GA 2008

General Assembly 2008


The Baltic Writers’ Council General Assembly 2008 Visby, February 29 – March 2


Participants: Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke, Chairman, Baltic Writers’ Council; Piret Viires, Estonian Writers’ Union; Mudite Treimane, Latvian Writers’ Union; Merete Jensen, Society of Swedish-Speaking Writers in Finland; Mikaela Sundström, Society of Swedish-Speaking Writers in Finland; Helena Sinervo, Finnish Writers’ Union; Kari Levola, Finnish Writers’ Union; Jaana Nikula, Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters; Linas Rybelis, Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators; Igor Belov, Kaliningrad Writers’ Union; Peter Curman, Swedish Writers’ Union; Kajsa Öberg Lindsten, Swedish Writers’ Union; Karl Lindqvist, Swedish Writers’ Union; Mats Söderlund, Swedish Writers’ Union; Tor Tveite, Norwegian Association of Literary Translators; Heinrich Bleicher-Nagelsmann, German Writers’ Union; Lena Pasternak, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators; Lars Magnus Lahne, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. Alexandr Zhitinsky from Baltic Institute, St. Petersburg was virtually present on Saturday afternoon.

1) The Chairman of the Council Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke opened the meeting at 18:05. The participants presented themselves.

2) Following some changes in the order of items, the Agenda was approved by the Assembly. 3) Mr. Liedtke was elected Chairman of the Assembly and Ms. Nikula was elected Secretary. 4) The Chairman gave his report and presented the activity plan.

“While translating the Swedish poet Göran Sonnevi I thought of the network of ours, called Baltic Writers’ Council: ‘In the labyrinth of the network’, he writes, ‘all transports are possible. Those not yet carried out! As in an enormous crystal, the potential we do not know anything about.’ (The Tree, p 138). Dealing with matters like ours we should never forget we are dealing with literature in the first case. On the other hand I feel the BWC has a potential like Sonnevi’s poetry has: knitting us together, as we are readers of each other, potential readers. And as we are believers in the overwhelming force of literature we are also believers in the changing role and the cultural potential of the Baltic Sea as a stimulating link of our profession.

One of our potential activities in our strive to knit us together has been to organise the Baltic Meetings, and we have succeeded to arrange them first in Kaliningrad and its surroundings, the Oblast, in 2005, for the second time on Gotland with a focus on Visby in May 2007. Now we have to face an invitation by the City Administration of St. Petersburg for a Baltic Meeting in 2009, submitted by our member organisation, the Writers’ Union of St. Petersburg. How shall we deal with this new challenge? It is waiting to be filled with life. Anyway, the successfully held Baltic Meetings stand for the Council’s potential in visualizing and exploiting the Baltic dimension for the writers and translators of this region. And still, I quite often stumble over the notion that the Baltic Meetings are sad to have been organised by the Baltic Centre (I just read our German colleague Richard Pietraß’ diary about his year in Liechtenstein, published last autumn: Mit einem Bein in Liechtenstein where he writes that he receives an invitation by the Baltic Centre for the meetings in Kaliningrad where he joined us). This stems somehow from the fact that we are having quite a symbiotic relationship with the Centre from the very start. Does this mean that we have to make the work of ther Baltic Writers’ Council more visible?

According to our statutes we are to develop the international side of the Baltic Centre in Visby. This is a limitation of our aims, but it also gives us the freedom to develop our network. I, nevertheless, think that we should strive to be more than just the Centre’s international arm.

In what way for instance can we try to promote the international relations of the Centre when this is actually not really welcomed. One example: I have tried to intervene and build a bridge between the Baltic Centre in Visby and the new network Halma so that both Rhodes and Visby would be included. At their meeting in Plovdiv in October last year Rhodes was elected a member, as before Ventspils and Käsmu and Nida, but Visby has not been interested. We really need to discuss whether our Council’s goals should be seen in a broader framework than just being a vehicle to transport the Centre’s international relations. We have had a correspondance with the Centre’s board (letters from 13th December 2007, with an answer by Lars Magnus Lahne on 3rd Feb 2008) and agreed that our mutual relations should be analysed and put on a new basis. This concerns also our relationship to the Swedish National Arts’ Council as the main body supplying the Centre with means for their annual budget. It has even happened that the BWC has applied for project money from the same Council, and they have been asking me why we could not get the money from the Centre.

