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Lithuanian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission Signs Agreement, Discusses Topical Issues 5 October 2011

The Eighth session of the bilateral Lithuanian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical, Humanitarian and Cultural Cooperation took place on 3-4 October in Klaipėda. The plenary session was chaired by Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis.

“Despite the remaining issues of our common perception of history on the bilateral agenda that will take some time, today, as we are marking the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, we can say that our relations are dynamic and pragmatic. A busy agenda of the Intergovernmental Commission testifies to this fact,” Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis said after the meeting.

At the session, the Commission signed an agreement on the construction of a new bridge across the River Nemunas (Neman) between Panemunė and the region of Sovetsk. It is believed that this bridge will ensure easier communication between Lithuania and the Kaliningrad region, and will help to boost trade.

This will reduce border congestion and will improve the wellbeing of local people in Panemunė, because traffic will be moved away from the city centre and into the suburbs, and this is no less important.

Lithuania welcomes the increase in trade with Russia and would like Russia to join the World Trade Organisation and to sign a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU as soon as possible.

During the session, Russian representatives were acquainted with Lithuania’s concerns about obstacles for the Lithuanian language teachers to work at schools in the Kaliningrad region. The officials were invited to find a long-term visa solution, which would allow the Lithuanian language teachers to work unhindered.

“Bearing in mind the statistics of the Russian language teaching in Lithuania, we have every right to expect that in the Kaliningrad region and elsewhere no artificial hindrances will be put in the way of Lithuanian language teaching. We have also called for the Lithuanian language to be made an optional subject in Russia,” said the Lithuanian Foreign Minister.

It was repeatedly stressed that Lithuania had still not received all the answers to its serious and legitimate concerns about the construction of the nuclear power plant in the Kaliningrad region. Ažubalis assured the Russian delegation that Lithuania’s firm determination to demonopolize the energy sector was unchanging.

The Minister also encouraged Russia to open a dialogue on difficult issues. “I have encouraged Russia to open dialogue on the joint evaluation of the past, the restoration of justice, compensation for occupation, problems of the investigation of crimes (eg 13 January) and the perpetuation of the memory of the victims,” Ažubalis said.

Lithuania-Poland Commonwealth a lesson for all - Zingeris 5 October 2011

Mr Emanuelis Zingeris, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, took part in the international conference The Traditions of the Constitutional and Parliamentary RES PUBLICA of the Polish-Lithuanian Federation: The 3 May 1791 Constitution – the First in Europe which was held in Paris on 27 September 2011.

The conference was organised at the initiative of Mr Emanuelis Zingeris, Signatory to the Act on the Re-establishment of the State of Lithuania, together with Jerzy Kłoczowski, Director of the Institute of East-Central Europe in Lublin, seeking to mark the importance of the first written constitution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the present-day Europe.

In his welcome address to the Conference participants, Mr Zingeris underlined that the EU can collapse just like the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth unless it learns a lesson from our history. Throughout the 18th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth witnessed its gradual destruction influenced by the neighbouring tyrannical empires, unanimously seeking to stop the development of the advanced idea of equality.

The Constitution of 3 May 1791 was the final attempt to stand up to the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Mr Zingeris stressed that differently from Poland, which celebrates the day of the 3rd of May only, in Lithuania meanwhile, there are two dates in the calendar which, pursuant to the resolution of the Seimas, are to be commemorated. It is the 3rd of May – the Day of the Adoption of the Constitution, and the 20th of October – the Day of the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations.

“It is our duty to the memory of the heroes like Tadeusz Kościuszko, Emilia Plater, or Konstanty Kalinowski to keep to the role of the builders of Europe and not to be submerged by any wars of the Lilliputians the reason of which is the disagreement as to upon which end an egg should be broken before eating it, like Jonathan Swift described it in his book Gulliver Travels,” said Mr Zingeris.

Unfortunately, according to the Lithuanian politician Emanuelis Zingeris, up until now the Eastern borders of Lithuania and Poland mark not only the edge of the Schengen Area but also the edge of the European democratic world. It is, therefore, the duty of the politicians of these countries to jointly defend the democratic values which were once achieved in a narrow victory.

Mr Zingeris concluded his speech with a quote from the Joint Statement of Chairmen of Foreign Affairs Committees of the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Regarding Relations between Poland and Lithuania, signed in Strasbourg on 10 May 2011: “We must take all steps to ensure that the blood shed by our insurgents, the Constitution of 3 May 1791, and the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations set an example of decent attitude to other nations building the Europe of the 21st century.”

Alongside other prominent Lithuanian and Polish specialists of history, as well as historians from Poland, Ukraine, and France, the conference was also attended by Dr. Rasa Čepaitienė and Dr. Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė, Research Fellows at the Lithuanian Institute of History, who read their speeches “The Memory of the Constitution of 3 May 1791 in the Lithuanian Society” and “The Attitude of the Lithuanian Upper-Class towards the Constitution of 3 May 1791”.

The participants of the conference also had a chance to see a display of archives from the Library of Adam Mickiewicz in Paris which stores the documents and personal items of Polish and Lithuanian insurgents who took part in the uprising against the yoke of Czar.
Lithuanian Government launches electronic signature 5 October 2011

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and the ministers have put their first electronic signatures to the legal acts passed by the Government. Thus Lithuania has made an important step in e-solutions development and has joined the leading European states.

“I am delighted that Lithuania continues to strengthen its positions as a modern and dynamic state. With the introduction of the electronic signature system and electronic documents, the Government has become an excellent example to the other public and private sector organisations”, said Prime Minister during the signing ceremony.

The electronic signature system will allow the Government, while drawing and passing its legal acts, to abandon paper copies, and to save the working time of ministry clerks, for in future no time will be wasted for carrying passed legal acts from one institution to another for a signature thereto. The Cabinet will be able to electronically sign the legal acts submitted thereto at any convenient time and in any place. The Government will also use the electronic signature information system ELPAS for the submission of draft Presidential decrees as well as draft laws to the Seimas.

With the introduction of the Government electronic signature information system, Lithuania has joined the ranks of the leading EU member states in this respect. Governments of the neighbouring states Latvia and Poland have not yet started using electronic signature in their work.

It is expected that the step made by the Lithuanian Government will encourage the spread of electronic documents both in the public and private sectors. The electronic signature system ELPAS has been gratuitously designed by the UAB Mitsoft in cooperation with the Office of the Prime Minister. Ministry of the Interior has organized production of special applications for the electronic signature, as well as tuning of the Cabinet public servant cards to the system.

According to the European Commission data of 2010, in general Lithuania has achieved more than 84 % of the maturity level of the Internet public service accessibility. Recently the number of the on-line public services has grown by 100 % in Lithuania: services related to income taxes, student allowances, issue of construction permits, public library services, enrolment to higher education establishments, social benefits, customs declarations, public procurement, and other fields, can be fully accessed on-line.

MFA response to Prunskienė comment 27 May 2011

After the statements that appeared in the Russian media that at the meeting with authorities of the Kaliningrad region Kazimiera Prunskienė voiced Lithuania’s interest to participate in the construction and exploitation of the nuclear power plant that is planned to be constructed in the region, we would like to point out that K.Prunskienė is not an elected politician and does not work in any state institution, therefore, she cannot speak on behalf of the state of Lithuania or its people. Her words do not reflect the official position of Lithuania.

The statement by Kazimiera Prunskienė that the nuclear power plant in the Kaliningrad region “is accepted as fact” in Lithuania is totally at odds with reality, because Lithuania has not received from Russia any information that was many times requested regarding the criteria for selection of the nuclear power plant construction site in the Kaliningrad region, compliance with safety standards when constructing and exploiting this facility, usage of water from the Nemunas River for cooling the plant, thermal pollution of the Nemunas River basin and the Curonian Lagoon, as well as the size of the sanitary-protective zone of the plant ant its legal status.

Lithuania has many times expressed concern to representatives of Russia, various international organizations and the EU about the non-compliance of the project in the Kaliningrad region with the requirements of international conventions to provide information to a neighbouring country, inform the public and show a will to cooperate.

The highest leaders of Lithuania, such as President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius have emphasized that Lithuania was not going to participate in the construction of the nuclear power plant in the Kaliningrad region.

If K.Prunskienė really wanted to represent the people of Lithuania, but not the interests of several construction companies, she should primarily aim at ensuring the transparency of Russia’s nuclear power plant project in Kaliningrad and its full conformity with international nuclear safety, radiation safety and environmental standards and the provision of the requested information to Lithuanian authorities and society.

At the end of the last year a sociological survey was carried out, which showed that 84.5% of Lithuania’s population were concerned about the safety of the nuclear power plants that are planned to be constructed in neighbouring countries.

Chinese students invited to study in Lithuaia 25 May 2011

At the Beijing Foreign Studies University the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis gave a lecture to students about Lithuania and invited Chinese students to study in Lithuania. At a meeting with the President of the University, Chen Yulu, the Minister said he was glad that he had the opportunity to visit the only university in China with a Lithuanian language course.

“Despite the apparent complexity of the Chinese language, more and more Lithuanians look ahead and see that China began to assert its global economic power, so they make a resolution to study Mandarin,” the head of the Lithuanian diplomacy said. "In turn, I would like to congratulate all of you, who are studying the Lithuanian language, which is also a very difficult language,” he continued.

During the lecture at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Minister acquainted Chinese students with key moments in the history of Lithuania, the country’s economic achievements and the victories of Lithuanian basketball players.

“Allow me to take this opportunity and invite you to choose a non-traditional field of study and to come and study in Lithuania, the country which is situated in the geographical centre of continental Europe and at the crossroads of east and west, north and south. We have the world’s leading Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and an impressive list of significant European and global records in this field," Minister A.Ažubalis said.

The Minister assumed that bilateral relations had much room for development. He suggested aiming for more vigorous student exchanges in the field of education.

Founded in 1941, Beijing Foreign Studies University is China’s first institution specializing in foreign language studies.

In November 2010, the first Confucius Institute in the Baltic States was opened in Lithuania, which according to A.Ažubalis demonstrates the desire of Lithuanians to learn more about China.

In 2008-2009, 22 Chinese students studied at Lithuanian universities.

Germany plays a very important role in developing EU energy 19 May 2011

President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with Dr Norber Lammert, President of the German Bundestag.
"Germany is Lithuania's strategic partner in developing bilateral relations, strengthening cooperation within the European Union and NATO, and addressing issues topical to the whole of the Baltic Sea region. I am delighted that the dialogue between our country and Germany as well as other EU member states, growing ever stronger over the past several years, has encouraged making European-level decisions on energy security that are greatly important to Lithuania," the President said.

At the beginning of this year, the European Council decided to build an internal energy market by 2014 and to eliminate energy islands in the European Union by 2015. Cooperation in energy was the main topic of discussion during Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Lithuania last September.

Economic relations were also discussed at the meeting. President Dalia Grybauskaitė underlined that now that Germany's economy had started to grow and German companies were searching for business development opportunities in other EU member states, new prospects for bilateral cooperation were opening up to attract German investment into renewable energy sources, innovation, car making, and other areas.

Good neighbourliness the core of relations with Kaliningrad 2 May 2011

President Dalia Grybauskaitė received Nikolai Tsukanov, Governor of Kaliningrad Region, to discuss cooperation between Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
"Lithuania and the Kaliningrad region are linked by long-time historical and cultural bonds, comprising an important component of our bilateral relations with Russia," the President said.
The President further said that the preservation of the current status of the memorial museum to Kristijonas Donelaitis in Tolminkiemis was an integral part of such cultural ties.
Nuclear energy projects in the region were also discussed. President Grybauskaitė underlined that the development of nuclear energy was possible only if the highest level of nuclear safety was ensured. Lithuania strongly demands that the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant, projected to be built in the Kaliningrad Region close to Lithuania's border, should correspond to the strictest safety standards and that an independent environmental impact assessment be duly presented to the public, safety tests performed, and regular consultations carried out with international and Lithuanian experts.
Among the other issues touched upon at the meeting was border cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Russia as well as the introduction of facilitated border crossing procedures. According to the President, Lithuania supports the proposal to apply such a facilitated procedure for the whole Kaliningrad region.

US Congressional Delegation to visit Lithuania 18 April 2011

The Embassy of the United States of America is pleased to announce the visit on 19 April of a high level US Congressional Delegation led by Senator Jon Kyl (Republican of Arizona), the Republican Whip in the Senate, the second highest position in the Republican Leadership.

During their visit, the distinguished members of the Congressional delegation will meet with the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Speaker of the Seimas and other Members of the Seimas leadership. At the conclusion of the meeting at the Seimas, the delegation will hold an open press conference in the Seimas press room.

The purpose of the delegation’s visit to Vilnius is to consult with Lithuanian government leaders on a range of mutual interests given Lithuania’s current chairmanship of the Community of Democracies and the OSCE and its significant contributions as a NATO ally and EU partner. In that context, the visit of the delegation will promote continued, strong political, economic and people-to-people ties between the US and Lithuania.

The other members of the delegation are: Senator Jeff Sessions (Republican from Alabama), Senator Mike Crapo (Republican from Idaho), and Senator Ron Johnson (Republican from Wisconsin).

Most Lithuanians provided with high-quality drinking water 18 April 2011

"Water for Cities", was this year's slogan of World Water Day which was marked in Lithuania for the eleventh time recently. The slogan was chosen to draw international attention to the need for solving urban water resource management problems in the wake of rapid growth in population. The celebration of World Water Day was initiated by the United Nations in 1992. Lithuania has been marking this day since 2000.

Lithuania is one of the few countries in the world having large reserves of fresh groundwater and the only Member State of the European Union using this water well-protected against pollution for centralised supply.

A year ago, last March, the Ministry of Environment initiated an inventory of national drinking water supply systems. According to Dalius Krinickas, Director of the Ministry's Water Department, the inventory results have shown that controlled-quality drinking water is supplied to almost three quarters – 73.5% – of the Lithuanian population.

The vast majority of them are provided with water through pipelines, and the number of such residents is on the rise. The number of individual wells that supply water to private residents is growing as well. According to the inventory results there were over 65,600 such wells in Lithuania last year (50,000 in 2009).

By 31 December 2014, quality water is planned to be supplied to 95% of the country's population. Whether or not this task will be implemented successfully primarily depends on municipalities. The Constitution, the Law on Drinking Water Supply and Wastewater Management and the Law on Local Self-Government oblige them to ensure drinking water extraction and supply as well as the provision of wastewater treatment services within their territories.

National Human Rights Institutions Need Clear Mandate, Resources And Independence - OSCE 15 April 2011

VIENNA, 14 April 2011 – National human rights institutions need a clear mandate, sufficient resources and genuine independence from governments to be able to play their role effectively, participants said today at the opening of a special OSCE meeting on the topic in Vienna.

The two-day meeting, organized by the OSCE’s Lithuanian Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), brought together members of national human rights institutions and representatives of governments and civil society from the Organization’s 56 participating States and Partners for Co-operation.

Lithuanian Ambassador Renatas Norkus, the Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, said that promoting and strengthening national human rights institutions was one of the Lithuanian Chairmanship’s priorities: “Such institutions can play a key role in introducing human rights issues to national policy agendas, in keeping them on those agendas, and in supporting governments in adhering to international human rights standards.”

Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of ODIHR, stressed that national human rights institutions should act as a bridge between civil society and governments, rather than being “just another tool in the hands of governments to conceal or disregard human rights violations”.

“National human rights organizations often report to us that they have insufficient human and financial resources to do their work, and that their advice, guidance and recommendations are at times not followed or even ignored. We also often hear that their independence is put in question,” he said.

Keynote speaker Brian Burdekin, a former Federal Human Rights Commissioner in Australia and a long-standing expert on the matter, also emphasized the importance of ensuring the genuine independence of national human rights institutions. He said that the institutions’ independence must be prescribed in the law setting up the institution and demonstrated in the integrity of the institution’s members, the government’s respect for the institution’s independent role and the availability of sufficient resources.

Burdekin also said that national human rights institutions often have broad responsibilities without being given the resources and powers necessary to fulfill their mandates. He stressed the importance of national human rights institutions working closely with civil society: “This is the only way a broad-based national institution can function effectively. Civil society is our eyes and ears out there.”

Lithuania and Austria cooperate in ensuring nuclear safety 14 April 2011

President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Werner Faymann.

The topics discussed in the meetings covered Lithuanian-Austrian bilateral relations, cooperation within international organizations, European Union issues of concern, and the EU's Eastern Partnership Policy. The Lithuanian and Austrian leaders gave special attention to issues related to nuclear safety.
The President of Lithuania thanked the Austrian leaders for backing Lithuania's initiative to tighten global standards for nuclear safety during the discussions on this issue at the Brussels European Council.
"Austria is Lithuania's important partner both in developing bilateral relations and in seeking common interests in the European Union. Austria fully supports and actively advocates our position that nuclear power plants within and outside Europe should be subject to the highest safety standards and safety tests. Cooperation with Austria will help us in our efforts to make sure that these problems are successfully addressed in the future," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.
According to the President, Austria could stand as a perfect example of how well waste could be managed. The Austrian capital Vienna has four waste utilisation plants, where waste incineration produces heat and electricity without any pollution, and their activities are fully transparent and reported to citizens.

The OSCE should not be divided between east and west of Vienna - Ažubalis 5 April 2011

The focus area of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should not be divided between “East of Vienna” and “West of Vienna” and security across the entire Eurasian and Euro-Atlantic should be indivisible and interlinked through all dimensions of the OSCE, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis said on 5 April at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University.

At the University, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, head of the Lithuanian diplomacy gave a lecture “Euro-Atlantic security in the 21st century”. Minister Ažubalis delivered the lecture at the second annual OSCE Talks seminar “Building bridges: security community and partnerships for change” at Vilnius University.

At the seminar, experts and practitioners examine challenges of modern security and cooperation problems: conflicts and their regulation, existence of grey areas and the developments in North Africa, the role of multidirectional diplomacy in dealing with issues such as civil society, gender equality and media freedom.

According to Ažubalis the impression is that since the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act, there has been an underlying sense that the OSCE area is divided between “East of Vienna” and “West of Vienna.”

However, he states that in December 2010 the OSCE participating States adopted a Declaration in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, thus, committing themselves to establish a single security community across the entire Eurasian and Euro-Atlantic, indivisible, interlinked, through all three dimensions: Politico-Military; Economic and Environmental; and the Human Dimension.
“In the OSCE, security is bound up in our respect for the dignity of each individual, and the acceptance of differences in our diverse and rich cultures,” Minister Ažubalis said.

According to him, this was Lithuania’s essential objective in every meeting and talks in the course of the One Hundred Days of the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship.

The Minister also spoke about the situation in Kyrgyzstan. In his opinion, in southern Kyrgyzstan and Osh Province, where hundreds of lives were lost last year and the situation remained tense, consistent support of the international community is necessary to restore trust between communities.

Minister Ažubalis expressed concern about current tendencies in Russia and in the field of free assembly in Azerbaijan.

“We must ensure the freedom to speak out without fear of injury, imprisonment or even death.  These are guarantees which must be preserved and improved throughout the OSCE area, with no regard to East or West,” the Minister stressed.

The Minister also regretted that Belarus decided to close down the OSCE Office in the country.
Minister A.Ažubalis said he saw obvious resistance to change in areas of protracted conflicts, particularly when it threatened the status quo of the countries. He also recalled some of the OSCE success stories - Croatia and Serbia - and encouraged the countries to overcome years of negative historical experience.

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office also said that the OSCE as an organization played an important role, had created value-added worth and accumulated rich experience. According to him, events in North Africa showed that the OSCE could help the countries in the region and share its best practices.

Environmental impact assessment of planned Belarus nuclear plant not complete 5 April 2011

On 4 April during a meeting with Evaldas Ignatavičius, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Vilnius, Belarusian Ambassador to Lithuania Vladimir Drazhin admitted that Belarus had not completed the international environmental impact assessment (EIA) process for the nuclear power plant (NPP) that is planned to be constructed in Belarus and informed that a detailed reply to Lithuania’s questions was currently being prepared.

The Ambassador handed the note, which states that Belarus meets all the requirements of the 1991 international Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) for the nuclear power plant construction.

The Lithuanian Foreign Vice-Minister stressed that Belarus had to prepare and provide detailed information and exhaustive, reasoned answers to all the questions that were particularly relevant to Lithuanian experts and the public.

Lithuania will continue to insist on strict international control of the planned NPP in Belarus.

On 14 March, Vice-Minister E.Ignatavičius sent a note of protest to the Belarus Ambassador to Lithuania Vladimir Drazhin regarding the claims of Belarusian officials that Lithuania did not object to the EIA report in accordance with the Espoo Convention in regard to the planned construction of the Belarusian NPP.

The note repeatedly reasserts that the international EIA process of the planned construction of the Belarusian NPP is not complete, as Belarus has not carried out the EIA in compliance with the generally accepted international legal norms, has not organized public hearings in Lithuania and bilateral consultations of Lithuania and Belarus in accordance with the provisions of the Espoo Convention.

During a telephone conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Sergei Martynov of 30 March, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis also reminded him of Lithuania’s unanswered questions and concerns.

At the meeting, E.Ignatavičius and V.Drazhin also discussed issues of cooperation between Belarus and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), bilateral cooperation, etc.

Leadership of AB Lietuvos Dujos must resign 17 February 2011

On 8 February 2011, the Ministry of Energy presented a demand to AB Lietuvos Dujos and its leadership to terminate their improper activities and to eliminate their consequences.

Members of the Board of AB Lietuvos Dujos Valery Golubev and Kiril Seleznev are also members of the Gazprom Board. Therefore, it is natural that they represented interests of Gazprom. V. Golubev indicated that Gazprom set higher prices of natural gas for Lithuania than for Latvia and Estonia. It is an obvious conflict of interest, which was the reason why AB Lietuvos Dujos surrendered to gas prices and supply conditions unilaterally forced on by Gazprom.

Therefore, in the claim to AB Lietuvos Dujos signed by the Ministrer of Energy V. Golubev and K. Seleznev are required to resign from the Board of AB Lietuvos Dujos due to the conflict of interest.

As noted in the demand presented as of today, the management of AB Lietuvos Dujos did not seek supply of natural gas at the lowest price possible, and thereby offended against the interests of the company and those of the Lithuanian consumers. Therefore, the General Manager of AB Lietuvos Dujos Viktoras Valentukevičius must resign.

The Ministry of Energy accentuates that the financial reports of AB Lietuvos Dujos did not contain information about the price for the service of natural gas transit to the Kaliningrad Oblast. The Ministry demands that such information be provided. This demand is aimed at clarifying whether or not a portion of the costs of this service is actually imposed on the Lithuanian consumers of natural gas.

“We must clearly state what the current situation in the gas sector is. The company Lietuvos Dujos is ignoring the interests of the Lithuanian state as a shareholder as well as those of the natural gas consumers and has actually become a branch of Gazprom. The Ministry of Energy is going to further take all legal measures to protect the Lithuanian consumers of natural gas from the dictate of monopolists”, the Minister of Energy Arvydas Sekmokas declared.

In case AB Lietuvos Dujos does not eliminate improper activities, the Ministry of Energy is going to initiate a court investigation regarding the actions of AB Lietuvos Dujos and its management.

Some time ago, on 25 January 2011, the Ministry of Energy undertook protection of interests of Lithuanian consumers by filing a complaint with the European Commission, whereby it requires initiating an investigation of the abuse by Gazprom of its dominant position.

The Republic of Lithuania is the owner of 17.70 percent of shares in AB Lietuvos Dujos. After the privatisation of the Company in 2003 – 2004, the control of the Company was taken over by Gazprom (that currently holds 37.06 percent of the shares) and E.ON Ruhrgas International (38.9 percent of the shares).

In 2003 E.ON Ruhrgas International acquired from the Lithuanian Government 34 percent of shares in AB Lietuvos Dujos for the price of LTL 116 million. The market value of 38.9 percent of the shares, as currently held by E.ON Ruhrgas International, is approx. LTL 460 million.

In 2004, Gazprom acquired from the Lithuanian Government 34 percent of shares in AB Lietuvos Dujos for the price of LTL 100 million. The market value of 37.1 percent of the shares, as currently held by Gazprom, is approx. LTL 440 million.

The Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania provides an advanced procedure regarding the investigation of activities of a legal entity, which has already been applied in practice on repeated occasions. This is an exceptionally civil legal action intended to protect the interests of shareholders and a company against the illegitimate actions of the management. It is provided that if the company and its management fail to correct violations within the fixed period of 30 days, the investigation will reach the court.

Economic cooperation between Lithuania and US must be expanded 17 February 2011

On 17 February, at a meeting with the US Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Europe and Eurasia Peter Rashish in Washington DC, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis stressed that Lithuania was interested in strengthening its economic relations with the United States.

According to the Minister, Lithuania expects successful cooperation in attracting the US investment and technology to the Visaginas nuclear power plant and projects of liquefied natural gas terminal.

“The US is the main EU trading partner, while economic relations between Lithuanian and the USA are not as intensive as they could be. The Visaginas nuclear power plant and liquefied natural gas terminal projects could be good opportunities to strengthen economic cooperation,” the head of Lithuanian diplomacy said.

At the meeting also discussed were the immediate steps to strengthen cooperation: the establishment of an office of the public agency “Invest Lithuania” in Silicon Valley in the US and a trade mission to Lithuania in June.

Minister Ažubalis acquainted P. Rashish with the business environment in Lithuania: the country’s situation in the region, investments, labour force, infrastructure and logistics. The Minister underlined that Lithuania could become a gateway to the market of the Nordic and Baltic region with a population of 33 million. According to the Minister, not less important are the Internet penetration rates in Lithuania, which are among the highest in Europe.

In May 2010, a business delegation led by Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis took part in the US-Baltic Foundation annual event in Washington, DC.

Six New EU Financed Projects for Successful Integration of Refugees 9 February 2011

On the initiative of Donatas Jankauskas, Minister of Social Security and Labour, six new projects financed from the European Refugee Fund have been launched this year. The aim of these projects is to improve the conditions of refugee reception and asylum procedures as well as to encourage their integration into society and the local community. Lithuania is not the only state that has this significant problem. The attention of other European states to the issue has been gradually increasing.

“Foreigners granted asylum in our country are the same people as we are. They laugh, rejoice, cry and seek their place in life. We cannot reject them. On the contrary, we must help them to socially adjust, to perceive our culture and traditions. Nobody in such a situation would like to be rejected,” Minister Donatas Jankauskas said.

Pursuant to the current procedure, asylum seekers, who have just arrived in Lithuania must wait for a decision on their asylum application for up to three months.

According to Mr Jankauskas, this period becomes a serious psychological challenge for all refugees. Women and children are particularly vulnerable in this respect. Isolation, lack of information, anxiety related to relatives left in the motherland, uncertainty concerning the future – these are only some of the problems asylum seekers face.

During the implementation of the six projects, asylum seekers as well as foreigners granted asylum will be provided with social, psychological and legal assistance.

Project participants will also be provided with relevant information and an opportunity to meet with local residents, since communication with representatives of the community and availability of necessary information will help them become full-fledged society members more easily.

However, the above projects will not be limited to legal assistance. The implementation of them will be aimed at the improvement of the integration system of foreigners granted asylum in Lithuania. Specialists of this field will attend qualification upgrading courses aimed at improving their skills of defining demands of refugees and asylum seekers and applying the most effective measures.

The projects, the implementation of which will exceed one year, will engage almost 1000 asylum seekers and foreigners granted asylum. An amount of LTL2.26 million has been allocated for the implementation of all these projects. The European Refugee Fund share in the financing of the projects reaches LTL1.69 million.
Lithuania will increase support for the civil society in Belarus 3 February 2011

During the international donors’ conference “Solidarity with Belarus” on 2 February in Warsaw, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Evaldas Ignatavičius said that Lithuania would increase support for the Belarusian civil society through the Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme.

The Vice-Minister thanked European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle and donor countries for the decision to increase support to the Vilnius-based European Humanities University (EHU).

The Belarusian University in exile, which was closed down in Belarus in 2004 and since 2005 has been based in Lithuania, is still not welcome in Belarus. This university provides its students with an access to higher education without any ideological constraints, the students of the EHU not only acquire academic skills, but are also educated as well-rounded, civic-minded and independent personalities – the leaders of a future democratic Belarus.

Vice-Minister E.Ignatavičius called on the European Union countries to take full advantage of the opportunities to facilitate the travel of Belarusian citizens in the EU’s territory.

The donors’ conference “Solidarity with Belarus” is attended by representatives from donor countries and organizations that support the Belarusian civil society.

Vice-Minister E.Ignatavičius informed the participants of the conference about the International Implementers Meeting, which is held on 3-4 February at the Eastern Europe Studies Centre in Vilnius and is attended by experts that are engaged in projects supporting the civil society in Belarus, public figures and representatives from the Belarusian civil society.

Considerable financial resources should be allocated to European Neighbourhood policy 3 February 2011

Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Danish and Finnish foreign ministers state that the European Union‘s external financial instruments in the new Financial Perspective for 2014-2020 should correspond to the EU‘s foreign policy priorities. The main of these priorities  are relations with the neighbouring countries. 
In their joint letter to EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, signed on  31 January in Brussels, the ministers highlight the need for the European Neighbourhood Policy to be supported "by a strong financing instrument with a view to supporting on-going  reform process in neighbouring countries“.

According to the ministers, it is important to ensure, that the resources spent through European Neighbourhood Policy Initiative result in increased influence on the development in respective neighbourhood areas.

“The EU has a special role to play in our neighbouring area, contributing to overall European security, prosperity and democratic progress”, the letter reads.

European Neighbourhood Policy is the EU‘s policy, aimed at Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Mediterranean Sea states, it aspires to welfare, security and stability in the EU‘s neighbourhood by developing  privileged economic and political relations with neighbour countries.

The ministers‘ letter also discusses the principles  of a more effective application of the EU‘s external financial instruments.

According to the ministers, the main task is to ensure that the allocated resources are in line with the EU‘s fundamental values in order to concentrate in the areas where we can provide the greatest added value.

The ministers suggest that in the implementation phase more responsibility should be granted to the EU‘s representations in the third countries, and the EU member states should be more involved in the planning phase.

The letter notes that greater flexibility should be achieved in the use of the EU‘s budgetary instruments so that they are able to respond to international developments and crisis situations, notably within conflict prevention and peace building.

On 17 December last year, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy invited member states to contribute to the debate on how to structure the EU‘s external financial instruments in the future.

Lithuanian Ministry of Energy launched a complaint to the European Commission regarding abuse of dominant position by Russian gas supplier Gazprom 3 February 2011

On 25 January 2011 the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania launched a complaint to the European Commission requesting to investigate the abuse of dominant position by the Russian gas supplier Gazprom.

The Ministry of Energy requests the European Commission to impose on Gazprom a requirement to supply natural gas on the basis of transparent, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions.

The goal of the Ministry of Energy is to ensure that terms and conditions for supply of natural gas to Lithuania were determined solely by economic considerations. It is also expected that greater attention of the European Commission to this situation would prevent Gazprom from increasing the economic pressure and Lithuania would be in the position to complete the strategic liberation of the gas sector.

“In our opinion, the economic and political pressure exercised by the monopolistic gas supplier is aimed at prevention of restructuring of Lithuanian gas sector in a way that would encourage entrance into the market of other natural gas suppliers and emergence of a full-fledged competition among alternative sources of supply in the long run. Thus, Gazprom endeavours to eliminate the real potential for competition and disturb creation of a single European gas market.

As a member of the EU, Lithuania is obliged to implement the EU directives. Therefore, the situation where a full-fledge EU Member State is subject to pressure by the monopoly of a third country just because of determination to implement fundamental principles of the EU – promotion of a single market, competition and interests of the consumers – has no equal precedent”, - says the Minister of Energy Arvydas Sekmokas.

OSCE chairperson in Moscow discusses 2011 priorities, says constructive engagement of Russia essential to organization 3 February 2011

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis met with Russian high-level politicians and officials in Moscow today to outline the priorities of Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship and to discuss the Organization’s activities in 2011.

“The constructive engagement of the Russian Federation, and other key players, such as the EU and the United States, in all three dimensions – the politico-military, the economic and environmental, as well as the human - is essential to the effective work of the Organization,” Ažubalis said at a joint news conference after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Ažubalis noted the positive contribution of Russia to the 2010 OSCE Summit in Astana and said that Lithuania, as the 2011 OSCE Chairmanship, will build on proposals made during summit preparations.

“We will focus on a few concrete priorities, such as advancing settlement of unresolved conflicts within existing formats, promoting media freedom, energy security dialogue and promoting regional co-operation,” Ažubalis said.

