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Ceturtdiena 14.12.2017 | Name days: Gaisma, Auseklis
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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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FM mentions progress in combating grey economy; prime minister expects more

Latvia will continue combating grey economy in construction field and fight envelope wages, said Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola during the ministry’s Taxpayer Forum 2017 organized by the ministry on Wednesday, 13 December.

EP agrees to EU moving on to phase II of Brexit talks

Members of the European Parliament have overwhelmingly supported what has been negotiated upon in the joint EU-UK progress report in Brexit talks and have recommended Brussels to move on to phase two negotiations on the future relations of the parties.

Businessmen share stories: ‘surviving’ and taking risks in Latvia when starting a business

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BATL: Transport Ministry plans to increase burden on taxpayers’ shoulders

Latvian Transport Ministry’s developed development plan for the transit industry, which was presented to Saeima’s National Economy Committee this week, states that raising competitiveness in the country requires subsidizing railway cargo transports.

Croat soldier dies in Lithuania barracks

A soldier from the Croat contingent in Lithuania, who served in the Rukla military town as part of NATO international forces, has passed away.

LMP President: proposal for LMT and Lattelecom merge was only politically discussed

Only political discussions were held proposal on the merge between Latvijas Mobilais Telefons and Lattelecom, and it is good that this matter has been taken off the agenda, said LMT President Juris Binde in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LNT.

Survey: 55% of employed people are not paid for overtime

More than half of employed people work overtime. On top of that, 55% of them are not paid for working overtime and 45% are paid, according to results of a survey performed by CV Market.

Estonian military receives anti-tank missiles, bought with U.S. funding

The Estonian military has acquired another lot of missiles for the American-made man-portable Javelin antitank system bought with U.S. money allocated for supporting European defence measures.

Tallinners can claim millions for overpriced water, says competition watchdog

In the Estonian capital, the result of a legal dispute between water utility company Tallinna Vesi and the Estonian Competition Authority is that consumers are considered to be able to claim tens of millions of euros in compensation for overcharged water tariffs that have been in place for a number of years.

Latvian Association of Regions decides against working with For Latvia’s Development political party

It was decided at a meeting of representatives of Latvian Association of Regions (LAR) that the party will not work with For Latvia’s Development. The party has also decided to start in 13th Saeima elections with its own list of candidates.

Italy in state of emergency after fire at Austria gas hub

Italy has declared a state of emergency in its natural gas sector as a large explosion at a major natural gas hub in Austria killed one person, injured at least 18 and is prone to affect supplies in central Europe.

LEC: more expensive MPC is a serious burden for international competition

«To maintain GDP growth rate, the government should address priority matters like prevention of mandatory procurement component costs and electricity price rise to reduce costs for both businesses and residents. It is very important for employers to have the energy policy closely tied with production, because processing industry is the main driving force behind development of Latvia’s national economy,» says Latvian Employers’ Confederation (LEC) Director General Līga Meņģelsone.

Pilots of Ryanair expected to strike prior to Christmas

The clients of Irish low-fare airline Ryanair will face inconvenience before Christmas as pilots and crew announced industrial action seeking to achieve union recognition and better conditions in the company, which is criticised by unions that it fails to offer pilots the same pay and conditions as its rivals.

Corruption in public sector remains a major problem in Latvia

Money laundering activities and grey economy are in decline in Latvia. However, corruption in the country’s public sector and smuggling activities remain serious problems for the national economy, as noted in the report on unaudited economy, corruption in the public sector and money laundering activities in Latvia published by Latvian Chamber for Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, 12 December.

Saakashvili released from detention in Ukraine

Former Georgian President, now opposition activist in Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili, has been released from arrest by a judge, who denied a request from prosecutors to subject him to house arrest, but the case against him continues.

Justice Minister: Latvia will continue supporting Macedonia’s judicial sector

Latvia’s Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnačs has met with his Macedonian colleague Bilen Saliji, who arrived in Latvia to sign the Memorandum for Cooperation between Latvian Justice Ministry and Macedonian Justice Ministry.

Survey: 65% of Latvian travellers avoid regions at risk of terrorist attacks

The majority or 65% of Latvian respondents mentioned that whenever they make travel arrangements, they try to avoid regions in which there is a high probability of terrorist attacks or natural catastrophes, according to the latest Latvia Tours Travel Index.

Ex-Interior Ministry’s state secretary offered becoming a candidate to manage Eastern Hospital

The only offer extended to the now former state secretary of Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry Ilze Pētersone-Godmane to help her stay in state administration was the offer to become a candidate for the most of head of Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Ministry’s parliamentary secretary emphasizes EU’s unity in the Middle East process

«Latvia continues supporting the solution that can be achieved through direct talks between Israel and Palestine with compliance of interests of both sides and making Jerusalem the capital of both countries. The European Union has to remain a reliable partner for Israel and Palestine. We have to continue the open dialogue with both sides and ensure EU’s unity in the Middle East peace process,» says Latvian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica.

Estonian entrepreneur in Russia convicted to 12 years in prison

A court in Russia has convicted an Estonian aviation technology entrepreneur to a 12-year prison term in a high-security prison, Russian media report.

Countryside tourism may be threatened by unfair competition

Countryside tourism businesses are threatened by unfair competition and growing bureaucracy, as emphasized by Latvian Countryside Tourism Association Lauku ceļotājs after discussing this season’s results at four regional business seminars.

Estonia fights marginalisation pushing for relocation of 13 institutions to regions

As Estonia seeks to relocate part of government agencies out of the capital Tallinn, Estonian government ministers have been reminded that by the middle of January an action plan is required from them on the relocation of the central offices of 13 Estonian state institutions.

Finance Ministry: exports of goods reached a new record in October

The volume of exports continued growing in November, reaching EUR 1,070,600 at the end of the month and setting a new record for exports for one month’s time. This export index is the highest in the history of statistical records in Latvia, Finance Ministry stated in its report, commenting on data from the Central Statistical Bureau.

Heavy snow in Western Europe causes transport troubles

Heavy snow in Benelux countries, as well as in Germany and the UK has prompted hundreds of flight cancellations, while car accidents have caused traffic jams on roads.

Amnesty International: EU governments know about migrant torture in Libya

Governments of European Union member states are aware of torture and abuse of refugees and migrants in Libya, Amnesty International has stated, insisting that trying to reduce migration, the EU is actively financially supporting a «system of abuse and exploitation» on the Mediterranean coast of Libya.

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