But, back to the Baltic Meetings. First of all: How can we evaluate the Baltic Meetings? We have had some discussion inside the board if we should hold them every second, or every third year. Now we have to deal with the invitation from St. Petersburg, and as it was said, it concerns next year, and we will have to discuss if we can handle this challenge, financially and concerning manpower. Last year on Gotland we did succeed in gathering more than 60 participants, arranged phantastic discussions, esp. the final panel concerning both the individual needs of the writer and translator and the common network of different literary centres and houses around the Baltic Sea (Ahrenshoop, Nida, Ventspils, Käsmu and Visby), and the reading on the evening before, and we arranged exciting excursions on the island of Gotland with meetings like that of Per Olov Enquist, Tor Eystein Överas and Andrey Bitov in Katthammarsvik. But media resonance has unfortunately been rather frustrating, especially the local ones and the radio. There was only one article before hand, and nothing appeared about the big opening. The same was the case for the Nordic Culture Parliament with which we cooperated. We ourselves have tried to fill the gap and publish a sort of documentation on our own homepage. For the preparatory work I want to thank especially Charlotta Bjelfvenstam and Hanna Sjöberg, we have really been a strong team. And to Lena Pasternak I want to say thanks for the cooperation at the very Centre, when we came here as guests.

In autumn at the Gothenburg Book Fair I met with Piret Viires (and even discussed with Lena Pasternak about common projects) and we held a mini-‘board meeting’ conversing the possible EU applications. Culture program offers support for networks in EU. The restriction for us is that 10 EU- member states are needed. However, it could be possible that Iceland and Norway could be also eligible countries. Further information on this issue is needed and local CCP-s should be consulted.

The literature centres in Visby, Ventspils and Käsmu are applying for a grant from the Culture program. The main focus are bursaries for writers. However, some literary events are also included in the project. Visby will try to include Baltic Writers’ Council as an associate partner in the project and possibly apply for support for the General Assembly. In the whole project BWC is mentioned as a network and important actor in distributing information.

Piret Viires made a suggestion that we could consider the idea that a blog function or a forum could be added on BWC webpage It would be the easiest way to exchange the information and to substitute a planned newsletter.

After the meeting I consulted the CCP in Germany and received the answer that we count as 10 member countries represented by BWC. Together with Mikaela Sundström a new application to Sida in Visby, submitted on 17th December 2007. The total sum for the preparatory work for Baltic Meetings in St. Petersburg goes up to 283 000 crowns. The decision came on 1st February, and although we were not rewarded, it has been a pleasure to cooperate with Mikaela!

The homepage was updated on 4th January, 2008 at Tesof in Berlin. It seems to me a very useful tool or platform for the realization of larger ideas because I have the notion of developing the BWC more into a working tool for authors and literary translators. But what we should develop is the blog idea Piret Viires talked about.

During the last weeks Jaana Nikula, our secretary, Mudite Treimane, our treasurer, and me have made a strong effort to activate our members in Poland, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg. But there are no means anymore for travel grants from the Swedish Institute, which means that the members in practice have to pay for their own travels. Of course it would have been very useful to discuss with our Russian colleagues on spot, now we have with us only the leader of the Baltic Institute in St.Petersburg, Alexandr Zhitinsky virtually, he thus wants to follow our discussions via a site he has installed, where we should place our reports and he will comment on them.

Aims of the BWC

– to visualize the diversity of the Baltic Sea Region and to strengthen its literature, in original and translation – to strengthen the network of our literary organisations When we need someone with whom we have to co-operate (writers for festivals, participants for conferences) – it’s a good tool for finding useful contacts. It’s the same as with European Writes’ Congress – at first it is a network – and then all other stuff (autors’ rights, cultural conferences etc.) will melt in

– a tool for information and co-operation These goals are not transported by the Baltic Centre in Visby! If we want to further develop our work, also beyond the Centre, we must find co-financing sources. Our input of voluntary work at least needs some certainty for planning into the future.

Activity program for the future

The main issue is the question: How can we work for the closer co-operation of the workers in the field of literature in the Baltic region? In practice the steering work for the Baltic Meetings will be placed in Helsinki. – We have submitted an application from the Swedish Arts’ Council (15/2) which will be decided upon in Mid-March. The same application should also be submitted to Culture Contact, Nordic Council, Finland (30 April) under the Modul ‘network funding’.

– We plan meetings for the working group for St. Petersburg in May and for the board in autumn, both to be held in Helsinki – We plan to submit a pilot project application from Culture Contact, Nordic Council, Finland for an Editors’ seminar for the launch of a virtual Baltic Sea Library under the modul ‘capacity development, sharing of knowledge’ (5 March). The seminar could be held in Autumn 2008 either in Ventspils, in Visby or Berlin (it has been submitted to the Halma network to be discussed in April).

Further on we plan another application for a short term project for the Virtual Baltic Sea Library including an employment programme for translators of Baltic Sea languages. To start with we will first have to put up a register of translators between our languages. The library is seen as a tool for establishing a common literary heritage of the Baltic Sea. To be included: literary sites (useful as a culture tourism database) and essays on the literary topography. Aim: strengthening cultural diversity in our own languages, i.e. all 11 mother tongues spoken and written around the Baltic Sea, without taking the roundabout way of English or Russian. – We plan a co-operation with Baltic Turn Table network (a network of networks) on environment questions (‘Landscape setting out’), a final symposium to be held at Künstlerhaus Lukas in Ahrenshoop in November 2009 (Letter of intent by Matts Hellström) – We want to do a research on the possibilities on receiving means from EU structure funds, esp. the neighbourhood programme, for our old idea of gathering 12 writers on 12 islands of the Baltic and North Sea. This research will be done by our new fundraiser Petra Falkenberg in Berlin. She has helped us already with the application for the editors’ seminar for the launch of a virtual Baltic Sea Library.”

