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Friday 24.11.2017 | Name days: Velta, Velda

Lithuania’s political and economic diary. Lithuania invited to start OECD accession talks

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULithuania has been invited to open negotiations on joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

«It’s an acknowledgement of Lithuania’s consistent efforts, which will open up more possibilities to protect the interests of our country. Membership in the OECD will make Lithuania more attractive to foreign investors. It will enable us to step up cooperation with the most advanced countries and will contribute to the growth of our country and promotion of economic welfare,» Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said in a press release.

In late February, the government established a coordinating committee for Lithuania’s OECD membership.

Lithuania has been seeking membership in the organization since 2002

Lithuanian parliament endorses new state security chief

The Lithuanian parliament has backed the bid to appoint Colonel Darius Jauniškis as the chief of the State Security Department. His nomination was supported by 107 parliamentarians, one abstained. According to the Constitution, the security chief is appointed and dismissed by the President, subject to parliament’s approval.

In his presentation at parliament, Jauniškis emphasized that the State Security Department should take a leading role in prevention of threats to the state.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė proposed Jauniškis for the post, saying she expected the new security chief to take responsibility and ensure that the State Security Department did not only identify threats but also eliminated them.

Jauniškis, 47, currently heads the Lithuanian army’s Special Operations Force. He has been serving in the national defence system since it was restored in the early 1990s.

The Parliament dismissed Gediminas Grina from security chief post after expiry of his five-year term. President Grybauskaitė has criticized him, saying that the department merely observes national security threats and waves a red flag, but does nothing to eliminate them

Lithuanian PM praises Russian TV channel ban

The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission took a responsible step on Wednesday, April 8, to ban broadcasts of the Russian-language RTR Planeta channel for three months, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius says. Meanwhile Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius cautions that ban will not solve the problem of Russian misinformation campaign.

Lithuania’s media watchdog suspends broadcasting of Russian TV channel amid the accusations that it had instigated ethnical enmity and hatred in Lithuania.

«Generally speaking, I have repeatedly stated that the bans do not solve the situation. However, in this case I cannot comment on the decisions made by institutions, as they were made without political influence. Being far away from Lithuania, I do not know the true reasons behind them,» Linkevičius told.

Foreign minister hopes Greece comprehends its commitments

Greece, which high-echelon authorities paid visit to Russia, must meet its commitments to Western organizations in order to secure solidarity from the European Union (EU) on financial support, believes Lithuanias’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius.

In the minister’s words, Russia seeks to divide EU countries by inclining them to act by their own interests rather than principles, which is unacceptable.

At a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the Kremlin on Wednesday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin indirectly mentioned that Moscow might lift its import ban on Greek food products.

In Linkevičius’ opinion, the Russian intentions to lift the embargo for individual countries «show that the restrictions are definitely not economic but purely political».

The Greek government has repeatedly criticized the West over sanctions on Russia which were launched in response to the annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s support to separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

Lithuania tries to lure Israeli tourists

After opening the Embassy of Israel in Vilnius, joining the euro zone and being chosen by the Lonely Planet as one of the world’s top tourist attractions, Lithuania is becoming more accessible and welcoming to Israeli tourists.

Jurgita Kazlauskienė, head of the Lithuanian State Tourism Department (VTD), and Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel Edminas Bagdonas met at the David Intercontinental hotel in Tel Aviv for a unique PR event organized for Israeli travel agents in order to encourage Israeli tourists to visit Lithuania, the VTD said.

In this exclusive event, the travel agents were shown various touristic attractions in Lithuania, its historical sites, landscapes, cuisine, SPAs, etc. The event also included a lucky draw in which the lucky winners received a package of luxury vacation in Lithuania and many other prizes.

Lithuania’s goal of attracting more Israeli tourists is an outcome of the growing relationship between the two countries that became even closer with Lithuania joining the euro zone and the opening of the Israeli Embassy in Vilnius this year.

«Lithuania and Israel have historical and long-lasting relations. Our arrival to Israel proves our wish to maintain and empower our relation in the future. Due to the recent changes, we are expecting a high number of Israeli tourists in Lithuania so that they can experience the touristic and cultural variety that our country has to offer. I am certain that the Israeli people will discover an attractive country which was also declared lately by both Lonely Planet and the Forbes magazine as a top international recommended touristic destination for 2015,» said Kazlauskienė.

UN holds Lithuania-spearheaded discussion on cyber confidence

Lithuania’s permanent mission to the United Nations held an expert discussion on Wednesday, April 8, about promoting mutual confidence in the cyber space.

The discussion focused on the discussion of regional organizations and UN practices, the Foreign Ministry said.

Lithuania’s Ambassador to the UN Raimonda Murmokaitė who presided over the debate said cyber attacks, Internet-assisted propaganda and hatred, attacks on key strategic infrastructure objects have become a threat that has to be countered.

«Although the attitudes on fighting this type of threats may be different and there may be disagreements on who should be responsible, there is a general consensus that a certain degree of stability, security and confidence is needed. Measures to promote confidence may become the first step towards boosting transparency and cooperation, preventing escalation of conflicts among countries,» said the Lithuanian diplomat.

