bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Sunday 23.04.2017 | Name days: Jurģis, Juris, Georgs
LatviaLatvia

Candle-lit supper and hunting afterwards send ripples across the border

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 of 1)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

A hunting trip involving Latvian and Lithuanian agriculture ministers threatens to temporarily sour the neighbours’ relations, but Lithuanian Parliament speaker Loreta Graužinienė hopes that it will not be the case. The Seimas chairwoman chalks the ruckus up to the nearing parliamentary election in Lithuania.

Relations will not be strained

«I believe it will not strain our bilateral relations. You know it all happens, but I hope all of it will be cleared. I think the ministers will meet again, and not in one format. I mean they will meet when there is necessity in the European Union to defend one or another position (we both have). We see both Latvian and Estonian politicians coordinating their positions,» the Seimas spokeswoman said in a radio interview.

In her words, the ruckus following the hunting has been ballooned «out of proportion» because of the looming parliamentary election in Lithuania on October 8.

In the wake of the headlines-grabbing revelation, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė has said she was unsatisfied with the Lithuanian Agriculture minister Virginija Baltraitiene’s explanations about the trip and emphasised that it, attended by Latvian Agriculture minister Jānis Dūklavs, has caused diplomatic tensions with Latvia.

To remind, the cross-border hoopla stems from a candle-lit supper followed with a hunting trip – all in the Panevėžys region in north-eastern Lithuania. Among the invitees were not only both countries’ agriculture ministers, but also honchos of Lithuania’s meat processing enterprises. Notably, Jonas Milius, the embattled chief of Lithuania’s veterinary service, was also present at the posh dinner and the hunting trip afterwards.

Milius is fighting document forgery and abuse of power charges stemming from the allegations that he has closed eyes to the sales of bacteria-infested foods produced by Judex Company after MP Petras Gražulis, who has a stake in the business, approached Miliuswith the request not to ring alarm bells over the bacteriological findings in the products.

Both PM Algirdas Butkevičius and President Dalia Grybauskaitė have asked Milius to step down but he refused. Moreover, Baltraitienė, the minister, who supervises the Milius-led governmental agency, also chastised Milius before joining him on the hunting trip.

A public apology

On Monday, August 29, Baltraitiene made a public apology to her Latvian counterpart, Jānis Dūklavs, over the situation in connection to the recent dinner and hunting activity in Lithuania.

Citing «paranoic fears» and «search for pokemons» in Lithuania, she chalked the brouhaha to the nearing Seimas elections.

Baltraitienė and Dūklavs have given conflicting account of their dinner. The Lithuanian minister claimed that the businessmen were invited by Dūklavs, who denies it. There is also no clarity as of now to who paid for the party. The Lithuanian Agriculture Ministry said it had received no bills.

Baltraitiene hinted that the supper could have cost around 300 euros.

«Somewhere in the range. We were served among other dishes zeppelins. Some had one of them while others a couple of them,» she told Lithuanian media.

A single hog was hunted down during the hunting trip, Lithuanian media reported.

In the wake of the revelation, Dūklavs told LETA, a Latvian news agency, that he had been invited to dinner and hunting by Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė and was not aware  that some  meat sector big names had also been invited to it. He explained that when people receive an invitation to dinner they usually do not ask the host who else will attend it.

Dūklavs reasoned that the dinner and hunting trip in Lithuania had been paid for by Baltraitienė’s husband. This was what he had heard from some sources. But the Lithuanian minister claims it is not true.

«Let the Lithuanian side to say it. It is their opportunity to tell everything — who paid for what and how much,» the Latvian minister said.

Speaking to BNS, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis (Greens/Farmers) told the agency that he believes that Agriculture Minister and fellow party member Jānis Dūklavs’ conduct was appropriate as far as his behaviour on his recent trip to Lithuania was concerned. The premier said he had no reason whatsoever not to believe Dūklavs’ explanation and claim any violations on the minister’s part.

«The issue of the ministers’ meeting was a bit exaggerated,» the Latvian PM said.

Minister in hot water

Meanwhile on the other side of the border the hunting story has spurred Lithuania’s Chief Official Ethics Commission to open an inquiry into the possible conflict of interests of Minister Virginija Baltraitienė and chief veterinary officer Jonas Milius.

«We have decided to open an inquiry into the conduct of Minister Virginija Baltraitienė and Chief of the (State Food and) Veterinary Service Jonas Milius amid the public doubts that they could have confused interests by going to an informal meeting, which was, according to the press, a hunt. Members of the commission have questions in connection to participants, financing, etc.,» the commission’s chairman Romas Valentukevičius told BNS Lithuania on Wednesday, August 31.

The inquiry was opened after Baltraitienė turned to the commission. She said she wanted «to clear all doubts about possible conflict of interests during the Latvian delegation’s official visit in Lithuania.» The commission decided to expand the probe to include Milius’ role. The panel has three months for the decision, however, noted would probably reach a conclusion faster.

In Valentukevičius’ words, both the minister and the chief veterinary officer would be summoned to the panel’s meeting, with plans to talk to other participants of the dinner and hunt, except for Latvia’s Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs.

PM wants to see what ethics watchdogs say

Meanwhile, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius says he will wait for conclusions from the Chief Official Ethics Commission as to whether Minister Virginija Baltraitiene did not confuse interests by attending a dinner and hunting activity.

«When it comes to the minister of agriculture, I call upon the Chief Official Ethics Commission to draw its conclusion as soon as possible so that I could receive it and plan my steps,» Butkevičius told journalists at the government on Monday, August 29.

PM said he had asked Baltraitienė for two things – first, to turn to the ethics watchdogs over the dinner story and, second, hold a news conference to «publicly address the doubts.» He said he listened to the live broadcast of the conference but did not specify whether his doubts had been dispelled.

