bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Sunday 04.12.2016 | Name days: Baiba, Barba, Barbara
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. Lithuania set to step up defence ties with the United States

Lithuania is set to step up defence ties with the United States by signing the first bilateral cooperation agreement.

Economic Diary of Latvia. To tempt Brexit defectors

Latvia had the slowest growth of GDP among Baltic States in Q3 2016, according to the latest data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. Nevertheless, this does not seem to prevent Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis from hoping for GDP growth of 4-5% a year in the future.

Following an investment of 3.3 million, K-rauta becomes K Senukai

On Friday, 2 December, Baltics’ largest construction, repair and household goods store network Kesko Senukai opened its first new concept shopping centre K Senukai in Riga, Lucavsalas Street. This venture cost the company EUR 3.3 million.

Saeima deputies allocated record-large amount of money for «friend projects»

The money of Latvia’s budget for next year allocated not with the intention to solve problems in priority industries but rather to satisfy desires of certain politicians and their lobby groups has reached an astonishing new peak – EUR 27.9 million, according to estimates, as reported by Ir.

Income from foreign travellers in Latvia declines

In Q3 2016, Latvia’s current account had a surplus of EUR 93.4 million or 1.5% of GDP, notes Bank of Latvia economist Linda Vecgaile.

airBaltic to sell Boeing 737 after replacing them with Bombardier CS300

Latvian national airBaltic airline intends to gradually update its fleet with Bombardier CS300 aircraft. The airline plans to sell its owned Boeing 737, says Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic.

Numbers of active voters in Latvia continue to decline before next year’s elections

47% of Latvian vote-ready citizens plan to take part in next year’s municipal elections, according to results of a survey carried out by SKDS following a request from the Central Election Commission in November.

BATL: transit industry’s potential is enormous, but not used to its fullest

Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics is satisfied that real and constructive work has commenced in cooperation with LDz Logistics and Transport and Communications Institute on Latvia’s transport and logistics, including the development of a strategy for the transit industry.

Ominous milestone: one-millionth Lithuanian to leave soon

The statisticians claim that, every day, 120 Lithuanians hop onto Scandinavia and Western Europe-bound planes in search of a better life. This month, Lithuania is likely to reach an ominous and heart-wrenching milestone with the country‘s émigré number expected to go over one million. To calm down the naysayers, the estimate is unofficial.

Snowy weekends expected in Latvia

The first days of December will go by under influence from a cyclone. Because of that, many regions of the country are expected to experience snowfall. Rain is only expected along the coast. Ice is expected to form as a result and visibility will likely reduce because of snowfall.

Three European cities plan to ban diesel cars

Looking for ways to improve their quality of air, the mayors of Madrid, Paris and Athens have on December 1 expressed readiness to introduce bans on cars and trucks with diesel engines by 2025.

French President Hollande refuses to run for re-election

France’s President François Hollande has unexpectedly announced that he would not run for re-election to the post.

Several hundred Estonian reserve soldiers summoned to unexpected drills

The cabinet of ministers of Estonia ordered on December 1 to hold snap military drills to test the ability of reserve troops to reach combat readiness in 24 hours.

Freight turnover and freight traffic declines at ports

Compared to Q3 2015, the volume of freights carried by land and pipeline transport has decreased by 1.8 million tonnes or 5.5 % in Q3 2016. The most notable drop in the volume of freights carried was recorded in rail transport – of 2.3 million tonnes or 18.9 %.

EU 2017 budget to provide the most support to youth and growth initiatives

In the next year’s budget, members of the European Parliament have secured larger support to unemployed youngsters and Erasmus+, as well as initiatives for support of small and medium-sized businesses, transport infrastructure projects and research. Commitment appropriations for 2017 total EUR 157.8578 billion, and payment appropriations EUR 134.49 billion.

Vejonis picks Kalnins as candidate for NAF commander

President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis has decided to propose National Armed Forces Joint Staff Chief Leonids Kalnins for the post of commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces. Kalnins was previously proposed by Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis, according to information from LETA.

Europol releases its Christmas calendar of EU’s most wanted criminals

European Union’s police body Europol has engaged in the often commercial pre-festive period by releasing Christmas advent calendar that will reveal one of bloc’s most wanted criminals every day up until Christmas.

Expert: Latvia’s real estate market is sick

In medical terms, Latvia’s real estate market is currently sick. It will only recover once all transactions are carried out using actual market price and those whose expectations are overestimated – drop out, said real estate specialist, member of Latvian Real Estate Association and board member of Real State Jurmala Igors Danilevics.

Prime Minister: Latvia’s economic growth is not as fast as it was expected in 2015

«Looking at national economy’s growth dynamics in 2016, we have noticed drastically different ratings. On the one hand, there are positive statistics that prove Latvia’s economic growth continues. It is not as fast as it was expected in 2015. It is expected that growth will continue in the future. A few days ago opinions of multiple banking experts appeared in the public space, saying that wage growth in Latvia will speed up next year. I would associate that with the government’s decisions and the Saeima’s approved budget for 2017,» – said Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis.

Estonia’s coalition distances itself from charges against ruling party

The coalition partners of Estonia’s Centre Party, which is headed by the Estonian Prime Minister, have this week distanced themselves from charges brought against the ruling party for allegedly receiving illegal political donations.

Finland’s Prime Minister blamed for attempts to limit press freedom

The Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipilä has denied allegations that he has attempted to affect, how press covers allegations against him and his relatives.

Restrictions for alimony avoiders and other decisions viewed by the Saeima

On Thursday, 1 December, the Saeima will decide on the new Subsistence Guarantee Fund Law. This law states that driving rights can be revoked for alimony avoiders.

OPEC oil exporters agree to reduce oil output to increase price

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on November 30 for the first time since 2008 to reduce oil supply in an attempt to make global oil prices grow. The organisatrion’s head Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada stated that a cut of 1.2 million barrels a day would start from January

Tragic dormitory fire in Turkey

Police in southern Turkey has detained six people after 11 pupils and a teacher died in a dorm fire.

Tick encephalitis infection cases increased by one-third in Latvia this year

Cold November forced ticks to enter hibernation. There is reason to believe tick activity in Latvia has ended for this year, admits entomologist Voldemars Spungis.

Newest comments