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Saturday 03.12.2016 | Name days: Raita, Jogita, Evija
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Week in Lithuania. Eurostat: Vilnius is best EU capital to live in

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Population of Vilnius is most happy with their life in their city as compared to all other people living in EU capitals, according to a Eurostat survey. Ninety-eight percent of residents of Vilnius said they were satisfied living in their city during the survey carried out last year.

The Lithuanian capital moved up five positions compared with a similar survey taken in 2012. The highest level of satisfaction in Europe was recorded in Oslo, the capital of Norway, which is not an EU member state. Vilnius is followed closely by Stockholm and Copenhagen, 97 per cent each, and Vienna and Luxembourg with 96 per cent. The lowest satisfaction level was recorded in Athens at 71 per cent. Relatively low levels of satisfaction were in Rome at 80 per cent and Bucharest and Paris, at 83 per cent each.

President urges Defence minister to step down

Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas must step down because of the scandal over the army’spurchases at exorbitant prices discrediting not only the national defence system, but also the state and the Social Democratic Party, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Tuesday, September 6.

«This situation undermines our efforts to protect the state, to increase (defence) spending and discredits our decisions in the eyes of our people. Therefore, the minister must assume political responsibility so as not to discredit not only the national defence system, but also the state and the Social Democratic party,» the president told reporters.

Coca-Cola pullout to do with market size

An advisor to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė says the size of the Lithuanian market and shortage of specialists are probably the reasons behind Coca-Cola’s decision to close its plant in the country. «One of the most prominent factors is the market factor. Companies optimize their operations and look at where to manufacture their products in the region for the local market. No doubt, Poland has a competitive edge over us in this respect,» Mindaugas Lingė said on Žinių Radijas on Tuesday, September 6. About 80 employees of the factory are losing their jobs.

Export down 3.3 percent in first half-year

Lithuania’s exports stood at 12.546 billion euros in January-July this year and imports totalled 13.873 billion euros, down by respective 3.3 percent and 6.2 percent year-on-year, Statistics Lithuania said on Friday, September 9.

Lithuania’s foreign trade deficit declined by 27 percent to 1.327 billion euros, according to non-final data based on customs declarations and Intrastat reports. The decline in exports was due to a drop in exports of oil products (25.2 per cent), fertilizers (25.4 per cent) and fruit and nuts (54.1 per cent). The drop in imports was determined by lower imports of oil (25 per cent), fruit and nuts (44.3 per cent) and machines and mechanical equipment (5.9 per cent).

Annual inflation at 0.1 per cent in August

Lithuania’s average annual inflation was 0.1 percent in August, as measured by the EU Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), Statistics Lithuania said. The harmonized monthly inflation was 0.5 percent in August, as compared year-on-year, which is 0.3 percentage points below HICP calculations.

Conservative leader expresses support for gay partnership

A highlight of a Tuesday discussion at Vilnius’ Loftas venue, organised by the initiative «Žinau, ką renku» (I know who I’m voting for), was Seimas candidate responses to the question on LGBT rights, with the conservative leader Gabrielius Landsbergis delivering the biggest surprise with his statement in support of same-sex partnership, something his party has vehemently opposed.

Šiauliai celebrates 780-year anniversary

Šiauliai, Lithuania’s fourth biggest city located in northern part of the country, is celebrating its 780-year anniversary. Šiauliai will grant honorary citizenship to the country’s former president Valdas Adamkus and hold a number of other events to mark the occasion. Starting on Friday, September 9, the festivities will include more than 40 events, the Šiauliai municipality said. Šiauliai was first mentioned in the chronicles of the Livonian Order in 1236. By comparison, Lithuania’s capital Vilnius dates back to almost a century later, 1323.

MG Baltic president questioned         

Darius Mockus, owner and the CEO of MG Baltic, one of Lithuania’s biggest business holdings taking up trade, real estate and media groups, has been questioned by agents of the Special Investigation Service. «We can confirm that he has arrived for questioning,» the service’s spokeswoman Renata Saulytė said on Thursday, September 8. Mockus is being questioned in a political corruption case where influence peddling, bribery and unlawful enrichment suspicions have been brought against the former leader of the opposition Liberal Movement Eligijus Masiulis, while MG Baltic vice-president Raimondas Kurlianskis is suspected of bribery, influence peddling and unlawful possession of a state secret.

