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Week in Lithuania. Grybauskaitė sees common understanding of geopolitical challenges with Poland

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President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė (L) and President of Poland Andrzej Duda

Lithuania and Poland share the same understanding of the geopolitical challenges that both neighbours are facing, Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite said on Thursday, August 25, after her first bilateral meeting with her Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.

«Lithuania and Poland have the same understanding of geopolitical challenges. We live in one region, and only close cooperation in all fields can ensure security for the people of Lithuania and Poland,» Grybauskaitė said in a press release. The first face-to-face meeting between Grybauskaitė and Duda took place in the framework of a regional event in Croatia on Thursday, August 25.

According to the press release circulated by the President’s Office, the bilateral meeting discussed cooperation on energy and military security, strategic bilateral projects, cooperation within the EU and NATO, geopolitical situation, security threats facing Lithuania, Poland and the entire region, and the situation in Europe after Brexit.

Brits interested in Lithuanian citizenship

Brits concerned that they will lose the free travel benefits after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union are looking into ways to procure passports of other EU countries. The Lithuanian Embassy in London, too, says it has received more enquiries about the Lithuanian citizenship. Interest among the Brits in Irish, Austrian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Polish and Hungarian citizenship have particularly increased, with applications for Hungarian citizenship rocketing by 8,000 per cent from just 10 applications in the first half of 2016 to 220 every month following the vote.

PM admits new Labour Code may wait longer

Ahead of the general elections in October, leaders of Lithuania’s ruling parties may embrace the veto on the law by the country’s president. Such a possibility is not ruled. Should it happen, the current version of the law will remain in effect. Some of the ruling politicians have said that the new code would be adopted by the next parliament, others suggested overruling the veto, while the prime minister has suggested taking into consideration the president’s proposals in part and making more concessions for trade unions who have criticized the law for failing to ensure workers’ rights. Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said on Thursday, August 25, that the ruling parties had not yet made a firm decision on the future of the new code, admitting for the first time that the old code might stay on.

Lithuania to keep its honorary consul in Crimea

Lithuania does not intend to follow the example of other countries and give up its honorary consul in Crimea, says Foreign Vice-Minister Mantvydas Bekešius. «Lithuania does not recognize the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia, therefore, it is very important for us to keep you as the honorary consul of Lithuania in Crimea,» Bekešius said at a meeting with Honorary Consul Sergey Petrichenko on Thursday, August 25. The vice-minister emphasized that Petrichenko’s experience in Crimea and his links would help Lithuania maintain cultural ties with Ukrainian citizens living in the region. Petrichenko was appointed as Lithuania’s honorary consul in Ukraine’s southern city of Simferopol in 2005.

New chief appointed

Former CEO of the Teo LT telecommunications company, Arūnas Šikšta, has been appointed to head the Lithuanian Defence and Security Industry Association for three years, the association said on Thursday, August 25.«In the disturbed times of new threats and global security crises, the importance of the defence and security sector is enormous and is growing. In Lithuania, the defence industry is developing rapidly and it enjoys recognition in the West, furthermore, it does difficult and often invisible work – creates a safe future for us all. Therefore, I see the confidence vested in me as a new challenge, and I am willing to work together to achieve the goals that have been set,» Šikšta said in a press release.

Sixty per cent of Lithuanians views Russia as threat

Three in five Lithuanians believe that Russia’s foreign policies constitute a threat to Lithuania, shows a poll released this week. Asked whether Russia’s foreign policies posed a threat Lithuania, 60 per cent of those polled gave a positive answer, while 24 per cent replied in the negative and 16 per cent did not have an opinion on the matter, the survey showed. Another 7 per cent of respondents said the United States’ foreign policies constituted a threat to Lithuania, while 85 per cent said Washington was not a threat and 8 per cent did not give their opinion.

Lithuania’s Foreign minister visits Turkey

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius was the first government official from an EU and NATO country to visit Turkey this week after a failed coup in July. Many Western countries have criticized the Turkish government for measures it took against alleged supporters of the coup.

Former president free of cancer

Lithuania’s former President Valdas Adamkus has successfully beaten cancer. The former president says his last check-up showed no signs of renewed cancerous growth.«I am happy and glad after receiving the good news a few days ago that cancer seeds are inactive. I am grateful to everyone who supported me during my disease with their prayers and good wishes,» Adamkus told TV3 news programme. Adamkus, 89, was diagnosed with kidney cancer three years ago. He had one of his kidneys removed because of the disease. Adamkus was the president of Lithuania in 1998-2003 and 2004-2009.

Vilnius Council nods to national stadium concession tender

The Vilnius City Council has finalised preparations for the tender for the national stadium concession. Mayor Remigijus Šimašius says the tender would be called shortly to pick a consortium to build and manage the stadium. He expects the construction to be finished in a few years, if the preparations and the selection of the concession company goes well. Jūratė Juozaitienė, spokeswoman for the prime minister, informed that seven foreign companies, including Germany’s Siemens, France’s Vinci Concessions and Poland’s Budimex, have expressed interest in becoming the operator of the multifunctional complex.