To conclude the Chairman thanked the Board members for their work.

Ms. Jensen pointed out that the Board of the Society of Swedish-Speaking Writers in Finland has to adopt the proposal of placing the steering work for Baltic Meetings in Helsinki. Mr. Curman remarked that in planning the future events the BWC should not rely merely on Swedish financing since the BWC is an international body and should try to get sources from every member-country.

5) The Chairman of Swedish Writers’ Union Mats Söderlund presented WALTIC (Writers’ and Literary Translators International Congress) which will be held in Stockholm between 29 June and 2 July 2008.

More than one thousand writers and translators are expected to gather for a manifestation of the value of the words and in support of human rights. Hosted by the Swedish Writers’ Union WAlTIC will focus on three urgent global issues: Literacy, Intercultural dialogue and Digitalisation. The program offers seminars, lectures and best practices. Among the speakers are famous writers and translators – an even number of men and women. In the year 2010 WALTIC 2 is planned to take place in Mozambique.

The Chairman suggested that the BWC should participate as best practise. The first session was ended at 19:40.

6) The session was resumed at 9:40 on Saturday March 1st. Mr. Curman had left and was thus not present on Saturday and Sunday. Mr. Lahne arrived at 10:00.

The Treasurer Ms. Treimane gave her report and presented the budget proposal. A discussion followed. Ms. Viires pointed out that the travel expenses of the escorts travelling with the keynote speakers should not be paid in the future and the use of taxies ought to be limited. Mr. Söderlund deliberated upon sponsors. He mentioned publishing houses, paper mills and printing companies. Mr. Bleicher- Nagelsmann wondered how to cover the minus in the budget. As a solution he suggested that the membership fee should be in proportion to the number of members in each organization so that the larger organizations would pay more. Mr. Tveite found the budget extremely modest. Ms. Viires replied that the BWC has a long history but it has been a working body for only three years. Next year in preparing the budget all the suggestions presented by the GA will be taken into consideration by the Board.

7) The Director of BCWT Ms. Pasternak gave her report. She emphasized the BCWT as a working place and a meeting point for writers and translators from the Baltic Sea region and if there is vacancy, from other countries as well. During 2007 the BCWT had 3074 guest nights and hosted 225 residing guests from 25 countries. Thanks to the specific funding from the EU programme Culture, Swedish Institute, Swedish General Consulate in Istanbul a number of bursaries could be granted to cover writers’ and translators’ travel and/or living expenses. A number of bursaries earmarked for residence at the BCWT were granted by different countries and organizations to writers and translators personally by Estonian Writers’ Union, Society of Swedish-Speaking Writers in Finland, Norwegian Writers Union, Latvian Cultural Fund etc. The Centre has served as premises for readings, Open Houses, meetings, receptions, dinners and study visits.

The question of sponsors has been discussed in the Board of BCWT. The Centre cannot be dependant on the local politicians since they are in office only a number of years. Also there is the dilemma of being free and acquiring funds at the same time. The Centre should be kept a “bullshit-free zone” as Ms. Öberg Lindsten put it.

8) The Auditors’ Ms. Jensen and Mr. Lahne gave their report which they had jointly signed. The Board was granted freedom of responsibility but – once again – the Auditors remarked the Board on the Swedish stipulations concerning taxation of honoraries and per diem allowances. They also noted that VAT numbers must be included in all foreign invoices. Mr. Söderlund left at 12:50. The second session was ended at 13:00.

9) The session was resumed at 14:40. Mr. Zhitinsky from St.Petersburg was on-line till the session ended.

The Chairman and Ms. Sundström presented the concept of Baltic Meetings 2009 in St. Petersburg. The working group which is lead by Ms. Sundström has seven members: Alexandr Zhitinsky, Ilya Fonyakov, Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke, Tatjana Chernisheva, Elena Emelianova, Piret Viires and Jaana Nikula. A group of advisors consists of Oleg Jurjew, Olga Martinova, Sergei Zavjalov, Olga Zavjalova and Jukka Mallinen. The working group will meet in May 2008 in Helsinki where all the preparatory work will be co-ordinated. The group will also need a contact person situated in St.Petersburg. The budget is 60 000 €. The Meeting has an environmental and ecological theme planned in co-operation with the Swedish Centre for Biological Diversity and its Baltic network. The program consists of seminars and readings. According to the preliminary plan the group will meet in Helsinki June 3rd and leave by bus(es) for St.Petersburg the following day June 4th On the way there will be visits to places of literary interest such as Raivola (Edith Södergran) and Viipuri (Eeva-Liisa Manner). Thursday night to Sunday morning (June 4-7) will be spent in St.Petersburg. The group need a cultural invitation since all visas should be free. There will be no more than two delegates from every member-organizations. A registration-fee of approximately 50 € is required and the BWC will not cover the travel costs to Helsinki, only the bus ride to Helsinki-StP-Helsinki. The St.Petersburg PEN should be engaged in the planning. John Nurminen Foundation, Robert Bosch Foundation and Heinrich Böll Foundation were mentioned as possible sponsors.