Lithuanian army hands over 500,000 munitions to police

The Lithuanian army’s Logistics Board handed over about 500,000 munitions for automatic weapons to the police at an arsenal in Linkaičiai on Thursday, April 9.

Handed to the police in the Radviliskis district, the cartridges of 5.56×45 and 5.45×39 mm will be intended for automatic rifles of the police force, as well as training of police officers, the Ministry of National Defence said.

The handover was conducted in response to a request from the Police Department in the light of insufficient supply of munitions in some institutions.

Five more Ukrainian troops admited to Lithuanian hospitals

Another five Ukrainian soldiers injured in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine have arrived for treatment in hospitals of Lithuania.

«Five participants of the anti-terrorist operation in Ukraine arrived in Lithuania for treatment on April 8,» Asta Galdikaitė, adviser at the Defence Ministry’s Public Relations Division, told BNS, a Lithuanian news agency.

In her words, three of the five soldiers were brought by the Defence Ministry and they will be treated at a rehabilitation centre in the resort city of Druskininkai, while the other two Ukrainian men brought by the Health Ministry will undergo treatment in Druskininkai hospital.

Lithuania expects to receive and rehabilitate 50 soldiers from Eastern Ukraine. Seven Ukrainians were treated in Lithuania in January, in addition to three in February and four in March.

Lithuania sends diplomatic note to Belarus

Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign affairs has sent a note to Belarus on the sixth international car border crossing point at Šumskas.

The agreement on founding the international checkpoint will be completed after the Belarusian Foreign Ministry sends a note to Lithuania.

Once the status of the Šumskas-Losha checkpoint is upgraded to international, it will be open to persons regardless of their citizenship, cars with the maximum weight of 3,500 kg and under eight seats for passengers and one seat for driver, as well as buses regardless of their country of origin.

The checkpoint is now only intended for local communication.

Currently, Lithuania has five international border crossing points for automobiles and two for railways.

Bank analyst: Lithuania might need to revise budget

Chief Analyst of DNB Bank, Indrė Genytė-Pikčienė, says there is likelihood that the Lithuanian government will have to revise this year’s state budget revenue and expenditure targets.

Although the 2015 state budget was drafted expecting a 3.4-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth, in March the Ministry of Finance reduced 2015 growth forecast to 2.5 percent, while the Bank of Lithuania, to 2.7 percent. The International Monetary Fund also revised Lithuania’s GDP growth in April and reduced it to 2.8 percent. According to DNB analysts, the country’s GDP in 2015 should grow 2.5 percent.

«In my eyes, either the budget will be revised or the state will have to finance the deficit by borrowing,» said the analyst.

Minister of Finance Rimantas Šadžius said in late March that in spite of the reduced economic growth forecast there were no objective reasons to revise the budget.

Google, Swedbank and Maxima among most popular brands in Baltics

The most popular brand in the Baltic states is the on-line search engine Google, according to a research project carried by TNS Emor.

The second most popular brand is the Swedish bank group Swedbank, followed by the Lithuanian grocery store chain Maxima.

All three of the brands are also in the top 10 of most popular brands in each individual country.

According to the pollster, the top 10 most popular brands in Latvia are in respective order: Swedbank, Laima, Apple, Google, LMT, Lido, Maxima, Rimi, Karums and Liepkalni.

Baltic PMs discussed security and energy

In order to discuss matters related to security, energy and transportation, the prime ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia met Friday, April 10, for informal talks.

Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma (Unity) informed her Baltic counterparts on the results of the Latvian EU Presidency during its first three months, as well as what is still being planned for the final months of the Presidency. Also, discussions on preparations for the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga took place.

The informal weekend meetings of the PMs of the Baltic States are traditionally held in one of the three Baltic countries.

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Latvian parties took part in sports games organized by scandalous Russian politician

On Lāčplēsis Day, 11 November, certain members of the Saeima from Harmony party and Union of Greens and Farmers participated in sports games organized by Jaunā līga association supported by the Russian parliament. The initiator of those games is Dmitry Svistsev, a member of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party led by scandalous Russian State Duma politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Latvijas Avīze writes.

Famous Lithuanian film director suffers backlash amid sexual misconduct accusations

Although the list of powerful Lithuanian men accused of sexual misconduct is nowhere to match the similar compilation in the United States, where many women have busted an army of entertainment industry big-names, politicians and other public life celebs, however, the wave of woman revelations of men’s unwanted sexual advancement has reached Lithuania, too.

LEC: it is important to ensure efficient investing of state budget finances

It is important that the state budget for 2018 helps reach goals detailed in the National Development Plan, not look for excuses why something was not achieved, says Latvian Employers’ Confederation.

Latvian barometer: Zemgale’s residents are the proudest of living in Latvia

With Latvia’s centenary coming up, Baltic International Bank organized Latvian barometer to determine Latvian residents’ opinions on festivities associated with this event, as well as Latvia’s accomplishments and factors the country should improve.

