuanian Department of the Research Institute for Butter and Cheese of the U.S.S.R.
The remarkable professional qualities of the young specialist, imposed him to the academic community of his country and, after a deferral attributed to the inadequate “political file”, they culminated with the presentation of his Doctoral thesis titled “Research of Calcium Ions Binding to Parvalbumins by the Method of Intrinsic Protein Fluorescence” at the Institute of Biophysics of the Academy of Sciences of U.S.S.R. After obtaining the scientific title of Doctor of Science, Vladimir Jarmolenko returned to Kaunas, where he became in 1981 the head of the research laboratory where he had worked before, and since 1983 head of the Laboratory of Scientific Research in Physics and Chemistry of the Institute of Medicine from which he graduated 11 years before. Three years later, he was promoted as leading scientific researcher, in the Department of Biochemistry. His scientific activity is very prolific. During this period, Vladimir Jarmolenko signed over 60 titles of scientific papers published in renowned scientific magazines, such as European Journal of Biochemistry, Biofizika, Studia Biophysica, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Biophysical Chemistry, many of which are today Thomson ISI publications with impact factor (for example, the impact factor is 3.042 in case of European Journal of Biochemistry). At the same time, he is the co-author of an invention in the field of dairy products technology. Dr. Jarmolenko thus became one of the prominent science figures in Lithuania and U.S.S.R. In substance, his involvement in the research activity meant nothing else but a different way to find out the authentic, the truth and to serve the mankind.
Meanwhile, the Lithuanian national renaissance movement brutally repressed in the 50’s and 60’s resurged the following decade by creating the “Lithuanian Helsinki Group” (1976), the “Lithuanian Liberty League”, two years later, as well as the protest of Lithuanian Catholics signed by 143,869 people and handed to L. Brejnev in 1979. The wind of change had begun to blow and the Lithuanians, a hard-bitten people determined to regain their national and identity rights, was already prepared to welcome it. The coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev and his reformation and thaw politics – a failed attempt to reconcile the opposites, to humanise the hominism –created the background which allowed the constitution, in June 3rd 1988 of the national reform movement – “Sajudis”, in the month of October the return to traditional symbols and in August 23rd 1989, the denunciation of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact by means of an impressive human chain, which started from the Cathedral Square in Vilnius.
Although of Russian origin, Vladimir Jarmolenko understood and identified himself with his fellow countrymen’s dream to restore the independent Lithuanian State, which was abusively dissolved in 1940 as a consequence of a pact of the great totalitarian powers of the 20th century. Remarkable intellectual of his country, His Excellency became one of the most important members of Sajudis movement, also being a close friend of Vytautas Landsbergis, the president of the movement and the first head of state of independent Lithuania. In 1990, Vladimir Jarmolenko became member of the Supreme Lithuanian Council. In this capacity, His Excellency was one of the signatories of the Lithuanian Independence Restoration Act on March 11th, 1990. Thus, after half a century, the Lithuanian state was reborn and it naturally joined the European Community of democratic nations, and the prominent role of Vladimir Jarmolenko in this historic process was to mark the symbiosis of ideals of the Lithuanian majority and the Russian minority. On January 13th 1991, the young state was soon forced to give a first proof of its solidity and solidarity when it faced the attack of the Soviet troops on Vilnius, an attack which resulted in 14 people dead and 700 wounded. Those attempts were accompanied by other means of pressure, such as the cutting of gas supply and the terrorist attacks. Being there, among the founding fathers of the Restored Lithuania, His Excellency was the right man in the right place. His outstanding moral and professional qualities entwined with those of his nation in the fight against hominism. His tragedy and that of the generation to which he belongs was to find out that hominism is polymorph, and that the uniformity, unauthentic and oblivion stalk us at every turn.
The difficult period of the 1990’s found Vladimir Jarmolenko engaged in the activity of consolidation of the Lithuanian State, as politician and member of the Conservative Party. His Excellency was three times chosen member of Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) – in 1990, 1992 and 1996 – and he was also member of the Lithuanian state delegation for the negotiations of the retreat of the Soviet army from Lithuania, Vice President of the Lithuanian State Delegation to the N.A.T.O Parliamentary Assembly (1992-1996) and member of the Foreign Affairs and European Affairs Committees (1996-1999) of the Lithuanian legislative.
For over a decade His Excellency’s concerns directed mainly towards the diplomatic activity. First, His Excellency was appointed Lithuania’s Chargé d’Affaires to Brussels in 1999 and from 2001 he held the position of Minister Counsellor in the same Embassy. In 2002 followed his appointment as Minister Counsellor to the Embassy of Lithuania in Athens, which in that period was also considering representing Lithuanian interests to Bucharest.