Ažubalis said that he counts on support by the Russian Federation in fulfilling the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship‘s work programme, including in the human dimension: "An open and constructive dialogue on issues important to all 56 OSCE participating States is the right way to achieve progress and keep up with the political commitments that we all agreed to, most recently at the Astana Summit."

He reiterated his condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the 21 January terrorist attack in Moscow. He added that the attack sadly demonstrated that all stakeholders must unite in efforts to combat terrorism and transnational threats. ”We can fight such threats effectively only through co-ordinated efforts of all national, regional and international actors,” he stressed.

He said that the OSCE values Russia’s contribution to addressing transnational threats related to terrorism, cyber security and drug trafficking, to intensifying OSCE engagement with Afghanistan, and to working in all other spheres of the OSCE’s activities.

The Chairmanship also aims to achieve tangible progress on the protracted conflicts during 2011, Ažubalis said. “We will work to resume official negotiations in '5+2' format on Transdniestria and build on the positive dynamics achieved last year. We support the Geneva international discussions and the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and promote confidence building between the parties to the conflict,” he said. “In this context, we support Russia’s efforts aimed at making progress towards a negotiated settlement.”

Ažubalis praised the role of OSCE field operations, saying they “provide an invaluable service in helping the participating States fulfil their commitments.”

During his three-day visit Ažubalis will also meet with the Head of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev; the Chairperson of the Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Fedotov, and the Ombudsman of Human Rights of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Lukin, as well as with representatives of civil society, think-tanks and the media.

Lithuania and five other EU member states call on the EC to remember crimes by totalitarian regimes 4 January 2011

Foreign Ministers of Lithuania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Romania and Hungary call on the European Commission to take further actions in preserving Europe’s collective memory of the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes, and in ensuring an appropriate approach to these crimes and their victims, in order to prevent the rebirth of totalitarian ideology and commitment of international crimes in the future.

On 14 December at Lithuania’s initiative, the Ministers signed and sent a joint letter to Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding.

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis, who is participating in the meetings of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council and the General Affairs Council, emphasised the important work of the European Commission and the EU member states in developing the EU as an area of shared values. The values which are incompatible with crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, including crimes committed by totalitarian regimes, as is set out correctly in the EU’s Stockholm Programme - An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens  - that was approved in 2009.

Under this programme, the European Commission was obligated to submit by the end of 2010 its conclusions on the evaluation at the EU level of crimes committed by totalitarian regimes and an appropriate legal instrument.

Kubilius and Netanyahu: shared values and shared approach to world security 4 January 2011

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and the official delegation have met with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamine Netanyahu.

The meeting has basically focused on the pending threat of radicalism in the Middle East and in the world, as well as joint efforts to mitigate the threats in the context of Lithuania's chairmanship over the OSCE and later the EU by including the threat of radicalism on the EU agenda.

On Lithuanian-Israeli bilateral cooperation, the two Prime Ministers have noted that the current relationships are very good. The counterparts have also agreed about the ever improving economic cooperation and growing importance of science and modern technologies.

“Today, it is natural that Israel, with its impressive level of economic and scientific modernity is our important partner. That is witnessed by our bilateral agenda which has enlarged and enriched particularly over the recent years; as well as by a new quality achieved in the development of our relations, and by an active political and economic dialogue that has been taking place.

"This year alone we have had seven exchanges of top Israeli and Lithuanian officials. I have had the honour to welcome Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Liberman, Chairman of the Knesset Parliamentary Liaison Group with Lithuania Zeev Bielski. A number of other important visits have already been planned for the next year,”– said Prime Minister Kubilius, adding that IBM's research center in Lithuania intends to conduct joint medical research with the counterpart in Haifa.

Israeli Prime Minister B. Netanyahu has found many things in common for the two countries. "We're very small countries destined to hard fight for their historical presence. We are united not only by our long common history, but also by the size, "- said the Israeli Head of Government.

“Lithuania and Israel are young, dynamic, and energetic countries with a significant untapped potential. Israel is known worldwide as a "Start-Up Nation", a giant of an innovative, dynamic economy. We would like to become a "Start-Up Nation No.2. And we will make sure it happens. I am convinced that by pooling our efforts, ideas and creativity, we can do a lot of good for the friendship, prosperity and wellbeing of our two States.” said Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

Prime Minister Kubilius has presented his counterpart with the T-shirt of the Lithuanian basketball team bearing No 1.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has been very much interested in the perpetuation of the Litvak heritage as well as memorable places of Rabbi Gaon in Vilnius.

Netanyahu is the center-right Liku" party leader, serving as Prime Minister since 2009 (he was also a Prime Minister in 1996-1999). Born in Israel, he says he derives from Litvaks. From his father's side he is in relation with Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (Vilna Gaon).

In Israel, Lithuanian Foreign Vice-Minister discusses issues of Holocaust education and remembrance 20 December 2010

Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Asta Skaisgirytė Liauškienė is attending the plenary meeting of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research that is taking place on 13-16 December in Haifa, Israel.

Director of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum Markas Zingeris, representatives from Lithuania’s Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also taking part in the delegation led by the Vice-Minister.

The session discusses current issues of Holocaust education, academic research, the role of museums and memorials for meaningful remembrance of the Holocaust victims.

During the event, the 2011 programme of the Year of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania was presented, as well as ongoing Holocaust education projects for general public, educators and academic community. The projects are being implemented in cooperation with the Task Force partners.

Lithuania became member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research in 2002. This organization brings together 27 countries from all around the world that joined the 2000 Stockholm Declaration. The Declaration calls for efforts to keep alive the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to combat all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia. In 2011, the Netherlands will take over the chairmanship of this organization from Israel.

Seimas adopts Law on Citizenship incorporating presidential amendments 15 December 2010

The Seimas has adopted the Law on Citizenship incorporating all the amendments proposed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.
Following the Statute of the Seimas, the Parliament first of all voted on the proposal to adopt the entire law disregarding the amendments. 55 MPs voted in favour of such a proposal, 49 voted against and 23 MPs abstained from voting. Following the failure to pass the law without amendments, the Parliament took the vote on whether to pass the law with all of the amendments and supplements submitted by the President of the Republic.  Consequently, 65 MPs voted for, 21 MPs voted against the proposal and 40 MPs abstained from voting.
The President returned the draft Law on Citizenship to the Seimas for repeat consideration. The President noted she welcomed most of the provisions of the newly adopted Law on Citizenship, however, in her view, the provision stipulating that citizens of the EU and NATO member countries may hold citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania would make preconditions for dual citizenship commonplace, which would contradict the provisions enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
In the President’s judgement, the provision on exceptional cases for granting the citizenship of Lithuania cannot be applicable to predictions about the future, i.e., when believing or hoping that an individual holding Lithuanian citizenship may possibly become a person of great merit for the Lithuanian state in the future.
Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania stipulates that, “With the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time”. It means that such individual cases provided by law may only be rare and that such legal regulation validating dual citizenship as a commonplace phenomenon is impossible.
In the President’s opinion, emigration and diaspora problems need to be solved primarily by creating economic, political and legal conditions for each Lithuanian to return to his/her Homeland and build Lithuania by joint efforts since there is as much Lithuania as we carry in our hearts and support by our deeds. Secondly, these problems must be solved in a legitimate and legal way.
The following decisions were taken during the deliberation of the returned law by the Seimas Committees: the Committee on Legal Affairs proposed to adopt the Law on Citizenship with all the amendments suggested by the President of the Republic of Lithuania; the Committees on Foreign Affairs and on Human Rights suggested ignoring the proposals of the President and adopting the law returned to the Seimas for repeat consideration without any changes.
Paulius Saudargas, MP, spoke on behalf of the Homeland Union – Christian Democrat Political Group at the sitting of the Seimas. He reminded that a compromise had been reached prior to adopting the Law on Citizenship and thus urged the MPs to stick to their opinions.
Kęstutis Daukšys, MP, representing the Labour Party Political Group, underscored everyone’s responsibility to his/her Homeland. “In my understanding, citizenship is neither a privilege nor a comfortable way of life. First of all it represents a duty and responsibility to and a tie with your Homeland. We all have only one Homeland since it is impossible to have five, six or ten of them. We all have only one Homeland, just like one Mother. Therefore, each person should make his/her choice and decide which country he/she considers his/her Homeland and which country’s citizen he/she is. I thus suppose that dual citizenship should be a genuinely rare phenomenon”, Mr Daukšys argued.
Accoding to Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, MP, Member of the Social Democratic Party, ”the President’s veto is reasoned by Constitutional provisions, in the context of national security and in the context of international independence guarantees. It is only by way of a referendum on Article 12 of the Constitution that this interpretation can be altered”.

Foreign minister urges movement between EU and Eastern partnership countries next year 15 December 2010

At the meeting of the European Union member states and Eastern Partnership countries on 13 December in Brussels, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis highlighted the need to promote mobility and people-to-people contacts, the necessity to facilitate visa regime for partner countries, to develop commercial relations and to resolve protracted conflicts in the Eastern Partnership countries.

“I hope that next year will be the year of mobility. We already have a visa-free regime action plan for Ukraine and we hope to draft a similar plan for Moldova soon. Visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Georgia will enter into force early next year. I hope that negotiations will soon begin on such agreements with Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs said.
Minister A.Ažubalis also welcomed the Commission’s intentions to submit plans for the expansion of projects, financed by the Trans-European Transport Network, to EU’s Eastern neighbours before the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Budapest, in May 2011.
Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs called on the EU to help its Eastern partners prepare for the negotiations on deep and comprehensive free trade agreements. The Minister called on partners in Eastern Europe to demonstrate their courage in implementing the necessary reforms and cherishing common European values.
The Minister invited Eastern Partnership countries to strengthen their mutual cooperation through submitting joint initiatives to the EU. Minister A.Ažubalis and Foreign Minister of Belarus Sergei Martynov noted that more progress was needed in implementing the projects that were jointly submitted by Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania this autumn. These projects deal with border management, energy, transport and other areas.
The Minister stressed the importance of ensuring security in the region, as the security of entire Europe depends upon it. “The Eastern Partnership initiative should contribute to the resolution of protracted conflicts in the region,” Minister A.Ažubalis said.
On 13-14 December in Brussels, the Minister is participating in the meetings of the European Union’s General Affairs Council (GAC) and the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC). Besides, on 12 December Minister A.Ažubalis had a ministerial working dinner of the European People’s Party (EPP). In the morning of 13 December, the Minister held a meeting with European Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Audit and Anti-fraud Algirdas Šemeta.

Minister of Economy emphasized the importance of signing a free trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine 15 December 2010

Minister of Economy Dainius Kreivys emphasized the importance of negotiations between the EU and Ukraine on signing a free trade agreement. This issue was discussed at today’s meeting of Dainius Kreivys and Vasyl Tsushko, Minister of Economy of Ukraine.

“Lithuania welcomes the euro-integration of Ukraine and takes an interest in signing of the agreement,” D. Kreivys said.

At the meeting, attention of both Ministers was focused on the problems which arise when exporting Lithuanian products to the market of Ukraine. Due to protective measures imposed by Ukraine with respect to local producers problems arise when importing Lithuanian refrigerators to Ukraine. Another issue of concern covers the intentions to impose additional duties on oil products transported from Lithuania to Ukraine.

Minister of Economy of Ukraine V. Tsushko assured that in the process of international trade Ukraine will strictly follow the requirements imposed by the World Trade Organization on international trade. Both Ministers agreed to promote organization of business missions, strengthen direct relations at the national authority and business organizations level aiming to encourage investments. While inviting Ukrainian businessmen to invest in Lithuania Dainius Kreivys reminded of our common historical and cultural background as well as good political and economic ties between the countries.

Viceminister of Economy Daumantas Lapinskas who also was present at the meeting, said that both Lithuania and Ukraine have much room for improving trade and investment indicators of the two countries. “Some progress is obvious, yet, the businessmen of both countries need to be encouraged to show more interest in the existing investment and trade possibilities. We hope that the business forum of today will serve a good background for this,” D. Lapinskas said.

Following the data of Statistics Lithuania, in 2010, Ukraine ranked 9 out of 184 Lithuania’s foreign trade partners by export. In January – September 2010, compared to the relevant period of the last year, export to Ukraine increased by 68.2%.

Lithuania and 5 other EU member states call on the European Commission to keep alive the memory of the crimes by totalitarian regimes 15 December 2010

Foreign Ministers of Lithuania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Romania and Hungary call on the European Commission to take further actions in preserving Europe’s collective memory of the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes, and in ensuring an appropriate approach to these crimes and their victims, in order to prevent the rebirth of totalitarian ideology and commitment of international crimes in the future.

On 14 December at Lithuania’s initiative, the Ministers signed and sent a joint letter to Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding.

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis, who is participating in the meetings of European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council and the General Affairs Council, emphasized the important work of the European Commission and the EU member states in developing the EU as an area of shared values. The values which are incompatible with crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, including crimes committed by totalitarian regimes, as is set out correctly in the EU’s Stockholm Programme - An open and secure Europe serving and protecting the citizens  - that was approved in 2009.

Under this programme, the European Commission was obligated to submit by the end of 2010 its conclusions on the evaluation at the EU level of crimes committed by totalitarian regimes and an appropriate legal instrument.

ASEM: Prime Minister in favour of sound budget policy and deficit cuts 6 October 2010

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has spoken during the morning session of the Asia-Europe summit (ASEM) in Brussels. The ASEM morning session was devoted to the sustainable development.
In his speech, Prime Minister Kubilius returned to the topic of the global crisis.

“Not us, not Lithuania caused the crisis, but we are responsible for dealing with the current situation as soon and as smoothly as possible”, said Kubilius, adding that it is essential to “learn the lesson of the present crisis and to be ready for times of global trouble that might come in the future”. Sound budget policy and hard work in cutting deficit are the major measures of successful performance, according to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the importance of communication in broad sense in the globalized world. He recalled the successful and practically beneficial ASEM Transport Ministers’ meeting hosted by Lithuania for the first time last year, expressing conviction about further development of East-West cooperation in terms of conventional transport as well as Internet governance, or a high-tech IT development.

“The East-West Transport Corridor will enable container traffic from Shanghai to Lithuania within 12 days, not 45, as it is today”, said Kubilius. The Prime Minister expressed his delight about the current cooperation. The next ASEM Transport Ministers’ meeting has been scheduled to be held in China next year. Lithuania will be one of the initiators and supporters of the meeting.

Media freedom and safety of journalists on the priority list for lithuania’s upcoming osce chairmanship 6 October 2010

According to Lithuania’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Renatas Norkus, Lithuania will encourage the governments of the OSCE participating states to take more pro-active measures to ensure the safety journalists and to put more effort into investigating cases of violence against journalists, and will emphasize the importance of media self-regulation.  

Ambassador R.Norkus said this at the OSCE Review Conference on 4 October in Warsaw. During the Review Conference, Lithuania’s permanent representative acquainted the participants with   human dimension priority trends of Lithuania’s OSCE chairmanship.
“The OSCE countries should pay attention to the impact of a rapidly developing new internet media and technology on the media freedom and pluralism. They should also not restrict freedom of expression on the internet by passing new laws to deal with the challenges that are arising due to new technology,” Ambassador R.Norkus said.

He stressed that Lithuania would also seek to draw the attention of the OSCE participating states to the topic of the safety of journalists.  In this endeavour, Lithuania intends to closely cooperate with OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic.

Lithuania’s upcoming OSCE chairmanship also intends to emphasize the importance of independent human rights institutions for strengthening democracy. Today, many countries already have offices of the ombudsman or national human rights commissions. However, according to Ambassador R. Norkus, it is necessary to ensure that these institutions would operate effectively, be politically independent and would work with civil society more actively, and that they would submit recommendations for the improvement of human rights policy.

As a follow-up to the achievements of Kazakhstan’s current OSCE chairmanship in the field of tolerance and non-discrimination, and benefiting from the positive cooperation experience with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in implementing the programmes of education on tolerance, in 2011 Lithuania will suggest that the OSCE participating states should pay greater attention to tolerance education as a means to prevent hate crimes.

The OSCE Review Conference was attended by the delegations of the OSCE participating states, representatives from the OSCE institutions and missions, and from non-governmental organizations. The following representatives from Lithuania’s non-governmental organizations took part in the event: Director of the Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute Henrikas Mickevičius, Professor of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Director of Vilnius Yiddish Institute Šarūnas Liekis, and Adam Blaškevič, Principal of the Pope John Paul II Polish Gymnasium in Vilnius.

At the Review Conference, representatives from Lithuania’s non-governmental organizations evaluated Lithuania’s progress in implementing the OSCE commitments to human rights and democracy, the rule of law, tolerance and non-discrimination, and discussed the situation of national minorities in Lithuania. At Lithuania’s Embassy in Poland, representatives viewed an exhibition dedicated to Lithuania’s national minorities.

The Review Conference takes a look at the progress that the 56 OSCE participating states have made in implementing their commitments to human rights and democracy, democratic elections, the rule of law, tolerance and non-discrimination, freedom of the media, etc.

The Review Conference aims to prepare for the first in eleven years OSCE Summit that will take place on 1-2 December in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

With several hundred participants from governments, civil society and international organizations, the Review Conference in Warsaw is Europe’s largest human rights event in 2010.

Europe and Asia can learn from each other - Prime Minister 6 October 2010

On 4-5 October Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and his delegation are taking part in the 8th Asia-Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government (ASEM) in Brussels. The major topics of this global summit address the global crisis, means to fight it and the outcomes thereof, global economy management, sustainable development, climate change, combating maritime piracy, and terrorism.

Before the ASEM session, the forum participants, heads of state and government, were met by King Albert II of Belgium, Prime Minister of Belgium Yves Leterme, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.

“ASEM plays an important role in strengthening mutual security. This forum provides an unquestionable benefit in opportunities to discuss the uniqueness of the European and Asian understanding, and thus learn from each other. It is also of utmost importance in searching for ways to overcome the global crisis and discussing the ways that every continent and its leaders could contribute to the more efficient management of crisis and its after-effects”, said Prime Minister Kubilius before the summit.

The European Commission is seeking to raise the ASEM dialogue to a higher level, moving from a dialogue to a partnership. It plans to allocate 1 billion Euros to the ASEM activities by 2014, and an additional 1 billion Euros to the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) annually. It has been proposed to hold the ASEF board meeting in Vilnius next year, with a view to ensuring that Lithuania continues to take a leading position in the Asia-Europe cooperation matters, following the successful first meeting of the ASEM transport ministers in Vilnius last year.

The Asia-Europe Meeting is part of the dialogue between the European Union and the Asian countries initiated in 1996, which seeks to strengthen the inter-regional relations and enhance mutual understanding. The ASEM process, analogical to the Barcelona Process (which develops the EU-Mediterranean relations) is an informal open forum, which contributes to the work on the bilateral level of multi-lateral forums like the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, and since this meeting in Brussels, also like the summits of heads of state and government.

Seimas to discuss police 20 years ago and now 1 October 2010

Vilnius, October 1 (ELTA) - On Friday, on the eve of the Police Day (Guardian Angels' Day), the Seimas will hold a press conference "Lithuanian police 20 years ago and now" on the occasion of the restoration of the Lithuanian police.

The participants will be greeted by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Minister of Interior Affairs Raimundas Palaitis, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas Ceslovas Jursenas and Police Commissioner General Vizgirdas Telycenas.

Chairman of the Supreme Council-Restituent Seimas Vytautas Landsbergis, first Commissioner General of the restored Lithuanian Police Department Petras Liubertas, brother Astijus, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, former Minister of Interior Statys Sedbaras, President of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists Bronislovas Lubys will deliver speeches.

Degutiene expects Luxembourg support 1 October 2010

Vilnius, September 30 (ELTA) - Lithuania expects Luxembourg's support when the EU will be considering the issues that are especially sensitive for our country, such as energy security, the common EU energy policy and specific initiatives in this field.

Speaker of the Seimas Irena Degutiene said that during the meeting with President of the Luxembourgian Parliament Laurent Mosar who is visiting Lithuania for the first time over the twenty years of Lithuania's independence.

"Lithuania is evaluating the proposals by President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek and former Chairman of the European Commission Jacques Delors to strengthen the common EU energy policy with great attention. These initiatives were also discussed at the meeting of the Nordic and Baltic parliamentary speakers. We hope to receive your support in addressing these challenges," Irena Degutiene said.

The heads of the Lithuanian and Luxembourgian parliaments discussed the EU issues, the strengthening of parliamentary cooperation, common EU energy policy and initiatives that are of a great importance to Lithuania.

Irena Degutiene pointed out that this visit was a new stage of cooperation in various fields between Lithuania and Luxembourg.

The Government can work - Grybauskaitė 1 October 2010

Vilnius, September 30 (ELTA) - Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite believes that the Government headed by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius can work as long as it is able to make decisions and adopt the budget.

"Speaking about the fragmentation of the ruling majority, we have been watching this process for almost a year now. The Government can work as long as it is able to make decision and adopt budget," Dalia Grybauskaite said at the Seimas on Thursday.

This was her answer to the question regarding the intentions of the Lithuanian Farmers' Union to stop supporting the ruling majority.

The board of the Lithuanian Farmers' Party intends to decide upon the support for the ruling coalition on Thursday.

Threats to hold interpellation against Sekmokas do not surprise Kubilius 1 October 2010

Vilnius, 30 September (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says the initiatives of the opposition to hold interpellation against Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas do not surprise him. The head of the Government says such initiatives are linked to the intentions to submit a package of strategic decisions related to the energy sector during this political season that is not favourable to certain interest groups.

"The fact that the opposition has chosen such a path does not surprise me much, although I would really like to see much more constructive behaviour. In this season, we, the Government, together with Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas will submit a package of strategically very important decisions to the Seimas that are related to the restructuring of gas sector, the construction of the new nuclear power plant and many other energy matters, and we realize that those decisions will not be very appealing for one or another interest group that prevailed in the energy sector so far," Kubilius said on Ziniu Radijas on Thursday.

According to the head of the Government, in such a situation, the opposition will be able to choose what is more important - energy independence or the interest of the interest groups that are sometimes very practical and based on huge amounts of money.

I am proud of Lithuanians and how we managed to survive - Masiulis 1 October 2010

Vilnius, September 29 (ELTA) - In the light of the protests across Europe, Minister of Transport and Communications Eligijus Masiulis says he is proud of the ability of Lithuanians to survive the economic downturn.

"Taking into account that our gross domestic product dropped by 18 percent in 2009, I am glad that Lithuania and Lithuanians managed to survive. If the German or British economies incurred the same drop in GDP, I think they would go bankrupt. We lost 18 billion litas in the economic crisis," Masiulis says.

On Wednesday, several group of people protested near the building of the Ministry of Transport, the majority of them - road workers from Marijampole region. "We want to receive salaries, not allowances," their poster said.

The transport and communications ministers said he perfectly understood the protesters' concerns and promised to meet with them to discuss topical issues.

"On one hand, in the light of the reduced funding we are unable to keep the same number of employees that we used to have in best times, but on the other hand, we hear people saying that in winter they have to work at nights and weekends, when it is snowing heavily and they have to salt the roads, and they do not receive extra money for that, they are not paid for weekends, they receive normal salaries," Masiulis said.

Eligijus Masiulis said that the next year's budget will provide for more funds for road maintenance than this year.

Government allocates over 100,000 litas for Brazauskas funeral 1 October 2010

Vilnius, September 29 (ELTA) - On Wednesday, the Government intends to allocate 101,800 litas from the Reserve Fund to cover the costs of the funeral of President Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas. Such amount was requested by the Presidential Palace for the funeral services, security, transports, guest reception and other needs.

The first President of the independent Lithuania Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas passed away on June 26 after a long and severe disease.

Agenda for 5th Autumn Session of the Seimas 23 September 2010

The Seimas Autumn Session commenced on 10 September 2010. During the first sitting of the ordinary session, Mrs Irena Degutienė, Speaker of the Seimas, and Mr Andrius Kubilius, Prime Minister, presented the draft Decision on the Agenda for the 5th Autumn Session of the Seimas as one of the most important issues on the agenda of the sitting.

The Agenda of the Autumn Session reflects the proposals from the Government, parliamentary committees, parliamentary political groups, and MPs and includes approximately 700 draft laws. The number excludes secondary legislation. The Government submitted 105 draft laws, the Seimas political groups and MPs offered 415 drafts for consideration, and the President of the Republic proposed 17 drafts. The remaining draft laws come from the parliamentary committees and commissions. A significant part of the drafts was transferred from the spring to the autumn session.

The Speaker of the Seimas identified the key priorities for the autumn session. They include fight against corruption, focus on the energy sector, reduction of unemployment, creation of jobs, and approval of the state budget for the coming year. “The structural reforms of the Social Insurance Fund Sodra, education, and healthcare sector will also be important. The draft laws transposing the provisions under the EU directives into the national law are also relevant”, the Speaker observed.

While reviewing the Draft Agenda, the leader of the Parliament noted that the number of draft laws for consideration at the Seimas was high and stressed the need to agree on priorities for the autumn session. “It is obvious that we will not manage to cover all the issues proposed for consideration during the autumn session. Therefore, we should assess whether every specific draft is truly urgent and should be dealt with immediately or postponed. The Seimas may also later refuse to give consideration to some of the issues”, Degutienė remarked during the Seimas sitting.

The Prime Minister Kubilius reviewed the draft laws submitted by the Government and identified three key issues: state budget approval, energy independence, and management of state enterprises.

In his comments on the state budget for the coming year, Mr Kubilius highlighted the need to strive for a life free of debt, which our children or grandchildren would have to pay, and for living within our means and within the generated revenues to the budget.

Presenting the draft laws on alternative energy, he stressed that it is essentially a decision on the consolidation of our energy independence. “Energy independence is not only a political declaration; it eventually leads to guarantees of energy independence and hence the alternative energy supply options to our customers who will then be able to choose cheaper energy resources, cheaper energy services, and a more solid foundation for our entire economy,” the Prime Minister claimed.

The Head of the Government also stressed that for the efficient management of state assets, state enterprises need changes providing palpable benefits to Lithuania’s people in the short-term perspective.

The approval of the Draft Agenda for the autumn session by the Seimas was followed by the deliberations on the Draft. There were 51 votes in favour with 7 against, and 29 abstentions. All Seimas committees were charged to deliberate on the Draft. The date for the preliminary deliberations at the Seimas sitting is 16 September 2010.

Seimas Liberal Centrists and the TPP political group merged 23 September 2010

Vilnius, September 21 (ELTA) - A joint group of the Seimas Liberal and Centre Union and the Nation's Resurrection Party political group was established at the Seimas.

On Tuesday, the Seimas Speaker Irena Degutienė informed about the establishment of the new political group from the Seimas tribune.

Algis Caplikas is leader of the newly established political group, Liberal Centrist Vytautas Bogusis and Elder of the former Nation's Resurrection Party political group Arune Stirblyte are his deputies.

Member of the Seimas Asta Baukute did not join the political group. As of September 20, she withdrew from the TPP political group.

Energy, cohesion policy and rural development should remain among EU priorities - President 23 September 2010

President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget, Janusz Lewandowski, who is visiting Lithuania.
The President and the Commissioner discussed the EU budget reform and the next financial perspective.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė expressed the view that the European Union's annual budgets and the new financial perspective should continue to place priority on energy and transport projects, cohesion policy, and rural support.
The President and the Commissioner also discussed possibilities to strengthen the EU's budgetary and economic discipline.

Kubilius sees no threat to ruling coalition over opposition's meetings with Grybauskaite 23 September 2010

Vilnius, September 17 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says he does not give much prominence to the fact that President Dalia Grybauskaite is meeting with representatives of the Seimas opposition on the eve of the new political season.

"I also meet with the heads of the opposition parties. I don't know whether this is a threat," the prime minister said on Friday.

"To my mind, the president is a very important part of political life and the opposition is meeting with the Seimas speaker, the prime minister and the president. I see nothing strange here. The more such visits, the more attempts to reach consensus in addressing most critical issues, the better," Kubilius added.

According to the media, the president repeatedly met with the representatives of the Seimas opposition - the Social Democrats, Labour and Order and Justice political parties on the eve of the new political season.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Highlighted the Significance of Eastern Neighborhood Policy in the EU’s Relations with Strategic Partners 17 September 2010

On 13 September at the European Union’s (EU) General Affairs Council in Brussels, the EU foreign ministers discussed draft conclusions for the European Council meeting to be held later this week. The European Council will focus on relations with the EU’s strategic partners and will discuss the strengthening of economic policy coordination among the EU’s member states.

Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis agreed that the EU’s relations with strategic partners had to be further strengthened. The Minister emphasized the need to develop Europe’s Neighborhood Policy.

“Our ability to address the challenges of the Eastern Neighborhood will influence the EU’s reliability in international politics,” head of Lithuania’s diplomacy said.

When speaking about the EU’s relations with Ukraine, the Minister stressed that in preparing for the upcoming EU-Ukraine summit, it was necessary to dedicate just as much attention to this summit as to other EU’s summits with strategic partners.

“During the forthcoming EU-Ukraine summit, it is important to make progress in the negotiations on an Association Agreement, visa-free regime and energy cooperation issues,” Minister A.Ažubalis said.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs also reminded the participants that during the European Council in February 2011 there would be a good opportunity to discuss the EU energy cooperation with all the partners in detail.

Lithuania also approved of the initiatives to strengthen the EU’s economic policy coordination.
“The EU’s influence directly depends on our unity. Therefore, better coordination of economic policy will strengthen the EU’s position on the global arena,” the Minister said.

Minister A.Ažubalis drew attention to the fact that proposals on the EU’s economic governance should not increase the gap between the euro zone countries and the countries outside it.

President: The EU’s Eastern policy must acquire concrete contents 17 September 2010

Thursday, September 16, Brussels - President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė is attending an extraordinary meeting of the European Council, dedicated to the EU's external policy and relations with strategic partners.
The European Council meeting was preceded by a NB6 meeting of Nordic-Baltic states, in which leaders of the participating countries discussed common positions on relevant issues on the European Council's agenda.
The Nordic and Baltic countries shared the view that in shaping its policy of external relations, the European Union must give due attention not only to Southern but also to Eastern neighbourhood policy.
According to the President, the Nordic and Baltic countries agreed that partnership with Russia must acquire more concrete contents and serve to develop projects that promote modernisation.
„I am glad that the Nordic and other Baltic countries supported my suggestion that the European Union should take a bespoke approach to its relations with Ukraine, especially bearing in mind Ukraine's aspiration to the Association Agreement with the EU. Lithuania supports this aspiration," the President said.
The NB6 leaders also discussed enhanced economic coordination and common Nordic-Baltic actions in applying for EU support to regional development.

Grybauskaite wishes MPs political will in making important decisions 12 September 2010

Vilnius, Sept 10 (ELTA) - President Dalia Grybauskaite has congratulated the Seimas with the beginning of its autumn session, wishing MPs strong political will, concentration and determination. The head of state offered her congratulations in a letter that was read by Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene at the Seimas on Friday.

"This political season, it will be important as ever to secure the unity of parliamentary political forces and common efforts of the Seimas, the Government and the President in taking the decisions important to Lithuania. I am determined to continue working closely with all parliamentary groups, listen to the opinions and proposals of both the ruling coalition and the opposition forces attentively," the president wrote in her letter to MPs.

The president wished politicians the political will in passing important laws, particularly on the fight against corruption and criminalisation, including the extended property asset confiscation.

According to the head of state, the agreement among the authorities and cooperation on all key issues are necessary so that the residents would feel the real changes. Grybauskaite singled out such key priorities as the creation and development of the electricity and gas market, the SoDra reform, unemployment reduction, economic stimulus and budget adoption.

The president discussed the priorities of the new political season with the Board of the Seimas on the eve of the autumn session.

Seimas speaker to visit US next week 12 September 2010

Vilnius, Sept 10 (ELTA) - Next week, on September 13-17, Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene will pay a visit to the U.S. to attend the meeting "Boundaries of Democracy: Challenges in Eastern and Central Europe and Central America" of the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies in Washington.

The Seimas speaker will be accompanied by MP Algirdas Butkevicius, elder of the parliamentary group of the Social Democrats, and MP Emanuelis Zingeris, chairman of the Seimas' Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The meeting on the next Wednesday will focus on the development of democracy in Eastern and Central Europe, South and Central America and new issues, the future of the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracy.

