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Lithuania’s political and economic diary. Man threatens to blow up Lithuania’s Presidential Palace

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Lithuania’s Presidential Palace

The man who threatened to explode a bomb outside the Lithuanian President’s Office on Wednesday evening, April 15, appears to be mentally unstable, Vilnius police chief Kęstutis Lančinskas said.

«This is a man who is mentally unstable and who has repeatedly undergone treatment for certain disabilities. He was both in treatment, on medication and he was on medication constantly,» Lančinskas told journalists.

The police were alerted on Wednesday afternoon about a man carrying a suitcase near the Presidentail Palace in central Vilnius who was allegedly threatening to blow up a bomb.

Officers immediately sealed off the area around the building, which is located opposite the central campus of Vilnius University, and advised the staff of the President’s Office to leave. The President herself was not in the building at the time.

Born in 1982, the suspect is a former taxi driver, divorced. He is of Lithuanian nationality. According to police reports, the man’s home was searched, with other procedural actions underway. The man is currently in detention and underwent medical tests. Prosecutors intend to ask for a court sanction to arrest him.

According to the police, the man acted alone.

Lithuanian President: Lithuania needs to be united

As a small nation, Lithuania needs to unite all forces, including politicians and journalists, on security issues in the wake of existing threats, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė insists.

«As a small nation having such borders, with such a complicated situation in the security sense, and I have in mind not only military but also informational, cyber and all other kind of security, we must unite our forces – of politicians, public speakers and the media. It is very important not only to resist, to fight, not only to defend ourselves but to also be capable of presenting our way of understanding and our message,» the president said opening a conference on defence issues at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius on Friday, April 17.

Grybauskaitė also underlined the growing importance of the information sphere.

The conference is also set to discuss the implementation of Lithuanian political parties’ agreement on foreign, security and defence policy guidelines until 2020.

German Foreign Minister: Russia will not divide Europe

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has expressed conviction in Vilnius that Russia will not succeed in dividing the European Union (EU) amid the fear that Moscow may lift the embargo of food products from the countries that are friendlier towards the Kremlin.

«It is possible that the attempts exist and that they will exist in the future. There were attempts to do this but it was not successful,» the minister told Vilnius journalists when asked about Moscow’s possible decisions to allow imports of food products from selected countries.

«Discussions about this are underway in Europe, however, we can make common decisions. We had a discussion and the discussion was controversial, the decision has been made. I believe the attempts to divide Europe will not be successful,» the minister added.

Lithuanian PM: Rescuers of Jews deserve more respect and attention

Rescuers of WWII Jews deserve more respect and attention, believes Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius. He expressed the notion on Thursday, April 16, at a ceremony at the government’s building to honour and award Righteous Among Nations.

«In Lithuania where there are various signs of memory, monuments, memorials, we still fail to show due respect and attention to the Righteous Among Nations. It is a duty for us all to seek that the world hears the pain of the victims and to know the names of the heroes,» Butkevičius said.

The prime minister says that the Righteous Among Nations restored the hope for the condemned Jews and gave them back the right to live, be happy and love.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people attended the traditional March of the Living on the Holocaust Memorial Day from a railway station to the memorial where 70,000 Jews were massacred during World War Two.

Under flying Lithuanian and Israeli flags, the rally included Jews living in Lithuania, people from Israel and a few hundred young people who formed a human David’s Star in front of the Vilnius Town Hall before the march.

Jewish national Joed Sorek of Germany expressed hope that the Holocaust would never be forgotten.

«We are here, we are marching, we won, we are singing, we remember what happened. We remember who did it. We are walking the forest where my grandmother lost all her family. On the first days of war, my grandfather and his son were taken here and shot. I’m here to make their stories alive,» said Sorek, 34.

The Nazis, often assisted by their Lithuanian collaborators, massacred about 90 percent of the Lithuanian pre-war Jewish population of 200,000 during World War II. About 8,000 Jews were rescued and about the same number of Jews survived by fleeting to the Soviet Union.

The Israel-based Yad Vashem centre of Holocaust studies has recognized 877 Lithuanians as Righteous Among Nations for risking their lives to rescue Jews from the genocide.

Lithuania’s conservatives to elect new leader

Members of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) will be electing a new chairperson of the party this weekend. The conservatives will cast secret ballots in direct vote in the party’s branches all across Lithuania.

Six candidates are running for the position: Mantas Adomėnas, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Irena Degutienė, Gabrielius Landsbergis, Jurgis Razma and Emanuelis Zingeris.

