Baltic Writers Council (BWC), General Assembly 2019

Time and place: 27–28 April 2019, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, Uddens gränd 3, 621 56 Visby, Sweden.

The following representatives of the 12 member organisations were present: Swedish Writers’ Union (Anna-Säflund Orstadius),  The Union of Finnish Writers (Hannu Niklander), Society of Swedish Authors in Finland (Malin Kivelä), The Finnish Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers (Anna Rutanen, Satu Lundelin), The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (Taina Helkamo), Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators (Kazimiera Astratoviene), Lithuanian Writers’ Union (Marius Burokas), Estonian Writers’ Union (Tiit Aleksejev, Piret Viires, Ingrid Velbaum-Staub),  Latvian Writers’ Union (Mudite Treimane), Polish Assciation of Literary Translators (Justyna Czechowska), The Union of Belarusian Writers (Dmitri Plax, Barys Piatrovich), The Norwegian Association of Literary Translators (Hilde Lyng). Lena Pasternak was representing the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators.

Saturday April 27st 2019

Agenda of the General Assembly

11.00-16.00 Meeting with a lunch break

  • Opening of the General Assembly. Short presentation of every participant.
  • Approval of the Agenda.
  • Election of the chairperson and the secretary of the GA.
  • Activity report by Kazimiera Astratovienė, the chair of BWC.
  • Literary event in Visby in 2020: new ideas and possibilities.   
  • Membership questions. Membership fee for the following year.
  • BCWT news by Lena Pasternak, director of BCWT.
  • Reports from member-organizations (each report max. 5 min).


  1. The Chairperson of BWC Kazimiera Astratoviene opened the meeting at 11:00 on Saturday April 27 2019.

The participants of the meeting shortly presented themselves.

Justyna Czechowska passed on the greetings from Halyna Kruk from Ukraine. The Ukrainian organisation is not ready with their papers to apply for the membership of BWC.

2. The Agenda of the meeting was approved by the Assembly. Lunch at 13.

3. Kazimiera Astratoviene was elected chairperson for the meeting, Piret Viires was elected secretary.

4. The Chairperson of the BWC, Kazimiera Astratoviene, presented the activity report for BWC, for the year of 2018:

The General Assembly of 2018 for the Baltic Writers Council was arranged on 21st–22nd of April in Visby, Gotland. 16 persons representing 12 organisations from 8 countries took part in the meeting.

In the afternoon of the first GA session literary event named „Open House in Visby“ was held. It was the most important issue for the BWC Board to organize this event and to say the truth it exceeded all expectations. It was planned to be a minor event with few participants therefore organized in the Centre‘s House after the first session of GA, but it appeared to be a real literary feast that went on for about 3 hours. 9 writers and translators from 6 different countries were reading their texts to the public. Key-note speaker and invited guest was Ukrainian poet, translator and children‘s book writer Halyna Kruk, she delivered a speech „Last trends in contemporary Ukrainian literature: art and human experiences of war.“ I will not go into further details, the program of the event is on our webpage.

It is also important to note that for the first time BWC GA decided to take another approach for organizing the event and especially looking for its finances. Instead of writing numerous applications throughout the year and applying to different funds the Board asked BWC members for support. BWC member-organizations were asked to invite poets, writers and translators and to cover their travel and accommodation costs. They were also asked to donate money for the event that could be used for travel, accommodation and honorariums of those whose organizations weren‘t able to pay. Thus BWC received a donation: The Society of Swedish Authors in Finland, The Union of Finnish Writers, The Association of Finnish Non-fiction Writers supported the event financially – each of these organizations donated 1000 euros, so at last we had a budget of 3000 euros. It was such a good experience to find strength and support inside BWC that it can be seen as valuable lesson for the future activities.