The Parliamentary Forum in Washington plans to issue a resolution on the establishment of the secretariat of the Parliamentary Forum in Vilnius, which will contribute to strengthening the activities of the Community of Democracies to support and promote democracy, to provide multifaceted support to the president of the Forum and the member states. It is expected that Vilnius will eventually become the Community's centre for interparliamentary relations, cooperation and coordination.

During Degutiene's visit to the U.S., Deputy Seimas Speaker Ceslovas Stankevicius will act as Seimas speaker.

Environment minister Kazlauskas reports to prime minister 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 9 (ELTA) - The Environment Ministry is to submit all the necessary documentation of regional waste management projects in five days, until September 15, as agreed by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Environment Minister Gediminas Kazlauskas on Thursday.

At a meeting, the prime minister and the environment minister discussed the critique that President Dalia Grybauskaite offered to the Environment Ministry earlier. Kubilius and Kazlauskas agreed that the Ministry should solve the problems of the environment management projects as soon as possible and prepare for the reform of the forestry responsibly. Kazlauskas undertook the obligation to ensure that all the ten regional waste management centres would have delivered applications to the EU Cohesion Fund for funding the development of the waste management system by September 15

The Environment Ministry has to solve the issue concerning the funding and implementation of the hazardous waste landfill project by October 1. Next week, the environment minister will present the strategy on the state forests' reform.

Minister Kazlauskas also reported on the Ministry's activities in other fields.

Budget-related election promises unacceptable - Grybauskaite 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 9 (ELTA) - On the eve of the autumn Seimas session, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has discussed the priorities of the upcoming political season with members of the Board of the Seimas. The head of the state vowed to follow a very strict position in the budget adoption process so that it would not become a package of election promises.

"Budget-related promises given to voters in the wake of the complicated economic situation will not be acceptable. The budget must correspond to our abilities and meet the needs of Lithuania's people rather than the needs of political parties in their fight in municipal election," Grybauskaite said after a meeting with the Board of the Seimas on Thursday.

The head of state stated that she was ready to cooperate not only with parliamentary groups, committees and the ruling majority openly and constructively, but also with the Board of the Seimas.

"We have agreed today that we share the same priorities practically, we have discussed our ways of working," the president said.

Grybauskaite named fight against corruption and organized crime as the priority of the new parliamentary session.

"I see how intense this autumn session will be and I know how many proposals there may be, especially before the election in February, which may aggravate the work of the Seimas very much; I am prepared to assist the Board of the Seimas in setting priorities for certain work and law making by approving or not approving of some proposals," the president said.

Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene welcomed the first official meeting of the Board of the Seimas with the president in the Parliament.

"We discussed the programme of the autumn session, possible draft laws, the president's attitude and our viewpoint. We agreed to hold such regular meetings of the Board of the Seimas in the Presidential Palace or at the Seimas," Degutiene said.

The Seimas speaker singled out the fight against corruption, the reform of the energy sector, unemployment reduction and job creation and adoption of the state budget for next year as the key priorities of the Seimas in the new session.

Grybauskaite to demand Government's responsibility for Minister Kazlauskas' inactivity 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 9 (ELTA) - Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite does not undertake to forecast the job prospects of Environment Minister Gediminas Kazlauskas, but might require the Government to assume responsibility.

"From what I heard and what I read in the statement, especially the one by the prime minister, the head of the Government mentions that the problems are much bigger than just direct minister's responsibility. If the prime minister puts the wate management issues on the shoulders of the Government, I will definitely demand responsibility from the Government now," Dalia Grybauskaite said after the meeting with members of the Seimas Board on Thursday.

The head of the state did not want to answer the question whether she saw any possibility for Minister Kazlauskas to retain his post.

"I do not want to speculate now. (...). I just want to say that Lithuania has been delaying waste management for three years now. Out of 450,000 million litas allocated to dump management, none was spent and no contract was signed," Grybauskaite said.

Vagnorius calls all parties to cooperate on anti-crisis actions 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 9 (ELTA) - Leader of Christian Democratic Party, former Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, invites the members of the Seimas, belonging both to the ruling coalition and opposition, to make the government scrap the policy of inaction or to replace the most compromized leaders of the Government.

"We feel civic duty to cooperate on national anti-crisis subjects in order to influence the leaders of the Government to change the falsified passive economic policy. Despite different political parties and political groups, we have to seek for the most important economic, financial, and social changes with the help of political means", he said.

According to the politician, the padded taxes should be decreased, the flourishing shadow economy and smuggling, which causes the loss of millions litas of tax-payers money and bankrupts of legal companies, should be put an end to.

According to the former prime minister, the salaries, pensions and budget revenues are still decreasing because of the problems in governance and lack of strong-willed economic policy.

Gediminas Vagnorius states that the long-lasting economic and financial crisis in Lithuania reflects the biggest problems of governance, the disability of the ruling politicians, including the leaders and many others who have no economic and administrative experience.

PKN refinery's rail dearth of 'minor influence' - Sekmokas 12 September 2010

Brussels, Sept 8 (Bloomberg-ELTA) - A railway link that PKN Orlen SA has asked Lithuania to rebuild is of "minor influence" on the profit of its refinery in the Baltic country, Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas said.

PKN Orlen, Poland's largest oil company, said last month it would decide on the future of its Lithuanian unit next quarter after the plant failed to generate profit that would justify the 2.8 billion dollar investment.

A Russian pipeline that supplied crude to the 215,000- barrel-a-day refinery has been idled since mid-2006, forcing PKN Orlen to rely on costlier seaborne imports. Meanwhile, the plant's profitability has been hurt by a lack of access to a fuel terminal and higher shipping costs after Lithuania dismantled part of a railway to Latvia, making the fuel transport route longer.

"This railroad line rebuilt or not rebuilt will have a minor influence on economic indicators or the bottom line" of the refinery, Sekmokas said yesterday in an interview in Brussels. "The major impact is from the Druzhba pipeline having been cut."

Orlen initially bought 84 percent in the refinery in 2006 for 2.34 billion dollars, a record investment by a Polish company abroad, then purchased the remaining shares. The Plock, Poland- based company fended off competition from companies including Russia's OAO Lukoil and OAO TNK-BP and Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGaz.

Soon after the deal was sealed, the only oil refinery in the Baltic states stopped receiving Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline because of a leak in Belarus. Orlen had to reverse the flow of a pipeline to the Butinge terminal, using it to import crude rather than export refined products.

The Polish treasury, which controls Orlen through a 28 percent shareholding, said in April it gave its Lithuanian counterpart five months to rebuild a 19-kilometer (12-mile) stretch of railway to Latvia, which was dismantled in 2008. The railway would shorten Orlen Lietuva's fuel transport routes and cut costs, it said.

"Definitely there are certain plans to rebuild this rail line," Sekmokas said, declining to provide further detail.

Orlen chose Nomura Holdings Inc. earlier this month to advise on the future of the Lithuanian unit, formerly known as Mazeikiu Nafta. It said options include selling part of, or its entire stake in, the plant or keeping it running and improving efficiency.

"The refinery was initially Lithuanian-owned, then internationally owned, then unexpectedly the ownership was changed to Yukos, and then to PKN, so we are to some extent used to change of ownership," Sekmokas said. "This is a private asset."

Almost 400 draft laws in Seimas autumn session 12 September 2010

Vilnius, Sept 8 (ELTA) - On Friday, MPs will convene for the Seimas' autumn session.

The first sitting of the ordinary session will be opened by Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene, followed by the presentation of the autumn session's agenda, statements by MPs, adoption of the next week's agenda.

The preliminary programme for the autumn session covers nearly 400 draft legal acts grouped according to activity.

The Government proposed to include 105 draft laws and 196 draft instrument legal acts into the programme, following its list of priorities for this year.

The work programme of the autumn session is set up in accordance to the proposals of the Government, parliamentary committees, groups and MPs. It will be presented by Seimas Speaker Degutiene and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

The Seimas' committees and groups deliberate the programme after its presentation.

According to the schedule of the Seimas sittings, the MPs plan to hold 49 plenary sitting during autumn session that will last until December 23. If necessary, extraordinary sittings might be held and the session might be extended.

Under the Constitution, the Seimas convenes each year for two ordinary spring and autumn sessions. A spring session begins on 10 March and ends on 30 June. An autumn session starts on 10 September and finishes on 23 December. The Seimas has a right to extend its session.

Extraordinary sessions are convened by the Speaker of the Seimas on the proposal of not less than one-third of all the Members of the Seimas, and, in cases provided for in the Constitution, by the President of the Republic.

Coalition doubts the idea to establish single holding company 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 8 (ELTA) - The ruling coalition has doubts regarding the idea of the Ministry of Economy to establish a single holding company "Visuomis Holding Company" to manage state assets.

According to Elder of the Seimas Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats political group Jurgis Razma, the idea has not been presented to the coalition parties yet, however, the first signs indicate that there is no rush to support it.

"We paused a little bit on the idea of the Ministry of Economy to create a single company that would manage all state assets. The idea has not been discussed in the ruling coalition yet, but obviously, it will be presented to the coalition soon. I will not hide that the idea was not greeted with extreme enthusiasm. The minister (Economy Minister Dainius Kreivys - ELTA) will apparently have to work more to present major reasons why such decision would make sense," Jurgis Razma said on Wednesday after the traditional meeting of the coalition partners.

"Visuomis" would be headed by the board of seven professional managers.

The state owns about 300 companies. It is estimated that the state-owned assets stand at around 18 billion litas.

The Ministry of Economy intended to present the state companies' restructuring strategy until September 1.

Ruling coalition strengthening its ranks 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 8 (ELTA) - The ruling coalition is speaking about the plans to take in 2-3 new members.

According to Elder of the Seimas Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats political group Jurgis Razma, the ruling coalition sees the prospect to expand their ranks.

"We were discussing on whether there were any possibilities to strengthen the ruling coalition. The nearest future, the beginning of the Seimas autumn session will show if there will be any migration of one or another member of the Seimas," Razma said on Wednesday after the traditional meeting of the coalition partners.

Jurgis Razma did not give the details of the possible coalition expansion, but said that the coalition could receive support by the Seimas members indirectly joining it.

The current ruling Coalition of Change is made up of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the Liberal Movement, the Nation's Resurrection Party, the Liberal and Centre Union. The coalition has 70 votes in the Seimas, but it is also supported by three representatives of the Mixed Group of the Seimas members.

President calls environment minister inactive 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 8 (ELTA) - President Dalia Grybauskaite notes the inactivity of Environment Minister Gediminas Kazlauskas and believes that his work should be reviewed by the ruling coalition.

"The minister's work during those two years demonstrates inactivity. His work is the question of liability of the ruling coalition and the ruling majority should consider the activities of one of its ministers," Presidential Spokesperson Linas Balsys said.

The meeting of the head of the state and environment minister lasted for less than half an hour. As the presidential spokesperson said, President Dalia Grybauskaite did not hear any specific problem-solving means.

Upon hearing the president's criticism, Gediminas Kazlauskas himself said he was not going to withdraw and felt the prime minister's support.

Sedzius decides to withdraw from Social Democratic political party 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 7 (ELTA) - Member of the Seimas Andrius Sedzius decided to withdraw from the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP). Chairman of the party Algirdas Butkevicius confirmed that to ELTA.

According to Butkevicius, Sedzius informed him by submitting a resignation statement to the LSDP Siauliai Department.

"We spoke to him. He said he decided to withdraw from the party because the Social Democratic Party's Commission on Ethics and Procedures, that proposed the board to dismiss him from the party, negatively evaluated his behavior," Butkevicius told ELTA.

Kubilius sees more constructivism in relations with opposition parties 12 September 2010

Vilnius, Sept 7 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says that now he sees more constructivism when talking to some opposition parties than earlier and he has no doubts as to the survival of his Cabinet and the Coalition of Change.

"Frankly speaking, I think little about that [the longevity of the Government and the coalition - ELTA]. It may be bad that I do little thinking about this, like about the ratings or popularity. I see great tasks ahead that require a responsible policy which is quite rare in Lithuania, I have to admit, and sometimes there is too much of this empty and unconstructive opposition, when arguments begin only for the sake of arguing, though it is known that decisions will have to be made by myself or someone in power or by the International Monetary Fund, because there is simply no other solutions," the prime minister said in an interview on the Lithuanian Radio on Tuesday.

Kubilius spared no compliments to the leadership of the Social Democrats, speaking about cooperation in the spring session of the Seimas.

"The responsible parties are well aware of the fact that if we do not solve those problems within the next two years, then they will have to be solved by whoever comes to the Government after the next election. Anyone who thinks clearly, constructively and responsibly understands that it is better not to make obstacles to us in dealing with these problems rather than to carry that burden by themselves afterwards (...)," Kubilius said.

Lithuania expects continuation of mutually beneficial constructive cooperation with Ukraine - Degutiene 12 September 2010

Kiev, Sept 7 (ELTA) - Ukraine is a strategic partner of Lithuania and our country expects to continue mutually beneficial constructive cooperation, Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene emphasised at a meeting with Chairman of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada Volodynyr Lytvyn in Kiev on Monday.

A scheduled Monday meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych was postponed for the second day of the Seimas' speaker visit in Ukraine.

At the meeting, the heads of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian parliaments discussed economic cooperation and improvement for the environment for the Lithuanian business in Ukraine, European integration issues, prospects for strengthening energy links. Degutiene and Lytvyn also focused on the session of the Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian trilateral assembly to be held in Vilnius in autumn.

The Seimas speaker emphasised that Ukraine was a strategic partner of Lithuania and that our country expected to continue mutually beneficial constructive cooperation.

"We have to seek that the concept of strategic partnership would not be a mere slogan and that specific work would give sense to it. Lithuania could provide its expert support for Ukraine what in its integration into Europe. We expect as favourable decisions and good results as possible in mutual trade, investment, joint transport and energy projects," Degutiene said and recalled that the guidelines for strategic partnership of Lithuania and Ukraine would be updated this autumn.

The Seimas speaker informed the head of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada that the Seimas' Committee on European Affairs was prepared to receive Ukraine's parliamentary representatives for European affairs for secondment next year to share its experience.

Lytvyn assured the Seimas speaker of his coming to the trilateral parliamentary assembly of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine on October 7-8. The speakers of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian parliaments agreed that the trilateral assembly should pay most attention to energy security of Central and Eastern Europe: energy links, nuclear power plant projects in the region, the restructuring of the energy sector.

The speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament visits Kiev at the invitation of Chairman of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada Lytvyn.

The Seimas speaker is to return to Vilnius late Tuesday.

Baltic region will finally have defence plans - Grybauskaite 12 September 2010

Vilnius, Sept 6 (ELTA) - After a six-year NATO membership, the Baltic region will finally have defence plans, and Germany is one of the countries which have contributed to that, President Dalia Grybauskaite says.

"There have been ongoing discussions since last autumn, which have finally led to real defence plans for the Baltic region after its six-year membership. This is a serious achievement," the head of state said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

"Germany is one of the countries thanks to which Lithuania will finally have its real defence plans. I think that we will take the decision this autumn," Grybauskaite said.

The Lithuanian president said that Lithuania and Germany shared common interest in discussions about the future of NATO, economic cooperation related to Afghanistan's issues. The president also welcomed the fact that "Germany's cargo has found its way to Afghanistan via Klaipeda."

Grybauskaite also emphasised that she sought win-win agreements with reference to the NATO Strategic Concept which is to be approved at the summit in Lisbon in November.

"It is in the interest of all NATO member states that the new concept would adjust NATO's future to new challenges and threats. NATO should change because the situation changes, similarly as life," Grybauskaite said.

Grybauskaite meets with German Chancellor Merkel 12 September 2010

Vilnius, Sept 6 (ELTA) -German Chancellor Angela Merkel has started her official one-day visit in Lithuania by a meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaite.

The agenda of the meeting includes such topics as Lithuanian-German relations, possibilities to develop further the bilateral economic cooperation, EU measures to overcome the economic crisis and to prevent new crises, cooperation within NATO, and the EU's relations with Russia and Belarus.

"Germany is among the most important partners for Lithuania within the European Union and NATO. I and the German Chancellor communicate regularly within the European Council in Brussels on matters important for the whole European Union. I look forward very much to this visit by Chancellor Merkel which is her second visit to Lithuania in the past two years and which offers an excellent opportunity to discuss issues that are of utmost importance for our countries and the Baltic Sea region and to strengthen further the bilateral relations between Lithuania and Germany," President Grybauskaite says.

"Cooperation with Germany in implementing strategic energy projects in the region and enhancing energy independence of the Baltic States is very important for Lithuania. In the meeting, we will discuss the possibility to increase EU financial assistance for the development of the Baltic Sea region by including strategic projects of the region into the list of European priority projects," President Grybauskaite noted.

In the evening, the President will host an official dinner in the honor of the German Chancellor, to be attended also by Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis.

Having no Degutiene's confidence, Komskis not invited to solve corruption problems 12 September 2010

Vilnius, September 2 (ELTA) - Speaker of the Seimas Irena Degutiene intends to appeal to the opposition asking to think about the new chairman of the Anticorruption Commission, because she does not trust its current Chairman Kestas Komskis. The latter was not even invited to the meeting at the Seimas to discuss corruption problems.

"You know my opinion about the commission's chairman, it has not changed. Upon the beginning of the autumn session, I will once again appeal to the opposition political groups and the head of the political group who is supposed to change in the autumn session, and ask whether it necessarily has to be Komskis. Today I do not trust him," Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene told journalists on Thursday.

Upon the invitation of the Seimas speaker, chairmen of the Budget and Finance, National Security and Defence, Law Enforcement committees Kestutis Glaveckas, Arvydas Anusauskas and Stasys Sedbaras discussed corruption problems at the Seimas on Thursday. Chairman of the Seimas Anticorruption Committee Kestas Komskis was not invited to the meeting.

Lithuania finds hiring best foreign experts very useful - Kubilius 12 September 2010

Vilnius, Aug 31 (ELTA) - Lithuania prefers hiring foreign experts rather than its own for various projects because such practice has been deeply rooted and very beneficial, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says.

The head of Government stated that Lithuania attracted the resources of global wisdom in such a way after being asked why the Lithuanian authorities did not trust their own scientists, experts and tended to hire foreign experts, especially for enegy projects.

"It shows that Lithuania is an open and dynamic country which does not fear global competition," Kubilius said after his meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaite on Tuesday.

The prime minister said that it was necessarsy to gain some experience from other countries to reform the Lithuanian energy sector.

"Now we are near the completion of the national energy strategy, after this meeting I am to attend the discussion with consultants and advisers. It is beneficial (to hire foreign experts -ELTA), because it would mean re-inventing the wheel if we did not rely on the best world practice in dealing with such important issues as the reform of state-owned companies where we have Swedish consultants. This experience and practice have proved very useful in most world countries," the prime minister said.

Education minister expects similar GDP allocation for next year 29 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 26 (ELTA) - Education Minister Gintaras Steponavicius says that the allocation of gross domestic product (GDP) for education in 2011 should not differ from the on this year.

"In the recent year, education has remained a priority even in the face of cutbacks, and a GDP allocation exceeds 6 percent. It is a very high indicator and our task is to use these funds as effectively as possible. The threshold of the developed countries is 6 percent, we are near 7 percent and we will retain a similar amount," said Steponavicius.
Education and science minister sees no threat to regional universities 29 August 2010

Vilnius, August 26 (ELTA) - Upon the calling of President Dalia Grybauskaite to improve the funding system so that regional universities would be able to survive, Education and Science Minister Gintaras Steponavicius says he sees no threat to regional universities at the moment.

"We spoke about higher education schools in Siauliai and Klaipeda and there is no threat to them. Regional colleges, such as in Alytus, Utena, Panevezys, Marijampole, Siauliai, are showing good results, and some of the results are even very good," said Steponavicius.

However, the minister of science and education said that on Thursday, a delegation from one of the regional universities would pay a visit to the ministry to discuss the results and the possible further decisions.

President Dalia Grybauskaite called the minister to improve higher education funding system in such a way that both regional and specialized universities would be able to survive.

Government reserve funds - for solving state-wide problems only - Kubilius 29 August 2010

Vilnius, August 26 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius warns those who want to receive support for their events - in the future, the Government reserve funds will be used for solving state-wide problems only.

Commenting on his remark that he did not remember whether the Government allocated any money to beauty contest "Mrs. Universe", Andrius Kubilius said he was caught unexpectedly with that question. According to the head of the Government, similar cases remind of the fact that the Government reserve fund has to be used to solve the natural disaster and other problems.

ELTA reminds that in July this year the Government allocated 63,000 litas for beauty contest "Mrs. Universe" from the Government reserve fund.
Volunteering should be open to everybody and always - Grybauskaite 29 August 2010

Vilnius, August 26 (ELTA) - On Thursday, President Dalia Grybauskaite will meet with members of NGOs, ministries and the Seimas Commission to discuss voluntary work in Lithuania, its legal framework and preparations for the year 2011 that was announced European Year of Volunteering.

"It is worth to be a volunteer, although nobody pays money for it. It is a kind of exchange - by helping others, you get back more. This is why today it is essential to create appropriate legal environment for the development of voluntary activities," press service of the president quotes the head of the state.
Government increases oil stocks abroad to 30% 29 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 25 (ELTA) - Lithuanian companies will be able to maintain 30% of stocks of oil and oil products in other European Union member states. The companies, holding oil stocks outside Lithuania, are expected to compete more in the market, and the retail oil price could fall by some 7%.

At its sitting on Wednesday, the Government approved the Energy Ministry's draft resolution on keeping more fuel reserves abroad.

According to Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas, there are not enough oil storage facilities in Lithuania.

"It was discussed and the allowable quantity of oil stocks abroad was increased up to 30 percent. It is likely that it may have up to a 7-percent influence on the final retail oil price," Sekmokas said after the Government's sitting on Wednesday.

According to the minister, the resolution would take effect immediately after its publication in the Official Gazette. It is said that residents would only feel the effect on prices at the earliest in 2011.
Threat of arbitration puts a sovereign state under pressure - Sekmokas 29 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 25 (ELTA) - The letter sent by the Russian concern Gazprom to the Lithuanian Government, which threatens suing Lithuania for a reform of the gas sector to the International Court of Arbitration, places a small country under pressure, Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas says.

According to the minister, the Government approved the guidelines for reforming the electricity and gas sectors, which is required by European Union directives.

"E.ON Ruhrgas International and Gazprom's letters set the tone of an ultimatum, they address the highest state officials, which could be understood as certain pressure of major companies on a small country, especially considering the fact that we are only implementing the legislation laid down by the European Commission," Sekmokas said after the Government's sitting on Wednesday.

"Such a position of threatening with arbitration could be understood as a rather relentless pressure on a sovereign state," the minister said.

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said that he was not surprised by such threats of Gazprom as there had been similar ones earlier.

"It is not the first case when the company acts in such a way. I am not surprised by that because the implementation of the Third Directive of the European Union means that Lithuanian consumers would be given the right to break Gazprom's monopoly of gas supply and would gain access to alternative supplies. I do not imagine successful activities and the construction of the LNG terminal without this package, therefore, Gazprom's behaviour does not surprise me," the prime minister said.

According to the media, one of Gazprom management's letters to the Lithuanian prime minister says that the Government does not discuss the reform with Gazprom and violates the agreement on the promotion of investment and mutual protection signed by Russia and Lithuania. The letter's authors claim that the reform of the Lithuanian gas sector affects the rights of Gazprom, a shareholder of Lietuvos Dujos, and does not rule out the possibility of addressing the International Court of Arbitration and claim damages.

Under EU law, Lithuania should pass the law on enforcing the gas sector's reform by March 2010.

Grybauskaitė in the Top 10 Female Leaders List 25 August 2010

New York, August 25 (ELTA) - Following Australia's inconclusive August 2010 election, Prime Minister Julia Gillard - the nation's first female PM - is seeking to form a minority-led government to remain in office. US Time magazine takes a look at 10 women who have made it to the top

After Grybauskaite came to power in 2009, European journalists quickly dubbed her Lithuania's Iron Lady, owing to her steely way with words and her black belt in karate.

The daughter of a saleswoman and an electrician, she worked part time in a factory while earning a Ph.D. in economics. She went on to become Deputy Minister of Finance in 1999, before holding a series of positions within the European Commission.

In 2009, with Lithuania mired deep in recession, Grybauskaite focused her presidential campaign on protecting those with the lowest incomes and tackling unemployment, which had climbed to nearly 16%. Running as an independent, she won with a 68% majority - the largest margin of victory ever recorded in Lithuania's presidential election history.

Gas prices to remain unchanged; no new electricity tax - Kubilius 25 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 24 (ELTA) - The prime minister has denied plans to introduce a fixed charge for electricity and said that there are "very few" possibilities for a decrease in gas prices.

"I cannot comment such things as we have not discussed them with the Cabinet yet," the prime minister said in an interview to the Lithuanian Radio on Tuesday.

As reported, distribution companies, which are to merge this year, consider changing the procedure of payment for electricity. Among the options mentioned are fixed monthly payments with different electricity tariffs depending on electricity consumption.

According to the prime minister, there are "very few" possibilities of agreeing with Gazprom on lower gas prices

"When a gas supply is in the hands of one company, there are very few possibilities of negotiating them. Unfortunately, we have to remember that legacy that we failed to overcome in twenty years. We buy gas from a single source and, undoubtedly, Gazprom naturally enjoys this situation," Kubilius said.

According to the prime minister, the only way to change the present situation in the Lithuanian gas market is to implement European Union directives to reform the gas sector and create favourable conditions for other gas suppliers.

I did not cancel my leave as all departments were working effectively - Kubilius 25 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 24 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says having not terminated his annual holiday in the wake of a squall because ministries and local authorities were working effectively to deal with the consequences of the natural disaster, lrt.lt reports. The head of Government also defends Environment Minister Gediminas Kazlauskas who did not cancel his holiday either. According to Kubilius, such issues are given too much prominence and there is no "great sense" in them.

"I am confident that Ingrida Simonyte [the finance minister who acted as the prime minister - lrt.lt] and other ministers acted effectively and properly in such a situation. In this respect, the prime minister's return or no return from his holiday cannot prevent such squalls. The Government has instruments to deal with the consequences. They have been used and they will be used further," Kubilius said in an interview to the Lithuanian Radio on Tuesday, explaining why he did not visit to the squall hit districts.

"I was fully informed about the problems and plans to tackle them. I see no great sense in discussing who and how should have returned from holidays," Kubilius added.

According to the prime minister, the exact damages are not known yet, but they would surely be compensated from the Government's reserve fund.

The damages caused by the squall on August 7-8 are estimated to exceed 20 million litas (5.79 million euros).

Constitutional Court to determine whether Presidential Office addressed the VSD award to Yakunin 25 August 2010

Vilnius, August 24 (ELTA) - On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court will hold a public hearing to determine whether on June 14, 2002, President Valdas Adamkus lawfully awarded citizen of Russian Federation Vladimir Yakunin the Grand Cross of Commander of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas.

The applicant is a group of 33 members of the Seimas that will be represented by Saulius Peceliunas, Rytas Kupcinskas and Valentinas Mazuronis in the court.

Presidential Advisers Rasa Svetikaite and Ernestas Rimselis who were supposed to represent President Valdas Adamkus did not arrive to the sitting.

Members of the Seimas Saulius Peceliunas, Valentinas Mazuronis and Rytas Kupcinskas also asked to determine whether the Presidential Palace addressed the State Security Department (VSD) on the award to Yakunin.

"The opinion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have been received, the biographies and merits should have been documented, however, nothing was done and even the names were confused; there is a number of violations. To my mind, we will find out what has happened in the process of the case. (...)," said Peceliunas.

Valentinas Mazuronis argues that the then Presidential Adviser on National Security Affairs Albinas Januska is closely related to the said award.

The sitting will resume at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

MP Zuokiene proposes that parents have a day off on 1 September 25 August 2010

Vilnius, August 24 (ELTA) - Member of the Seimas Agne Zuokiene proposes to allow those parents, who have children under twelve years old, to have an additional day off - on September 1st. There were similar proposals at the Seimas previously, however then it was suggested to declare September the 1st a public holiday, not only a day off for schoolchildren's parents.

According to the parliamentarian, the needs of the society determined the fact that this important day, that was not included into the list of holidays, was declared a legal holiday. In fact, a number of parents raising school-age children, do not work for at least half a day on September 1st, however, not all employers are so benevolent.

"The employees raising only one child under twelve years old, are discriminated, because they are not entitled to an additional rest day, therefore, I propose to allow such workers to have an extra day off per year - on September 1st," says mother of three children, Member of the Seimas Agne Zuokiene.

We do not react to rumours - Kubilius on sale of Orlen Lietuva 25 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 23 (ELTA) - The Government has no official information about the plans to sell the oil refinery PKN Orlen Lietuva.

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has not confirmed that the Poles or Russians hold talks on the sale of PKN Orlen Lietuva. According to him, the similar information has already been circulating for several years; while there have been no real facts yet.

"We constantly hear the alleged news that they negotiate or that they have already agreed on the sale. As early as March this year, during my visit to Moscow where I met with Putin, I heard that a contract had been drafted. While there are no real facts, we have nothing to comment upon," Kubilius said after the Government's sitting on Monday.

The prime minister said that attempts were made to address all the problems with reference to the Poles who complained about the unfavourable business environment in Lithuania.

"The fact that the Polish side is unable to rebut rumours about the plans to sell the shares of Orlen Lietuva does not encourage us to look for additional ways to solve any logistics problems," Kubilius said.

Lithuanian deputy foreign minister to lead OSCE mission to Montenegro 25 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 23 (ELTA) - On August 20, Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Azubalis and Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev had a telephone conversation regarding issues of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the organization's future challenges, the press service of the Foreign Ministry reports.

The Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, which chairs the OSCE this year, confirmed plans to appoint Lithuania's Deputy Foreign Minister Sarunas Adomavicius as the head of OSCE Mission to Montenegro.

"This is an important assignment, because it will be for the first time that Lithuania's representative will lead an OSCE mission," Minister Azubalis said.

There were candidates from Belarus, Italy, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom for the post of the head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro.

A total of eighteen OSCE missions function throughout the South East Europe, Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. The OSCE Mission to Montenegro, which employees 46 people, was established in 2006. The mission's budget amounts to some 2.3 million euros.

The main tasks of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro are: to assist Montenegro in implementing the OSCE principles and commitments, and in co-operating with the OSCE in all dimensions; to facilitate contacts, co-ordinate activities and promote information exchange with the OSCE chairmanship and other OSCE institutions; to establish and maintain contacts with representatives from local authorities, universities, research institutions and non-governmental organizations and to assist in organizing various events.

Government is a servant of big banks - Vagnorius 24 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 20 (ELTA) - Leader of the Christian Party, former Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, believes that the Government is becoming a servant of big banks.

"The country's credit system is collapsing because of the Government's awkwardness and the operation of the interest groups. But the facts are obvious - the Government is becoming a servant of big banks," the former prime minister said.

In his view, the Government has financial levers to influence the operation of big banks. According to him, the Government could, for example, establish a post bank for accumulating deposits, prohibit the leading banks from increasing service costs and refrain from borrowing on too high interest.

According to the politician, in this way banks would be prompted to earn their "living" from their main activities - crediting the market, which is now under embargo virtually.

Pociunas' investigation expanded - Prosecutor's Office 24 August 2010

Vilnius, August 20 (ELTA) - The pre-trial investigation on the possible murder of former Officer of the State Security Department (VSD) Vytautas Pociunas expanded, all proceedings are continued, Deputy Prosecutor General Tomas Staniulis informed Vytautas Pociunas' widow Liudvika Pociuniene this week.

According to the report of the Prosecutor's General Office, the pre-trial investigation to determine the causes and circumstances of the death of Vytautas Pociunas was resumed on June 15 last year, and new officials joined the investigation group.

Over this period, a number of investigation steps were carried out. Over a hundred of witnesses were questioned, various institutions and organizations were appealed to with a request to submit the necessary information, the death scene was inspected one more time, an interrogation experiment was carried out, the samples were taken for a comparative study, the officials claimed.

Degutiene proposes to launch discussions on European Energy Community 24 August 2010

Vilnius/Reykjavik, August 19 (ELTA) - At the meeting of parliamentary speaker of the Nordic and Baltic countries (NB8) in Reykjavik, Iceland, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Irena Degutiene proposed to launch thorough discussions on the offers to establish a European Energy Community and new energy policy initiatives that would allow reducing energy independence of the EU, including the Baltic countries and solving the problem of energy islands.

Irena Degutiene proposed the NB8 parliamentary leaders to consider the possibility of establishing the EU strategic reserves, the joint energy fund and gas procurement groups, and, in the future, the EU gas procurement agency.