Lithuania was Soviet Union’s contributor

As part of its effort to estimate the damage caused by the Soviet occupation, Lithuania wants to dig up archival documents to calculate the balance of financial flows between Vilnius and Moscow during that period, a method that has already been used by neighbouring Latvia, the daily Lietuvos Žinios reported. It is expected that this would help prove that Lithuania was a net contributor rather than a net recipient of funds from the Soviet budget.

German defence minister on Lithuania’s preparations

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen thanked Lithuania for its preparations to host German troops who are to be deployed to the country next year as part of NATO’s multinational battalion. «I want to thank you and your country for being a brilliant host nation. We found everything prepared for the German troops,» she told reporters in Vilnius. During her visit, von der Layen also met Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Defence Minister Juozas Olekas.

Culture minister had clash of interest

Lithuania’s Culture Minister Šarūnas Birutis of the Labour Party had a clash of interests by failing to declare links with the Bulgarian-registered company Agrolitas, the Officials’ Ethics Commission has found. «The decision we made is that the minister violated the law by failing to declare in due time his private interests in owning shares in a company in Bulgaria,» the commission’s chairman Romas Valentukevičius said.

Reappointed to head Lithuanian Film Centre

Rolandas Kvietkauskas has been re-appointed as director of the Lithuanian Film Centre for a second four-year term, the Ministry of Culture has said. In a competition on Tuesday, September 6, Kvietkauskas won against an unnamed candidate.

More Syrian refugees relocated to Lithuania

Another 20 refugees from Syria arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday under the European Union (EU) resettlement programme. The group consists of three families. The first family includes a middle-aged former construction worker, his stay-at-home wife and seven children; the second family is a 36-year-old tailor, his 29-year-old wife, a housewife, and three children; while the third family includes a 37-year-old chef, his 28-year-old wife, a housewife, and their four children. To date, Lithuania has received 102 refugees. The country still has a year left to implement its commitment to the EU to accept just over 1,000 refugees.

Vilnius University among world’s top 500

2016–2017 marks an important milestone for Lithuanian academics with Vilnius University (VU) entering the list of the 500 most prominent universities in the world. Three more Lithuanian universities entered the ranking in the 701+ category: Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU), Kaunas Technology University (KTU) and Vytautas Magnus University (VDU). The ratings are based on academic performance, reputation among employers, ratio of students to lecturers in various departments, index of citation frequency, percentage of foreign lecturers and students.

Zarasai marks European days of Jewish culture

The town of Zarasai in northeastern Lithuania for two days this weekend will hold events to highlight Jewish Culture. The Zarasai Regional Museum has already organised three events that gave the public an opportunity to reflect on the region’s largely vanished Jewish heritage.

Vilnius court was to rule over Gazprom fine

Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court was to pronounce Friday the ruling over the nearly 36 million euro fine imposed for Russian gas concern Gazprom for disagreeing to sign a gas exchange deal with Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba (Lithuanian Energy Production, LEG, earlier known as Lietuvos Energija).A Vilnius administrative court last November rejected the Gazprom appeal contesting the fine of 35.7 million euros imposed by the Lithuanian Competition Council in 2014.Gazprom aims to prove that Lithuanian competition watchdogs misinterpreted the condition of the permit it had received in 2004 to buy a stake in Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas).

Lithuania announces candidate lists

Candidates of parties and coalitions for parliament in multi-mandate and single-mandate voting have been published in Lithuania on Friday, September 9. A total of 1,416 candidates will run for the elections, i.e., 10 candidates per one of Lithuania’s 141 parliamentary mandates. Election bulletins in multi-mandate voting will include 14 lists, including 12 political parties and two coalitions consisting of two parties each. To win a Seimas mandate, a party must collect at least 5 percent of the vote, while the threshold for coalitions is a bit higher at 7 percent.

Lithuania-Poland gas pipeline GIPL rerouted

With Poland experiencing technical problems, the Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) gas pipeline project will be rerouted and completed at least a year later than planned, in 2020 to 2021, but Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis says that this will not cause any problems to Lithuania.


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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.

PHOTO: world’s first Bombardier CS300 aircraft arrives in Riga

On Wednesday, 30 November, Latvian airBaltic airline welcomed the world’s first Bombardier CS300 aircraft in Riga.

Retail trade turnover in Latvia up 0.2%

Compared to October 2015, total retail trade turnover rose by 0.2 % in October 2016. Turnover of retail trade in food products decreased by 2.7 %, whereas the turnover of retail trade in non-food products increased by 2.0 %.

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