Coming back to GA 2018, one of its decisions was to organize a Round table discussion dedicated to the situation of literary translators in the Baltic region. In order to do so was created a working group inside BWC, together with the Board it prepared an invitation for the members to send their representatives to the Round table covering the price of their travel and accommodation. Again it proved that BWC is an active organization important for its members – yesterday we listened to 10 Round table participants representing 9 different member-organizations. More about Round table you will hear in next year‘s activity report, but this year I would only like to point out, how significant it was to have someone from Iceland and from Norway in the discussion! We haven‘t seen anybody from these countries for quite some time and it‘s essential to BWC to keep in contact with all of its members at all times.   

The GA approved the report.

5. Literary event in Visby in 2020: new ideas and possibilities

The GA discussed several ideas about the possible literary event in Visby in 2020 and decided that the next literary event will be about Belorusian literature.

The GA formed a working group to prepare this literary event: Justyna Czechowska, Dmiti Plax, Tiit Aleksejev, Viveka Sjögren. The working group will be responsible for the program and searching for possible funding.

6. Membership questions.

5.1. New and old members. Ukrainian writers are not organised yet, but are interested in becoming a member of BWC. Danish Writers Union are not members; we will work on it to ask them back.

The organisations of Norway and Iceland are back. They have paid all the time.

5.2. Membership fee.

Proposal: to raise the membership fee to 200 euros. Reduction fee will be 150 Euros.

Vote: 10 – for raising the fee, 1 – against, 1 – neutral

The GA decided that the membership fee will be raised to 200 euros.

7. BCWT news by Lena Pasternak, director of BCWT.

During 2018 200 writers stayed at the centre, representing 32 countries, altogether 3000 guest days.  85% residents were from the Baltic Sea countries, 15% other countries, incl. Africa, Canada, China. There have been also writers from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran. 

The stay for the writers is free. There is a good cooperation with Estonian Writers Union which is offering scholarships for staying in Visby. The same is with German translators’ organisation. Swedish Institute is supporting the stay of Belarusian writers. The BCWT has no European funding at the moment.

In 2018 the house was renovated. The renovating was covered by Gotland County. Windows and floors were renovated; it was the refreshment that was needed.

Several seminars, workshops and project were organised and are ongoing. E.g. a project about “Multilingual literature and readers” organised with Uppsala university; Swedish-Lithuanian translation workshop etc.

The has also been active collaboration with schools from Gotland. 

The webpage of the Centre is in the renewals process. BCWT  is a member of network of centres RECIT.

Summing up, BWTC is a centre for cultural diplomacy, cultural exchange. The strength of the centre – it is a house built by writers and translators, it is a place to visit for work and contemplation.

.Lunch 13-14

Results of the working group.

Thw working group proposed the following schedule; first ideas until the end of May 2019. All materials should be ready by March 2020. The literary event should concentrate on 3 main topics – Belorusian language, literature and translation.

8. Reports from member-organizations. The delegates from each organization presented reports. A few reports were left for tomorrow’s session. The delegates were asked to send their reports via e-mail. See Appendix.

7. 1. Justyna Czechowska (Polish Association of Literary Translators )

7.2. Taina Helkamo (The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters).

7.3. Anne Rutanen and Satu Lundelin (The Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers)

7.4. Hannu Niklander (Finnish Writers Union)

Another concern for Finnish Writers Union is the status of national languages in Finland. A standpoint has been sent to newspapers that national languages – Finnish, Swedish, Saami – are loosing their position for English.

Tiit Aleksejev remarked that the same problem is in Estonia and Anne Rutanen said that for non-fiction writers in Finland this has already happened.

There was a discussion about the role of national languages in Baltic sea countries. The GA expressed a mutual concern about the situation.

7.5. Tiit Aleksejev (Estonian Writers Union)

7. 6. Marius Burokas (Lithuanian Writers Union)

7.7. Barys Piatrovich (The Union of Belarusian Writers)

7. 8. Malin Kivelä (Society of Swedish Authors in Finland)

7.9. Hilde Lyng (Norwegian Association of Literary Translators)

The session was ended at about 16.00.