In Degutiene's view, strategic reserves could be used for solving the problems quickly, and the joint energy fund would finance the creation of energy links between the countries and the implementation of new technologies in the area of renewable energy sources.

Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas noted that the EU has no fully-fledged common energy policy because so far the energy security objective was tried to achieve through the liberalization of the EU energy market.

"Of course, the separation of energy supply and production from network exploitation is a significant step forward, but it remains a significant problem - the decisions that were adopted so far are not being implemented in member-states, because they need political will to be moved," said Degutiene.

The Seimas speaker noted that the EU energy policy still did not have an external dimension.

"There is no leverage that would allow influencing energy import to the European Union, therefore, external energy resources' suppliers can very easily implement the "divide and conquer" policy". Even the principle of solidarity that is mentioned in the Treaty of Lisbon does not imply any legal obligations for the member-states to provide mutual assistance in emergency situations," Degutiene said.

The Seimas speaker also expressed a conviction that the Nordic and Baltic countries' region could become the place for innovative ideas, pilot projects and targeted initiatives to deepen European integration.

"Therefore, I propose to launch a broad debate on the European Energy Community or its individual measures. We could propose our parliaments to apply to Governments so that they could assess the overall package of joint energy policy proposals and would discuss the common position and its contents on the intergovernmental level," Degutiene said.

MP Stoma proposes VAT exemptions to press, cultural and sporting events, museums and universities 18 August 2010

Vilnius, August 12 (ELTA) - Member of the Seimas Saulius Stoma registered an amendment to the Law on Value Added Tax (VAT) proposing to apply 9 percent VAT tariff on press, art, cultural and sporting events (including exhibitions), museums, zoos and universities. It is also proposed to apply a constant reduced VAT rate to medicines, heating and books.

"The current Law on Value Added Tax provides that the reduced 9 percent VAT tariff will be applied to books and bob-periodical publications and medicines until December 31, 2010, heating - August 31, 2011. In the view of the Lithuania's economic situation, I propose to apply the reduced VAT tariffs not until the defined periods, but constatntly, thus, preventing increase in prices upon the expiry of the preferential VAT," says Stoma.

"This idea arose during discussions with academic community. The majority of universities in civilized countries apply such exemptions and they enhance the possibility to implement latest scientific developments. For instance, a zero VAT rate is applied to university activities in Great Britain and many other countries," says the parliamentarian.

Lithuanian students to monitor and participate in Government activities 18 August 2010

Vilnius, August 10 (ELTA) - During the last week of the summer, 30 Lithuanian students will have an opportunity to train at the Prime Minister's Office or any chosen ministry.

More than 150 students were willing to participate in the project "Students - to the Government".

Most applications to participate in the project were received from big cities. Finally, 19 boys and 11 girls were selected from all the candidates, who will have an opportunity to monitor and participate in the activities of the Government on August 23-27.

The project allows students to get acquainted with the daily work of the Government, public authorities and politicians, and is being carried out second year in a row. The participants of the project will train at the Prime Minister's Office or a chosen ministry, will meet with Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, ministers, wmonitor the Government sittings, take part in various meetings, get acquainted with the structure of the Government, the activities of ministries.
Until the very last day, Rimas cared not only about Marijampole's, but all Lithuania's affairs - Grybauskaite 18 August 2010

Vilnius, August 10 (ELTA) - President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite expressed sincere condolences over the death of Member of the Seimas Algis Rimas to his family, relatives, friends and fellow colleagues.

"Algis Rimas contributed a lot to adapting the economy of Marijampole district and region to the new challenges and enhancing its welfare. He was appreciated by the residents of Marijampole and repeatedly elected to high posts in the city, district and region. By his activities Algis Rimas won the trust and support of Marijampole's people and was twice elected Member of the Seimas in a single-mandate constituency," the president writes in the letter of condolences.

The head of the state pointed out that Algis Rimas took care not only about Marijampole, but the people of entire Lithuania. Algis Rimas was highly evaluated by his colleagues. According to Grybauskaite, the memory of Rimas will long remain in the hearts of thosewho knew him.

Reforms produce financial effects in 2-3 years - Simonyte 8 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 5 (ELTA) - The financial effects of the higher education, health care and county reforms may be expected in 2-3 years, Finance Minister Ingrida Simonyte says.

According to the minister, so far the reforms, which were launched last year, have not produced a significant financial effect.

"But more serious reforms, those referred to as structural, [&] in fact, show the largest effects and best saving results only over 2-3 years, a year at best. Surely, they will not be very visible in the first year, especially with regard to counties where the idea of the reform was to simplify the administration matters and bring services closer to people rather than economise," the finance minister, who presently acts as the prime minister, said on the Ziniu Radijas on Thursday morning.

Non-reimbursable medicinal products to be cheaper by up to 15% - Health Minister Sukys 8 August 2010

Vilnius, Aug 2 (ELTA) - Restrictions on maximum trade margins, which were imposed as of spring this year, have proven to be efficient as prices of medicinal products prices have stopped growing and started to fall. Previously, the prices of medicinal products used to go up every year. By the end of this year, non-reimbursable medicinal products should become cheaper by another 4 percent, down to up to 15 percent in total.

The State Medicines Control Agency (VVKT) the Health Ministry carried out systematic studies which revealed that prices for medicinal products went down by 10 percent on the average and by another 1 percent over the past two summer months. The VVKT noted that the introduction of strict penalties for violations of retail trade margins at chemists resulted in less violations of this kind. The VVKT checked the prices of eighty most popular non-reimbursable medicinal products (40 prescription and 40 non-prescription medicines).

According to Health Minister Raimondas Sukys, the number of offenders fell significantly in less than half a year since the restrictions on trade margins for medicinal products had been imposed.

Since the imposition of sanctions, medicine prices have dropped by 11 percent on the average in Lithuania.

Prosecutor's General Office refuses to take over investigation related to head of "Mitnija" 8 August 2010

Vilnius, August 2 (ELTA) - The Prosecutor's General Office refuses to take over the pre-trial investigation related to well-known Kaunas businessman Antanas Gureckis, who shot himself during a search at his house, "Lietuvos rytas" writes.

Violeta Gureckiene, Gureckis' widow submitted requests to President Dalia Grybauskaite and Prosecutor General Darius Valys in the middle of July wishing to avoid, in her opinion, biased investigation.

"Mitnija" Director General Antanas Gureckis shot himself on June 29, when police officers came to perform a search at his house in the outskirts of Kaunas. He sold the controlling block of "Mitnija" shares to the company "MG Baltic Investment" for 57 million litas and continued to head the company for the next three years.

Lithuanian GDP could have increased by 4-5% - Gapsys 8 August 2010

Vilnius, July 30 (ELTA) - The growth of Lithuanian economy could have been much faster if the Government led by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius had taken appropriate actions from the very first days, is convinced Elder of the Labour Party political group Vytautas Gapsys.

"It is good news that GDP stops declining, however, taking a deeper look into the numbers, it becomes obvious that one needs to be a great optimist to see signs of economic recovery there," says Gapsys.

Vytautas Gapsys is convinced that if the Government took appropriate steps from the very first days, the effects of the crisis would be much lower in Lithuania, and the economy would have started to recover much earlier.

"As soon as the Statistics Department announced that in the second quarter of this year the economy grew by 1 percent as compared with the same period last year, Andrius Kubilius rushed to boast that the Government is moving in the right direction and the economic stimulus plan is working. That's the biggest prime minister's hypocrisy. The economic recovery plan created by the Government only put Lithuanian deeper into crisis," elder of the Labour Party political group is convinced.

The politician is convinced that today Lithuanian GDP could reach 4-5 percent if not the unsuccessful anti-crisis policy of Andrius Kubilius.

"The major point of the Labour Party's economic stimulus plan was the promotion of business. If the Government listened to our proposals, the country's economy would began growing in the end of last year, and today we could rejoice at 4-5, not 1 percent percent economic growth," Gapsys said.

Minister to approve compensatory medicine's price list after receiving STT conclusions 8 August 2010

Vilnius, July 29 (ELTA) - Health Minister Raimondas Sukys addressed the Special Investigation Service (STT) asking to evaluate compensatory medicine's price list in terms of anti-corruption. Only after receiving the STT conclusions, Raimondas Sukys will decide whether to sign it or not.

Health minister calls the statements of the Chairman of the Seimas Anticorruption Commission Kestas Komskis misleading, saying that because of the non-approved price list the state is loosing money, and points attention to the fact that the compensatory medicine price list of 2009 was approved on July 24, 2009, whereas the price list of 2006 was not approved at all and the medicine was compensated in accordance with the prices of 2005.

Raimondas Sukys is surprised by the discussions of the Seimas Anticorruption Commission upon the price list without inviting representatives of the Ministry of Health, without asking it for information, without going deeper into the topic of the issue.

All public institutions should set a good example in hardship - Grybauskaite 8 August 2010

Vilnius, July 29 (ELTA) - Asked what was the president's evaluation of the Seimas wish to increase the state budget by representation costs next year, Presidential Spokesperson Linas Balsys said that the head of the state could not evaluate the parliament's intentions, especially given the fact that no official numbers or documents were provided yet.

"But in general, the president is convinced that all public institutions, including the Seimas, the Presidential Palace, the Government, should show a good example in the times of hardship and begin from themselves," Balsys told journalists on Thursday.

As reported in the media, next year, parliamentary officials plan to have the same Seimas budget as this year, as well as to spend more money on some needs.

Such plans are listed in the parliament's budget draft project for the next year prepared by the Office of the Seimas. It will be submitted to the Board of the Seimas in these days, and later - to the Finance Ministry.

Under this project, next year the Seimas should spend just as much as this year - 81.8 million litas.

Staniulis proposed for deputy prosecutor general 8 August 2010

Vilnius, July 29 (ELTA) - Chief Prosecutor Tomas Staniulis of Kaunas District Prosecutor's Office has been presented to President Dalia Grybauskaite by Prosecutor General Darius Valys as a candidate for the deputy prosecutor general.

According to presidential spokesman Linas Balsys, the requirements for the candidate as the entire law enforcement system include turning back to a person so that the system would serve the person, prosecutors would defend the public interest rather than act as prosecuting authorities. Balsys said that 35-year-old Staniulis' work over the past 3.5 years was viewed very favourably.

Staniulis said that he referred 87 pre-trial investigations to court and that all the guilty persons involved in these investigations were convicted. The prosecutor added that he investigated high-profile cases of serious and very serious crimes which had a damaging social impact. Two persons were sentenced to death. Staniulis mostly investigated cases related to the murder of villagers.

"Of course, today's situation in respect of prosecution is difficult, and it is a very big personal challenge. I personally understand it as a duty, and I think that by raising certain issues and offering solutions to them I am able to contribute to some positive developments in this institution," said Staniulis.

Prosecutor General Valys said that he chose Staniulis because of his experience, good results and impeccable reputation.

"I have not searched for the candidate. I have known this man since our earlier business meetings at the Prosecutor General's Office and I think he is worthy of this proposal as I know his personal qualities. Of course, I have paid interest to his work results and I am satisfied with them," the prosecutor general said.

Staniulis has headed Kaunas District Prosecutor's Office since 10 July 2006.

On July 12, President Grybauskaite appointed 35-year-old Darius Raulusaitis, former prosecutor of the Pre-trial Investigation Control Division of the Prosecutor General's Office, as deputy prosecutor general.

President Dalia Grybauskaite is to meet with Valys and Staniulis on Thursday morning.

Kubilius: we are on the right track, stimulus plan is working 28 July 2010

Data released by the Lithuanian Department of Statistics earlier today has confirmed that GDP Q2 growth was 1.1 per cent up against the same period last year, and 6.6 per cent up against the Q1 this year.

"I am pleased with the results of the ongoing economic recovery, proving that we are on the right track, and that the Lithuanian economy is climbing out of the recession, and, finally, that our economic stimulus plan is working. It will certainly require our further steadfast efforts and time to tame current unemployment and budget deficit. Then, the bare statistic figures of growth will translate into palpable results for the population."- said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

According to the Prime Minister, unemployment, the lowest as it is among the Baltic states, still lingers high, and the Government is determined to continue promoting creation of new jobs, foreign investment and reducing red tape for business.

With reference to the above statistics, Advisor to the Prime Minister Mykolas Majauskas has pointed out that despite the economic recovery, the budget deficit remains very high and one of the largest in the EU, thus calling for further consolidation of public finances next year through a reform of state property management, which has revealed significant negligence; through fight against smuggling; and energetic efforts to boost small and medium-sized businesses.

Russian arms control experts conduct visit in the Training Regiment 28 July 2010

Vilnius, July 28 (ELTA) - On July 27-29, a group of three Russian arms control experts will conduct evaluation visit under the Vienna Document 1999 in the Lithuanian Great Hetman Jonusas Radvila Training Regiment of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, the Ministry of National Defence reports.

According to the Vienna Document, each member state of OSCE has the right to verify if any other OSCE member is not involved in military activities requiring advance notification, and do not maintain undeclared military capabilities.

Vienna Document obliges State Parties to provide information about their respective armed forces, plans of development of defence capabilities, and defence budgets on an annual basis as well as to notify in advance on planned military activities. Participating states also commit to accept a predefined number of inspections and visits of military experts from other states.

This is the third visit of the Russian military experts in the Lithuanian units this year. The first one took place in the first week of June, and in the second week of the same month an observation flight over the Lithuania's territory under the Open Skies Treaty was conducted.

Last year experts of Lithuania have conducted one evaluation visit in Russia, Kaliningrad Oblast.

In Nesvizh, Kubilius to meet with Prime Minister of Belarus 28 July 2010

Minsk, July 27 (BELTA-ELTA) - On Tuesday, in Nesvizh, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky will meet with Lithuanian Head of the Government Andrius Kubilius, who is currently on vacation and is travelling on bicycles with his colleagues in Belarus.

"The prime ministers will meet in Nesvizh on Tuesday. The meeting will be informal. It is planned that Sidorsky and Kubilius will visit the famous historical sights of Nesvizh city," Prime Minister's spokesperson told representatives of the news agency BELTA.

Prime Minister Kubilius to set off on bicycle tour along historic roads of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Belarus 28 July 2010

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius embarks on his annual holidays on Sunday, July 25. As usual, the Prime Minister has opted for outdoor recreation: accompanied by his colleagues, he will be cycling along the historic roads of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

"Our summer bicycle tour arranged for the 8th time now has become a nice tradition. We have already explored numerous picturesque Lithuanian locations, and are now exploring untreaded paths elsewhere. Last year, together with our colleagues, we toured round Poland dropping by at the Seinai and Punsk to visit Lithuanians. This year we intend to see some of the common rich Lithuanian-Belarusian history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania."– said Prime Minister Kubilius.

Together with his wife Rasa and the colleagues the Prime Minister plans to see historic sights, castles and other historic heritage, to meet with the Lithuanians living in Belarus and visit the Lithuanian school in Rimdžiūnai.

The Prime Minister intends to cover the distance of 700 kilometres in one week and visitt Lyda, Novogrudok, Mira, Nesvyžius, Alšėnai, Kreva, Ašmena and the Lithuanian communities in Gervėčiai and Rimdžiūnai.

“Lithuania and Belarus share geographical neighbourhood, rich history of the GDL, and shoulder to shoulder presence on the European continent. We can and we must encourage Belarus to move closer to European values. This, when it happens, will have an impact on our future too, including energy security – here we see common challenges and we must get together to address theses issues."– said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by ministers Dainius Kreivys and Donatas Jankauskas, members of the Seimas Vitas Matuzas, Edmundas Pupinis, Justinas Urbanavičius and others.
In his absence from 26 July 20 August, the Prime Minister will be replaced temporarily by Vice Minister of Finance, Ingrida Šimonytė.

Another social democrat dismissed at Kaunas City Municipality 28 July 2010

Kaunas, July 22 (ELTA) - Another social democrat was dismissed from office at Kaunas City Municipality. Having dismissed Deputy Mayor Steponas Vaicikauskas, Kaunas City Council also dismissed Deputy Director of Administration, Social Democrat Steponas Rabacius.

In a secret vote, 20 members of the Council voted for his dismissal, 6 members were against, and 11 ballots were declared void.

As reported, it was expected that Deputy Mayor Steponas Vaicikauskas and Administration Deputy Director Romualdas Rabacius would withdraw when the Social Democrats stopped supporting the ruling coalition, however, they did not do so.

According to Elder of the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats political group Marijus Panceris, in the light of the fact that the social democrats were reluctant to take such a logical step, the ruling coalition had to do it itself in order to maintain stability in the city council.

Kaunas Deputy Mayor Vaicikauskas dismissed from office 28 July 2010

Kaunas, July 22 (ELTA) - At a sitting on Thursday, Kaunas City Municipality Council dismissed Deputy Mayor, Representative of Social Democrats Steponas Vaicikauskas from office.

In a secret vote, 21 members of the Council voted for the dismissal, 8 members voted against, 9 ballots were declared void.

It was expected that Deputy Mayor Steponas Vaicikauskas and Administration Deputy Director Romualdas Rabacius would withdraw when the Social Democrats stopped supporting the ruling coalition, however, they did not do so.

According to Elder of the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats political group Marijus Panceris, in the light of the fact that the social democrats were reluctant to take such a logical step, the ruling coalition had to do it itself in order to maintain stability in the city council.

Saving are smaller in public sector, because doctors' and teachers' salaries were not reduced - Kubilius 28 July 2010

Vilnius, July 22 (ELTA) - There is an impression that the salaries' cuts are lower in the public sector because doctors' salaries were not cut and the salaries of teachers even increased, says Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

"Last year the Government and the Seimas was reducing civil servants' salaries in the public sector. Over the year, their salaries were reduced by almost 10 percent. However, the salaries of teachers or doctors, who also belong to public sector, were not cut last year. And teachers' salaries even increased," Andrius Kubilius said in an interview to Ziniu Radijas on Thursday.

President Dalia Grybauskaite noted that there were no big savings in the public sector.

"Comparing the cuts in salaries in public and private sectors, a big difference can be seen. (&). There were no big cuts in the public sector. Other countries are saving much more," President Dalia Grybauskaite said in an interview to Lithuanian TV programme "Savaite".

"Speaking about the entire public sector, the overall reduction in salaries is certainly lower in than in the private sector, because of the fact that the doctors' salaries were not cut and the salaries of teachers' were even increased. However, in the civil service, for which the Government is responsible directly, the salaries were reduced. (&)," said Kubilius.

Work in coalition - art of compromise - Kubilius 28 July 2010

Vilnius, July 22 (ELTA) - Chairman of the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats political party (TS-LKD), Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius counters the critics by Patriarch of the Conservatives, Member of the European Parliament Vytautas Landsbergis to his colleagues of sufferance to the liberals by saying that the work in the coalition requires compromises.

"Coalition is the art of compromises, agreements. You cannot think that your personal position or the position of the party can dominate over the position of other coalition partners. When members of our party say that we cannot 100 percent implement the provisions of the party on one or another issue because we have to coordinate the position with the liberals, I hear the liberals saying that being the biggest party in the coalition, we dominate on various issues and do not allow them to implement their ideological provisions," Kubilius said in the interview on Ziniu Radijas.

The prime minister explained that the Government was implementing its programme that was agreed upon prior to the formation of the Ministers' Cabinet.

Government's weakness lies in implementation of decisions - Grybauskaitė 20 July 2010

Vilnius, July 19 (ELTA) - President Dalia Grybauskaite is confident that tax increases would not be beneficial in the short term and that still there are reserves related to the black economy and the fight against organised crime.

According to the president, an increase in taxes would be the easiest way for the Government, but it would lead to the worst consequences to the economy.

"The Government does what is inevitable. In strategic sense, it knows what to do, but the way it does that shows its biggest weakness," the head of state said on the LTV programme Savaite.

According to Grybauskaite, the Government makes a lot of mistakes in carrying out decisions, in other words, when moving from a good idea to its realisation. Moreover, the mistakes are being rectified too late.

"Theoretical decisions reach the economy in reality very slowly. Thus, in principle, the Government knows what needs to be done, it assumes responsibility and pays the price by its ratings, but I would like it very much that the Cabinet would correct its mistakes faster," the president said.

Speaking about the public dissatisfaction with the Government's work, Grybauskaite emphasised that "the ratings and confidence in all European governments, which have had to resort to very difficult and unpopular yet inevitable decisions, have waned significantly and this is the price paid by virtually all governments."

Stimulating growth by improving dividends from SOEs 20 July 2010

Government Announcement:

The Lithuanian Government and ultimately the taxpayers of Lithuania, is the largest owner of commercial assets in the country. Each taxpayer in this country has a share in this portfolio worth around LTL16.000 per person.

Together we are now turning the page on the management of this common asset by publishing this Annual Review. This is the first step, in obtaining a map over this portfolio so that we will be able to take serious steps towards a more professional management of these commercial assets.

The Prime Minister of Lithuania Andrius Kubilius said that this is the start of structural reforms that will stimulate growth, increase competiveness and reduce the budget deficit.

The value of State-Owned Commercial Assets are comparable to 25% of GDP. Transparency together with professionally management will have a positive impact on the business climate in Lithuania as a whole.

The portfolio of commercial assets has a substantial potential for efficiency improvement and thereby an ability to contribute in a material way to the state budget.

The first step in this process is setting the highest standard of transparency for State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s).

Transparency shall be easily understood and give a fair picture of the state of the portfolio not only in an annual statement but henceforth also through interim reports during the year disclosing material events and the financial development, company objectives, directors and senior management, and their remuneration, material foreseeable risk factors, governance structure and policies. Today the Government has approved its Transparency Policy to enforce this vision.

The Minister of Economy Dainius Kreivys said that motivated to attract foreign investments Lithuania will adhere to international best practice, understanding that global capital markets will insist upon clear, relevant financial information and that capital has no memory, it will flow where it sees reward and understands the risks.

Volatility is the inevitable by-product of a global, highly competitive, fast-paced marketplace. With this report and commitment to the highest standards of transparency, we are rising to the challenge to make Lithuania an internationally competitive and attractive country for investments.

Further steps will involve separation of commercial assets, activities working under market conditions, from assets with a policy purpose. State Commercial assets deserve the best professional management so that the portfolio serve the people by generating a relevant and transparent return that can be used by the government for purposes of further improving the country and thereby the life of the people.

The government shall have a long-term strategic vision with shareholder value at the core and executive compensation aligned to long term performance.

The Government has ordered the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy to prepare strategy for efficient management of state owned enterprises by 1 September 2010.

As described in Annual Review the Lithuanian Government is the largest owner of commercial assets in the country. The Portfolio consists of more than 300 companies in various sectors. However, companies within Energy, Real Estate and Forest sectors represent more than 80% of the value of the portfolio.

Furthermore, we also have a number of strategically important assets in the Transportation sector, as well as number of minor assets in a wide range of sectors.

President vetoes amendments to criminal procedure code 17 July 2010

Vilnius, July 16 (ELTA) - President Dalia Grybauskaite has returned amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to the Seimas for reconsideration as the amendments allowed gaps which would create favourable conditions for the abuse of office of pre-trial investigation officers, an increase in corruption and opportunities for preventing pre-trial investigation control.

The head of state approves the provisions which aim at strengthening the control of pre-trial investigation and introduce specific deadlines for pre-trial investigation. However, Grybauskaite opposes the proposed procedure according to which the term for a pre-trial investigation would start only with the moment of making allegations.

The president proposes to start counting the pre-trial period from the first day of the investigation. This way, Grybauskaite says, would prevent delays of investigations, when allegations are brought the last moment before referring the case to court and thus avoiding the control of pre-trial investigation.

Nugaraite leaves president's team 17 July 2010

Vilnius, July 16 (ELTA) - Presidential Policy Analysis and Institutional Relations Adviser Audrone Nugaraite resigned from office.

"I can confirm the fact that as of July 16, Nugaraite resigned from the position as Chief Adviser to the President," presidential spokesperson Linas Balsys told ELTA.

He said he did not know the reasons of her withdrawal.

Audrone Nugaraite joined Grybauskaite's team a year ago. She was not only chief adviser to the president, but also the president's representative at the Seimas. Nugaraite was entrusted to coordinate the president's position with the parliament.

Prior to becoming a member of the presidential team, Nugaraite taught journalism at Vilnius University, headed the university's Institute of Journalism in 1997-2006.

Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the decision of President of Cuba Raul Castro to free 52 political prisoners 11 July 2010

However, we note that according to the reports the freed political prisoners will have to leave for Spain. Besides, according to the data of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, over 100 political prisoners remain on the island. Cuba still has not ratified two UN conventions on human rights, and representatives from international NGOs, for example, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, have been repeatedly refused entry into prisons.

Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely following the situation in the country and is looking forward to follow-up steps that the Cuban Government will take towards democracy. We also participate in the discussion of the European Union on further relations with Cuba and we will decide on Lithuania’s position taking into account further changes of the situation in Cuba.

Lithuania shares the common EU position on Cuba from 1996. The objective of the common position on Cuba is to encourage a process of transition to pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as a sustainable development and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people. The common position considers that full cooperation with Cuba will depend upon improvements in human rights and political freedom.

Israeli Foreign Minister: Good Bilateral Relations to Be Translated into Good Economic Relations 11 July 2010

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius met with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The meeting focused on bilateral and multilateral relations, prospects for economic and commercial cooperation, cultural and educational issues, and, last but not least, relationship with the Jewish community.

As Israeli Foreign Minister A. Liberman noted, the current intensively developing bilateral relations between Lithuania and Israel are excellent. “It is high time we translated our excellent bilateral relations into excellent economic and trade relations”, the Minister said.

Prime Minister A. Kubilius was lavish in his praise for the innovative Israeli economy. “Lithuania admires Israel’s achievements in the IT sector. Our Minister of Economy D. Kairys, recently back from Israel, had every opportunity to see the latest developments in that area personally. At the present moment in time, Lithuania is keenly looking for IT investments all over the world; to my mind, Israeli business should find our market attractive as well”, A. Kubilius observed.

The Minister thanked Lithuania for its balanced approach to the Middle East and Israel and extended the official invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the country in the near future. While discussing restitution issues, both parties were unanimous in their conviction that the compensation procedure for Jewish property would run smoothly and successfully.

Netanyahu invites Kubilius to visit Israel 11 July 2010

Vilnius, July 8 (ELTA) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Head of the Lithuanian Government Andrius Kubilius to visit Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently visiting Lithuania, passed the invitation during the meeting on Thursday.

"Minister of foreign affairs passed me a personal invitation of the Israeli prime minister to visit Israel. I hope I will be able to take advantage of it and further develop the relations that we consider very important," Kubilius said.

In turn, Lieberman said that the relations between Lithuania and Israel have never been as good as now. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.

"The biggest challenge is how to move these very good political relations into economic cooperation," said the Israeli foreign minister.

The Council of Europe Chooses a Lithuanian Politician to Evaluate Political Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis 7 July 2010

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which unites 47 member states, is to adopt a resolution and report Political Consequences of the Economic Crisis drafted by Mr Emanuelis Zingeris, Head of the Seimas Delegation to the organisation.  
Mr Zingeris, the author of the Resolution, underlines in the document that the present financial and economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression, which hit the world in the 1930s and resulted in a world war. PACE expresses a concern that financial debts in Europe and economic policies to fight the consequences of the crisis may have an impact on the processes of public radicalisation and threaten democracy.    
The Head of the Seimas Delegation regrets that after a long discussion the Committee on Political Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly amended the initial text of the Resolution he had proposed that strongly urged to find and punish politicians whose actions contributed to the economic collapse due to the failure to duly respond to the careless policy pursued by banks.
The Resolution recommends an active involvement of national parliaments in European affairs and in the process of economic and financial governance and calls on governments to adopt a more European coordinated and unified approach to face the crisis. The Resolution also calls for a discussion on the state of democracy within national parliaments.
The Resolution notes that this crisis provides parties and movements of the extreme left and right with the opportunity to blame failures on mainstream parties in order to gain more popularity for themselves. It is to be regretted that in some countries mainstream parties have adopted extremist language.
Although previous resolutions of PACE argued that “despite financial difficulties, citizen’s social, economic and human rights must be safeguarded”, the Resolution to be adopted today states that some governments are bound to reduce spending and therefore they will need to reduce public investment, freeze or reduce public service labour force, increase taxes, increase retirement age and freeze or reduce salaries and pensions. Several governments have already announced cuts in public sector salaries. As a result, social consequences will certainly be much more severe than those foreseen in previous Assembly debates.
The document to be adopted also notes that the stability and growth pact, which accompanied the introduction of the euro, was not rigorously observed by many of the member states to which it applied. The Assembly also reminds that common currency (a monetary union) implies a common monetary policy and notes that such policy does not work in the long term when there are wide differences in the economic, budgetary and fiscal policies among its members.
The Assembly regrets in the Resolution that the on-going crisis has shown that we are still very far from a Europe without dividing lines: among the member states of the Council of Europe, there are members and non member states of the European Union. And among the European Union member states, there are those in the eurozone and those outside of it. It is worrying to see the difference in treatment of each category. 

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister calls on the international community to strengthen efforts in promoting democracy around the world 7 July 2010

Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis calls on the international community to strengthen and to coordinate more closely the actions that are aimed at promoting democracy around the world.

The Minister made this statement on 3 July in Krakow at the High Level Democracy Meeting to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Community of Democracies, which is currently chaired by Lithuania.

“World’s democratic community faces numerous challenges in implementing common goals on a multilateral level and the economic downturn caused new threats to democracy worldwide. Despite the threatening increase of autocratic and populist tendencies in many countries and regions, we do not have an appropriate democratic response to this. The promotion of democracy requires serious and concerted efforts of world’s entire community,” Minister A.Ažubalis said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also attended the meeting in Krakow, dedicated special attention to the human rights situation, particularly highlighting the influence of civil society for the promotion of democracy around the world. H.Clinton stressed the role of values in contemporary world politics as one of the main principles of the current U.S. administration policy. She also spoke about the challenges, which movements for human rights and other civil society groups supporting democracy were facing today.

The meeting in Krakow focused on the activities of the Community of Democracies, on its working groups, and on the strengthening of democracy around the world.

As a representative of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Community of Democracies in 2009-2011, Minister A.Ažubalis acquainted the participants of the meeting with Lithuania’s accomplishments and goals for 2011.

In Krakow, head of Lithuania’s diplomacy also opened the second meeting of the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies, which was launched on 12 March in Vilnius, and highlighted that the debate of parliamentarians should be followed by specific projects. According to the Minister, two more meetings of the Parliamentary Forum are already scheduled this year in the U.S.A. and Georgia.

The Community of Democracies also adopted the Global Democracy Work Plan, which defines the actions for strengthening global democracy in the coming years.

Minister A.Ažubalis stressed that the entire Community of Democracies had to aim to turn these commitments into reality, so that this would not be just empty words.

According to the Minister, the attention of Lithuania’s Presidency and of the entire Community of Democracies will be drawn to this work until the next ministerial meeting of the Community of Democracies in Vilnius in 2011.

“Lithuania aims to achieve that at the Presidency’s final meeting in Vilnius specific decisions will be taken on the basis of the Global Democracy Work Plan. The decisions would cover the reform of the Community of Democracies itself, the commitments undertaken by its member states regarding support to non-governmental organizations, further development of activities of the Working Group on Gender Equality, which is co-chaired by the U.S.A. and Lithuania, and on other issues,” Minister A.Ažubalis said.

75 governmental representatives from around the world, as well as President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek participated in the commemorative meeting on 3 July in Krakow.
Lithuania, as the Presidency of the Community of Democracies, also chaired the meeting of the Convening Group in Krakow. The Convening Group is comprised of representatives from 17 countries, which spearheaded the initiative of establishing the Community of Democracies. This group is the main governing body of the Community of Democracies between the ministerial meetings.

Lithuania has also initiated meetings of the Parliamentary Forum, the Young Leaders’ Forum and the Working Group on Gender Equality of the Community of Democracies.