10) The country reports followed. Ms. Sinervo and Ms. Sundström from Finland explained about the much needed reform of the social security system. Writers and other artists have legally been considered as entrepreneurs but for the moment all the central art organizations are co-operating in order to find a better solution which would not put the artists in a much weaker situation than the citizens in general. A discussion with leading politicians and officials is in progress.

Ms. Nikula read the decision given by the Helsinki District Court in the case between a translator and a publishing house. “In its decision given on 30 May 2007, Helsinki District Court upheld the claim presented by a Finnish translator of literature against the publishing company WSOY and the paperback series Loisto. The Court stated that the defendants had breached the contract signed with the translator, as well as the Finnish Copyright Act, by republishing the Finnish translation in the Loisto series without the translator’s consent.

As compensation, the defendants were required to pay the translator 50% of the fee originally paid for the translation of the work in question.” Although the decision was given in a single case, it may serve as an important precedent. Hundreds of titles, many of them works translated into Finnish, have already been published in the Loisto paperback series. So far, translators have not been paid any compensation for the reuse of their translations in this series. The publishers have appealed against the Court’s decision.

Mr. Rybelis from the Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators (LLVS) gave his report orally.

“With the aim of drawing publishers’ and readers’ attention to translation quality and translators’ work, and of defending the prestige of literary translators, in 2007, the LLVS conferred, for the first time, an Anti-Prize for negligent attitude towards translators’ work and disregard for traditions of fine publishing during the last three years: for poor translations (distortion of the original, inferior Lithuanian language, blind imitation of another translation of the work in question), for an infringement of copyright (failing to mention translator’s name, issuing new editions without a contract, etc.), for deficient editing. Thus, the Anti-Winners can be publishers or media representatives who show no regard for translators’ work or for literature on the whole, as well as those second-rate translators who have no adequate knowledge of the language of the original and of Lithuanian, or ignorant editors.

The winners of the Anti-Prize were announced at the Vilnius Book Fair in February 2007, and the whole project drew much positive attention from the general public and the media.”

Mr. Bleicher-Nagelsmann from German Writers’ Union presented orally the main points of his report which is here in its entirety.

”German Writers‘ Union – Verband deutscher Schriftsteller – VS in ver.di Members of the German Writers‘ Union are 2900 writers and 1100 literary translators. Our board consists of seven members; President: Imre Török. We also have in each state or ‘Bundesland’, (i.e. Bavaria, Saxonia) a regional president; 16 in all. This is part of the federal system. Our main activities through the last year: Book Fairs in Leipzig and Franfurt/Main. In Frankfurt in October last year we started within the International Centre of the Book Fair our ‘Project Africa’. Topics on the African day were e.g. ‘African Renaissance – myth or realistic strategy’ and ‘Rwanda – books for children after the genocide’. We continued the ‘Project Africa’ in 2008 with a writers’ conference in Accra (Ghana). Our president Imre Török and two colleagues went for four days to Accra meeting 18 colleagues of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA). Information about the meeting and a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ signed by the GWU and PAWA are placed on our website: Another project the GWU launched in 2007 refers to May 10th 1933. At this day the Nazis burned the books of authors like Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Bert Brecht, Anna Seghers, Sigmund Freud and others. The VS did research in the ‘Bundesländer’ to find out not so well known authors whose books also had been burned and who died in exile or had no chance to place themselves in society after the end of the war. Their fate has been documented in a small book the GWU edited with support oft he Ministry of Culture and Media in Germany. More information at:

Collective bargaining under the copy right contractual law is an ongoing hard work in the translators’ section. In Autumn last year after a mediation process with 8 main publishers which did not come to a satisfying result we started negotiating with Random House (Bertelsmann). A result from the end of January 2008 did not find the acceptance from the members of the translators’ union. With additional demands we will continue the process.

The so called Enquete Commission ‘Future of culture in Germany’ set up by the German Parliament four years ago has finished its work. The report counts 500 pages with 560 demands to act on the level of the communities, Bundesländer and on the federal level in favour of cultural development. There are five main chapters talking about financing, europe, the economical and social situation of artists and authors as well as cultural education in Germany. We will examine the report and its demands especially from our point of view as authors and translators. Together with the other arts-sections within ver.di we will lobby and put pressure on politicians to fight for better conditions and the right of creative people.”