Lithuania sees off team to Rio Paralympic Games

Lithuania’s Paralympic national team was seen off to Rio de Janeiro at a ceremony at Vilnius Cathedral Square on Wednesday, August 24.  The Lithuanian team will include 13 members: track and field athletes, a swimmer, a judoka and a goalball team.

President presents perfume to athletes robbed in Rio

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has given bottles of perfume to two of the country’s bronze-winning athletes who had their personal belongings pilfered in Rio de Janeiro. Rowers Milda Valčiukaitė and Donata Vištartaitė won Olympic bronze in the women’s double sculls event. Their stay in Brazil started off less successfully, however, when they were robbed of a substantial sum of money and their perfumes in the Olympic village.

Lithuanian apple growers struggle

Lithuanian apple growers complain that they cannot compete with imported fruit which are made more affordable by lower taxes and looser quality regulation.«Most apples come to the Lithuanian market from Poland where food products are subject to 5 per cent VAT, whereas in Lithuania it is 21per cent. Moreover, Polish farmers pay 8 per cent VAT, rather than 21 per cent, on fertilizer, pesticides, equipment and so on,» says farmer Aloyzas Grygalis, head of Lithuania’s biggest horticulture company Naradava.

Vilnius to borrow from EIB to refinance debt

The municipality of Vilnius to borrow up to 50 million euros from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for refinancing earlier loans and investment projects, Mayor Remigijus Šimašius has said. The 10-year contract on the 25-50 million euros loan should be signed shortly, according to the mayor, with a green light from the City Council expected on Wednesday, August 24.

Conference discusses hazards of Astravyets NPP

Serious safety and geopolitical concerns about the Astravyets (Ostrovets) Nuclear Power Plant being constructed in western Belarus, at Vilnius doorsteps, dominated a conference organised by Res Publica in Vilnius. Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant.

Poll names most influential sports and economists

Basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis, the head of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, swimmer Rūta Meilutytė and singer Marijonas Mikutavičius top the list of Lithuania’s most influential sports and pop culture figures, delfi.lt news portal said on Friday, August 26. The list is continued by singer Andrius Mamontovas and former discus thrower Virgilijus Alekna. The survey of 721 respondents was conducted by Reitingai magazine for delfi.lt news portal on May 25 through June 15.

Meanwhile, Robertas Dargis, the head of the Lithuanian Industrialists Confederation, and Gitanas Nausėda, adviser to SEB bank president, top the list of the country’s most influential economists and businessmen.

PM attends informal meeting with Baltic counterparts

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius attended on Friday, August 26, an informal meeting in Riga with the heads of the Latvian and the Estonian governments. The traditional informal meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers took place in Daugavpils and Kraslava.

Set up in 1994, the Baltic Council of Ministers is a governmental cooperation institution, which holds informal meetings of the Baltic prime ministers once a year in one of the three countries.

Lithuania grants 60,000 euro in humanitarian aid

Lithuania has earmarked a total of 60,000 euros in humanitarian aid to Iraq, Mali and Macedonia.

The Foreign Ministry said 40,000 euros were granted to Iraq, in addition to 10,000 euros to Mali and Macedonia each. The money for Iraq will be transferred to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), for Mali – to the World Food Program, while the humanitarian aid to Macedonia will be transferred to the country’s government. All in all, Lithuania has earmarked 771,500 euros in humanitarian aid this year, including 220,000 euros granted by the Foreign Ministry.

Belarusians make majority of EHU freshmen in Vilnius

Some 264 freshmen will start a new academic year at the Belarusian European Humanities University (EHU) in Vilnius in September, up by 17.4 percent from last year. Some 230 of the enrolled are Belarusian citizens or residents, including 69.1 percent who will start education free of charge or with partial tuition funding provided by EHU donors, the university said. Another 13 percent of the new entrants are citizens of Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The European Humanities University is a private university established in Minsk in 1992 but closed down by the Belarusian administration at the end of the decade. Reopened in Vilnius in 2004, it has about 1,000 students, mainly from Belarus.

Lithuanian dairy to export mozzarella to China

Vilkyškių Pieninė, one of Lithuania’s largest milk processing companies, and its subsidiaries Kelmės Pieninė and Modest have received clearance for exporting their dairy products to China. The initial shipment of 20 tons of mozzarella should be sent shortly.

PST gets lucrative order in Sweden

Panevėžio Statybos Trestas (PST), one of the leading construction groups in Lithuania, has secured yet another order in Sweden, this time estimated at 3.6 million euros.PST said in a message to the Nasdaq Vilnius stock exchange that its subsidiary PST Nordic had Wednesday, August 24, signed  contract on construction of a reinforced concrete frame in the Alphyddan residential project in Sweden. The two-section complex will include 90 new apartments with commercial premises on the ground floor. The total area of the project will be 10,000 sq. metres, an underground parking lot of 2,600 sq. meters will connect both sections.

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