President: Comprehensive solutions are needed for real gender equality in the EU 28 June 2010

Only comprehensive solutions towards gender equality in Lithuania and the whole European Union will produce the results we seek and value, President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė said, making an opening address at an international conference organised by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).
"Equality between women and men is a fundamental right and a common value of the European Union. The European Parliament and Council places a special focus on gender equality. For this purpose, a new European institution has been created - the European Institute for Gender Equality - with its seat in Vilnius. I am happy and proud that the best gender equality experts from across Europe will work and share their knowledge here in Lithuania and that their work, both practical and theoretical, will contribute in a major way to our joint efforts towards genuine, not assumed, gender equality," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.
According to the President, the European statistics of many years show that there are many still unresolved issues in this field. Women continue to earn almost 18 percent less than men for every hour worked. The employment rate of female university graduates is lower than men's, although women represent a majority of students. Women continue to carry a disproportionately large share of household chores. Domestic violence and the risk of poverty, even though they relate to both genders, are higher for women.
The President pointed out that it was not by chance that Lithuania became the first country among the Baltic States to host a European agency. Much has been done in Lithuania to achieve equality between women and men, starting with relevant legal aspects, gender mainstreaming, and ending with specific measures to improve the actual situation of women. "We already have visible results. Women's employment has increased over the past several years and some data show that it has exceeded that for men. The gap between salaries earned by men and women for the same work has narrowed considerably. In Lithuania, women are better represented than men among bachelor's, master's and doctorate graduates. They are active in state building and governance, and their involvement in business and public life has deepened and broadened," the President said.

The President called these developments most welcome, but underlined that a lot of effort was yet to be made to translate positive tendencies into a standard of Lithuanian and EU life. She invited non-governmental organizations working in human rights, education, employment, health care, and other fields to engage more actively in joint action.

Seimas Criminalises Public Support for International Crimes, Crimes by USSR, and German Nazi Regime 28 June 2010

The Seimas has passed amendments to the Penal Code imposing criminal liability for public support to, denial of, and gross trivialisation of international crimes, crimes committed by the USSR, and Nazi Germany to the detriment of the Republic of Lithuania and its inhabitants. A total of 68 MPs voted for the amendments, 5 were against, and 32 abstained.

Under the adopted amendments, criminal charges shall be brought against anyone providing public support to, denial of, or gross trivialisation of acts recognised to constitute genocide, other crimes against humanity, or a war crime under legislation of the Republic of Lithuania, EU legislation, or court judgements in force issued either by courts of the Republic of Lithuania or international courts, where such support, denial, or gross trivialisation is done in a threatening, abusive or offensive manner, or when it disturbs public order.

Criminal charges shall also be brought against anyone making a public approval of, denial of, or gross trivialisation of the aggression against the Republic of Lithuania on the part of the USSR and Nazi Germany as well as war crimes, genocide, and other crimes against humanity committed by the USSR and Nazi Germany on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania against Lithuania’s inhabitants, and felony as well as grave crimes committed by persons involved in the aggression against the Republic of Lithuania in 1990-1991, where such approval, denial, or gross trivialisation is done in a threatening, abusive or offensive manner, or disturbs public order.

Under the amendments adopted by the Seimas, the abovementioned offences shall be punishable by fines, restriction of liberty, arrest, or imprisonment for up to two years. Criminal liability for these offences shall also apply to legal persons.

World Lithuanian Economic Forum: there is considerable talent and potential in Lithuania 25 June 2010

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius opened the World Lithuanian Economic Forum Conference “High tech innovation  investment: local to global” in London.

In his opening address, the Lithuanian Prime Minister introduced the innovation potential in innovative Lithuania. Speakers of the forum – economy experts and entrepreneurs having investment experience in Lithuania – stressed two points: there is considerable talent and potential in Lithuania, and the current Government has been pursuing an attractive and consistent investment policy focusing on the high-tech and IT sectors.     

The aim of the regular event, whose ambassador is the Lithuanian Prime Minister, is to unite the most influential Lithuanian entrepreneurs living abroad, experts and politicians, and to attract investment in growing Lithuanian companies.

In his opening address the Lithuanian Prime Minister introduced innovation potential in Lithuania and focused on the success stories of global Lithuanian businesses.

According to Kubilius, new technologies have unlocked potential across state borders, with even small companies being able to achieve success. In addition to presenting the Lithuanian success stories to the advanced, IT and communications technologies on a global scale, the Prime Minister also expressed his delight at the expanded global biotechnology and medical technology companies that have been successfully attracting investment, as well as the growing sector of green technologies in Lithuania.  

The forum conferences have attracted over 250 entrepreneurs from various countries of the world. The event aims to unite the most influential Lithuanian entrepreneurs living abroad and to help attract investment to the growing Lithuanian companies.

Representatives of the prominent global companies, such as IBM, Barclays, Microsoft, Get Jar, Sicor Biotech (TEVA Group), Nordic Ventures Partners, Angels Den, and other successful companies and the biggest private capital and business angel investors have taken part in the World Lithuanian Economic Forum Conference in London.   

Prime Minister Continues Hunt for Investment 25 June 2010

The Prime Minister of Lithuania Mr Andrius Kubilius paid a working visit to Stockholm on 9 June, 2010. The purpose of this visit was to follow up (overlook) dynamic and intensive bilateral economic relations between both countries and to spread the message to the Swedish business community on Lithuania’s economic outlook and the Government’s policy priorities. Mr. Andrius Kubilius met the Prime Minister of Sweden Mr Fredrik Reinfeldt. The Prime Minister’s delegation includes the Lithuanian Minister of Economy Mr Dainius Kreivys.

The big part of this visit was devoted to meeting the leading Swedish companies and private equity funds with a view to present Lithuania’s efforts in improving theinvestment environment and to show their intention for new cooperation projects which might foster further bilateral business growth. The meetings were arranged in close cooperation with the Swedish partners representing banking and financial sector investors.

Lithuania was deeply impacted by the recession in 2009. With the acute response to these economic and financial challenges the Government of Lithuania managed to ensure macroeconomic stability in the country. Implementing fiscal consolidation measures Lithuania demonstrated its capability to handle structural problems of public finances in a responsible and efficient way. It is acknowledge not only by the EC and IMF, but also clearly assed by international markets.

The IMF has updated the forecast of Lithuania’s GDP growth to 2% in 2010. International rating agencies have started to upgrade Lithuania’s outlook, Moody’s upgraded the Lithuanian Government’s borrowing ratings from negative to stable in April, Standard&Poor and Fitch also lifted their outlooks for Lithuania from negative to stable in February and March.   

The Government of Lithuania has been actively working to promote inward foreign direct investment, giving a special priority to technology-intense and higher value added projects. Dynamically improving relations with neighboring countries, low tax burden, very competitive overall business operation costs, talented people and investment-minded Government are the driven success factors for international companies to be located in Lithuania where Swedish business has already been benefiting. The Government’s efforts to attract investment has already shown concrete results, leading multinational companies such as Barclays, IBM and Western Union have invested in Lithuania.    
Sweden is one of Lithuania’s main economic partners taking the top position in the list of foreign investors and being among the key trading partners. Despite of already intensive bilateral economic cooperation, Lithuania is open to discuss new mutually beneficial investment projects.

Dynamic cooperation with EU countries is a priority for Lithuania 25 June 2010

I will support every proposal that strengthens cooperation among the European Union's Member States and serves Lithuania's interests," President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė said at the meeting with EU Member States' ambassadors resident in Lithuania.
Talking about Lithuania's foreign policy, President Dalia Grybauskaitė stressed that European integration, dynamic cooperation with EU Member States, euroatlantic relations, strengthening of Lithuania's territorial, energy and technological security as well as constructive relations with neighboring countries, built on reciprocal respect and mutual benefit, were among top priorities of Lithuania's foreign policy.
"By cooperating dynamically with the European Union, Lithuania has made huge progress in implementing energy and transport projects. The EU's Strategy for the Baltic Sea region is also a perfect instrument to enhance regional cooperation both with EU Member States and other countries of the region. I support, and will support in the future, every proposal that promotes European integration, strengthens cooperation among EU Member States and serves Lithuania's national interests," President Dalia Grybauskaitė underlined.
The President thanked the ambassadors for cooperation and for their efforts to develop economic relations between business communities of Lithuania and other countries of the EU.
This was the second meeting of the President with leaders of diplomatic missions of EU Member States. The meeting took place at the Embassy of Spain, which currently holds the presidency of the EU.

Valys asks for lifting legal immunity of three MPs 25 June 2010

Vilnius, June 22 (ELTA) - The Seimas has not satisfied the request of Prosecutor General Darius Valys to lift the legal immunity of MPs Petras Grazulis, Kazimieras Uoka and Rokas Zilinskas.

MPs did not approve the Seimas' draft resolutions on forming ad hoc commissions after their presentation.

On Tuesday, 47 MPs voted for the formation of the ad hoc commission on the approval to restrict Zilinskas' freedom, 15 MPs voted against it and 33 MPs abstained from voting.

The Seimas' ad hoc commission for approval to prosecute MPs Grazulis and Uoka was favoured by 39 MPs, 29 MPs voted against it and 30 MPs abstained from voting.

On Tuesday, Prosecutor General Darius Valys addressed the Seimas with a request to abolish the legal immunity of three MPs - Petras Grazulis, Kazimieras Uoka and Rokas Zilinskas.

Grazulis and Uoka are suspected of causing public disorder and resisting to a civil servant.

The prosecutor general said that the group of MPs "Uz Lygybe" (For Equality) had sent an official application to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Police Department asking for an investigation into the actions of MPs Grazulis and Uoka during the march "For Equality".

As reported, the Seimas once agreed on lifting Zilinskas' legal immunity, when a criminal case against the MP was heard. In December 2008, Vilnius city first local court acquitted Zilinskas in the criminal case on the violation of public order, resistance to police officers and insult of the officers. It ruled that Zilinskas did not commit any crime.

However, the court opened proceedings against Zilinskas on administrative offences due to hooliganism, the insult of police officers and resistance to their orders. This is a new case and thus permission of the Seimas is again necessary for the restriction of Zilinskas' freedom since the offender may have to pay a fine and he may also be arrested for the alleged administrative offences.

Lithuania is turning from Baltic Tiger to self-destructing country - Vagnorius 25 June 2010

Vilnius, June 22 (ELTA) - Intending to reduce maternity benefits and extend the retirement age, the Government of Andrius Kubilius continues the policy of Lithuania's destruction, is convinced Chairman of the Christian Party Gediminas Vagnorius.

According to the former prime minister, by depriving young families and old people of trust in the social system, the rulers are destroying the nation, promoting emigration and a decline in birth rates.

Gediminas Vagnorius is convinced that the Government should extend the retirement age not by force, but voluntarily: it should promote the survival of older people in the labour market and reward them with higher pensions for agreeing to retire later.

However, according to the politician, the government is doing just the contrary - they are punishing workers and pensioners who are paying taxes by depriving them from their hard-earned wages. Moreover, by leveling pensions, social security benefits and even salaries, the Government undermines the very "economic branch" of the state - it deprives people of the motivation to work and pay taxes.

"Social stability is the key factor in ensuring public confidence in the state. Over a period of a year and a half, the heads of Government have undercut public confidence in the future. They completely ruined the internal market, and the poverty caused by unemployment has affected every fifth adult in the country," says the Christian party leader.

Former Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius is convinced that thanks to the policy of Andrius Kubilius Lithuania is turning from the Baltic Tiger into a self-destructing country.

Lithuania's EU Priorities 25 June 2010

Lithuania‘s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis says, that continuous implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, energy security, as well as European Union‘s relations with Eastern Neighbourhood countries and Russia would stay on the list of European policy issues that are the most  important to Lithuania in the second half of 2010.

These Lithuanian priorities for the Belgian EU Presidency were presented by Minister  A.Ažubalis during a working dinner that was held at the initiative of Belgium‘s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reforms Steven Vanackere on 20 June in Brussels.

According to Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister, economic and financial issues are also particularly important to the country. He highlighted the implementation of the new EU 2020 strategy for sustainable growth and employment, as well as the initiatives regarding enhanced coordination of the EU member states’ economic policy that are currently being discussed. The EU 2020 strategy was adopted at the European Council on 17 June.

“Lithuania is very much interested in the implementation of the Baltic Interconnection Plan and the diversification of energy sources, as well as in the coordinated external energy policy, which gets proper impetus through the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon“, Minister A.Ažubalis noted.

The Minister also said that active development of bilateral and multilateral relations with six countries of the EU‘s Eastern Partnership initiative and Russia should also be high on the agenda during Belgium‘s EU Presidency.

“Lithuania actively supports further strengthening of the relations between the EU and Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, South Caucasus states. We consider it is necessary to continue close mutual cooperation with the countries that aspire to deeper relations with the EU”, Minister A.Ažubalis said.

On 1 July, Belgium will succeed Spain as the next EU Presidency. It will stay at the helm of the EU until 1 January 2011.

The meeting in Brussels was attended by Austrian, Belgian, Bulgarian, Finnish, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Slovak and Slovenian foreign ministers.

Ažubalis unwilling to save at the expense of diplomatic service 25 June 2010

Vilnius, June 17 (ELTA) - Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis is against cost-cutting at the expense of the diplomatic service. According to him, at present, Lithuanian consular servants work more than their colleagues from other European Union member states, and the closure of embassies would have political consequences.

"At present, Lithuanian nationals who address Lithuania's consulates abroad, for example, in London or Dublin, wait for 2-3 months to be received there. It is because of the significant reduction of consular offices. What is more, the National Audit Office, which carried out an audit of our consular service, found out that the workload and working hours of our consuls exceeded the working hours and workload of European Union diplomats by two times. Our people work 12-13 hours a day," Azubalis said at the Government's hour at the Seimas on Thursday.

The foreign minister recalled that salaries at the Foreign Ministry were cut by 10 percent last year.

The head of the Lithuanian diplomacy implied that he would disagree with the decision to close embassies for saving purposes. According to Azubalis, it would be done only with a common political decision.

"It is very easy to open an embassy, but it is impossible to shut it down without political consequences. If I were told by someone who would take political responsibility for the decision to close some embassy, and it were a common political decision, then I would have to obey that as a politician," Azubalis said.

The foreign minister said that some 14 million litas (4.053 million euros) would be saved if Lithuania refused the chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), some 100 million litas (28.94 million euros) if the country refused the presidency of the European Union in 2013, which would be an unprecedented event.

"The Foreign Ministry has one of the smallest budgets, which amounts to 183 million litas (52.977 million euros)," said Azubalis.

The head of the Lithuanian diplomacy was asked about the possible consolidation of the budget for next year by Kestutis Glaveckas, the head of the Seimas' Committee on Budget and Finance.

Zuokas leaves liberal centrists 25 June 2010

Vilnius, June 17 (ELTA) - Former Chairman of the Liberal and Centre Union (LiCS) Arturas Zuokas is withdrawing from LiCS and will lead a new public movement.

"Yes. There is a new public movement established and I was elected to lead it, thus, it is logical that I will no longer take part in the LiCS activities," Arturas Zuokas confirmed to ELTA.

The organization that will be headed by Arturas Zuokas is called "Yes". The organization will unite people who are creators and have an optimistic attitude towards the difficult situation in Lithuania.

"Together we will try to change the current political situation in Lithuania, that remained or became completely closed within the period of 20 years and that unfortunately do not reflect the challenges that the modern society needs. Therefore, we will defend creators and those who can and are willing to change life in Lithuania so that it would become different," Zuokas spoke about the objectives of the movement.

According to him, there will be no LiCS members in the movement. Zuokas does not think that next year members of the organization would take part in municipal election, as well as he doubts whether the Seimas would allow public organizations to run for elections.

In the short term, the objectives and provisions of the public organization "Yes" will be presented.

Statute amendment to accelerate legislation 17 June 2010

Vilnius, June 7 (ELTA) - An amendment to the Statute of the Seimas, under which the Government would be obliged to present conclusions on the bills on time, was submitted to the Seimas.

Under the amendment to the Statute, registered by Members of the Seimas Vidmantas Žiemelis and Mantas Varaška, if the Government does not provide conclusions on the bills on time (within 4 weeks), it will be considered that the Government approves of the bill.

The parliamentarians expect the amendment to accelerate the consideration and adoption of legislation in the Seimas.

“Very often, this term is not met and as a result, the further consideration of the bill is postponed for an indefinite period of time. The introduction of the proposed amendment to the Statute of the Seimas would provide for the timely hearing and adoption of legislation. Moreover, the amendment would oblige the Government to provide necessary conclusions on time,” said MPs Žiemelis and Varaška.

Politicians' salaries to remain reduced next year as well - Kubilius 14 June 2010

Vilnius, June 14 (ELTA) - The salaries of politicians and civil servants will remain reduced next year. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius intends to propose to extend the validity of reduced salaries for the following year as well.

"We decided that politicians' salaries, as well as the other reductions, should remain reduced next year as well. First of all, I have in mind the reduction of politicians', civil servants' and other officials' salaries," Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said after the meeting of the ruling coalition partners with Speaker of the Seimas Irena Degutiene on Monday.

According to him, the Constitutional Court has determined that until the emergency financial situation continues, the politicians - the Seimas and the Government - were entitled to take measures to address the problems of the emergency finance situation.

"The emergency financial situation, we believe, will continue until we return back to the main macroeconomic parameters of 2008. And this is not certainly going to happen next year," said Kubilius.

According to him, it is also planned to implement the SoDra reform, decide upon the retirement age, the transformation of maternity benefits, and other issues, such as state pensions.

The prime minister said that the Government intended to propose the Seimas to adopt some decisions yet during this session.

Vilkaitis confused interests with film - ethics watchdogs 14 June 2010

Vilnius, June 14 (ELTA) - Culture Minister Remigijus Vilkaitis had a conflict of interest when deciding on funding the film Atsisveikinimas (Farewell), where he was cast himself, the Chief Official Ethics Commission (VTEK) states.

The law provides that in a situation of interest conflicts, a person working in public service must inform his immediate head and persons who jointly participate in decision-making, consideration or adoption proceedings about the existing conflict of interest and withdraw from participating in further proceedings.

The incumbent culture minister, theatre and film actor Vilkaitis, appears in the film for an episode of a few minutes.

Earlier this year, the press announced that Culture Minister Vilkaitis, who starred in the film before taking the office of the culture minister, allocated 120,000 litas (34,262 euros) to complete the film Atsisveikinimas. This decision of the culture minister drew the attention of the Chief Official Ethics Commission.

In late April, the Nation's Resurrection Party, which proposed Vilkaitis for the culture minister, expressed no confidence in him. The party has formally presented a new candidate for the post to the prime minister - vice-rector of Vilnius Academy of Arts Arunas Gelunas.

Stancikiene waits for Kubilius' reaction to Kevisas violations 11 June 2010

Vilnius, June 11 (ELTA) - Member of the Seimas Anti-corruption Commission Aurelija Stancikiene has addressed Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius asking him to express his principled opinion on constant gross law violations made by Gintautas Kevisas, director general of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre. The politician expects that Kubilius will also consider whether Kevisas should be allowed to hold the office.

According to Stancikiene, such a request is related to the incumbent Culture Minister Remigijus Vilkaitis' unwillingness to take independent action to evaluate Kevisas admissibility to continue his work. In addition, the recent story of Kevisas has been recalled. In 2002, Kevisas managed to avoid responsibility for similar serious financial irregularities that were found out by the National Audit Office.

The MP is firmly convinced that if Kevisas also retained his office this time, it would do a very grave injustice to the entire cultural life of Lithuania, the cultural policy and raise serious doubts about the prime minister's fight against corruption and efforts to stabilise public finances.

Ažubalis to attend meeting of Baltic and German foreign ministers 11 June 2010

Vilnius, June 11 (ELTA) - On Friday, Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis will participate in the annual meeting of the foreign ministers of the Baltic States and Germany in Estonia.

The meeting in Tallinn will be attended by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Azubalis, Latvian Foreign Minister Aivis Ronis, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

The ministers will discuss the European Union's relations with Russia, the new NATO strategic concept and the implementation of the EU Eastern Partnership Initiative. Other issues in the meeting's agenda include energy security in Europe, Iran and Afghanistan, Europe's security dialogue (the Corfu Process), the EU Baltic Sea Strategy and the activities of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

The head of the Lithuanian diplomacy will present Lithuania's priorities during its chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2011.

At the Lithuanian embassy in Estonia, Azubalis will meet with the participants of bicyclists' project A?+Tu=kmLT, Lithuanian community members of the Anglia Ruskin University, who started their cycling tour of 8,000 kilometres on April 12 in Aberdeen to reach Lithuania through Scandinavia.

I spoke to Lithuanian people, not political scientists - Grybauskaitė 11 June 2010

Vilnius, June 10 (ELTA) - President Dalia Grybauskaite says that her first annual state of the nation address has been devoted to the people of Lithuania rather than political analysts.

"I spoke to the people of Lithuania, not political scientists," the head of state commented on political scientists' conflicting assessments of her state of the nation address on Thursday.

The president delivered her first state of the nation address at the Seimas on June 8. Grybauskaite did not assess the country's economic situation and chose to analyse the moral status of the state and its citizens, the underlying causes of the crisis of fundamental values and urged every citizen to be responsible for strengthening the state.

Seimas commission agrees on stripping Sacharukas of his legal immunity 11 June 2010

Vilnius, June 10 (ELTA) - On Wednesday, the Seimas ad hoc commission of inquiry agreed to allow the prosecution of MP Aleksandras Sacharukas and possible restrictions of his freedom, if necessary.

Such a draft resolution was favoured by 8 commission members, 3 MPs voted against it.

As reported, Acting Prosecutor General Raimondas Petrauskas addressed the Seimas with a request to abolish Sacharukas' legal immunity, allow his prosecution and other ways of restricting his freedom, if necessary.

President said what people wanted to hear - Janeliunas 11 June 2010

Vilnius, June 8 (ELTA) - In her first state of the nation address, President Dalia Grybauskaite emphasised the things that the people of Lithuania wanted to hear most - disappointment at justice, the state, politicians and the truth that not everything depends on financial matters, says Associated Professor Tomas Janeliunas, lecturer at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science (TSPMI) of Vilnius University.

Janeliunas first noted that Grybauskaite's state of the nation address differed from the ones of the former heads of state. The president's speech was shorter, laconic and centered on several ideas rather than general overviews.

"I think that the president has managed to satisfy the needs of the majority of the society to hear what Lithuania lacks, which is to stress that not everything should be counted in money only. The people of Lithuania miss justice, general confidence in the state, politicians, parties, the Government and so on," the political scientist says.

According to Janeliunas, Grybauskaite highlights the idea that even in the hard times people should start from the basic values - the restoration of the confidence in the state and justice - rather than to seek ways to receive more money, balance budgets or introduce some taxes.

"(...) This is what in fact causes probably the deepest dissatisfaction with the Government's work and which has probably worn out most Lithuanian people. Grybauskaite has caught this tendency precisely," Janeliunas said.

On the other hand, the political scientist said that he missed more attention to the foreign policy which was given only one paragraph.

"You cannot say that the president said something wrong about the foreign policy. It was included in the president's election programme and first speeches about her goals related to the foreign policy. But I think that there should have been more detailed evaluation of her achievements in the first year and, most important, future foreign policy tasks," Janeliunas explained.

Despite that, Janeliunas justified the choice of the country's leader since Grybauskaite clearly assessed that the foreign policy was not the most urgent aspect to most of the public. According to the political scientist, at present the residents are mostly interested in domestic political issues. As a result, Grybauskaite paid most attention to internal problems and solutions to them.

I did not hear any harsh criticism - Kubilius 11 June 2010

Vilnius, June 8 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says that the aspects stressed by President Dalia Grybauskaite in her annual report are of a great importance for him as well.

"A very clear statement that there is still a few years to follow, during which the Government will not be able to be generous to all. It seems like a very important signal to me," commenting on the president's speech said the prime minister.

In his view, it is very important that the head of the state drew attention to the fact that the country needs a more strategic approach.

"This is one of the most important topics for us, this is why we are reforming a number of things in the state management. Of course, the strategic approach will not come overnight, thus, I can fully approve of the president's concern with the fact that the state should have a much clearer, long-term trends and those trends should define the daily decision-making as well," said Kubilius.

Andrius Kubilius is also convinced that the president's concern over the legal situation is reasonable.

"Everyone sees the problems, however, in order to solve them we need not only day-to-day decisions, but very clear long-term directions," said the head of the Government.

When asked how he evaluated the president's words that very often an individual was forgotten, Andrius Kubilius said he was reluctant to understand these words directly, because "all the decisions taken at the Government or the Seimas are in one or another way related to human destiny".

Andrius Kubilius said he did not hear any harsh criticism towards the Government. "In fact, I did not hear any harsh criticism," said the prime minister.

According to him, the annual report of the president "was good, worth of its insights".

Lithuanian and EU Development Vision discussed in Vilnius 7 June 2010


A round table discussion "Europe 2030: Do We Have a New Approach?" was held on 4 June in Vilnius. It was organized by the Office of Lithuania’s Prime Minister's, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Law Department under the Ministry of Justice.

The participants discussed the European Union’s and Lithuania’s development vision with respect to the recent EU strategic documents: the report "Project Europe 2030. Challenges and Opportunities" by the EU Reflection Group and the report of former EU Commissioner for Internal Market Mario Monti, "A New Strategy for the Internal Market: Serving the Economy and the Public".
In her introductory remarks, Lithuania’s Foreign Vice-Minister Asta Skaisgirytė Liauškienė stressed that, considering the lessons learnt during the crisis, the EU and Lithuania currently face important choices, when short-term measures for the economy’s recovery are not sufficient and essential difficult decisions need to be taken.
The participants of the discussion in Vilnius agreed that further deepening and strengthening of the EU internal market was an important guideline to strengthen the EU’s competitiveness, but some aspects, such as fiscal coordination, remained ambiguous.

Grybauskaite to read annual report on Tuesday 7 June 2010

Vilnius, June 7 (ELTA) - Fulfilling a constitutional obligation, President Dalia Grybauskaite will read her annual report at the Seimas on Tuesday.

The president's annual report on the situation in Lithuania, domestic and foreign policy is provided by the Constitution.

President Dalia Grybauskaite, who assumed the position as the head of the state on July 12, 2009, will continue the tradition of reading the annual report during the Seimas spring session, however, she will do it a little bit later than her predecessor President Valdas Adamkus.

As determined by the Constitution, the report of the head of the state generally includes the overview of political, economic, social and cultural situation of the country, Lithuanian domestic and foreign policy. The president also puts forward proposals on how to deal with various problems.

According to the tradition, head of the Government and members of the Ministers Cabinet, ambassadors of foreign countries, heads of courts and institutions accountable to the Seimas, heads of municipalities, cities' and districts' mayors, and other honourable guests are invited to hear the report.

The presidents have been presenting their annual reports since 1993. The annual report was not presented only in 2004 - during a short presidency of Rolandas Paksas who was removed from office through impeachment.

Last year, President Valdas Adamkus read his annual report at the Seimas on April 17.

Statute amendment would accelerate adoption of legislation 7 June 2010

Vilnius, June 7 (ELTA) - An amendment to the Statute of the Seimas, under which the Government would be obliged to present conclusions on the bills on time, was submitted to the Seimas.

Under the amendment to the Statute, registered by Members of the Seimas Vidmantas Ziemelis and Mantas Varaska, if the Government does not provide conclusions on the bills on time (within 4 weeks), it will be considered that the Government approves of the bill. The parliamentarians expect the amendment to accelerate the consideration and adoption of legislation in the Seimas.

"Very often, this term is not met and as a result, the further consideration of the bill is postponed for an indefinite period of time. The introduction of the proposed amendment to the Statute of the Seimas would provide for the timely hearing and adoption of legislation. Moreover, the amendment would oblige the Government to provide necessary conclusions on time," said MPs Ziemelis and Varaska.

Amendment proposes to deprive Paksas of presidential title 7 June 2010

Vilnius, June 4 (ELTA) - It is proposed to deprive the persons who were removed from office following impeachment proceedings, of the title of President of the Republic of Lithuania.

Conservative Saulius Peceliunas registered such amendment at the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings.

The draft project proposes to leave the title of the president only to those persons who carried out their duties by fair means and were not removed from presidency via impeachment.

"Retaining the title as president of the republic of Lithuania for life is a privilege granted by legislature to a person who was elected to this position, who had the nation's confidence and carried out his duties with dignity. Therefore, a person who lost the nation's confidence and was removed from office through impeachment proceedings for violating the Constitution, law, who put personal or group interests above public interests, and discredited the state by his actions cannot be granted such privilege. The state cannot grant such privilege to a person who discredited it," said Peceliunas.

Should Parliament approve of the changes to the law, Leader of the Order and Justice political party, MEP Rolandas Paksas would no longer hold the title of President of the Republic of Lithuania.

On Thursday, the Seimas adopted amendments to the Diplomatic Service Act, allowing Rolandas Paksas to retain his diplomatic passport.

Baltic environment ministers sign new cooperation agreement 7 June 2010

Riga, June 4 (LETA-ELTA) - A new Baltic intergovernmental environmental cooperation agreement was signed during the Baltic Council of Ministers meeting today.

The agreement was signed by Latvian Environment Minister Raimonds Vejonis (Union of Greens and Farmers), Lithuanian Environment Minister Gediminas Kazlauskas and Estonian Environment Minister Jaanus Tamkivi, Kristine Barsevska from the Environment Ministry's Public Information Department told LETA.

It is the umbrella agreement for the trilateral environmental cooperation, covering such areas as sustainable use of natural resources, encouraging sustainable production and consumption, waste management, new environmental protection legislation, utilization of funds for environmental protection as well as green public procurement procedures.

The agreement also deals with cross-border cooperation in the prevention and elimination of environmental pollution, Baltic Sea protection, environmental impact assessment, and others.

Lithuania to consider easing visa rules for Kaliningrad 17 June 2010

Vilnius, May 31 (RIA Novosti-ELTA) - Lithuania may once again consider adding its name to a Russian-Polish request to the European Commission asking for the easing of visa rules for the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the country’s prime minister told RIA Novosti in an interview on Monday.

The European Parliament’s resolution 1931/2006 allows states parties to the Schengen agreement to establish a simplified visa regime for people living in the 30-km (or 50-km) zone from both sides of the external border.

In July 2009, Lithuania, Poland and Russia started preparing a request to the European Union’s main executive body, seeking to extend the resolution to all Kaliningrad Region residents. Lithuania, however, later withdrew from the preparations.

“We will once again consider [joining the request], I think the issue got stuck somewhere on the bureaucratic level. I always speak in favor of easier travel of citizens... It may need some time, but I think the issue will be solved. I’m optimistic about it,” Andrius Kubilius said.

Sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region has no land border with Russia.

Trust in justice starts with competence of district courts 7 June 2010

Vilnius, June 4. (ELTA) - On Friday, President Dalia Grybauskaite sworn in judges: Violeta Kurtkiene became Joniskis District Court Judge, Nerijus Masiulis - Akmene District Court Judge and Judita Sungailaite - Sakiu District Court Judge.

Congratulating the newly appointed judges, the head of the state stressed that the public expected changes in courts and was carefully following them.

"The search for justice usually begins in district courts, therefore, in order to restore public trust in the judiciary system and justice, the competence, professional maturity, moral strength and focus on every specific case and person of district courts' judges is of a great importance," said the president.

According to the head of the state, the right to make decisions on behalf of the state when protecting human rights and freedoms is a very strong obligation, influencing the lives and destinies of certain people. President Dalia Grybauskaite wished the newly appointed judges strength and responsibility in carrying their duties.

A Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2020 3 June 2010

Vilnius Declaration from the Council of the Baltic Sea States

baltic summit

The Heads of Government and other high-level representatives of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the President of the European Commission gathered in Vilnius on 1-2 June 2010 for the 8th Baltic Sea States Summit.

The Summit stated its conviction that the Baltic Sea Region, on the basis of

  1. respect for democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law,
  2. active civil societies,
  3. increasingly integrated and interdependent economies,
  4. developed social dialogue and social cohesion,

has the potential to become one of the most prosperous, innovative and competitive regions in the world, using the strengths of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and other existing Baltic Sea regional cooperation frameworks.

The Summit made a strong political commitment to turn into reality the following Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2020:

The Region has a well-balanced intergovernmental structure for political dialogue and practical cooperation.

The Baltic Sea is regaining its ecological health, with its littoral States playing a leading and exemplary role in dealing with the environmental challenges.

Marked progress has been achieved in fostering investment-friendly economies and innovation driven production.

Using the potential of public-private partnerships and driven by a common understanding, the public sector and the business community take a shared responsibility for sustainable development.

Regional economic growth benefits from an integrated maritime policy and well-interconnected transport networks.

All countries in the Region enjoy the results of integrated energy markets, improved energy efficiency and extended use of clean and renewable energy.

The people of the Region benefit from positive dynamics of socio-economic development, ensuring good public health and social well-being.

The countries of the Region are effectively reducing unemployment, social exclusion and inequality in the labour market.

The Region benefits from advanced regional networks built on active application of information technologies.