Mr. Belov from Kaliningrad reported as follows:

“Today I represent here Kaliningrad Writer Organization – I am vice-chairman of this writer’s union and a member of Kaliningrad PEN-centre. I want to tell with you about situation in modern kaliningrad literature, our international projects and also about cooperation with Baltic Writer’s Council, of course. Our organization consists of 25 writer (poets and prozaist), but it doesn’t mean, that this quantity will became a quality, in order with law of dialectics. Today in such cities like Kaliningrad, writers organizations doesn’t have great influence in our society – because, as a rule, they don’t have their own journals and newspapers, they don’t have financial resources and political instruments. We are waiting for reception of federal law about creative unions in our parliament, because this document can raise our writers, painters and composers on the new stage of development, but our deputies, as a rule, doesn’t interested in the questions of culture. But, in the other side, it’s not so bad – because it’s well-known, that when the government of Soviet Union or Russian Federation take a very active part in the lives of writers, it’s very often means, that this poet or prosewriter will finish his next book in a prison, like Edward Limonov, for example.

Today in Kaliningrad we have our PEN-center with writer Vyacheslav Karpenko in the head, and with such person as a members like Oleg Glushkin, Sergei Pogoniaev, Natalia Gorbacheva, Sergei Michailov and so on. I think that in nearest future Kaliningrad PEN-center will became a center of cultural life in Kaliningrad. Today we have our own printing-house, for example. And because of PEN-club is an international organization, we can do more interesting projects together. For example, as I remember, in the Baltic Mettings in Kaliningrad we are talking about the idea of House of Creation for Writers in Kaliningrad region – on the coast of Baltic Sea. I think it’s the time to discuss this situation. And I think that it will be more interesting for all of us, if Kaliningrad PEN-center will enter to Baltic Writer’s Council instead of Kaliningrad Writer Organization.

Modern kaliningrad literature is wide opened not only for international influence (in Kaliningrad poetry, for example, we can watch today a new styles, not only traditional verses, like in the other part of Russia), but also for international cooperation. In the August 2007 in Kaliningrad festival of actual poetry took part many poets from Sweden, Finland, USA, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Belorussian. We were reading our poetry in festivals in Germany, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania and many others. You see, in his geographic situation, Kaliningrad region is an island. Like Gotland, may be a little bit bigger or smaller. It’s an island of Russian culture in Europe, and we must use this.”

After Mr. Belov’s report there was a discussion of inviting Kaliningrad PEN-Centre as a member of BWC instead of Kaliningrad Writers’ Union. Mr. Belov was asked to write an application to the Board.

The Swedish report was given jointly by Ms. Öberg Lindsten and Mr. Lindqvist.

“The past year has been a very active one for The Swedish Writers’ Union. An important issue has been our extensive efforts to make our government understand that authors need better protection through our copyright legislation in order to become a stronger contracting partner towards different users of the works created by our authors for instance within the book publishing field. Therefore the union has presented in 2006 a detailed proposal for amendments to chapter three of the Swedish copyright act making the author a stronger contracting party and making it mandatory for the publishing companies to enter into negotiations with the Swedish Writers’ Union concerning acceptable minimum standards for publishing contracts. Our proposal is inspired by the proposal made in May 2001 by the German government. Unfortunately what finally came out of the initial German proposal was a much weaker legislation than the one originally proposed.

Much work has also been carried out in order to strengthen the Swedish legislation concerning our public libraries. In 2006, the union created a new policy document for our public libraries, which for instance has been distributed to the Swedish municipalities. Emphasis has been laid on our demand for better libraries within the school sector. Our members have also taken part in local and regional activities in support of better public libraries. It should be mentioned that the public libraries in the Nordic countries are well equipped and more than 60 per cent of the population visit them every year. In an international context this is record-breaking figures.

An investigation has been carried out by the union concerning our members’ income during the year 2004. As many as 68 per cent of our members answered to the questions posed. The results that we now have give a clear view concerning the social and economical difficulties for writers and literary translators to make a living out of their creative work. The results constitute a valid platform for our demands for better cultural policies and state support for the literary craftsmen of our country.

Our union is also actively engaged in the work of Swedish collecting societies within the fields of photocopying, satellite broadcasting, blank tape levy etc. And of course issues raised by the possibilities of digital production, dissemination and consumption of protected works are discussed and handled both on the principle level and in the day to day work by the union’s legal advisors.

