A milestone decision to enhance Alliance presence in the eastern part of NATO has been taken at the NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, believes Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas.
«Forward presence is the key element for implementing the adaptation and credible deterrence of the Alliance. Therefore I welcome the decision to enhance Alliance’s forward presence in the eastern part of NATO. In our turn, we seek to have an allied battalion unit in Lithuania,» Juozas Olekas said.
He also pointed out that NATO presence is expected to be defined in terms of concept and detail by summer. The Lithuanian Minister underscored that it should be a combat-ready forward presence integrated with national forces and capable of responding immediately in case of aggression. Ministers also discussed the development of cyber defences, cooperation with other international organisations, primarily the European Union, and take stock of the progress achieved on the ballistic missile defence project.
President attends Munich Security Conference
President Dalia Grybauskaitė attended the Munich Security Conference – the most important independent forum in the region which discusses key international security policy challenges. The 52th conference aimed to use the world’s best minds in addressing global challenges, to search for peaceful solutions to conflicts and enhance the Euro-Atlantic system. Before leaving, the President pointed out that, due to the tense geopolitical situation and existing threats, strengthening security and defence remains a key priority for Lithuania and the entire Euro-Atlantic community. The Lithuanian President met Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Georgia’s new Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in the margins of the conference.
Prime Minister congratulates new Latvian Government
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius extended his congratulations to the new Latvian Prime Minister Māri Kučinski on the formation of a new Government.«I am very glad that Lithuania and Latvia shares a close and warm relationship. Mutual understanding, support and common efforts allow us to develop mutual relations and reach common objectives. Taking into account the current challenges to the international peace and security, the unity between our countries and close dialogue becomes even more important. Let me assure you that we are determined to cooperate closely with your Government both on the mutual level, and in all international formats», reads the letter of the Lithuanian Prime Minister wishing success to the new Latvian Government in its tasks and objectives.
EC Commissioner accuses President of fuelling political crises
President Dalia Grybauskaitė is fuelling political crises in the country instead of seeking stability and balance, says European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, the honorary chairman of the Social Democratic Party.He has called Lithuania’s foreign policy «pathetic», i.e. full of fears towards some EU member states’ attempts to mend fences with Russia.
Baby saved from drowning in well
A 19-year-old, apparently mentally disturbed mother in Sakiai district, south-west Lithuania, almost killed her baby by throwing it in a well. A neighbour came in time to rescue the baby from drowning. The single mother allegedly threw her 7-month-old baby into a well intentionally, but immediately had a change of heart and alerted a neighbour who rushed to the well and pulled out the boy. The baby was taken to hospital and is feeling well.
Labour Code amendment suggests more flexible employment contracts
Lithuania’s big-earners should have more flexibility in negotiating employment terms with their employers, a Lithuanian parliamentary committee has decided. Lithuanian Parliament is set to adopt new Labour Code in the spring session which opening is slated for early March.
PM questioned at Special Investigation Service
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius was questioned by Special Investigation Service (STT) officers investigating construction fraud in the resort town of Druskininkai. The mayor of the town, Ričardas Malinauskas, is the Social Democrat Party’s deputy chairman and is considered to be one of its heavyweights. Meanwhile, deputy agriculture minister stepped down amidst suspected corruption in food-for-poor programme. Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė has accepted resignation of her deputy Vilius Martusevičius over alleged corruption in the ministry’s food for poor programme.
President signs decree to sack healthcare minister
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė has signed a decree to dismiss Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė, a social democrat, from the post of healthcare minister. She has acknowledged to have given a bribe to a doctor in the past. Not a single conviction for bribing a member of the medical profession in Lithuania has been recorded in the seven years from 2006 to 2013, according to Transparency International Lithuania.
Flu claims first victim in Lithuania
Flu continues to spread in Lithuania with 16 municipalities out of 60 having declared epidemics. One death from flu-related complications was reported on Monday.