The people of the Region are experiencing a steady progress in combating terrorism, in enhancing the protection and resilience of critical infrastructure and in fighting organized crime, especially trafficking in human beings, including children, and in illegal drugs.

A strong regional identity is emerging, fostered by research, education, culture, and the common heritage of the region.

The Region benefits from promotion of tolerance and extended people-to-people contacts.

The Summit expressed its gratitude to Lithuania for its Presidency of the CBSS during 2009-2010, and welcomed Norway as the incoming Presidency for 2010-2011.

The Summit welcomed the invitation from Germany to host the 9th Baltic Sea States Summit in June 2012.
Baltic Sea States Adopt Vilnius Declaration 3 June 2010

On 2 June in Vilnius, Heads of Government of the Baltic Sea States, adopted the key document of the 8th Baltic Sea States Summit – the Vilnius Declaration “A Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2020”.

The document states the conviction that using the strengths of the existing cooperation frameworks and the accumulated experience, the Baltic Sea Region has the potential to become one of the most prosperous, innovative and competitive regions in the world.

Leaders of the region’s countries and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso made a strong political commitment to turn into reality the Vision that is set out in the declaration.

The declaration covers economic, ecological and social aspects of the region’s sustainable development. In the document, commitments are assumed to restore good ecological health of the Baltic Sea, to foster investment-friendly economies and innovation driven production, built on active application of information technologies, to create integrated energy markets and well-interconnected transport networks, effectively reducing unemployment, social exclusion and inequality in the labour market, to ensure region’s social well-being and public security, to form a common regional identity and promote extended people-to-people contacts.

The 8th Baltic Sea States Summit that took place on 1-2 June in Vilnius was the most important and final event of a year-long Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS).

The Summit was attended by President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, Prime Minister of Estonia Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen, Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister of Latvia Valdis Dombrovskis, Prime Minister of Lithuania Andrius Kubilius, Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Viktor Zubkov, Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark Lene Espersen, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Maud Olofsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Radosław Sikorski, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office Werner Hoyer, and the guest of the Summit - Chair of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference Christina Gestrin.

At an informal dinner on 1 June, heads of the delegations focused on a co-ordinated response to the economic challenges in the region. Heads of the delegations stressed exclusive significance of such informal meetings.

On 2 June, the formal session of the 8th Baltic Sea States Summit was held at the National Gallery of Art. President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė welcomed the participants of the Summit. Representative of Finland, Chair of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference Ch.Gestrin also welcomed the participants of the Summit on behalf of the Baltic parliamentarians.

The first part of the session was dedicated to strengthening the role of regional cooperation frameworks (the CBSS, European Union’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and Northern Dimension). The participants of the Summit stressed that the Baltic Sea region had a particularly well-developed network of regional organizations. Now it is the right time to review activities of these frameworks: to define clear priorities for regional cooperation, to aim for better co-ordination, to focus on the specific projects, and to strike the geographical balance in cooperation.

Issues of regional competitiveness, sustainable economic development and energy cooperation were discussed at the second part of the session. The participants of the Summit discussed ways to overcome the consequences of the economic crisis, strengthening the region’s global competitiveness, creating the region’s internal market, the promotion of internal and external investments and creation of new workplaces. The participants of the Summit underlined that an important factor in solving all these problems was further region’s integration.

The Summit extended a mandate for the special Task Force on Organised Crime in the Baltic Sea Region that was established by the region’s Heads of Government. The regional strategy of this task force until 2014 was also approved.

Norway takes over the Presidency of the CBSS from Lithuania on 1 July.

The Baltic Sea States Summit is traditionally held every two years.

Baltic energy independence is a priority for the whole European Union 3 June 2010

President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, who is currently visiting Lithuania.
Topics discussed during the working breakfast included the preparation for the Brussels European Council in June, the economic and financial crisis in the EU, the EU's Strategy 2020, and measures to promote sustainable economic growth in the EU.
Energy independence of the Baltic countries is a priority for Lithuania, the Baltic Sea region and the whole European Union, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.
„Despite the six years of membership in the European Union, the Baltic region is still an energy island. The Baltic countries, and Lithuania in particular, have a higher price to pay for energy resources, especially gas, than other European states. This is because we are still in energy isolation and dependent on a single source," the President of Lithuania said.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė underlined that all Baltic countries, including Lithuania, would seek that financial allocations were provided for in the EU's forthcoming financial perspective for energy projects vital for the region.
"Lithuania and other Baltic countries will seek that energy grids and electricity connections as well as integration of the Baltic region into the European economic area were included in the next financial perspective and among the most important interests of the whole European Union," the President of Lithuania said.

Lithuania to consider easing visa rules for Russia's Kaliningrad 1 June 2010

Vilnius, May 31 (RIA Novosti-ELTA) - Lithuania may once again consider adding its name to a Russian-Polish request to the European Commission asking for the easing of visa rules for the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the country's prime minister told RIA Novosti in an interview on Monday.

The European Parliament's resolution 1931/2006 allows states parties to the Schengen agreement to establish a simplified visa regime for people living in the 30-km (or 50-km) zone from both sides of the external border.

In July 2009, Lithuania, Poland and Russia started preparing a request to the European Union's main executive body, seeking to extend the resolution to all Kaliningrad Region residents. Lithuania, however, later withdrew from the preparations.

"We will once again consider [joining the request], I think the issue got stuck somewhere on the bureaucratic level. I always speak in favor of easier travel of citizens... It may need some time, but I think the issue will be solved. I'm optimistic about it," Andrius Kubilius said.

Sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad Region has no land border with Russia.

Ažubalis meets with NATO ambassadors 31 May 2010

On 28 May in Vilnius, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis met with ambassadors of NATO countries, who reside in Lithuania. The meeting focused on the issues of international security and foreign policy, regional issues and relations with neighbouring countries.

When discussing the preparation of NATO’s new Strategic Concept, Foreign Minister stressed that after the Group of Experts presented the recommendations to NATO’s Secretary General on May 17, the preparation of the Concept moved into another stage, in which the process should remain fairly open. Member countries have to be guaranteed all possibilities to make suggestions regarding the Strategic Concept that is being prepared.

Maintaining the Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty as the key element of the Alliance remains to be Lithuania’s main priority.

It was stated that NATO’s open door policy would have to be continued. The Minister reiterated support for the decisions on the organization’s enlargement that were made at the Bucharest Summit.

The Minister informed ambassadors about the decision of the Government of Lithuania to set up a National Energy Security Centre in Vilnius starting from 1 January 2011.

According to Minister A.Ažubalis, NATO should play an appropriate role in the field of energy security. Therefore, the National Energy Security Centre will seek the status of a NATO accredited Centre of Excellence.

The Minister informed ambassadors about Lithuania’s effort in Afghanistan and highlighted that Lithuania’s commitments in this field remained unchanged.

Minister A.Ažubalis also thanked the allies for their participation in the NATO air police mission in the Baltic States.

Nordic and Baltic countries willing to strengthen cooperation with US - Degutienė 31 May 2010

Vilnius/Washington, May 28 (ELTA) - Lithuania and the United States are united by a historic fight for the freedom of their countries and their people, and Tadas Kosciuska, who also fought in the U.S. wars for independence, could be the symbol of this fight, Lithuanian Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene said at the meeting of the chairmen of the Nordic and Baltic countries with Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

Delivering a speech at this meeting, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Irena Degutiene, who is currently on a visit to the United States, warmly thanked Nancy Pelosi for the meeting on behalf of all the chairman of the Baltic and Nordic countries.

"We appreciate this meeting not only as a political necessity, but also as a sign of our similar historical experience and staying together. You, North America, were and are the leader in the fight for democracy and justice, and we, the Nordic and Baltic countries also repeatedly defended the freedom and democracy in our region - the values that are understood and nurtured on both sides of the Atlantic," said Degutiene.

According to the head of the Lithuania Seimas, over the past twenty years, the Nordic and Baltic countries have become a closely integrated community that can be characterized as a democratic, secure and stable, innovative region, implementing initiatives in the international politics, economy and social areas.

"What's more, the Nordic and Baltic countries today are like a family, which, in spite of the different memberships in the EU and NATO is increasingly characterized by close coordination of foreign and security policy, the common assession of the challenges in security and foreign policy," said Degutiene.

The Seimas speaker pointed out that our country was willing to develop innovative technologies with the United States, because there were 35 million educated, hardworking and creative citizens living in the Nordic and Baltic countries.

The head of the Lithuanian Parliament noted that those chairmen who were visiting the United States wanted to solve the energy security issues and the puzzles of the Arctic region together with the United States.

At the end of the meeting, that was 20 minutes longer than planned, Irena Degutiene presented Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi with an amber bracelet and invited her to visit Lithuania at a convenient time.

Large countries should not make deals at the expense of small countries - Degutienė 31 May 2010

Vilnius/Washington, May 27 (ELTA) - The major countries should not make deals among themselves at the expense of such small countries as Lithuania, noted Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene during the discussion of the parliament speakers of the Nordic and Baltic States "Strengthening of U.S., Nordic and Baltic Partnership: Parliamentary Prospects" in Washington on Wednesday.

The Seimas speaker, currently on a visit to the U.S., emphasised that Lithuania supported the search for new relations with Russia in general, but it was not ready to give up its own interests for that.

"Although the Nordic and Baltic states are gradually becoming more and more integrated region, yet everyone of us has our own understanding of security problems. First, it concerns relations with Russia," Degutiene said. "I want to stress at once that Lithuania supports the initiative of "reloading" relations between the U.S. and Russia as part of Russia's modernisation process."

Degutiene raised a question whether the concept of modernisation was understood by everybody in the same way as it was often used to describe relations with Russia.

"However, do we understand the process of modernisation in the same way? I'm asking about us, the Nordic and the Baltic states, Russia itself, and America. As I see it, Russia takes part in the modernisation process, but does it undertake commitments? Maybe Russia's understanding of modernisation only means the use of the word to promote innovations and improve their economy, but Russia has not changed in terms of a traditional geopolitics view. We speak about deeper modernisation, including structural political reforms, the implementation of the principle of the rule of law, the development of civil society. In other words, it encompasses everything to make sure that Russia follow the same democratic path as all West European countries and the same path chosen by the Baltic state," Seimas Speaker Degutiene said.

The Seimas speaker also noted that the major countries should not forget the interests of smaller countries such as Lithuania because everyone had equal rights and obligations to democracy.

On Thursday, Degutiene will attend the meeting of the Nordic and Baltic parliament speakers with Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Howard L. Berman, the leadership of the International Republican Institute, and other high US officials. Degutiene will also visit Baltimore and meet with the local Lithuanian community.

Candidate for prosecutor general decent and honest - President 31 May 2010

Vilnius, May 26 (ELTA) - By choosing candidates for the prosecutor general position, this time President Dalia Grybauskaite preferred moral qualities to professional ones. The head of the state is convinced that the candidate to assume the position as Prosecutor General Darius Valys is an honest and decent man, and in the light of the current situation, such people are especially needed.

"The experience is not defined in term of the number of subordinates (in Akmene, Valys had 4 or 6 subordinates). As far as I know, he is a decent and honest man, and in the light of the current situation in the system, these are very important traits," the head of the state told the journalists when asked what led to the choice of this candidacy.

The president said it was good that the parliamentarians knew little about Valys.

"Maybe it is better that they do not know much, because it means they have less interests, (&), the person will be objective and will look at the situation objectively and will not be affected by any interest groups," said the president.

Kubilius to visit Middle East in autumn 31 May 2010

Vilnius, May 25 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius' visit to the Middle East has been postponed until autumn.

Kubilius' visit to Doha, the capital of Qatar, was scheduled for May 24-27. Chancellor of the Government Deividas Matulionis reported that the visit would not take place as planned because of arrangement problems.

"The visit will not take place because of logistical problems," Matulionis told ELTA on Tuesday.

The chancellor of the Government stated that the prime minister did not abandon his plans to visit the Middle East and would most likely go there in autumn.

The media reported that the prime minister discussed his possible visit to the Middle East with Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Khulaifi, the new ambassador of the State of Qatar to Lithuania. The diplomat, who resides in Berlin, came to Lithuania to present his credentials to President Dalia Grybauskaite.

The visit was expected to focus on economic, trade, investment and energy issues. The list of the delegation also included Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas. According to unverified information, Kubilius might have also visited another country of the region, Oman.

Kubilius' working visit would have been the first visit of Lithuanian leaders to this rich Persian Gulf state.

Lithuania prepares for EU presidency 31 May 2010

Vilnius, May 25 (ELTA) - The Seimas requests the Cabinet to submit guidelines on Lithuania's preparation for presiding over the Council of the European Union (EU) in 2013 by 11 June this year. The guidelines are supposed to include clearly defined essential principles and provisions for Lithuania's further preparation and presidency over the EU Council in the second half-year of 2013.

On Tuesday, the Seimas approved the provisions by adopting a resolution on the preparation of the Republic of Lithuania to preside over the Council of the European Union in July 1 - December 31 of 2013. The resolution was favoured by 74 MPs, 3 MPs voted against it and 3 MPs abstained from voting.

In the resolution, the Cabinet is asked to submit an updated action plan of Lithuania's preparation for the EU Presidency in 2013 by November 15. The action plan is expected to present details on the implementation of the provisions laid down in the guidelines on Lithuania's preparation for presiding over the EU in 2013.

Proposals related to the goals, priorities and measures to be taken by Lithuania during its EU Presidency are accepted until 31 March 2011.

Azubalis highlights efforts to ensure success of Eastern Partnership Initiative 31 May 2010

Vilnius, May 25 (ELTA) - Lithuania will remain an active participant of the European Union's Eastern Partnership initiative and will make every effort to ensure its successful implementation, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Azubalis said at the Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers' Informal Meeting on 24 May in Sopot, Poland, informs Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The minister also stressed that the initiative provided a new impetus to the relations between the EU and its neighbours in the East. According to the Minister, it was necessary to move towards the implementation of specific partnership projects more promptly.

The meeting on the subject of implementation of the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative was held at the initiative of Polish Foreign Minister RadosBaw Sikorski and Foreign Minister of the current Spanish EU Presidency Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Discussions on the future of the Eastern Partnership were attended by many foreign ministers and other high-ranking officials from the EU member states, also by European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, foreign ministers and vice-ministers from the six countries of the initiative: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

A trilateral meeting of the Lithuanian, Belarusian and Ukrainian foreign ministers was held in Sopot. During the meeting, Ministers Azubalis, Sergei Martynov and Kostyantyn Gryshchenko briefly discussed the Eastern Partnership cooperation in the areas of transport, energy and cultural heritage, they also agreed on specific forms of cooperation.

The next trilateral meeting of the Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Belarusian foreign ministers is scheduled for September in Minsk.

The EU's Eastern Partnership is the first initiative of the European Union's external relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The initiative is designed to promote and help the neighbouring countries in implementing reforms, thus intensifying their relations and possible approximation to the EU.

Degutiene to visit Georgia and US 21 May 2010

Vilnius, May 21 (ELTA) - On May 23-29, Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene will pay official visits to Georgia and the United States.

On the eve of Georgia's Independence Day in Tbilisi, the Seimas speaker will meet with the country's highest officials to discuss strategic security issues, the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus region, issues and prospects of bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and Georgia, the EU's Eastern Partnership Initiative.

"Soon I will be congratulating Georgia who has always supported Lithuania in its fight for freedom and with whom we have always been close in our difficult road of independence. This is not an easy road; it is marked by stumbles and wrong ways. The most important thing is to correct the mistakes. I am convinced that only a professional, consistent and peaceful reform will help Georgia to become a strong and attractive country for business and tourists, and will bring this country closer to the European Union," Degutiene said.

In Georgia, the Seimas speaker will be accompanied by Emanuelis Zingeris, head of the Seimas' Committee on Foreign Affairs, and MP Gediminas Kirkilas.

After the visit in Georgia, Seimas Speaker Degutiene and Zingeris will leave for Washington.

On May 25-29, the Seimas speaker and the MPs will attend the meeting of the Nordic and Baltic speakers of the parliaments with Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Howard L. Berman, the International Republican Institute's heads, and other senior US officials. Degutiene will also meet with the Lithuanian community in Baltimore.

A few Social Democrat MPs also approve Government's performance report 22 May 2010

Vilnius, May 21 (ELTA) - On Friday, the Seimas adopted a resolution on approving the Government's performance report for 2009. The Parliament also recommended the Government to consider the comments of parliamentary committees in its further work.

The resolution made by a drafting commission was favoured by 64 MPs, 26 MPs voted against it and 20 MPs abstained from voting.

The document was supported by all the members of the ruling coalition, some non-affiliated Seimas' members and several members of the parliamentary group of the Lithuanian Social Democrats. All parliamentary groups in the opposition voted against the resolution.

The Government is obliged to submit its annual performance report each year. The report should also discuss the short-term priorities of the Cabinet's activities.

After the presentation, the Government's performance report is deliberated by parliamentary committees and debated in a special Seimas' discussion after which the Seimas may adopt a resolution which, though, has no legal significance.

Impeachment launched against Sacharukas and Karalius 22 May 2010

Vilnius, May 20 (ELTA) - The Seimas approved the findings of the investigation commissions and proposed a launch of impeachment proceedings against Members of the Seimas Linas Karalius and Aleksandras Sacharukas.

80 MPs voted for the draft resolution, 12 MPs against and 20 MPs abstained.

The impeachment commissions determined that the two parliamentarians broke the oath of Seimas members and seriously violated the Constitution.

Under the Statute of the Seimas, the parliament will have to address the Constitutional Court on the conclusion whether the concrete actions of a person against whom the impeachment proceedings were launched, violated the Constitution.

Chairman of the commission, Deputy Chairman of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) political group Kestutis Masiulis says that the draft resolution upon the appeal to the Constitutional Court will be submitted to the Seimas in the short run. However, the politician is not sure whether there will be enough votes to recall mandates from the two MPs.

"I see that now over 70 members of the Seimas voted in favour of the conclusions, however, it is not 90 or 85. If we had to decide according to the present voting and the voting would have been secret, the mandates would not have been recalled," said Masiulis.

He expected the fate of Karalius and Sacharukas to be decided by the end of the spring session.

Lithuania reaffirms defence commitments to Georgia - Jukneviciene 21 May 2010

Vilnius, May 20 (ELTA) - On Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Rasa Jukneviciene met with Foreign Minister of Georgia Grigol Vashadze on official visit in Lithuania, the press service of the National Defence Ministry reports.

In the meeting at the Ministry of National Defence Jukneviciene reaffirmed Lithuania's support to the Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations and territorial integrity, thanked Foreign Affairs Minister Vashadze for the military contribution of Georgia in Afghanistan and to the Lithuanian-led PRT where a Georgian military medic serves since 2007. Vashadze informed that Georgia will deploy another military medic to the Chaghcharan Hospital in 2011 and will cover all the costs of sustaining two military medics in the mission.

Minister Jukneviciene encouraged Georgia to continue democratic reforms underway and emphasized that the upcoming municipal elections would be an exam of democracy that Georgia would have to pass.

Lithuanian Minister said that in defence section Lithuania will continue with its commitment of financing studies of Georgian military in Gen. Jonas Zemaitis Lithuanian Military Academy (Vilnius) and the Baltic Defence College (Tartu), consulting Georgia on public relations points, and will participate actively in NATO and Georgia's professional training programme.

Vashadze comprehensively represented the country's economical situation, which he characterised as stable and giving hope of reaching economical level of 2008 by the following year. He highlighted that municipal elections to take place in Georgia next weekend will proceed in line with all the international requirements and efforts will be put to hold the elections according to criteria of free and democratic elections.

The Lithuanian Defence Minister and the Georgian Foreign Minister meet for a second time, their first meeting took place in November last year in Vilnius.

On May 19 Ministers Jukneviciene and Vashadze and other high-ranking officials took part in a round-table discussion on the activity on the Vilnius Ten (V10).

Before ten years in May Vilnius hosted the first meeting of foreign ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, countries aspiring to NATO membership. The meeting representatives agreed to develop unanimous cooperation to the end of Euro-Atlantic integration. Later the group was joined by Croatia and known as the V10.

Rekerta to head VTEK 22 May 2010

Vilnius, May 20 (ELTA) - Remigijus Rekerta has been appointed as chairman of the Chief Official Ethics Commission (VTEK).

In a secret vote on Thursday, Rekerta's candidature was favoured by 53 MPs and disapproved by 15 MPs.

On March 18, the Seimas adopted a resolution on Rekerta's appointment VTEK member. His candidature was proposed by Chairman of the Supreme Court Gintaras Kryzevicius.

In 2001-2008, Remigijus Rekerta studied at Vilnius Mykolas Romeris University and obtained Master's degree in law. He worked as the senior VTEK specialist in 2004-2007. Rekerta has been the head of the VTEK Prevention Division since 2007.

First step towards impeachment of Sacharukas and Karalius 18 May 2010

Vilnius, May 18 (ELTA) - MPs have approved the findings of the Seimas ad hoc commissions that propose initiating impeachment proceedings against MPs Aleksandras Sacharukas and Linas Karalius.

The draft resolution on Sacharukas was supported by 81 MPs, 12 MPs voted against and 23 abstained.

Another draft resolution on Karalius' actions was favoured by 73 MPs, 9 MPs were against and 18 MPs abstained.

The "impeachment" commissions determined that Sacharukas and Karalius breached their oaths and grossly violated the Constitution.

According to the Commissions' Chairman Kestutis Masiulis, the Seimas ad hoc commission concluded that MP Sacharukas voted for absent Karalius for 11 times intentionally. The commission also found out that since September 2009, Sacharukas voted 55 times from the seats of other members of the Seimas.

According to Masiulis, the commission did not receive any evidence that Karalius gave his MP certificate to Sacharukas deliberately.

The commission determined that while on his private trip, Linas Karalius was using his diplomatic passport, thus discrediting the authority of the Seimas and the state.

By a majority vote, the MPs who attend the sitting will decide whether to institute impeachment proceedings and appeal to the Constitutional Court for a conclusion. Impeachment proceedings in the Seimas continue only upon coming into effect of the conclusion of the Constitutional Court whether concrete actions of the person against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution. The resolution on the removal from office of the person (or deprivation of his MP mandate) is adopted with the approval of at least 85 MPs in a secret vote.

New strategic concept for NATO 18 May 2010

Vilnius, May 18 (ELTA) - Lithuania welcomes the recommendations on new Strategic Concept for NATO, which were presented by the Group of Experts appointed by NATO Secretary General and led by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the North Atlantic Council on 17 May in Brussels, the press service of the National Defence Ministry reports.

In the document "NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement", the Group of Experts presents recommendations that were prepared following seminars and consultations with governmental and non-governmental organizations, scientists and officials from the Alliance's member states and partner countries, and the most important issues are widely discussed.

The recommendations reflect Lithuania's fundamental interests. The main objectives of the Alliance - the collective defence, deterrence policy, and others - are considered to be unchangeable. Emphasis is placed on the need to ensure that the Alliance is really prepared to face security challenges.

Based on these recommendations, NATO's Secretary General should develop the initial draft of NATO's new Strategic Concept and pass it on to the member countries to discuss it early this autumn. The document is expected to be adopted at the Alliance's next summit in November 2010.

Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Azubalis presented Lithuania's position on new Strategic Concept for NATO to representatives from the Group of Experts on 24 March. The position was also presented when Lithuanian representatives participated in strategic seminars and bilateral meetings.

Lithuania aims to maintain the Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty with the clause of collective defence as the key element of NATO's new Strategic Concept, and to make NATO more visible in the member states when organizing exercises and training, and developing the infrastructure. The significance of the U.S. nuclear presence in Europe should be highlighted as one of the most important elements of the Alliance's policy of deterrence.

The door of the Alliance has to remain always open to European countries that aspire to become members and meet the membership criteria. We must aim to have the NATO-Russia relations based on values, instigation of trust and fulfilment of international commitments. We must also aim to establish new mechanisms and tools to combat new threats, first and foremost, in the areas of energy security and cyber defence.

NATO's Strategic Concept is the key document for the Alliance's activities. The Strategic Concept outlines NATO's purpose and its tasks, evaluates the strategic security environment and the perspective of changes, as well as provides guidelines for further adaptation of the Alliance's military forces. At the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit in 2009, NATO leaders decided to prepare the new NATO's Strategic Concept, which is expected to be adopted at the next summit meeting in autumn 2010. The current Strategic Concept was issued in 1999.

USS Vicksburg Partners With Lithuania 18 May 2010

USS Vicksburg

Text: Ensign Marc D. Schron

Sailors aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) visited Klaipėda, Lithuania in May for a three-day theatre security cooperation (TSC) port visit.

Sailors took part in various events including community relations (COMREL) projects, school tours, sporting events and multiple receptions hosted both aboard Vicksburg and by the Lithuanian Navy.

Distinguished guests included various officials from the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence and Lithuanian Navy.

Melnrage Municipality was the centew of COMREL efforts, where Sailors cleaned five kilometres of beachfront, dug out 15 beach accesses, cleared playgrounds and removed cement debris.

Following the clean-up, the Lithuanian and US navies partnered to host a barbeque at the nearby Palanga radar station.

Crewmembers on Vicksburg's basketball and soccer teams also participated in games against Lithuanian Navy teams.

The events are part of a scheduled U.S. 6th Fleet TSC port visit, focused on promoting maritime safety and security through strengthened relationships with partner nations.
Government decides on reformation of energy sector 18 May 2010

The Lithuanian energy sector will be divided into several blocks that will be managed by the state through designated boards and supervisory councils, Arvydas Sekmokas, Energy Minister announced recently.

It is planned to separate electricity generation, transmission and distribution activities. Companies providing services for the energy sector will make up a separate group.

According to Sekmokas, a company - Lithuanian Distribution Networks - will be formed by joining Eastern Distribution Networks and VST.

Transmission system operator Litgrid, will be separated from Lietuvos Energija, and BaltPool will run electricity transmission.

Lietuvos Energija will deal with the production of electricity.

Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant will continue taking care of the construction of the new nuclear plant in Lithuania.

According to Sekmokas, all the reformations are expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

Lithuania expects support on dumped chemical weapons 17 May 2010

Lithuania expects support of foreign countries for its initiative to promote the cooperation of international community on the issues of dumped chemical weapons.

On 14 May at Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign diplomat, who reside in Lithuania were acquainted with Lithuania’s plans to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly this autumn.

Political Director of Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Eitvydas Bajarūnas, who attended the event, stressed that the topic was important not only to the Baltic Sea states, but also to other countries.

Political Director E.Bajarūnas said that over the past few years Lithuania had consistently aimed to ensure that the issues of dumped chemical weapons should receive international community’s attention. Conferences and seminars were organized at Lithuania’s initiative.

This topic was also presented at the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to the European Union and during bilateral meetings.

In Vilnius, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the OPCW Vaidotas Verba presented to foreign diplomats the UN resolution and Lithuania’s contribution to the solution of this issue.
According to the Ambassador, the resolution will urge on the countries to exchange available information on the location and state of sea-dumped chemical weapons, to inform the public about the threats caused by these weapons, to prepare guidelines for behaviour if unexpectedly encountered with sea-dumped chemical weapons, and to organize seminars and conferences on this issue.

V.Verba said that the UN resolution could become a major tool for ensuring constant attention of the international community to the issue of dumped chemical weapons. This would be Lithuania’s first resolution, submitted to the UN.

Representatives of the countries were assured that Lithuania did not suggest discussing the issues of clearing and destroying chemical weapons.

Lithuanian and Latvian Prime Ministers meet to finetune positions for upcoming international meetings 17 May 2010

Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis met for a working lunch to discuss bilateral relations, ongoing and planned energy projects as well as to share the latest information on preparations for the Baltic Sea States Summit to be held on June 1-2 in Vilnius.

The counterparts have also exchanged the latest information about the Baltic energy market interconnection plan (BEMIP), a meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers to be held in Riga in September, as well as other issues of mutual relevance.

The Prime Ministers focused on regional energy security. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius briefed his Latvian counterpart about the new concept developed in Lithuania as regards a new energy security centre which has gained a considerable public interest.

"Since one of the priority issues in the government program is energy, the Lithuanian Government has decided to set up an energy security centre which will seek the status of NATO Centre of Excellence .We hope that this centre will make use of Lithuanian experience and incorporate the expertise of other countries on energy security. We would appreciate Latvian support with respect to this idea," said Prime Minister Kubilius.

Both Prime Ministers have expressed their delight at Estonia’s success with the Euro. The counterparts pointed out that it opens the way for Latvia and Lithuania to deny speculation that the financial crisis in Southern Europe is holding back the development of the euro area. Valdis Dombrovkis noted that the decision on Estonia's accession to the Euro club still must be endorsed by the European Council. In his view it is necessary to organize support for neighbouring Estonia. Andrius Kubilius agreed adding that the Estonian model motivates Latvians and Lithuanians to put more effort into the work leading to the invitation to join the euro zone.

Prime Minister Kubilius shared his impressions of the recent meetings with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, US President Barak Obama and US Secretary Hilary Clinton. The Latvian Prime Minister briefed the Lithuanian Prime Minister on the meeting between the President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers and Vladimir Putin.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Kubilius finished the meeting by joking that he hoped that despite the Latvian Basketball Championship to be held on 1-2 June in Latvia (with one game in the picturesque and hospitable town Panevėžys), that Latvia will still be able to make it for the Baltic Sea States Summit in Vilnius.

Economic cooperation with China discussed 17 May 2010

President Dalia Grybauskaitė received a delegation led by the Minister of Commerce Chen Deming of the People's Republic of China. The meeting centred around bilateral relations between Lithuania and China and possibilities to expand their economic cooperation and cultural ties.
The President underlined in the meeting that the visit by China's Vice Premier Hui Liangyu last August and the present visit by the Minister of Commerce were a sign of increasingly close economic relations between Lithuania and China. President Grybauskaitė plans to go to China this coming Autumn to visit the international exposition EXPO2010 in Shanghai.
"Lithuania seeks close cooperation with China in the field of the development of transport and logistics infrastructure. Our geographical location is very favourable in this respect as we have a deep-sea port of Klaipėda and a number of well-developed logistic centres. Chinese freight transport companies could benefit from the strategically well-located transport and logistic potential of Lithuania," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.

According to the President, a more dynamic Lithuanian-Chinese dialogue should be promoted in the context of Asia-Europe Meetings of Transport Ministers. The President and the Minister also exchanged views on possibilities to promote bilateral investment.

New deputy auditor general sworn in 17 May 2010

Vilnius, May 14 (ELTA) - Upon having taken an oath of office administered by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Arunas Keraminas was appointed new Deputy Auditor General as of May 14.

Arunas Keraminas will be responsible for the coordination of the activities of Audit Department 7 and 8, supervising the use of the EU funds in Lithuania, the activities of Legal Department, Property Management Department and Information Division.

Previously, Arunas Keraminas served as Chief Adviser of the Ministry of Economy. He was responsible for the areas of EU structural assistance management, innovation and investment, strategic planning. In the new position, he will replace Tomas Mackevicius, who will join the European Court of Auditors.

35-yearl old Keraminas is a graduate of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, and has a diploma of Industrial Engineer and Master's Degree in Management.

Government saved LTL23 million last year 17 May 2010

Vilnius, May 17 (ELTA) - Last year the Government halved its costs for representation, transportation, business trips, thus saving LTL23 million (€6.56 million).

The Government reduced its representation costs significantly - last year, the Government spent 57% less money for representation, as compared to the year 2008, and thus saved LTL10 million (€2.85 million). Also, LTL10 million was saved by reducing costs for business trips by 49%, and another LTL3 million (€0.85 million) by reducing transportation costs.

The Ministry of Justice reduced its costs by 90%, the Ministry of Interior by 87%, and the Ministry of National Defence by 81%.

By cutting representation costs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saved LTL4.9 million (the ministry spent 54% less money on representation as compared to 2008), Prime Minister's Office saved LTL1.1 million (it spent 63% less), and the Ministry of National Defence - LTL0.9 million (€0.25 million euros).

The Prime Minister's Office cut its business trip expenses by 70%, the Ministry of National Defence by 67%, the Ministry of Culture by 63%. By cutting costs on business trips, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saved most LTL4.4 million (€1.25 million), the Ministry of National Defence LTL1.2 million litas (€0.34 million), Prime Minister's Office - LTL0.7 million (€0.19 million).

The Ministry of Finance reduced its transportation costs by 65.5%, the Ministry of Transport by 63%, the Ministry of Justice 58%. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs saved LTL1.5 million (€0.42 million), the Ministry of Agriculture LTL0.5 million (€0.14 million), Prime Minister's Office LTL0.3 million (€0.085 million).