Butkevičius did not comment on whether he considered Baltraitienė suitable for the post, adding that decisions about chief veterinary officer Jonas Milius would be made after hearing his report by September 7 at the latest.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.4045


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. Imports from Belarus' Astravyets NPP restricted

Seimas on Thursday, April 20, adopted a bill to restrict electricity imports from the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus and other unsafe nuclear facilities in third countries.

Wider economic cooperation between Latvia and Singapore planned

As reported by Finance Ministry, work will be performed to establish wider economic cooperation between Latvia and Singapore, both in the field of tax administration and investments.

Lange: poor road quality causes drivers to lose more than one billion euros every year

Poor road quality in Latvia causes losses for drivers worth more than one billion euros every year, announced Janis Lange, chairman of Latvijas valsts ceļi, at an annual conference on Friday, 21 April.

Latvia and Lithuania continue work on single gas market’s development plan

Latvia and Lithuania continue working on single gas market development plan, BNN was told by Latvian Economy Ministry.

Belarus values Latvia’s experience developing e-management

Belarus values Latvia’s positive experience in development of e-management. Constructive cooperation in this field has provided residents in Latvia and Belarus with cheaper roaming tariffs and improved mobile broadband development, as reported by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

Poor skills in digital technologies can reduce one’s competitiveness on the market

Only 2% of board members in Latvia’s leading retail trade companies have skills working with digital technologies. The same applies to 6% of board members in transport and logistics companies, 4% - in energy companies and 0% in manufacturing companies, according to results of a study performed by personnel selection company Amrop.

Government decides not to support Ventspils’ involvement in Nord Stream 2

This week, Latvian government decided behind closed doors not to support the involvement of Ventspils Freeport in the Nord Stream 2 project, according to publicly available information.

Estonia to invest millions in IT and technology business development in regions

Close to 160 million euros are planned to be invested in developing the sector of information and communications technologies in Estonia outside larger cities, according to a state budget strategy for 2018-2021 by the Estonian government.

Bite buys Unistars and gains access to 5G frequency

Mobile communications operator Bite has bought telecommunications company Unistars, making a major step towards introducing 5G network in Latvia, as reported by Bite manager Kaspars Buls.

Study: Latvian businessmen feel threatened the most by increasing tax burden

Nearly all Latvian CEOs expect competition to grow in the future. In addition, this will happen in conditions of deficit of qualified workers, according to results of a study performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Court in Russia bans Jehovah's Witnesses as extremist organisation

The Supreme Court of Russia has accepted a request by the country’s Justice Ministry to term Jehovah's Witnesses as an outlawed religious organisation - best known for going door-to-door looking for new converts -, considering it to be an extremist group.

Progress in the realization of insolvency reform in Latvia

New regulations listed in the Insolvency Law provide for increasing the role of creditors in the choice of figures supervising legal protection processes, as well as enhancing the work of administrators in supervisory institutions – expanding the capacity and authority of the Insolvency Administration in performance of supervisory functions and raising qualifications of employed administrators, as reported by Justice Ministry.

Demand for Barbie considerably down in Europe and North America

The overall sales of Barbie dolls have fallen 13%, world's largest toy company, American manufacturer Mattel has stated.

Weather in Latvia to be windy and rainy for the next couple of days

The end of this week and beginning of the next will be windy and rainy in Latvia, as reported by the State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuanian MPs deal with smut resolvedly, but is it sign of parliamentarian transparency?

If the Lithuanian lawmakers’ adhering to law and ethics was to be judged by the events from the last couple of weeks, one could conjure up an impression that the Lithuanian legislature is one of the most transparent around – and a whole lot such than the previous parliamentary term.

Riga International Airport will have a new air traffic control tower

Latvijas Gaisa Satiksme promises that Riga International Airport will have a new, modern air traffic control tower in 2013.

Lembergs will fight for his «warm seat» in the mayor’s office

Aivars Lembergs intends to participate in upcoming municipal elections in Ventspils as a mayoral candidate from his party – For Latvia and Ventspils.

Latvia’s financed loan volume increased by 72 million euros in Q1

In Q1 2017, loans worth more than EUR 94 million were issued through Latvian loan platforms, according to data compiled by Latvian Association of Alternative Financial Services.

Number of passengers carried by airBaltic grows 12%

Latvian national airBaltic airline carried 224,921 passengers to destinations in Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East in March. This means a 12% increase in comparison with last year, BNN was told by the airline.

Birth rates in Latvia 6.9% behind previous year

Compared to the same period one year ago, 365 children fewer were born in Latvia in Q1 2017, which means a drop of 6.9 %.

Study: Latvia has become one of the centres for Russian organized crime

Russian organized crime groups, which often have ties to Kremlin, have varied their activities in Europe, including Latvia. This is why European institutions should consider them more of a security, not crime problem, as concluded in a study by British researcher Mark Galeotti* published by European Council on Foreign Relations.

Estonian state securities’ fund increases profits to 1.2 million euros

The gross revenue of the Estonian state securities and business support fund Kredex grew 16% reaching 7.1 million euros last year, while profits rose to 1.2 million euros, which is a 20% increase.

New CEO of Riga Freeport to have a major wage increase

Riga Freeport authority plans to announce a personnel selection process to find a new CEO for the Freeport, said Mareks Gailitis, advisor to chairman of the board of Riga Freeport Andris Ameriks.

20 asylum seekers resettled from Greece to Latvia

As part of the European Union’s resettlement programme, twenty people were relocated from Greece to Latvia on Wednesday, 19 April. Ten of those people are children, as reported by Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs.

Estonia to impose banks with 14% advance income tax

Amending the Estonian income tax system, the country’s government has decided to push for a 14-percent advance income tax on banking institutions’ profits.

Newest comments