Our contacts with writers and writers’- and translators’ organisations outside Sweden are very lively. The Swedish Writers’ Union is actively engaged in the work of The European Writers’ Congress (EWC), where former managing director of the union, John Erik Forslund, has recently been elected President. The preparations for WALTIC (Writers’ and Literary Translators’ International Congress, 29 June-2 July 2008) have been a main focus during 2007. The themes of the congress, hosted by The Swedish Writers’ Union, are literacy, intercultural dialogue and digitalization, and the seminar program will hold up to 100 seminars and 60 invited speakers from all over the world. The Swedish Writers’ Union has gained support for WALTIC from numerous sources, among them Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), Swedish National Commission for Unesco and the Swedish Institute. Another international project that will hopefully start in 2008 is a Swedish/Belarusian cooperation which will aim to support the Belarusian Writers’ Union and to arrange several activities in Sweden and Belarus for writers and translators.”

Ms. Viires presented the Estonian report, here in it’s entirety:

Legislation and politics

There are not any important news concerning the legislation and politics. In 2005 the Law of the Creative Unions and Freelancers was implemented in Estonian legislation.

Although this law does not guarantee any tax reduction or social security for freelancers, it is possible to give so-called ’creative scholarships’ to writers. Estonian Writers’ Union has granted the scholarships to support creative work for three years now. However, Estonian Writers’ Union has initiated to start the discussion to make amendments in the law, insisting that the law should also guarantee social security for free-lance authors.

Public lending right is implemented in Estonia since 2004 and a special foundation Authors’ Remuneration Fund was established to carry out the necessary work. The Fund has distributed the remuneration among authors for three years now. The same fund manages also the reprography remuneration. The sums from the remunerations come directly from the state budget.

International relations

The year 2007 was the end of the Culture 2000 project ’Literature and its Borders. Baltic Ring 3’ where Estonian Writers’ Union was a leading partner. The project lasted for one year (starting in 2006) and brought together 7 partners from 4 different countries. The main objective of the project was to organise series of seminars in different countries under the umbrella-title ’Literature and its Borders’. The project had also the second part – the exchange of writers and translators. The partners evaluated the project as a successful one, the final report has been completed and submitted and we are waiting for the final judgement from Brussels. The project was supported also by Tallinn City Government, Estonian Ministry of Culture and Estonian Cultural Endowment.

Last year we applied for another project from the EU Culture programme together with The Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Visby and International Writers’ and Translators’ House in Ventspils. The result is unknown yet.

Estonian Writers’ Union is continuing to participate in another network, called Halma. It’s a network for literary houses of Central and Eastern Europe. The central organiser of this network is Literary Colloquium Berlin (LCB). Estonia was the main guest at the Gothenburg Book Fair in Sweden in September 27-30, 2007. Estonian Writers’ Union was one of the main organisers of this event. Ca 130 Estonian writers and intellectuals were present and also 21 translations of Estonian literature were published in Sweden for the book fair. EWU is continuously the member of EWC-FAEE AISBL, The European Writers’ Congress as well as the member of Baltic Writers’ Council.

Activities in Estonia

In March 2007 Estonian Writers’ Union got a new chairman – Karl Martin Sinijärv, a poet and a cookbook writer. His election period lasts at least for three years. In October 2007 we celebrated the 85th anniversary of Estonian Writers’ Union, our organisation was established in 1922. We had also two other small anniversaries: 10 years of the existence of the Writers’ and Translators’ House in Käsmu and 10 years of ’Literary Wednesdays’ – our literary evenings that take place every week (exept in summer). Regrettably in December 2007 Estonian writers and the whole Estonian society faced a great loss – the grand old man of Estonian literature Jaan Kross died at the age of 87. EWU is continuing several projects that have become already a tradition – ’Estonian Writers in Estonian Libraries’, literary forum ’The Library of Babel, ’Literary Wednesdays’ etc. EWU is planning to establish a bigger international poetry and prose festival, hopefully it will start already next year or in 2010. In 2011 Tallinn will be the cultural capital of Europe and in connection to this also several literary events are planned to be organised by EWU. In 2007 EWU had also serious negotiations with textbook publishers concerning the minimum fees of authors. Fortunately both sides came to an agreement and certain minimum fees were fixed As a conclusion it can be stated that the main goals of Estonian Writers’ Union are the same as before – to secure the position of literature and writers in the society, to promote literature among potential readers, to stand for authors’ rights and to develop international relations between literary institutions of other countries.”

Ms. Treimane gave the Latvian report.

“Writers and translators in Latvia now regulary receive remuneration based on lending frequency to individual authors and translators for the loans of library books to the public. In 2006 we got the reimbursement for 2 years: 2003 and 2004 (213 764, 06 LVL). In April 2007 we got remuneration for 2005 (154 323, 00 LVL) and in December 2007 – for 2006 (372 939, 75 LVL). The remuneration is administrated by Copyright Association (AKKA/LAA) which calculates and implements public lending right in Latvia.

The money comes from the state budget: since 2003 it is 7,5% of the amount the libraries have spent on purchasing books during the previous year. Every next year the percentage is increased for 0,5% up till 2009, when the percentage will reach 10% of the book purchase and then it will remain unchanged.