President Grybauskaitė among Ukraine’s most-liked foreign leaders
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is named among Ukraine’s most-liked foreign leaders, according to a new survey. She has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine’s EU integration efforts. As many Lithuanian politicians, the head-of-state believes that, supporting Ukraine, Lithuania defends itself against aggression from East.
Vilnius public transport on Google Transit
Google has included Vilnius into the coverage of its world-wide Google Transit service, a trip planner on public transport. The service, a cooperation between Google and Vilnius municipal public transport administrator Susisiekimo Paslaugos, launched on Thursday, February 11, allowing people in Vilnius to use Google Maps to plan their trips not just by car and on foot, but on public transport as well. . Google’s Baltics marketing head Regimantas Urbanas adds that the new service will make the Lithuanian capital’s public transport more accessible to foreign visitors.
Britain’s five warships to defend Baltics
Lithuanian media reports that Britain is sending five warships to Lithuania and the Baltics as part of a NATO build-up in the region to act as a deterrent against Russia. A recent announcement from Washington that the United States is giving a four-fold boost to its military spending in Europe received a wide welcome in Lithuania, but it appeared that most of the US military presence will be concentrated in Western Europe, which has the necessary infrastructure already in place to support American forces.
Shrovetide celebrations in Vilnius
The annual Shrovetide celebrations on Tuesday, February 9, turned the courtyard of the Teachers’ House in Vilnius into a strange world full of masked people, a burning doll, and a vast amount of pancakes. The celebration is similar to other Roman Catholic holiday traditions all over the world, such as Mardi Gras. On Tuesday evening, the courtyard at the Teachers’ House in Vilnius was crowded with people and scents of wood fire, sweets and, of course, pancakes. People gathered outdoors, anticipating the burning of Morė, a giant straw doll with a female head that symbolises the darkness of winter and the problems people endure.
New bill on dual citizenship being drafted
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has appointed a task group to draft a bill on dual citizenship so that the issue could be put to a vote in a planned referendum this year. The referendum is expected to be held along with the parliamentary elections in late October.
Minister met with foreign defence attachés
Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas discussed major security challenges and development of Lithuania’s defence plans at a meeting with Defence Attachés of foreign countries based in Lithuania. In the meeting on Tuesday, February 9, the minister underscored the importance of agreeing on long-term NATO measures of deterrence that should be standing and persistent in character at the upcoming Summit in Warsaw. At the meeting Olekas presented the growth of Lithuania’s defence budget, service of draftee-volunteers, development of Lithuania’s defence capabilities, contributions of Lithuanian troops to multinational operations and prospects of regional cooperation.
Electricity prices higher than in Swedish trading zone
New electricity interconnections with Poland saw Lithuanian wholesale electricity prices in December fall by 9%, but the opening of the NordBalt interconnector with Sweden will not see a harmonisation with Swedish electricity prices for some time, said Litgrid, Lithuania’s transmission system operator.
Winners of Lithuania’s science prizes announced
Recipients of the annual Lithuanian Science Prizes, acknowledging research achievements in the fields of natural and social sciences and humanities, were announced on Monday, February 8.
Lithuanian Embassy in Kyiv hosts a meeting of EU diplomats
On February 9-10 in Ukraine, the Embassy of Lithuania in Kyiv organised a visit of the European Union’s Ambassadors responsible for the implementation of the Eastern Partnership policy.
In Kyiv, representatives of the EU’s eleven member states – Lithuania, Latvia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany and the Netherlands – held meetings with representatives of the Ukrainian Government and non-governmental organizations, during which they underlined the importance of this period for Ukraine and the need to continue its reform agenda, and called for taking effective measures in the fight against corruption.
«This visit showed solidarity of the member states of the European Union with Ukraine and their support for Ukraine’s path towards a European future, which is important not only to the capital city, but also to the country’s regions,» said Žygimantas Pavilionis, Ambassador-at-Large for Eastern Partnership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, in a meeting with students at the University of Kharkiv.
Lithuanian police officers help bust international truck theft ring
Kaunas City police have helped their French counterparts crack an international network of truck thieves – the people are suspected of stealing the vehicles in France and bringing them to Lithuania.