The name of Vladimir Jarmolenko shall forever remain a landmark in the history of the Romanian-Lithuanian relations, as in 2006 he established the first Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Bucharest. On January 18th 2008, His Excellency was appointed Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of his country in Romania. The establishment of the Lithuanian Embassy in Bucharest set the tone for the evolution of the Romanian-Lithuanian relations, which after a long period of silence and rupture experienced a phase of progress. Thus, Romania was member state of the Vilnius Group, a phase prior to the integration in N.A.T.O., and Lithuania, a small, but internationally respected state, supported without reservation the accession of our country to the EU. Moreover, the historic traditions dating from the period when Lithuania – at that time a regional power of 800,000 km2 – was neighbour of the medieval Moldavia, as well as the external conjuncture – both states being members of the E.U and N.A.T.O. and neighbours of the former Soviet area – made that the bilateral relation between the two nations become dynamic. The merit of Vladimir Jarmolenko for encouraging these evolutions cannot be challenged and the visits at head-of-state level between the two countries are a proof of this new reality.
Vladimir Jarmolenko did not see this diplomatic mission as a simple sinecure following a life during which he pledged his energy and devotion to his country. On the contrary, faithful to the values and culture of his country, His Excellency was quickly won and came to love and deeply know the Romanian values and culture. For that matter, His Excellency believes that we are in the same civilizational space, marked by closeness, connection and even geographic, cultural and linguistic congruencies, many of them still unknown. Thus, it is impressive to find the delight and easiness with which he deciphers the most profound meanings of the religious medieval art of Byzantine influence. Not only the connections with the past, but also the associations of the tragic moments that the two nations experienced during the 20th century are often mentioned by His Excellency, the tragic destiny of the Romanian people in Bessarabia, Northern Bucovina and Hertsa County intertwining with that of the Lithuanian people in Kazakhstan steppes or Siberian cold. It is without any doubt our common history, that of two nations hanging in the balance of history, as the great Estonian historian Rein Taagepera was noticing in the World Baltic Conference in Kaunas, in 2008.
For almost two decades researcher in a field that requires acuity, analytic thinking, but also patience, Dr. Vladimir Jarmolenko thoroughly acquired the scientific methodology and knows better than anyone else that in order to evolve, at some point it is necessary to take it from the beginning. It is precisely for this reason that His Excellency is the man of the great openings, of the creative and founding visions, of the long term perspectives. The Ambassador Vladimir Jarmolenko supported the awareness of the bilateral relations, the development of cultural, scientific and artistic liaison between Lithuania and Romania. For this purpose he also saw to the founding of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies, on November 27th 2008, His Excellency becoming its honorific president. The association represents a necessary network of communication and closeness between the two counties, between the two nations and cultures, as it was proven by the activities carried out until now, of which we remind the organization of the first international conference on Baltic and Nordic studies in Romania, a high level scientific event hosted by “Valahia” University in Târgovişte (May 19th-21st 2010), which benefitted from the participation of a delegation of Lithuanian historians from Vilnius University and from the National Archives of Lithuania. We also mention amongst the activities of the Association concerning the promotion of Romanian-Lithuanian cultural dialogue the publication of a special edition of the Romanian Magazine for Baltic and Nordic Studies dedicated to the relations and liaisons between Romania and Lithuania in the inter-war period, the first Lithuanian exhibition varnished at National Museum Complex “Curtea Domnească” in Târgovişte by the artists Artūras Antanas Skučas and Danielius Sodlika, the celebration of the National Day of Lithuania at the Romanian National History Museum, the conference “The Annexation of Lithuania by the U.S.S.R. (1939-1940)”, held by the Centre of Russian and Soviet Studies of the Romanian Academy, etc.
I already reminded His Excellency’s liaison with Dâmboviţa County, with Târgovişte town and “Valahia” University, liaisons which are already old, solid and productive. His Excellency’s first visit to “Valahia” University in Târgovişte took place on December 12th to 13th 2007, on the occasion of the international conference “Europe as Viewed from the Margins. From World War I to Present” organized by “Grigore Gafencu” Study Centre for the History of International Relations. After that followed many visits, each more prolific, a corollary of which being the one on the occasion of the conference of May 2010, an event titled Romania and Lithuania in the Interwar International Relations: Bonds, Intersections and Encounters. On that occasion, an institutional collaboration agreement between the Embassy of Lithuania in Bucharest and alma mater of Târgovişte was signed. On that basis, a collaboration agreement is to be signed between “Valahia” University in Târgovişte and Vilnius University. These are, I believe, sufficient and solid testimonies of the friendship, consistency and energy with which His Excellency promoted and – we rest assured – shall continue to promote, both personally and institutionally the town of Târgovişte, a municipality twinned with Trakai, the historic capital of Lithuania and especially “Valahia” University in Târgovişte.
Dr. Vladimir Jarmolenko already contributes, by means of his scientific acknowledgement and political and diplomatic notoriousness to strengthening the prestige of the alma mater of Târgovişte and of the Faculty of Humanist Sciences. In its turn, the Senate of “Valahia” University in Târgovişte has the honour and joy of solemnly awarding the Honorary Degree to His Excellency, Dr. Vladimir Jarmolenko, Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania in Bucharest, a choice which could not be more fortunate and which I salute, as I also salute and welcome among us our honoured guest.
His Excellency illustrates in today’s world the creative power of man, the humanism in its fullest meaning, the courage, erudition, memory, authenticity, paradigm and synthesis of the closeness of two nations and cultures.
Adjunct Professor Dr. Silviu Miloiu,
Valahia University of Targoviste