During last year Latvian Writers’ Union had worked on 3 annual projects: The Literary Award, The Poetry Days and The Cultural Programme ’Literary Academy’. The main sponsor of the projects is State Culture Capital Foundation.

The annual Literary Award is given in 9 nominations. Another annual tradition is to organize Poetry Days all over Latvia which last approx. one week – usually in September. Last year 20 different literary activities in Riga and elsewhere in Latvia took place, organized not only by Writers’ Union but also in co-operation with other literary institutions, such as Latvian Literature Centre, The Museum of Theatre, Music and Literature and others. Several poetry events were organized by municipal cultural institutions, museums and schools as well. Poetry Day Awards are traditionally given for the best poetry book and for the best translated poetry book. The audience’s approval for ’Poetry Days’ activities is increasing year by year and last year the publicity was very great, even greater than was expected. The interest of media has been very keen, because the project ’Poetry Days’ has become larger and has achieved the dimensions of a festival. It has been thanks to the successful PR which has resulted in the increased number of public and also in the publicity of events. The cultural programme ’Literary Academy’ administrated by Latvian Writers’ Union and financed by State Culture Capital Foundation gives the possibilities to authors – both the young and the experienced ones – to develop their professional skills. In this programme the Writers’ Union’s co-operation with the Faculty of Philology and several museums had been very important, because they had given the premises for lectures and seminars. Within the framework of this programme the following activities had taken place: 1) Regular individual literary consultations at the premises of Writers’ Union had been available in poetry, prose and drama for all who have been interested in writing. These professional advisers have made trips also to 12 places in Latvia where there are active local literary groups. 2) 56 lectures and seminars and 48 workshops – 16 workshops in poetry, 16 in prose and 16 in drama – were organized to improve writers’ skills at the Faculty of Philology. During the workshops 20 literary works (6 in poetry, 9 in prose and 5 in drama) have been written. 3) The seminar for writers-beginners has 60 years’ old history. Last year 177 applications were sent in and after the evaluation of a professional jury 22 best applicants – 12 poets, 8 prose writers and 2 translators – were invited for 5 days seminar in April. 4) The creative summer seminar for young people, which has taken place for 3 decades already, is a project for pupils who are interested in writing. Last year 28 young authors – younger than 20 – were invited to participate in this creative 6 days summer seminar.

About Ventspils House

The historical Town Hall, built in the 18th century and located in Ventspils centre next to the new library has been successfully restored and set up as Ventspils International Writers’ and Translators’ House or Ventspils House. The building has been rebuilt and adjusted to the needs of creative work and literary activities, with seven residential premises, a computer room, reading-room, kitchen, parking facilities, small garden and recreation areas. The centre can house nine residents at a time. There are two twin residential rooms. Two of the rooms have been adapted for people with special needs.

The Ventspils House has spaces for small events for up to 40 people: for creative workshops and for brainstorming. It is also available for seminars, conferences, workshops and other creative events. The resident has the opportunity to become involved in creative collaborative projects such as festivals and seminars. 42 literary events concerning literature and translation (poetry and prose readings, seminars, concerts) have taken place at Ventspils House. Also the local writers and artists have taken part in them.

Ventspils House was opened 2006 thanks to the initiative of the Minister of Culture and her successful co-operation with the Mayor of Ventspils and the director of the Latvian Literature Centre. The State Culture Capital Foundation through its cultural funding programme has granted Ventspils House 10 000 LVL (= 14 285 €) in 2006 and 25 000 LVL (35 714 €) in 2007. In 2006 State Culture Capital Foundation had given a grant to the programme Creative process in Ventspils International Writers’ and Translators’ House’, the programme was continued in 2007 as well.

Thanks to the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation, Ventspils House offers a scholarship 150 LVL (214 €) giving the opportunity to live and work there for 4 weeks. 141 persons from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Netherlands, Macedonia, Spain, Russia, Germany, Slovenia, Finland, Norway, Bulgaria and other countries have applied for scholarships for 2007. 97 writers have used this opportunity and worked there.

Booklet in Latvian and English is available about Ventspils House. As well as a newsletter in Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Russian, German, French, English and Spain has been prepared and distributed in different international literary events (meetings, conferences, book fairs).

In co-operation with the Robert Bosch Foundation and network Halma (the network of literary residential centres in Europe, founded in 2006) the booklet in English has been produced about 16 centres in 11 countries. Good cooperation has been established with the European Association of Humanities Des Letres Europeenes.

The information about Ventspils House has reached Germany thanks to the co-operation withLiterarisches Colloquium Berlin. The information about Ventspils house is published also in data base TransArtists. The fruitful co-operation is established with several literary centres and organizations – with BCWT and Estonian Writers’ Union: the common project has been Nordic Poetry Festival and application has been made for culture programme Culture 2007-2013, where different literary events and scholarships for writers have been planned.