World Economic Forum points to Lithuania as example 12 May 2010

Vilnius, May 12 (ELTA) - President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite participated, for the first time, in the working session "Implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy: Key Next Steps" organized by the World Economic Forum, organizer of the Davos Forum. The President and other European leaders discussed measures to be taken to promote economic recovery and ensure sustainable growth in the EU, informs press service of the president.

President Dalia Grybauskaite underlined that the whole world, including Europe, must decide now which way to go, what kind of economic stabilization instruments to use and for how long.

The fact that actions taken by Lithuania are interesting to other countries signifies that Lithuania's experience might be helpful to others who look for solutions to their own problems.
According to the president, the European Union must take more resolute actions and demonstrate solidarity and responsibility not only when it comes to emerging from the crisis but also when it comes to projecting the future until 2020.

"The Forum focused on the problems Europe faces, but this is not enough. These problems are international, global, whereas solutions, unfortunately, are national, taken on the level of individual states. This is not enough anymore. Europe must stand united, adopt a common policy, coordinate actions and look for common solutions. Even more - international organizations, too, need reforms and global solutions. I therefore urged Europe to talk less about problems but instead solve them as fast as it can and take concrete solutions that could be beneficial not only to individual countries but also to the whole Europe and the entire world," President Grybauskaite said.

In the after-lunch session on nuclear energy and higher capacities, the president of Lithuania underlined that the economic growth in Europe was hampered by uneven development of infrastructure, especially in the field of energy. The development of both electricity connections and generation capacities is therefore a must.

According to the president, the new nuclear power plant will play a crucial role in the Baltic region as it will ensure reliable supply of clean energy in the region, making use of the experience gathered so far and of the existing potential.

Lithuania needs the experience of émigré communities 12 May 2010

President Dalia Grybauskaitė started her visit to Ireland by meeting with representatives of local émigré communities and organizations. At the present moment the Lithuanian Association in Ireland unites nearly 90 000 members.

The meeting with the President at the Lithuanian Embassy in Dublin gathered many Lithuanians living in Ireland. Most of them wanted to know how the global economic and financial crisis affected Lithuania, Ireland and the whole of Europe. They also spoke about the issues of concern to the Lithuanian diaspora: Lithuanian schools, Lithuanian language teaching and citizenship.

President Grybauskaitė pointed out that leaving Lithuania or coming back home was a question of personal choice. "Ireland - the country you decided to live in - and its people are friendly to Lithuanians. Still I wish you to be always proud of Lithuania and to never forget that you are Lithuanian, wherever you might be," the President said.

Dalia Grybauskaitė also underlined the importance of keeping Lithuanian schools and preserving the Lithuanian language. She urged members of the Lithuanian community in Ireland to avail themselves more of distance education at the Vilnius Ozas Secondary School and to use special repatriate student baskets for studies in Lithuania.

The President encouraged the Lithuanian community in Ireland to keep up their active stance and to seek education and professional skills.

"Lithuania greatly needs your experience, skills and your ability to work hard. Lithuania is too small to waste its greatest national resource: the people. I hope that you find the best way to use your knowledge for the good of your homeland," the President said.

Tallinn-Warsaw train connection may become reality 12 May 2010

Tallinn, May 11 (LETA-ELTA) - Estonian Economy and Communications Minister Juhan Parts had a meeting on Tuesday with Rail Baltica European Union coordinator Pavel Telicka and they stated that it is possible to launch the Tallinn-Warsaw passenger train connection in the coming years, the ministry said.

Parts said that this requires cooperation and will between the three Baltic states and the European Commission.

Parts introduced to Telicka a proposal to focus on the railway connection implementation project so that passenger train transport could be launched on the existing infrastructure in the coming years.

Parts stressed that it must be possible to travel by train from Tallinn to Warsaw in a reasonable time and that the Estonian state has invested in it already and will invest in the future.

Parts said that a common initiative is needed so that passenger transport wouldn't get stuck in the web of bureaucratic and technical obstacles.

Telicka said that the topic will be raised at the next pan-European transport networks conference in June.

The Estonian state invests in 2008-2011 together with EU support nearly 1.3 bln kroons in Rail Baltica.

IMF's proposal to tax pension is unacceptable- Razma 12 May 2010

Vilnius, May 10 (ELTA) - Responding to the proposal of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to impose tax on pensions, Elder of the Seimas Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) political group Jurgis Razma claims that such a proposal is unacceptable and is not even under discussion.

"For those who have condemned the Government for not applying to the International Monetary Fund for financial help, the TMF's proposal to tax pensions is a good example of what the TMF's requirements could have been, should Lithuania asked for help," said Razma.

According to the TS-LKD chairman, the financial situation of pensioners is complicated, therefore, the proposals to impose tax on pensions are not fair. Moreover, a pension is an insurance benefit, thus, it cannot be taxed as citizens' income.

Russia ignores Lithuanian interest in planned Kaliningrad Nuclear Power Plant 12 May 2010

Vilnius, May 7 (ELTA) - Lithuania is not very successful at communicating with Russia that is planning to construct a nuclear power plant in Kaliningrad region. Only with the intervention f diplomatic services Lithuania managed to get the documents related to the construction of this nuclear power plant that Lithuanian Ministry of Environment was interested in.

"The cooperation is taking place via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because the Russian Federation has not been providing any information to Lithuania for some time. Only after a few diplomatic notes we received that information," said Head of the Pollution Prevention Department at the Ministry of Environment Vitalijus Auglys.

According to him, upon receiving the information of interest to it, Lithuania formulated 25 questions, but it has not received the answers yet.

"We have no answers today," said Auglys.

On Friday, the Ministry of Environment also announced that Lithuania officially opposed the plans of Belarus to construct a nuclear power plant about 50 kilometres from Vilnius.

Senator McCain: „Baltic Countries Have Always Had a Special Place in My Heart“ 12 May 2010

Sergejus Muravjovas

• Senator McCain (centre) with MP E. Zingeris (left) and PM Kubilius.

Lithuania and the United States are strategic partners; Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Republican Senator and an old friend of Lithuania John McCain both agreed on that point during their Thursday meeting in Washington.

The leader of the Republican Party thanked Lithuania for the committed participation of its peacekeepers in the multinational mission in Afghanistan. In the senator’s opinion, there is going to be a decisive phase of battle against the Taliban fighters which is necessary to win. "Please send my thanks to those young and brave Lithuanian soldiers who are fighting for democratic values in Afghanistan”, J. McCain said during the meeting.

The senator raised the issue regarding recent changes in Belarus and Russia. To his mind, both Belarus and Russia are taking certain steps to begin a much closer dialogue with the United States. Prime Minister Kubilius agreed confirming that the last time he contacted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Belarus it was obvious that their tone became milder vis-à-vis Central European countries, as both countries were eager opening up their economies for cooperation with the West. Still, as both interlocutors noted, that Russia’s attitude towards democratic developments in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan remained unchanged. Therefore, both politicians underlined the need for promotion and encouragement of the manifestations of the new approach as well as for the support for the democratic forces in the ongoing processes.

At the end of the meeting, Senator J. McCain said that the Baltic countries have always had a special place in his heart, and he had never recognized the occupation of the Baltic States and had always been an ardent believer that our countries would one day regain freedom, and was so pleased when it came true. “You are a free society with competitive economy and culture”, said the senior Republican Senator.

John McCain participated in the Vietnam War, was badly injured and captured by the Vietnamese, and spent six years in the captivity. Since 1986 McCain has been winning re-election to the Senate from Arizona. In the US presidential elections the Republican nominee McCain lost to George W. Bush; in 2008 he secured the Republican nomination but lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election.

Prime Minister Kubilius is on a five working days’ working visit to the United States, the major objective of the visit is search for investments into Lithuania’s high-tech sector, but the Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet with high-ranking state officials. On Thursday afternoon Lithuanian time the Prime Minister is to meet with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Seimas to discuss annual Government performance report 12 May 2010

Vilnius, May 11 (ELTA) - On Tuesday, the Seimas will consider the annual Government performance report 2009.

Three Seimas oppositional political groups - the Social Democrats, the Labour Party and the Order and Justice political group - propose not to approve of the annual Government performance report 2009.

Elders of the said political groups Algirdas Butkevicius, Valentinas Mazuronis and Vytautas Gapsys registered such draft resolution at the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings. They point out that "the real situation of Lithuanian economic, financial, social, judicial and other key areas is biased and there are no realistic solutions proposed to solve the complex problems".
Meanwhile, the conservatives, liberals and liberal centrists propose to approve of the report.

In their draft resolution they point out "the Government's efforts to simplify the conditions of companies' restructure and labour market, improve the business environment, and reform the tax administration procedures and other ways to reduce business risks and administrative burden to the business and investment".

The ruling also emphasize the Government's reforms implemented in the areas of health and education, as well as improvement of the state management model.

Kubilius to visit US again in May 28 April 2010

A Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius-led delegation is going on a working visit to the United States of America on 4-9 May.

Apart from meetings with US high-tech company managers, theacademic community and politicians, the leader of the Lithuanian Government will open the 2010 US-Baltic Hi-Tech Forum on 6 May in Washington by making a presentation on Lithuania's IT achievements.

The two-day forum is expected to bring new HI-Tech cooperation opportunities to both the organizers as well as the participants (Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian and US companies and business leaders)

"Vibrant economic cooperation as it is between Lithuania and the USA, I believe there is still much space for further development of bilateral economic relations and mutual interests. We would encourage US investment and closer cooperation on renewable energy, innovation, research and development, nanotechnology, biotechnology, as well as service sectors.

"The Lithuanian Government has done its utmost in attracting foreign investment, granting exclusive priority to technology and high added value projects. We are prepared to provide investors with exclusively competitive conditions, and grant special incentives tailored to individual foreign investors. Lithuania can certainly offer more than you think," said the Prime Minister ahead of the visit.

The delegation will participate in open European day events arranged by the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington DC on 8 May. The Embassy has been involved in the European Union's Open House program. One of the themes is modern green technologies.

The Prime Minister is expected to talk to visitors and distinguished guests not only about the picturesque and green landscape of Lithuania, but also about modern and clean technologies and Lithuanian business achievements in the field of lasers. Together with the head of the European delegation in the US and the Spanish Ambassador, the Lithuanian Prime Minister will plant a tree.

In Boston, meetings have been scheduled with Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, Ted Kelly, CEO of the Liberty Mutual Group, owners and managers of EMC and Bain Capital Partners. Prime Minister Kubilius will give a lecture on the achievements of Lithuania at the Massachusetts University of Technology, and meet with the university\'s president Susan Hockfield and teaching professors.

Other official meetings in Washington and New York are still under arrangement. It has been confirmed that a video conference will be held with Pennsylvania-based Cisco managers. The Prime Minister will also visit the IBM labs.

At the request of the popular and influential magazine Forbes, Kubilius will meet with Steven Forbes, the owner and chief editor of the magazine.

The agenda also provides for a short bike ride - almost 30 km from Mount Vernon to the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington and is expected to include not only the Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, but the accompanying delegation as well.

Impeachment commissions to consider draft conclusions 28 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 28 (ELTA) - On Wednesday, the Seimas Impeachment Commissions will consider the draft conclusions. The parliamentary commissions will decide whether there are grounds to launch impeachment proceedings against Members of the Seimas Linas Karalius and Aleksandras Sacharukas.

The Seimas commission should carry out an investigation and draw its conclusions by 1 May this year.

The initiators of the impeachment believe that there are sufficient grounds to conclude that MPs Karalius and Sacharukas grossly violated the Constitution and broke the oath given by a member of the Seimas.

The initiators of impeachment are convinced that MP Sacharukas, elder of the Seimas' group of the Christian Party and the head of the Seimas' Commission for Parliamentary Scrutiny of Intelligence Operations, and MP Karalius "acted jointly after making an agreement in advance in order to cover Karalius' absence from Seimas sittings and to misappropriate state budget funds in such a way.

Interpellation to Minister Masiulis starts at Seimas 28 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 27 (ELTA) - Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene has received a text of interpellation to Transport Minister Eligijus Masiulis. The document was signed by 44 MPs belonging to the opposition's parliamentary groups.

The opposition leader Vytautas Gapsys, elder of the Labour Party's parliamentary group, Elder of the Order and Justice Party Valentinas Mazuronis and Leader of the Social Democrats Algirdas Butkevicius handed the signatures to the Seimas speaker on Tuesday.

"The text includes several dozen questions related to various areas that the Transport Ministry is responsible for, starting from employment of the head of Lietuvos Pastas (the Lithuanian Post), and ending with proposals to privatise state roads. The questions are important, we will see whether the minister will answer them in a detailed and honest way," Mazuronis said.

During the session, a group of at least one fifth of MPs (29 of a total of 141) may submit an interpellation to the minister.

Under the Statute of the Seimas, no signature can be recalled after the interpellation has been submitted to the Speaker of the Seimas, who registers it without delay and gives it to the appropriate Government and Seimas Members.

Upon receipt of an interpellation, within two weeks, a Government member must submit a written response to the Speaker of the Seimas, which the MPs will be familiarised with.

Upon receipt of a reply to the interpellation, the Seimas deliberates the said reply at a sitting during its session, within five working days.

In the event that the reply of the Prime Minister or the individual minister is declared inadequate a non-confidence in the Prime Minister or the individual minister is declared in a draft resolution of the Seimas, the said draft is adopted by majority vote of more than a half of all the Seimas Members in a secret ballot.

Seimas Board asks to investigate disrespectful words of Valinskas 28 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 27 (ELTA) - The Board of the Seimas decided to address the Seimas Commission on Ethics and Procedures, asking it to investigate whether the recent words of MP Arunas Valinskas in the media violated the Code of Conduct for State Politicians.

According to the spokeswoman of the Nation's Resurrection Party, in the light of various speculations and discussions, at 10 am on Tuesday, Arunas Valinskas himself addressed the Chairman of the Seimas Commission on Ethics and Procedures Algimantas Salamakinas. The politician asked them to consider and assess what he said about President Dalia Grybauskaite.

As reported, Member of the Seimas Evaldas Jurkevicius asked the Chief Official Ethics Commission (VTEK) to investigate whether Chairman of the Nation's Resurrection Party (TPP) Arunas Valinskas, who publicly described President Dalia Grybauskaite as in "the position of a resentful woman", did not violate professional ethics and did not demean the name of the Seimas member.

MP Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis registered a draft resolution at the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings, proposing to apologise to President Dalia Grybauskaite in the name of the Seimas for the disrespectful words of Arunas Valinskas.

Also, the Seimas Commission on Ethics and Procedures was asked to investigate whether it did not also violate the provisions of the Code of Conduct for State Politicians.

New Union fails to collect necessary signatures on referendum 28 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 26 (ELTA) - The initiative group, which seeks that the nation could be given the right to dissolve the Seimas, has failed to collect the signatures necessary for holding a referendum.
The party submitted sheets with the signatures of 250,000 citizens to the Central Electoral Commission (VRK) on Monday.

The initiators of the referendum failed to collect the 300,000 signatures necessary for holding a referendum and asked the VRK to extend the deadline for collecting signatures by another month.

According to VRK Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas, this application will be considered in the nearest Commission's sitting.

The initiative group, led by Chairman of the New Union (the Social Liberals) Arturas Paulauskas, proposed to amend the Constitution so that the president would be authorized to announce early parliamentary elections after the signatures of 300,000 citizens, who are entitled to vote, on the Seimas' dissolution were collected.

At the VRK sitting on Monday, Paulauskas said that the Law on Referendum should be amended because of too complicated rules for collecting signatures.

According to Gediminas Dalinkevicius, member of the initiative group, the persons who collected signatures faced strong resistance of authorities as they were prohibited to collect signatures at state institutions.

Leader of the New Union Paulauskas thanked the residents who supported the initiative of the referendum. "The people expressed their political will. This is the most important thing. This is a significant win of the people of Lithuania. A great number of people did not sign the sheets as they were afraid to lose their jobs. They were under psychological pressure. A lot of people admitted that openly," Paulauskas stated.

Defence minister to visit US 28 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 27 (ELTA) - On April 27-30, Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene will pay a working visit to the United States of America. It will be the second minister's visit to the US since the beginning of last year.

During her visit, Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene will meet with US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

In Washington, the visit of the Lithuanian delegation will start with discussions at the North Atlantic Council regarding cooperation between the countries of the Nordic-Baltic region and Poland. Later, Minister Jukneviciene will meet with Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Craig McKinley and attend a working dinner with Stephen Flanagan, Vice President of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Chair of the Group of Experts on the new NATO's Strategic Concep.

Rasa Jukneviciene will also participate in a reception hosted by the Embassy of Poland on the occasion of the Polish Constitution Day.

Also, Minister Jukneviciene will meet with Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Ellen Tauscher, US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

After these meetings, the Lithuanian defence minister will leave for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to meet with Edward Rendell, Pennsylvania's Governor.

MEP Uspaskikh advises president to demand Kubilius' resignation 28 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 23 (ELTA) - MEP Viktor Uspaskikh, leader of the Labour Party, has advised President Dalia Grybauskaite to demand Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius' resignation.
The politician said that only Kubilius received less public support than Valinskas, politicians' ratings showed.

According to Uspaskikh, the president applied double standards by not requesting Kubilius to leave his office.

"Grybauskaite stated that Valinskas was not suitable for the culture minister as he lacked public confidence. However, she did not have time to read newspapers today probably. According to the latest public opinion polls, 75% of the residents distrust Valinskas, while as much as 85% of the voters said having no confidence in Kubilius, who is a record-breaker in this area, yet Grybauskaite has no doubts about his ability to hold the post of the prime minister. I think that this is a manifestation of the president's double standards," Uspaskikh said.

The MEP said that if Grybauskaite was as principled an official as she was trying to demonstrate, she would have demanded Kubilius' resignation immediately. "I would not like to assess Valinskas' suitability for the post of the culture minister or his manner of work, but if Grybauskaite thinks that Valinskas is unsuitable to head the Culture Ministry due to the lack of public confidence, she must admit that Kubilius cannot lead the Government either.

"I think that after saying "a", the head of state should say "b" and request that Kubilius would step down because he has long lost public confidence," the chairman of the Labour Party said.

Merkel to attend CBSS meeting in Vilnius 14 April 2010


* Photo: Aleph, Creative Commons Licence

Vilnius, Apr 12 (ELTA) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed her participation in the eighth meeting of the heads of government of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in Vilnius on June 1-2.

The CBSS meeting will be attended by the heads of government of the Baltic region which includes 11 states. Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is also likely to attend the meeting.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and delegation of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference have also been invited to take part in the meeting.

“Your proposed main summit topics, such as competitiveness, sustainable economic growth and energy cooperation, are very important to the future of our region. I look forward to our discussions with gladness and interest and I am happy that I can confirm my participation,” the German chancellor writes in the letter to Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

3% budget deficit in 2012 - Kubilius 14 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 7 (ELTA) - Lithuania must cut its public deficit down to 3% of GDP in 2012 to be able to adopt the euro at the beginning of 2014, the Prime Minister says.
According to Kubilius, effective, transparent and orderly management of public finances is an important task for the Government.

“We seek that the Lithuanian public debt would not be so big that we would not be ashamed at looking into the eyes of our children and grandchildren, because the debt increases very rapidly when public finance is managed improperly, especially if the deficit is not reduced, and here we have very clear goals - to reach the 3% limit established by the Maastricht criteria within the two coming years,” the Prime Minister said after the sitting of the Commission for the Coordination of the Adoption of the Euro on Wednesday.

Kubilius stated that in such a way the growth of public debt would be stabilised, borrowing conditions would not become worse and there would be the possibility of euro adoption after achieving proper management of public finance.

“We plan what we have reported to the European Commission in our approved Convergence Programme so that we could have properly managed public finances as soon as 2012. This means that we could strive for euro adoption as of the beginning of 2014,” he said.

Head of Lithuanian Post dismissed 14 April 2010

Vilnius, Mar 31 (ELTA) - At its sitting on Wednesday, the board of AB Lietuvos Paštas (Lithuanian Post) dismissed the company’s Director General Andrius Urbonas. Aidas Ignatavičius, Head of company Pašto Tinklo Tarnybos, was appointed Interim Director General as of this Thursday.

“The events related to the head of Lithuanian Post unpleasantly surprised all of us. Today we have to ensure that all the processes that are carried out in the institution and aimed at stabilization of the financial situation, increasing of revenue and streamlining the company’s performance, would be further implemented successfully. This is the task for the interim head,” said Deputy Minister of Transport, Chairman of the Board of Lithuanian Post Rimvydas Vaštakas.

Lithuanian Post is the biggest and oldest postal service company with the biggest postal network - 735 post offices - in our country. 100% of shares of Lithuanian Post are owned by the state; its head is appointed and dismissed by its board.

Nord Stream should think of economic logic - Kubilius 14 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 7 (ELTA) - At the start of building the North European gas pipeline Nord Stream, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius calls for reflection on economic logic of the project after new shale gas fields have been discovered.

“The builders of Nord Stream should think what they are building the pipeline for and what economic logic lies behind that. Prime Minister Putin and I spoke about the radical change in the global gas situation changes due to the appearance of shale gas in the U.S. and our neighbour Poland,” Kubilius said after the Government’s sitting on Wednesday.

The prime minister said that he read about doubts on economic feasibility of Nord Stream in the influential British weekly The Economist.

As reported, the Gazprom project Nord Stream was already launched. The pipeline is intended to supply Russian gas directly to Europe, bypassing transit countries.

Prosecutors to demand additional documents on IAE closure 14 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 2 (ELTA) - The Prosecutor General’s Office will demand additional documents on the decommissioning of the Ignalian nuclear power plant (IAE) from the Energy Ministry.

According to Raimondas Petrauskas, Acting Prosecutor General, at a coordination meeting on Friday prosecutors discussed criminal intelligence investigations and the material of the National Audit Office which contained specific facts related to offences.

“Attention was paid to the functions of the Energy Ministry on monitor supervision of the plant’s closure work,” Petrauskas said.

According to the current head of the Prosecutor’s Office, the meeting decided to formulate a request to the energy minister on the submission of the material and to hold the next coordination meeting at the IAE on Wednesday.

The Prosecutor General’s Office in conjunction with the Special Investigation Service, the State Security Department and the Financial Crime Investigation Service are investigating the possible misappropriation of funds when closing the IAE and cooperate with the new IAE leadership to prevent any embezzlement of funds.

Scientists need to work for Lithuania 14 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 8 (ELTA) - On Thursday, President Dalia Grybauskaite presented awards to winners of the Best Dissertation 2009 competition organized by the Lithuanian Scientific Society. The competition was held for the fourth time.

“Creative young people are the engine of the country’s prosperity. Lithuania will have its future if we invest into youth, education and science,” said the President.

According to the head of the state, it is vital to ensure that young scientists will create and work in Lithuania. Therefore, it is important to encourage young scientists to join scientific societies, and to facilitate the implementation of their ideas.

President Dalia Grybauskaite wished all Lithuanian scientists new creative ideas, concentration and discoveries.

Tax policies will be in focus again - Degutienė 14 April 2010

Vilnius, Apr 7 (ELTA) - The ruling coalition of change will decide on possible tax law amendments, Seimas Speaker Irena Degutienė says.

According to the Seimas speaker, the Coalition of Change plans a separate discussion on tax issues, and tax policies will be in focus again. Degutienė was not specific about the taxes.
“I want to draw attention to the fact that, if we change anything, we need to think how to link income with expenditure. One fragment cannot be changed without taking into account the fact that revenues will decline, while expenditures will remain the same. In such a way we will raise the fiscal deficit again. We cannot do that. We will return to this issue in the short run and the coalition will decide on possible amendments to tax laws,” Degutienė said on Žiniu Radijas on Wednesday.

The Seimas speaker emphasised that revenue should be tied to expenditure. If there are not enough taxes collected, the social, healthcare, education and cultural sectors will suffer. Degutienė heaped reproach on the Social Democrats that were in power previously, as Lithuania could have introduced progressive taxation a long time ago, which, according to the Seimas speaker, would be socially fair.

Grybauskaitė meets Putin

The President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Helsinki recently.

The President and Russia's Prime Minister discussed bilateral relations and prospects for co-operation, and agreed to develop constructive dialogue.

In the meeting, the President stressed the need to ensure that Lithuanian business in Russia is not discriminated on the national basis.

"Russia is an important trade partner for Lithuania, and closer bilateral co-operation would be ensured if equal business conditions and requirements were applied to Lithuanian companies operating in Russia," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.

The discussion in the meeting also covered co-operation in energy. According to the President, Lithuania is interested in having a more flexible pricing mechanism for Russian gas imports to Lithuania, i.e. a mechanism compliant to gas pricing principles applied with respect to other European users.

The President also informed the Putin on Lithuania's strong commitment to continue the new nuclear power plant construction project in Visaginas, which is expected to ensure energy stability and diversity of power supply for the whole region. 

On the issue of environmental problems affecting the Baltic Sea, President Grybauskaitė suggested that Russia could co-operate with Lithuania in carrying out projects aimed at cleaning up weapons and hazardous chemical substances in the Baltic Sea.

Russian President Medvedev calls for closer relations with Lithuania

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated President Dalia Grybauskaitė on the approaching 20th Anniversary of the Re-establishment of Lithuanian Independence and invited her for a bilateral visit to Russia at a time convenient to her.

"I am grateful for the invitation to the celebrations of the 20th Anniversary of the Re-establishment of Independence of the Republic of Lithuania. I would like to extend my congratulations on this anniversary and to wish you and the people of Lithuania every success," President Medvedev wrote in his message of congratulations.

The Russian President expressed his regrets that he would not be able to participate in the 11 March festivities in Vilnius due to his pre-arranged international engagements. He delegated Mr Igor Levitin, Russian Transport Minister and Russian Co-Chairman of the Lithuanian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission, to represent Russia at the commemorative events.

"It is with warmth that I recall our short but fruitful conversation in Berlin. I hope to meet you in the near future and I invite you to visit the Russian Federation at a time convenient for you. I believe that we will be able to discuss a whole range of issues topical for Lithuanian-Russian relations and project the ways to making our bilateral cooperation more dynamic," President Medvedev wrote.

Commenting on Dmitry Medvedev's letter of congratulations on the anniversary of Lithuania's re-independence, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said that it was an important step made by Russia in shaping good neighbourly relations.

Liberals not to hold talks with any alternative coalition - Masiulis

Vilnius, Mar 1 (ELTA) - The Liberal Movement will not hold any talks with any opposition parties on forming a new ruling coalition, leader of the party Transport Minister Eligijus Masiulis stated. The Liberal Movement promises to present its proposals on reduction of taxes as of 2011 in the short run.

"On Saturday the board of the Liberal Movement said clearly - these signs of an economic recovery that have appeared and the fact that it is expected to collect more revenues to the state budget than has been planned mean that as soon as this year we have to decide on the functioning of the tax policy and tax system as of 2011," Masiulis told reporters on Monday.

The Liberal Movement will propose its coalition partners to introduce the taxes of the pre-crisis level again. According to Masiulis, first this provision should be applied to value added tax (VAT). VAT exemptions should also be brought back.

"We think that the reduction of taxes in 2011 would lead to faster growth of the Lithuanian economy and the people of Lithuania would be able to feel the economic growth that has started," the leader of the Liberal Movement said.

According to Masiulis, so far the Liberals have not officially presented their proposals to coalition partners; therefore there is no reaction to them. However, the Liberal Movement states that it will not talk with opposition parties over the new coalition.

"The Liberals will surely not negotiate with any alternative coalition. We believe in the coalition in which we work. In this whole process (the formation of a new coalition - ELTA) I see more elements of a political show than real actions. In my opinion, we have more public relations here than actual attempts to form an alternative Government. I think that today the opposition is really unable to form an alternative Government," Masiulis said.

Sukys appointed health minister

Vilnius, Mar 1 (ELTA) - President Dalia Grybauskaite appointed Raimondas Sukys as health minister. Sukys will take office no sooner than 10 march when the Seimas starts its spring session and he will be sworn in.

The head of state stressed that the healthcare system must be continued, prices for medicinal products must be reduced, corruption must not be tolerated and wished Sukys "all success, patience and health in such a difficult job”.

Speaking about healthcare reform, Grybauskaite noted that its continuity should be guaranteed at the highest level.

Sukys stated that legal acts necessary for the further implementation of reform had been adopted by the Government and would be continued. The minister-designate said that reform would not be stopped or revised; only mistakes would be corrected if necessary.

During the meeting with Sukys Grybauskaite also noted the issue of corruption.

"The minister is obligated to take responsibility to eliminate corruption in the ministry at all levels and the minister who has lawyer's education and great experience is obligated to take all the necessary measures to ensure a zero level of corruption," said presidential spokesman Linas Balsys.

Seimas speaker calls on China's ambassador not to politicize Tibet issue

Vilnius, Feb 26 (ELTA) - Seimas Speaker Irena Degutiene has called on Ambassador Mingtao Tong of the People's Republic of China to Lithuania not to politicize the issue of Tibet and to accept it as a natural phenomenon of cultural diversity. The head of the Parliament notes that Lithuania is concerned about human rights in China.

"Lithuania calls for respect for human rights and culture as well as religion in Tibet. Therefore, the dialogue between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama should be essential and constructive, it needs to take into account the preservation of the Tibetan language, cultural identity, religion and traditions," Degutienė told the ambassador.

The Chinese ambassador showed interest in the resolution of human rights in Tibet and Lithuania's position on this matter. Degutienė emphasised that Lithuania maintained the EU's common stand on Tibet.

"Together with other member states of the European Union we speak for dialogue between Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama, peaceful regulation of relations which would allow seeking sustainable solution and guaranteeing respect for cultural and religious identity," Degutienė said.

The meeting also covered bilateral relations of political, economic and cultural co-operation between Lithuania and China.

Social Democrats would have lead in elections - survey

Vilnius, Feb 25 (ELTA) - If parliamentary elections were held at the end of February, the parties in the opposition - the Social Democrats, the Labour Party and the party Order and Justice would have won, while the ruling Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) would take fourth place with a support of 8.3% of the electorate.

According to the poll conducted by the public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai, the Social Democrats would receive 13.2% of votes. The Labour Party would be favoured by 12.6% of the respondents and the Order and Justice party would be supported by 9.2% of the respondents.

Among those polled, 8.3% would vote for the ruling TS-LKD and 5.3% would favour the Liberal Movement which also works in the ruling coalition.

According to political scientist Antanas Kulakauskas, it actually means that the first four political parties have more or less equal power as the difference in popularity of political parties is often below 3%.

Lithuania to share its EU integration experience with Turkey - Kubilius

Vilnius, Feb 24 (ELTA) - Lithuania welcomes the decision of the Turkish Government to lift the visa regime to Lithuanian tourists, said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius at a meeting with Turkish Minister for European Affairs and chief negotiator Egemen Bagis and other members of the Turkish delegation.

"I am convinced that these circumstances and the fact that Vilnius transfers the title of European Capital of Culture to Istanbul in 2010 will be beneficial for developing bilateral relations in the areas of tourism, economy and cultural exchange," the head of the Government emphasised.

The prime minister noted that Turkey remained an important economic partner of Lithuania and called on Turkish investors to be more determinate at making use the benefits of the Lithuanian free economic zone and favourable conditions provided by industrial parks.

Kubilius assured the Turkish minister that Lithuania was prepared to continue sharing its experience in the EU integration with Turkey.

Karalius unwilling to explain his behaviour to ethics watchdogs

Vilnius, Feb 23 (ELTA) - MP Linas Karalius, who has become notorious for his holidays and missed sittings, says that he will not explain his behaviour to the Seimas' Commission for Ethics and Procedures because he has been allegedly offended by the Commission's Chairman Algimantas Salamakinas. The head of the Commission himself says that Karalius is trying to avoid responsibility.

According to Salamakinas, Karalius did not arrive to the sitting of the Seimas' Commission for Ethics and Procedures on Tuesday as he had meetings with electors in Klaipeda and delivered a lecture on the harm of drugs at Maksimas Gorkis secondary school. Karalius also said that he would be able to submit his explanations to the Board of the Seimas or the Assembly of Elders, but not the Commission.

"I have a letter that he (Karalius - ELTA) will not come to the sittings of the Commission for Ethics and Procedures at all because he was offended by my statement that Linas Karalius deserved impeachment for such violations. He thinks that I have offended him on purpose and that I almost deserve impeachment for this statement myself," Salamakinas said after the Commission's sitting.