The GA was resumed on Sunday April 28th 2019 at 10:00.

Sunday April 28th 2019


  • Reports from member-organizations continues.
  • Treasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC.
  • Auditor’s report.
  • Election of the BWC Board members: Kazimiera Astratoviene (retiring by rotation, willing to continue), Piret Viires (retiring by rotation, willing to continue), Viveka Sjögren (retiring by rotation, willing to continue).
  • Election of an auditor. 
  • Nominations for the board of the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators
  • Other issues.
  • Date of the next GA.
  • Closing the GA.
  • Reports from the member organisations. See Appendix.

8.1. Anna-Säflund Orstadius (Swedish Writers’ Union) 

8.2. Kazimiera Astratoviene (Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators)

9.  Teasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC. The Treasurer Mudite Treimane presented the finances of 2018 and the budget of 2020.

The income of 2018 was 31 500,81 SEK, the expenses of 2018 was 19 397.

There is surplus 12 039 SEK from the year 2017, and a surplus of 12103,18 SEK from the year 2018, surplus TOTAL 24 142,93.

The literary event’s costs were covered by donations from the Association of Non-fiction writers’ 9740,10 SEK, the Society of Swedish Authors in Finland 9835,60 SEK, The Union of Finnish Writers 9725,40 SEK, total 29 301,10. The costs of organising the literary event “Open House in Visby” was 29 301,10 SEK. The balance was 0.

Income were more than planned, the debts have been paid. Membership fee – 2018, 1 member has not paid; 2019, 11 members have not paid – but they will pay during the second half of the year.

GA the costs a little bit bigger than planned. There were travel expenses included.

Literary event’s costs were covered by donations, they were enough.

The economy is stable, 78 379 SEK is in the bank account.

The board proposed the budget for 2020 – BWC activities 40 000 SEK (income membership fees). Expenses in the budget: Administration 10 000 SEK, General Assembly 16 000 SEK, Homepage 1000 SEK, Literary event: 13 000. TOTAL: 40 000

10. Auditor’s report. The auditors were Justyna Czechowska and Johanna Sandberg. Justyna Czechowska presented the Auditor’s report. The auditor found the books in order, finances were used according to the purposes and the board was granted freedom of responsibility.

After hearing the Treasurer’s report and Auditor’s report General Assembly approved unanimously the finances of 2018 and the budget  for 2020. – 40 000 SEK.

11.  Reports from member organizations continued. See Appendix.

11.1.  Mudite Treimane (Latvian Writers´ Union)

12. Election of Baltic Writers Council board members.

Election of the BWC Board members: Kazimiera Astratoviene (retiring by rotation, willing to continue), Piret Viires (retiring by rotation, willing to continue), Viveka Sjögren (retiring by rotation, willing to continue).

As the result of the elections Kazimiera Astratoviene, Piret Viires and Viveka Sjögren Malin Kivelä were elected to the board.

13. Election of Auditors.

Johanna Sandberg is continuing and  Justyna Czechowska was elected auditor.

14. Nominations for the board of the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators Centre for the 2 years.

As the result of the elections Marius Burokas and Dmitri Plax were nominated to the board of the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators.  Malin Kivela and Mudite Treimane were elected as deputies.

15. Other issues.

Justyna Czechowska summed up the round table about translation and concluded that it had been successful and the aim of the round table was met.

It was decided that the working group will prepare a manifesto stressing the importance of literary translations and it will be sent to the members.

Open discussion about the role of BWC.

Kazimiera Astratoviene informed the GA about the board’s decision about the next year’s literary event. The board decided if there will be not enough donations, the literary event will be of a smaller scale according to the available finances.

The GA agreed with this decision.

16. Date of the next GA.

The GA decided that the next assembly will be on 24-26th April 2020.

17. Closing the GA.

The GA was closed at 13.07

Kazimiera Astratoviene                                              Piret Viires

Chairperson                                                                                      Secretary