Representatives from Estonian Writers’ Union (EWU) Marts Sillmannu and Piret Viires have visited Ventspils House in order to plan the common co-operation in future. A representative from Ventspils House has been to EWU to discuss the programme of EU Culture 2000 Baltic Ring. The co-operation with BWC and with Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke is in progress in preparing Virtual Baltic See Library project.

Information about Ventspils House is on home page

Mr. Tveite gave the activity report from the Norwegian Association of Literary Translators.

“The Norwegian Association of Literary Translators, (NO) was founded in 1948, and is today one of four bodies organising translators in Norway. The Association has 289 members translating from altogether 48 languages.

General activities, negotiations and policy making

The association’s most important aim is to secure literary translators decent remuneration for their work. In 2006, following years of negotiations and five months of protest actions (for more information on the campaign, see Don Bartlett, ‘Translators stand together in Norway’), we were able to secure a new standard contract with the publishers’ association.

In the past year we held a one day seminar for both translators and editors on the interpretation of the new contract. In general, the contract seems to be used and respected by all the parties concerned.

This year we have signed a new contract with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) concerning the commercial reuse of previously broadcast programmes.

Fluctuations in the field of publishing also give rise to new challenges for the rightholder organisations. We are currently negotiating a contract for the use of translations in ‘Tanum book clubs’, a result of last year’s merger of two of Norway’s largest publishing houses, Cappelen (owned by Bonnier) and Damm (owned by Egmont). Another newly established publishing house, on a quite different scale, presents a different challenge. The so far tiny Pocketforlaget, a joint venture between the second largest publisher, Aschehoug and the smaller, traditionally left-wing Pax, is basing their venture on pocket reprints of titles from other publishers, and thus represent a new mode of publishing. Not surprisingly, our views as to how to understand the contract in this case, differ.

Lastly, NO has initiated a cooperative effort between the various culture workers’ associations with a view to improving the structural conditions for freelancers, in particular where taxation, welfare and the pension system are concerned.


Another of the association’s main tasks is to train and professionalize our members as literary translators. In addition to the annual three day autumn seminar, attended by nearly a third of the members, the association holds bilingual seminars for members translating from specific languages, in 2006 a two day seminar for translators from the Scandinavians languages.

NO also runs a one year course called Flerstemt 2 (Polyphony 2) for potential translators from the various immigrant languages, such as Urdu, Vietnamese, Somali etc. This project is a result of a 2002 initiative by Arts Council Norway to make available translations of literature originally written in languages spoken by the larger groups of immigrants. The pilot project resulted in an anthology of short stories translated from 9 different languages, published in 2003. The course is presently held for the second time, and depending on the result of a planned evaluation, is planned as an irregularly recurring undertaking.

The website, run in collaboration with the other translators’ associations, has been up and running since 2002. This virtual workshop offers various services, including online access to all the main Norwegian dictionaries, various essays and a lot more.


The association’s members are present daily at the Norwegian Festival of Literature at Lillehammer, at the ‘translators’ hour’. We also contribute, albeit on a less regular basis, to other festivals and conferences, such as this year’s biannual Library Meeting in Bergen, hosted by the Norwegian Library Association.

In 2005-06 we ran a pilot programme where translators visited and presented their work for high school students.

Finally, in our efforts to make translators visible to the general public, NO annually awards its own translation prize called Bastian, and there is a translation prize awarded by our two most important book clubs. Since 2004 there is also an annual translation prize awarded by the literary critics.


NO is a member of CEATL (Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraires), the EWC (European Writers’ Congress), the Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council, the Baltic Writers’ and Translators’ Council and, of course, the FIT.

Internationally NO is engaged in several projects, above all, in cooperation with the Norwegian Writers Union and the Norwegian Writers for Children, in the Ogarit Cultural Centre in Palestine, an independent publishing project for Palestinian writers and translators.

The third session was ended at 17:15.

11) The session was resumed on Sunday 2nd March at 9:45. The treasurer Ms. Treimane presented the budget which had been somewhat changed. The GA gave the Board the right to change the budget when needed. The budget was approved by voting (10 for, 1 absent).

The Sami writers, Belarus and Ukraine were discussed as prospective members.

12) Ms. Nikula the Chairperson of Littera Baltica presented the program of the next LB-congress which will be held in Turku June 6-8. Homepage Mr. Belov arrived at 11:20.

13) Ms. Treimane was voted unanimously to the Board and will continue as a Treasurer. Ms. Nikula was voted unanimously to the Board and will continue as a Secretary. Ms. Jensen and Mr. Lahne were voted as Auditors. Ms. Sundström was given a mandate to organize the work of Baltic Meetings 2009.

14) Membership fee is 150 €. Ms. Jensen pointed out that the invoices should be sent after GA, not before it.

15) It was decided that in 2009 the General Assembly will be held on February 27th to March 1st The session was ended at 11:50.

Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke Chairman

Jaana Nikula Secretary

Representing 21 literary organizations, 12 countries and 17 000 members