Usackas’ New Appointment

Vilnius, Feb 23 (ELTA) - Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite positively evaluated the new position of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Vygaudas Usackas as Special EU Representative for Afghanistan and Head of Mission in the country and said that Lithuania received a good position.

According to the head of the state, Lithuania addressed the Council of Europe, the European Commission and Head of the Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton, and discussed the possibilities of Lithuanian diplomats to obtain good positions in the new EU diplomatic service.

-I am very pleased that Lithuania received good position," said Grybauskaite.

His main task will be to assist with the implementation of the new western strategy in Afghanistan, which foresees reaching out to elements of the Taliban. He will also co-ordinate the EU's security and development assistance to the country.

The European Union has had a special representative to Afghanistan for several years. Since July 2008, Italian Ettore Francesco Sequi has served as EU Special Representative to Afghanistan. His term of office is due to expire at the end of this month.

EP to decide upon Uspaskich’s immunity


* Photo: Valdas Kopūstas (ELTA)

Brussels, Jan 27 (ELTA) - During the closed session of the EU Committee on Legal Affairs, MEP Vikto-ras Uspaskich’s parliamentary immunity will be decided upon.During the closed session, Viktoras Uspaskich will have an opportunity to state his position.

Afterwards, the Committee on Legal Affairs will adopt a decision on the basis of which the EP Committee might propose to approve of the request of Lithuanian prosecutor’s office to waive Uspaskich’s legal immunity or on the contrary, to defend it.

The position of the committee is very important. The cases when MEPs do not approve of EP to decide upon Uspaskich’s immunity the committee’s decisions are exceptional.Viktoras Uspaskich is one of the accused in the criminal proceedings for fraudulent accountancy of the Labour Party.

According to Prosecutor at the Department of Organized Crime and Corruption at the Prosecutor’s General Office Saulius Verseckas, further proceedings will only be possible if the EP gives its consent for bringing Viktoras Uspaskich to justice and lifting his legal immunity.

Uspaskich himself sent letters to the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Bruzek, Head of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) (Guy Verhofstadt) and Chairman of the EP Legal Affairs committee Klaus-Heneir Lehne, complaining he has become a victim of political violence and comparing his case to that of former Yukos Head Michail Chodorkovskis, who was sentenced to eight years because of tax evasion.

European Court of Human Rights to hear Paksas Case

Strasbourg, Jan 29 (ELTA) - On April 28, the Strasbourg-based Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will start hearing the action lodged by MEP Rolandas Paksas, the impeached head of state, over the alleged conspiracy of political groups against him as president in 2003-2004.

According to Paksas, he was deprived of his right to a defence, and an impartial and fair trial.“The case is open after six years since I brought the action. It is started to be heard in the face of new circumstances which again prove that there has been a conspiracy aimed to remove the president who created problems for clans - the president, who strictly prohibited the establishment of torture chambers of a foreign country in Lithuania.

“I am convinced that justice will win as this case is not against Lithuania, but against the politicized clans and the system which organized the conspiracy under the name of Lithuania,” Paksas said.In the case at the European Court of Human Rights the defendant will be the Lithuanian Government, which has its own representative to the court.

Foreign Minister Ušackas steps down

Vilnius, Jan 20 (ELTA) - Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas decided to step down after the president expressed no confidence in him, reported the LNK News on late Wednesday.

Such a decision was made by the head of the Lithuanian diplomacy after the sitting of the ruling coalition on Wednesday evening. The coalition partners decided that the minister could not resume his work because of the lost confidence.

“The coalition agreed on viewing Ušackas as a foreign minister favourably, but, without any doubt, it is impossible not to react to the present situation,” Leader of the Liberal Movement Eligijus Masiulis told reporters after the sitting.

“It will be as the coalition has decided. It means that I will obey the agreement of the coalition. (...) Yes (I will step down - ELTA),” the foreign minister said.

Restructuring of national intelligence system

The State Defence Council has approved, in substance, the concept for strengthening the control and coordination of intelligence, which was worked out at the initiative of President Dalia Grybauskaitė and which will serve as the basis for restructuring the national intelligence system.

According to the President, the need to make immediate restructuring changes evolved not only because of the evident shortcomings in coordinating and controlling intelligence and the politicized nature and insufficiently effective activities of the State Security Department, but also because of new threats to national security.

“The work of Lithuanian secret services must be depoliticized and organized in a way that would allow politicians responsible for national and economic security to immediately receive the necessary information for decision-making.

Reaching a political agreement on the control and coordination of intelligence marks the start of building a more effective intelligence system,” the President underlined.

President appoints A. Ažubalis

The President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė received candidates to the position of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the Seimas Committee for Foreign Affairs, Audronius Ažubalis.

The parties of the meeting discussed the vision and priorities of Lithuania’s foreign policy and the prospects of cooperation between the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and exchanged views on how Lithuania’s role could be strengthened within the European Union and NATO and in its relations with neighbouring countries.

Opposition groups discuss alternative Government

Vilnius, 19 January (ELTA) - On Tuesday, discussing a joint alternative Government programme, representatives of the Seimas opposition political groups formed an alternative programme working group and discussed the possibility of a new coalition.

“We propose to change the course of the current Government, which has deepened the crisis in Lithuania. Numerous countries of the European Union are handling this difficult times much easier, because they have chosen the promotion of domestic consumption, the reduction of taxes that fall on the shoulders of the weakest. Over a year, the unemployment increased almost four times, and it hit Lithuanian families and the very social system worst,” said Deputy Elder of the Social Democrats political group Juozas Olekas.

Representatives of the Order and Justice political group, Labour Party, One Lithuania political group as well as representatives of mixed parties participated in the meeting of the heads of opposition political groups.

“Currently, there are 59 members in the opposition. We see that there are conflicts in the ruling majority, the positions of some parliamentarians are in line with our proposal, this is a strong foundation on which we can unite.

“We offer a way that is socially fairer and easier, that would help Lithuania out of the hardship,” said Olekas.

According to the Leader of the Labor Party Viktoras Uspaskich, before going to Brussels after the New Year, met with the heads of the Social Democrats and Order and Justice political groups.

According to the Vice Minister of the Order and Justice, Party Valentinas Mazuronis, there is need to change the Government. It is important to change the course of the Lithuanian man­agement.

Control of crisis was most important deed of the year - Kubilius


• Photo: Valdas Kopūkstas (ELTA)

Vilnius, Dec 31 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius called the control of the crisis as the most important task of 2009.

“The sudden and deep crisis was the most important event of the year. To manage the crisis was the biggest challenge. I am pleased that we managed to withstand and control the crisis, I cannot say that we managed to get out of it, but the very fact that we managed to control it is a significant achievement,” said Kubilius in the interview with Žinių Radijas.

The head of the Government noted that next year most focus will be put upon the unemployment problem.

Andrius Kubilius said the election of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė was one of the most important events of the year. “Such election results are a great stimulus and support for people,” he said.

Lithuanian Prime Minister also said that the mini restructuring in the energy sector, the dissolution of LEO LT, the health and education reforms, the restructuring of bureaucracy were other important events of the year.

CIA prison story will not harm relations with US - Grybauskaitė

Vilnius, Dec 22 (ELTA) - Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė evaluates the conclusions of the Seimas’ Committee on National Security and Defence (NSGK) as another step towards transparency and openness. These conclusions have proven the suspicions of the President, ELTA was told by presidential spokesman Linas Balsys.

According to Balsys, the president does not think that the information which has been disclosed might harm Lithuania’s relations with the United States and recalls that the administration of President Barack Obama has started to go towards openness itself, thus this policy is continued.

The NSGK determined that there might have been a CIA prison in Lithuania, as there were premises, there were possibilities to trespass the Lithuanian border, there were aircraft related to the CIA, and the state authorities were not informed about that or informed superficially. NSGK did not determine if the prisoners were detained in Lithuania or not.

The NSGK decided to address the Prosecutor’s General Office and ask to determine whether former VSD heads Mecys Laurinkus, Arvydas Pocius and former deputy head Dainius Dabasinskas went beyond their commissions.

ELTA reminds that President Dalia Grybauskaitė ordered the Government to recall Mecys Laurinkus from the post of the ambassador to Georgia. Laurinkus served as Head of VSD from June 1998 until April 2004.

Pocius headed the VSD in 2004-2007. He was dismissed as soon as the unfavourable conclusions of the NSGK parliamentary investigation were confirmed.

In August this year, Dainius Dabasinskas was dismissed from the post of the deputy CEO of the State Security Department (VSD) and appointed ministerial advisor at the Lithuanian Embassy in Kiev.

Grybauskaitė to continue dialogue with Lukashenko

Vilnius, Jan 7 (ELTA) - The extradition of Gen Vladimir Uschopchik, living in Belarus, who is accused of conspiracy against the state in the case of the January 13 events in 1991, might be solved only at a political level, President Dalia Grybauskaitė says.

The dialogue with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko will be further developed with regard to that, the president adds.

“I have always believed that this issue can only be solved at a political level, thus, the political dialogue with Mr Lukashenko will be continued,” the President told journalists.

The Prosecutor General’s Office received a letter from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus stating that Belarus rejected Lithuania’s applications for legal aid in the January 13 case.

Repeated demands for criminal proceedings against Uschopchik and Stanislava Juonien, living in Belarus, were sent to the law enforcement institutions of Belarus in autumn 2009.

“The execution of legal aid application of the Republic of Lithuania in this case is against the essential principles of the laws of the Republic of Belarus,” the communication report reads.

Cabinet reshuffle around the corner?

(alfa.lt) A Lithuanian newspaper says sources in Lithuania’s centre-right ruling coalition have begun dropping hints about a looming cabinet reshuffle, the Baltic News Service has reported.
The daily Vilniaus diena said “unofficial sources” have told it that the prime minister and Conservative party leader, Andrius Kubilius, is looking at changing five ministers: Dainius Kreivys (Economy); Gediminas Kazlauskas (Environment); Raimundas Palaitis (Interior); Eligijus Masiulis (Transport); and Remigijus Vilkaitis (Culture).

At the tail end of 2009, Seimas speaker Irena Degutienė, who is also a member of the Conservative party, told public broadcaster Lietuvos televizija that a rearrangement of portfolios was likely to be on the cards in January.

“I see certain limitations in the government. And the prime minister sees them too,” Degutienė said in the interview with LTV. “In the New Year, we will hold a meeting to decide these questions.”

She said certain ministers were ineffective and the subject of too much criticism, but she did not say which ones.


Lithuanian intelligence chief quits

from Alfa.lt

The head of Lithuania’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Security, stepped down on Monday 14 December.

Povilas Malakauskas, Lithuania’s intelligence chief for the past two and a half years, tendered his resignation during a morning meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaitė, a presidential spokesman said.

The president’s office gave no explanation for Malakauskas’ decision.

An official with the Department of State Security said Malakauskas had resigned for personal reasons, but did not explain further.

The head of the Seimas’ National Security and Defence Committee told Alfa.lt that Malakauskas’ departure could be related to a parliamentary probe into allegations that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA prison in 2004-2005.

Speaking to journalists later in the day, Anušauskas said that when his committee had first begun looking into the CIA prison allegations, before the launch of the formal inquiry, Malakauskas had been “ambiguous” in his answers.

Anušauskas also suggested that a formal inquiry would not have been needed if Malakauskas had been more forthright at the time. Anušauskas did not give any precise details about the questions asked of Malakauskas or the nature of the intelligence chief’s answers.

“If the responses we had requested had been presented to us on time and more thoroughly, there probably would have been no need to hold an investigation,” Anušauskas said.

Defence Minister Rasa Juknevičienė welcomed Malakauskas’ resignation.

“It was probably the right decision,” Juknevičienė told Alfa.lt. “The problems at the Department of State Security have not been resolved. It remains a politicized organisation that does not engender the public’s confidence. Malakauskas has been unable to change this in the past two years.”

Its critics say the agency, known in Lithuania by its acronym VSD, spends too much time watching Lithuanians, including politicians, journalists and civil society groups, instead of hunting for spies, and that it operates with insufficient public oversight.

The VSD’s deputy director quit the scandal-plagued agency in August following weeks of intense media scrutiny.

The mysterious death three years ago of a senior VSD officer while on a posting in Belarus is still a frequent topic of public debate.

Although the death of Vytautas Pociūnas was officially ruled an accident, many on the political right believe the true circumstances of his demise were covered up and that he was a victim in settling scores between opposing factions in Lithuania’s intelligence community.


SoDra head Mikaila steps down

Vilnius, Dec 14 (ELTA) - The chairman of the board of the State Social Insurance Fund (SoDra), Mindaugas Mikaila, has resigned.

On Monday morning, ELTA learned from the Social Ministry that Mikaila submitted his resignation letter last week.

“I cannot confirm the fact that he resigned but I can say that we have received a resignation letter,” said adviser to the social minister Juventa Mudėnienė

\The Ministry intends to submit more details on the resignation of the SoDra head later.
Mikaila himself so far has refrained from any comments.

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius evaluated the future changes in SoDra favorably.
“So far I do not know any reasons as I have not seen the resignation letter. We will consider his application and we will probably satisfy it. Such changes seem to be beneficial. We need constructive thoughts and ideas. I think that we will meet the New Year in the SoDra system with good changes,” Kubilius told journalists after the Government’s meeting on Monday.

The prime minister said that he did not know who could replace Mikaila, but he assured that an appropriate person would surely be found.

Ukrainian electricity to be supplied to Lithuania

• Photo Dž. G. Barysaitė

While on a working visit to Ukraine, President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė has underlined that Ukraine might become a very important energy partner for Lithuania and for the whole European Union but only transparent and open relations will lead to success in this area.

At the session of the Council of Presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine, the delegations of the countries discussed energy issues and the possibilities to supply Ukrainian electricity to Lithuania after closure of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.

Lithuanian and Ukrainian leaders underlined the need to ensure transparency of energy supply.
“Even before the actual trade started, Lithuania has already been approached by various intermediaries seeking to act on behalf of Ukraine. Such a path paved with old methods is not viable in Europe,” President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.

In response to observations made by the President of Lithuania, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko assured publicly in the press conference that every necessary measure will be taken to make sure that agreements between Ukraine and Lithuania on energy supply involved no intermediaries.

MPs who mixed public and private interests will pay from their own pockets

Vilnius, Nov 27 (ELTA) - Seimas Speaker Irena Degutienė proposed that Seimas members who used funds allocated for parliamentary activities for other purposes, and thus violated the law on the adjustment of public and private interests in the public service, would return the money to the state budget from their own pockets.

“If it is determined that a member of the Seimas spends money allocated for parliamentary activities for other purposes or in non-compliance with the law on the adjustment of public and private interests in the public service, he redeems the money from his own funds,” proposed Irena Degutienė.

According to the Seimas speaker, such provision will help to ensure that the state budget funds are used transparently and rationally, in accordance with the purpose and the law.

The future of Lithuania is in the hands of creative people - Grybauskaitė


At the initiative of President Dalia Grybauskaitė, the Seimas and the International Cultural Programmes Centre, a forum for creative society has been opened for the first time in Lithuania according to the Press Service of the President.

Addressing members of the arts, culture, educational, and business communities, who came together to discuss possible actions for using and streamlining the potential of creative individuals to build a modern state, President Grybauskaitė invited all of them - artists, scientists and entrepreneurs - to make a joint effort towards this purpose.

“Lithuania’s economic growth, its social well being, and the pride that its citizens have for their country will depend on our innovative ideas and our creative ability to translate them into reality,” the President said, placing a special emphasis on the importance of interaction
between culture, education, science, and business.

President Grybauskaitė pointed out that a creative person was the spark that drove Lithuania forward. Therefore, she said, we must seek ambitious goals, we must think and act as future disseminators of creative ideas not only in Europe, but also worldwide.

Energy security discussed by Lithuanian and Polish Presidents

President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with her Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski.

In Warsaw, the two Presidents discussed important energy-related issues: the course of building an electricity bridge connecting Lithuania and Poland, and the problems of secure energy supply in Europe.

“Lithuania is prepared to co-operate closely with Poland in implementing the electricity
bridge project, and will seek to secure financing for this project from the European Commission within the new EU Financial Perspective 2007- 2013,” President Dalia Grybauskaitė underlined.

The Presidents also agreed to co-patron events scheduled in the coming year to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the žalgiris Battle, announced the Press Service of the President.

Lithuania To Chair Chemical Weapons Convention

Lithuania will chair the Fourteenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties
to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) from 30 November 2009 to 1 December

The Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, also called the Conference of the States Parties, is the main decision-making institution
that joins delegates of 188 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Lithuania, as the chair of the Conference of the States Parties, will play an important political and coordinating role until the next Conference of the States Parties in the end of 2010. Lithuania’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is Lithuania’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Vaidotas Verba.

Grybauskaitė still most popular

Vilnius, Nov 16 (ELTA) - A survey carried out in October shows that Lithuanian residents viewed President Dalia Grybauskaitė most favorably (89% of respondents).

Seimas Speaker Irena Degutienė, who made the largest jump in the September ratings, remained in second place with an approval rating of 63%. Ex-president Valdas Adamkus received 56% of votes. MEP Vilija Blinkevičiūtė was gathered 51%. These four public figures are the only ones that were favorably viewed by over a half of the respondents.

According to a poll conducted by Baltijos Tyrimai between 26 October – 6 November, the respondents evaluated Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, leader of the Conservatives, most negatively. An astonishing 82% expressed an unfavourable attitude towards the prime minister.
A large number (78%) of the respondents were similarly against former Seimas Speaker Arūnas Valinskas, former Prime Minister Social Democrat Gediminas Kirkilas (74%), MEP Vytautas Landsbergis (74%), Kazimira Prunskienė (64%), who initiated the establishment of a new party, and MP Liberal Centrist Artūras Zuokas (63%).

The highest jumps in approval were for Degutienė, who improved by 34%, Viktoras Uspaskich was up 8%, and the greatest decrease was for Prime Minister Kubilius who dropped 8%.

Copely citizenship in violation of Constitution

In conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on Citizenship
of the Republic of Lithuania, and the rulings of the Lithuanian Constitutional Court of 30 December 2003 and of 13 November 2006, and taking into account the advice of the Citizenship Commission as well as the relevant circumstances and documents submitted, President Dalia Grybauskaitė has decided not to grant Lithuanian citizenship by way of exception to Katherine Leigh Copely, a national of the United States of America.

The Citizenship Commission held two sittings (26 March 2009 and 22 October 2009) to consider whetheror not Copely met the requirements for Lithuanian citizenship set out in the Law on Citizenship. Both times the Commission adopted a negative decisions and advised the President to refuse Lithuanian citizenship to Katherine Leigh Copely, stated the Press Service of the President.

Katherine Leigh Copely is the partner of Deividas Stagniūnas. They have formed a successful skating pair and were hoping to represent Lithuania at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.The duo took 14th place in the 2009 World Championships which qualified them for the Vancouver Olympics, and are widely acknowledged as having great potential.

State budget collects Lt193.8m less than projected

Vilnius, July 10 (ELTA) - According to the data of the Finance Ministry, a total of 7.409 billion litas (2.15 billion euros) was planned into the state budget over the first six months of this year instead of the projected 7.602 billion litas (2.2 billion euros). A total of 193.8 million litas (56.12 million euros) or 2.5% less than planned was collected into the budget over January-June.

Over the first six months of this year, a total of 10.411 billion litas (3 billion euros) was collected into the state budget together with the assistance finances from the EU and other foreign countries. The EU assistance totaled 3.28 billion litas (949.73 million euros).

It is foreseen to collect 22.88 billion litas (6.62 billion euros) in revenues in the ratified state budget plan for 2009. 6.417 billion litas (1.86 billion euros) out of this sum is the assistance finances from the EU and other countries.

The drafted revised law on the budget foresees that the state budget revenues this year including the EU assistance will total 20.926 billion litas (6.06 billion euros), 1.954 billion litas (565.79 million euros) less than was ratified in the plan for 2009.

From now on no public information to be given on hostages - Usackas

Klaipeda, Aug 6 (ELTA) - The heads of the Foreign Ministry and Limarko Laivininkystes Kompanija, who met in Klaipeda on Thursday, encouraged the public and politicians to speak less about this accident.

Vygaudas Usackas and Vytautas Lygnugaris confirmed once again that the Lithuanians held hostage are healthy and alive, however, they did not reveal whether they had received the requirements of the captors and did not comment on any specific details of this accident, ve.lt reports.

“We are cooperating with various organizations, everyone is doing their work. I would like to encourage everyone, including politicians, not to speak about the things they do not know about, because the situation is very serious. I can only say that at the moment the captured Lithuanians are healthy and alive, everything is being done to release them - we are striving for that only via diplomatic channels,” said Usackas, who is coordinating the interdepartmental group.

Limarko head also abstained from further comments - allegedly this is being done upon the request of the relatives of the captured seamen.

“We have told them the same things that we did to you. Relatives are worried but they are acting calmly because they also realize the seriousness of this situation. One should not trigger them with comments or irresponsible contemplations,” Lygnugaris told journalists on Thursday.

According to him, the captured persons are 50-60 years of age.

“From now on there will be no public information. This harms,” Usackas said finishing the news conference.

Lithuanians trust Grybauskaite, but one fifth of respondents do not trust politicians at all - Baltijos Tyrimai

Vilnius, July 8 (ELTA) - The Lithuanian residents trust president-elect Dalia Grybauskaite most. 45% of respondents expressed trust in her.

Outgoing President Valdas Adamkus and Social Democratic leader Algirdas Butkevicius took second and third places, however, the gap between them and Grybauskaite is considerable. 8% of respondents mentioned each of them.

The public opinion poll conducted by market research and public opinion company Baltijos Tyrimai at the end of May, asked respondents to name those Lithuanian public gures whom they trusted most. Participants mentioned names themselves without any preliminary.
In May, respondents mentioned a total of 64 public figures. In April, 78 names were mentioned.

Rolandas Paksas, leader of the political party Order and Justice; Viktor Uspaskich, leader of the Labor Party, and new MEP Vilija Blinkeviciute were also mentioned among top ten most trusted politicians. They were trusted by 5% of respondents each.

Former president Algirdas Brazauskas; Valentinas Mazuronis, deputy chairman of the political party Order and Justice; Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Gitanas Nauseda, advisor to the president of SEB Bank, got 3% of trust votes each.

As of the beginning of the year, Grybauskaite, Butkevicius, Mazuronis and Loreta Grauziniene, deputy chairwoman of the Labor Party, improved their ratings most.

One fifth - 19% - of the respondents claimed that they did not trust any politicians or did not answer the question.

I have never told a lie - Adamkus

Vilnius, July 7 (ELTA) - Outgoing President Valdas Adamkus claims that he is transferring his post to president-elect Dalia Grybauskaite in good conscience and promises to help as much as he can if his assistance is needed in the future.

Having finished his term of of fice, Adamkus intends to go to Nida for a holiday for at least a week, and later to participate in public activities.

“I was working according to my conscience, thinking about what is best. Sometimes I would not answer all your (journalists - ELTA) questions, but I have never lied you,” the outgoing head of state told media representatives on Tuesday.

Grybauskaite invites Lithuania to make peace with itself

Vilnius, July 12 (ELTA) - New head of state Dalia Grybauskaite invites Lithuania to unite and build the state from the foundation. She also spoke in support of direct elections of mayors and community elders and highlighted the importance of responsible choice.

“My Dear Fellow People! As I travelled across Lithuania, I saw a lot of hatred and self-destruction. I saw a huge divide between poverty and wealth. Lithuania is in discord. I INVITE LITHUANIA TO MAKE PEACE WITH ITSELF.

We are one people. We are one nation. It is only working together that we will overcome the economic, political and moral downturn in Lithuania,” Grybauskaite underlined addressing the nation during the Presidential Palace takeover ceremony.

“Let us start from the foundation - the local government. Let us elect directly mayors and community elders, let us make local politicians account to their constituents. But let us not follow mistaken paths. If we vote for empty promises or guided by frustration, if we can be bought or can bribe others, democracy will become a mere parody of itself,” Grybauskaite claimed.

The president said that she was determined to dedicate her utmost efforts to the well-being of the people of Lithuania and not to rule, but to serve the people.

“Power is not for glory or money. POLITICS IS NOT A TYPE OF BUSINESS. IT IS A CALLING! I am here not to rule, but to serve the people. This opportunity to make life better and Lithuania stronger is my greatest reward and my ultimate goal,” Grybauskaite said.
The head of state underlined that the love for freedom and democracy is rooted in our hearts. And it is in our hearts that a nation is born.

“Was one thousand years enough for us to understand what kind of state we wish to be and what we actually are?” she questioned rhetorically.

Grybauskaite, who received a huge electors’ mandate, has become the first female host of the Presidential Palace. Up till now it was only men serving as the heads of state at all times.
A lot of people came to welcome the new president near her new place of service. Vilnius Simonas Daukantas’s square was full. The solemn ceremony also witnessed a protest, it was possible to see a placard “LEO LT - no” in the crowd.

Inaugurated President Grybauskaite and Valdas Adamkus, who has just finished his service as a president, were welcomed with applause.

Adamkus transferred the great Lithuanian state’s seal of office and Lithuania’s Constitution to the young head of state.

President Adamkus’s flag was solemnly lowered at the ceremony. It was presented to the president who has just finished his service.

Adamkus shook hands with high-ranking persons in the square including Seimas Speaker Arunas Valinskas, members of the Government, Constitutional Court chairman Kestutis Lapinskas, former president Algirdas Brazauskas, prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, first head of the restored independent s tate, foreign diplomats and MEPs.

Afterwards, Adamkus waved to the people and left. The flag of President Grybauskaite was hoisted solemnly.

Sweden’s promise to Grybauskaite: We will help Baltic region strive for energy independencethe


Vilnius/Stockholm, July 16 (ELTA) - While on a working visit to the Kingdom of Sweden, President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite met with Sweden’s Speaker of Parliament Per Westerberg and later with Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The president underlined that Sweden’s turn to hold the EU presidency fell on a particularly difficult period. According to the president, the Swedish presidency priorities mirrored very closely Lithuanian interests too. During the meetings, Sweden’s and Lithuania’s positions in addressing the financial crisis, and energy and environmental matters were agreed upon once again.

According to the president, the meetings with the leaders of Sweden’s Parliament and Government left her no doubt that Sweden’s interest in our energy sector was but growing.
“No one talks of this issue as of a purely commercial one anymore, but as of a political commitment to start implementing joint energy projects. We were assured by the Swedish Parliament that most political parties were supporting the construction of the NordBalt electricity bridge, for the financing of which Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden submitted a joint application to the European Commission yesterday. Sweden is ready to invest in this project and help the Baltic region to seek energy independence.”

Thanking Sweden for support, which, according to President Grybauskaite, had set this particularly important project into motion, the president invited Sweden to participate also in the project of construction of the new Ignalina nuclear power plant.

The president informed Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Lithuania’s intention to pursue demonopolisation of the electricity market, and while the Ignalina nuclear power plant would be underway, to concentrate on the development of alternative energy recourses. The president noted that Sweden’s experience in this field would be a great help.

The prime minister of Sweden reassured that energy security was important to the whole Baltic Sea region, and shared the view expressed by President Dalia Grybauskaite that a really functioning energy market must be created by joint efforts in the Baltic Sea region. He also expressed support to Lithuania’s aspirations to connect to the Nordic electricity grid as soon as possible.

The president has departed from Sweden to Latvia where she will meet with Latvia’s President Valdis Zatlers today and with Latvia’s Speaker of Parliament Gundars Daudze and Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis on Friday.

US President Obama congratulates President Adamkus and Lithuanian people on the Millennium

Vilnius, July 2 (ELTA) - Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus received a letter from the U.S. President Barack Obama. In the letter, President Obama congratulates President Adamkus and all people of Lithuania on the Millennium.

“This is an auspicious year for your nation. In addition to commemorating the 1000th anniversary of the first written reference to Lithuania, you are celebrating the selection of Vilnius as the European Union’s 2009 Capital of Culture. Both events reflect not only Lithuania’s long and rich history, but also the extraordinary transformation your country has enjoyed since reaffirming its freedom nearly 20 years ago,” President Obama writes in the letter.

U.S. President also writes that the United States is proud to count Lithuania among its closest friends and most reliable allies.

“We look forward to our continued partnership in promoting peace, democracy, and respect for human rights worldwide. I applaud Lithuania and its achievements, and send my best wishes as you and the Lithuanian people celebrate an important milestone in your nation’s history,” the U.S. leader writes.

Barclays ready to invest in Lithuania - Kubilius

Vilnius, June 11 (ELTA) - Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius confirmed that British bank Barclays is getting ready to invest in Lithuania.

“It seems that an agreement with one of the biggest world banks Barclays on the establishment of its service center in Lithuania may be successfully signed. This is highly important. It would be a computer service center,” Kubilius said at traditional interview with Ziniu Radijas on Thursday.

According to the prime minister, this is one of the main steps in attempts to attract other foreign investments into the country. It is expected that an agreement will be signed with the Brits next week. Purportedly this is not only an investment of several hundred million litas, but also several hundred jobs for high technology specialists. Moreover, this would be a good sign for other foreign investors.

Barclays intends to invest about Euro 50 million (over Lt170 million) into a computer service center in Vilnius. It is expected to create about 100 jobs there at first, and by the end of the year this figure is

Human rights in Lithuania deteriorating - experts

Vilnius, June 10 (ELTA) - The representatives of institutions monitoring the human rights situation are worried - situation in this area is constantly deteriorating since joining the EU.
It is pointed out that the number of ethnic and racial intolerance as well as intolerance to sexual minorities is growing and the situation of women, children and disabled people is worsening.

“Since the times when we joined everything that we wanted to join we are no longer feeling the pressure of the outside,” Henrikas Mickevicius, head of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (ZTSI), names one of the main causes of the deterioration of human rights condition.

According to the expert, although the situation is deteriorating, people do not begin defending their rights in a more active way. It is noted that trust in state institutions is decreasing.

“Three quarters of those who think that their rights were infringed did not address anywhere. 80% of them did not address because they thought that this would not have helped. 40% of those who did complain sought help in non-governmental organizations and not in state institutions,” Mickevicius said.

According to him, such factors as emigration and economic development depend on efficient human rights protection.

According to the survey conducted by Vytautas Magnus University many emigrants do not return to their homeland not only due to economic reasons, but also because they feel more secure and respected abroad than in their own country.

According to Margarita Jankauskaite, project head of the Equal Opportunities Development Center, although the second state anti-discrimination programme has been ratified, it is hard to expect any progress, because complex attitude to discrimination is lacking.

We should look for solutions ourselves and not expect help from banks - Kubilius

Vilnius, July 16 (ELTA) - The Government is not satisfied with the incumbent banks’ activities and the fact that the loan bag has been closed, however, it does not have any influence instruments to change this situation. Acting Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius stated this at the Thursday Government hour at the Seimas.

“The only thing which we can do is to strengthen trust in the Government’s activities on the international markets. If borrowing becomes cheaper on international markets, it will become cheaper in the country too,” Kubilius said.

According to the acting prime minister, the Government is actively speaking with banks and trying to make pressure for borrowing to become cheaper, however, it cannot make any real influence.

“We are talking, expressing our remarks. We do not hold big instruments, however, we see the situation and attract the attention of the governments of those countries where the banks are operating to it. I believe that by autumn we will have the result of these discussions and new proposals,” the acting prime minister explained.

According to him, first of all the authority itself should seek solutions and not press banks. “That is why we are coming to you with reduced budget for the third time, because nobody will propose another variant,” Kubilius told MPs.

Prunskiene abandons National Farmers’ Union

Vilnius, July 8 (ELTA) - Kazimira Danute Prunskiene, former chairwoman of the National Farmers’ Union, now honorary chairwoman of this party, is withdrawing from the party entirely. She will neither be a honorary chairwoman nor a member of the party. Prunskiene, considered a symbol of the National Farmers, is getting ready to establish a new centrist party.

Prunskiene has been disappointed by the rude atmosphere in the party and the party’s hypocrisy towards electors, as well as the behavior of incumbent party chairman Ramunas Karbauskis.

“The incumbent party leader, before becoming one, was making influence with his actions in order for the party not to get into the Seimas. This has considerably weakened the party’s position, which is also confirmed by the low amount of votes collected in the elections into the European Parliament (about 10,000 votes),” writes Prunskiene in her statement.

She intends to inform the public about her intention to establish a new party next week.
The new party is to be of centrist views, however, it will not be oriented towards only one group of society, the way it happened with the National Farmers’ Union.

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