The candidate who receives more than half of the vote will be deemed the winner of the election. In case none of the participants receives the required majority, a run-off vote will be held on April 24-25 between the top two candidates of the first round.

The TS-LKD chairperson is elected for a 2-year term of office. The party which has 16,000 members is currently headed by out-going Andrius Kubilius, leader of the Seimas Opposition.

Foreign Minister: Only OSCE can monitor ceasefire in Ukraine

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the only organisation able to at least partially observe the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Therefore the OSCE must be granted access to hotspots of the most intense fighting.

This week representatives of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France met and approved the OSCE’s initiative that not only heavy weapons but also weapons below 100 mm calibre should be withdrawn from the ceasefire line in Donbas. However German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who paid a visit to Vilnius on Thursday, April 16, noted that OSCE observers can work in just around 50 percent of the conflict zone.

Steinmeier underlined that the European Union is not part of the conflict in Ukraine, but the EU is interested in ending the conflict and the OSCE monitoring mission is needed for this. The German foreign minister said that the OSCE must be provided the possibility to work and must be supported financially.

Lithuanian investors invited to India

India has invited Lithuanian companies to take advantage of new and exciting opportunities for investment, at a «Make in India» road show organised by Embassy of India and Honorary Consul of India in Vilnius, Wing Commander Rajinder Chaudhary, in partnership with Confederation of Industrialists of Lithuania in Vilnius, on April 13.

The roadshow saw participation by more than 30 business executives from leading Lithuanian companies, covering a wide range of sectors. Investors Forum of Lithuania, Baltic Institute of Corporate Governance, the Lithuanian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and officials of the local Foreign Office also attended the meeting. The seminar was inaugurated by Vice President and Director General of Confederation of Industrialists of Lithuania, Dr. Gediminas Rainys.

In a detailed presentation at the seminar, Ambassador Ajay Bisaria highlighted the favourable constellation of factors available in India for manufacturing companies, including a vast pool of skilled manpower, low labour costs and innovative new policies and initiatives introduced by the Government of India to expand manufacturing under the campaign.

Lithuanian Central Bank: further measures are necessary

Before departing to the US for IMF meetings, Lithuania’s Central Bank chief Vitas Vasiliauskas noted that monetary policy measures applied by central banks have helped global economic recovery gain speed, but it is still fragile.

«Efforts should be concerted to ensure sustainable enduring development of the economy,» said Vasiliauskas.

According to him, faster economic recovery is being impeded by still sluggish investment, difficulties faced by the banking sector in some countries, and persisting geopolitical tensions. Moreover, global financial system risks in relation to a low interest rates environment and strong increases in the prices of some property types have strengthened as well.

Vasiliauskas stressed that during the IMF annual meetings monetary, financial sector, fiscal and structural policy measures will be discussed, which could ensure more robust economic growth and mitigate the risks in the international financial system both in the long and short term.

Norwegian Embassy hires PR firm to look up image in Lithuania

Following bad press that Norway’s child welfare services received in Lithuania for restricting parenting rights of a Lithuanian mother, the country’s embassy in Vilnius has hired a public relations agency to improve the country’s image.

Norway’s Ambassador in Vilnius Dag M. Halvorsen stated that «after various interpretations of Norwegian children’s rights policies flooded the Lithuanian public sphere, many Lithuanians have started to look upon Norway with skepticism.»

«We therefore think that there is a need to attract more attention to the on-going cooperation in various fields between Lithuania and Norway, which started shortly after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence. Lithuania is a close neighbour and trading partner with Norway and Norway is home to one of the largest Lithuanian diasporas,» the ambassador said in a written response to BNS, a Lithuanian news agency.

The situation of Lithuanian emigrant families in Norway became a major concern, when a Lithuanian mother had her parental rights suspended by Norway’s children rights service Barnevernet. The situation was exacerbated by a failed attempt to take the child out of the country.

Lithuanian author awarded EU Prize for Literature

Lithuanian writer Undinė Radzevičiūtė has been awarded the European Union’s Prize for Literature of 2015.

This year’s winners were announced by the European Commission (EC) at the London Book Fair on Tuesday. The Lithuanian author was awarded for her book Fish and Dragons, the EC mission in Lithuania said.

Her other books include Strekaza, Frankburg, There Will Be No Baden Baden and 180.

Prizes were also awarded to 11 other authors from Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden.

The prizes will be conferred in Brussels on June 23. Every winner will receive 5,000 euros and will be encouraged to apply for funding for translation of their works.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.1413


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