Ašeradens: the state budget should contribute to changes in national economy

The state budget should contribute to changes in Latvia’s national economy. This is why it is necessary to ensure that Economy Ministry recognizes efforts to increase productivity of the national economy, export growth, attraction of investments, innovations and business environment development as priorities in the process for the formation of the next three-year state budget, says Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Belgian waffle factory fire closes schools in Brussels

A large fire has destroyed a waffle factory in Brussels, making a cloud of black smoke over a part of the European Union's unofficial capital.

Facebook to inform users, who liked secretly Russian-made political pages

The popular social network has undertaken in the U.S. to notify its users if they have given a thumb-up to Facebook pages, which around the time of the last U.S. presidential election have been set up by foreign actors with the aim of spreading propaganda.

Officials: a safe Europe is important for Latvia

Latvia is interested in a safe and strong Europe. Security is one of the most important priorities. Looking at modern-day challenges and technological development, cyber-security’s role only keeps increasing, said chairperson of Saeima’s European Affairs Committee Lolita Čigāne after a meeting.

Weather to remain volatile in Latvia; air temperature to drop again next week

No major changes are expected for weather in Latvia in the coming days. Friday, 24 November, will be cloudy and rainy. Air temperature will range within +2° C… +7° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Pūce: RS is fortunate that «good uncle» Ušakovs gives as much money as needed

«Rīgas satiksme is a jar with an empty bottom in which Riga’s taxpayer money is put in from one end and the money put in it falls out of the other end and is used in different fraud schemes like nano-water, and the useless hydrogen-powered transport project – enormous and financially unreasonable projects....

Saeima approves next year’s budget; more funding for health and defence

On Thursday, 23 November, the Saeima approved Latvia’s budget for 2018. Next year’s budget revenue is planned at EUR 8.75 billion, whereas expenditures are planned at EUR 8.95 billion. The largest increase of funding is planned for healthcare. Latvia’s defence budget is set to reach 2% of GDP

Ķuzis: 94% of sex crimes against children are committed by people they know

Approximately half of sex crimes committed against minors take place on the internet, said Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis at a press-conference on protection of children against sexual violence.

European Parliament approves use of EU Solidarity Fund’s advance payments

European Parliament’s Budget Committee has approved MEP Inese Vaidere’s submitted report on the use of advance payments from the EU Solidarity Fund in 2018, as reported by European People’s Party group Latvian press and communication advisor Ģirts Salmgriezis.

Authorities unmask illegal trade of products made from protected animals

Nature Protection Office and State Police have stepped up their efforts to increase control over trade of products made from endangered and protected species in the past month. Authorities have already confiscated different goods made from animals protected in Latvia and the world.

Swedbank survey: youngsters want stability; belief in Latvian labour market grows

Stability and income predictability are two of the most important values for Latvian youngsters when planning their future jobs. According to a survey performed by Swedbank, 53% of youngsters would gladly start working in an existing company.

Myanmar and Bangladesh to sigh refugee return agreement

In South-Eastern Asia, Myanmar plans to sign an agreement with neighbouring Bangladesh on the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who have fled to the latter, while rights organisations point to atrocities committed by Myanmar's military.

Polish shipbuilder accused of bribing Port of Tallinn management

A senior executive of Remontowa Shipbuilding, a Polish shipbuilding company, is facing accusations of handing large bribes to former senior figures Port of Tallinn, the Estonian state-owned port operator.

Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed head of Saeima’s National Security Committee

Unity member Inese Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed as the new head of Saeima’s National Security Committee, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Expert: real estate transaction volume this year may reach 100 million euros

The volume of commercial real estate transactions in Baltic States may exceed EUR 1 billion. Latvia, meanwhile, remains behind its neighbouring countries because the volume of transactions in the country may reach EUR 100 million, says CEO of Colliers International Deniss Kairāns.

Finnish medication prescriptions to be valid in Estonia

In Estonia, Finland's digital prescriptions of medications will be valid from summer 2018 and vice versa – from around mid-2019.

Talks commence on restoring ferry traffic between Ventspils and Saaremaa

On Wednesday, 22 November, a delegation from Saaremaa municipality arrived at Vetnspils Freeport to discuss with representatives of Ventspils municipality and freeport the proposal to restore ferry traffic between Saaremaa and Ventspils.

Family of killed Maltese journalist take police to court

The family of the killed Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has sued police believing that it does not perform an impartial investigation.

Saeima reduces VAT for vegetables, berries and fruits typical for Latvia

Starting 2018, a reduced VAT rate will be applied for fresh fruits, berries and vegetables in Latvia. This is provided by amendments approved by the Saeima on 22 November for Law on Value Added Tax.

Georgian anti-terrorist raid ends tragically

In the Georgian capital Tbilisi, security officers have conducted an anti-terrorist raid in an apartment, where a shoot-out has started and three suspected militants and a special forces' soldier have been killed.

Jerošenko: Ušakovs offers unhealthy policy, Harmony is used as Lembergs’ «satellite party»

«Cooperation between Harmony and Aivars Lembergs’ Union of Greens and Farmers has always existed. It existed even before Harmony first appeared in Riga City Council. The situation is the same in the Saeima, even though Concord is in the opposition. Still, in situations when one or the other matter important to Lembergs appears, one does not have to be a great politologist to notice the ties between those parties...

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