bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 24.07.2017 | Name days: Krista, Kristiāna, Kristiāns, Kristīne
LithuaniaLithuania

Week in Lithuania. Landsbergis suggests inviting Russian MPs

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania‘s first post -independence leader, has suggested inviting Russian parliamentarians to memorial events of January 13 coup. In his words, inviting Duma deputies would be a logical and humane step.

«Inviting deputies of the Duma to our memorial events would make sense and be humane. This is also true. Those who were killed outside the (TV) tower died for your freedom, too – it would be an opportunity to say this,» Landsbergis said at a meeting in the historic March 11 Hall at the parliament on Thursday, January 12.

Landsbergis said the time had come to discuss everything with Russian parliamentarians in a decent and friendly manner, adding that such diplomacy would be necessary.

Russia is considered one of the biggest threats to Lithuania‘s national security. Moscow has refused to cooperate in trials of January 13 attempted coup and the Medininkai massacre.

Parliament starts debates on MP seats reduction

The Lithuanian parliament has started debates on constitutional amendments aiming to slash the number of seats in the Seimas from 141 to 101 and moving the date of general elections from October to March.

The draft amendments to the Constitution passed the first reading in the Seimas with 67 votes in favour, 22 against and 34 abstentions and will be now discussed at parliamentary committees.

The amendments were supported by the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union (LPGU), the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Union of Christian Families and a part of Liberal Movement MPs. Members of all other political groups, except for some individual lawmakers, voted against or sustained.

The Peasants and Greens, who initiated the amendments, say that parliamentary elections should be moved from October to March to give enough time for the newly-elected parliament to form the coming year’s budget.

Under the Constitution, regular parliamentary elections are held on the second Sunday of October in the last year of the legislative term. If the date is moved to the second Sunday of March, as proposed, the current legislative term will be half a year shorter than usual.

The Peasants and Greens cite the country’s declining population as the reason for slashing the number of seats in the parliament.

First German troops to arrive in Lithuania in late January

The first troops of the German-led NATO forward presence battalion are expected to arrive in Lithuania in late January, the Defence Ministry said. Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis told NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, who was on a visit to Lithuaniaon Thursday, January 12, that that the country was taking every effort to put in place all the necessary infrastructure for the arriving forces to train and get ready for carrying out deterrence and defence tasks along with the country‘s Armed Forces.

Great Synagogue must be restored but not until 2027

The Great Synagogue of Vilnius that was razed to the ground during the Soviet rule should be rebuilt at least in part, however, the idea cannot be implemented in the nearest decade, says Remigijus Šimašius, mayor of the Lithuanian capital. Meanwhile, former Omnitel CEO Antanas Zabulis and his friends cherish the idea of restoring the synagogue, the library and a conference center for financial support of Litvaks living abroad. Furthermore, they want the elementary school building, which was constructed on the ruins of the synagogue during the Soviet era, to be torn down without delay.

«I have no doubts that the terrible Soviet building should be gone in the future, I mean the more distant future. And the synagogue should be rebuilt either in full or in some more modern manner. However, doing this in the nearest decade would be irresponsible and illogical,» Šimašius told journalists on Thursday, January 12, while attending the presentation of the plans of managing the territory of the synagogue.

Presented by the municipality, the draft proposals envisage paying tribute to the synagogue in the territory next to the Žydų and the Vokiečių streets within the coming two years and upkeep the Vokiečių Street, however, leave untouched the elementary school building constructed during the Soviet rule.

Conservative MP slams Seimas speaker

Lithuania‘s Conservative MP Mantas Adomėnas has criticized Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis‘  decision to meet with Russian Ambassador Alexander Udaltsov shortly before the Day of Freedom Defenders, which is marked on January 13. The MP noted the symbolic meaning of the meeting with the diplomatic envoy of a country that denies January 13 crimes.

«Why meet with the representative of the country that denies the January 13 tragedy on the week of January 13? The country does not only refuse to take responsibility but refuses to extradite criminals, denies and disseminates information that humiliates us about «people shooting at our own people». Was it not possible to see the symbolic meaning of the meeting,»Adomėnas asked rhetorically in an address read in Seimas plenary on Thursday, January 12.

He said he could understand the need for the parliamentary speaker to meet with diplomatic envoys of countries that are not friendly, noting the poor organization in the sense of public relations.

Foreign Minister addresses opposition MPs‘ concerns

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on Thursday, January 12, that, as a member of the Cabinet, he had not given privileges to political party members and that the practice of appointing people to the diplomatic service without competition had been strictly in line with the law.

«There are reproaches as to the practice of recruitment to the diplomatic service. Let me say it very clearly: no one has made a diplomatic career owing to their party membership either during my tenure as (foreign) minister or my two previous terms of office as defence minister,» he told members of the political group of the opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats at the parliament. According to the minister, the law sets out an exception to the rule that persons are appointed to the diplomatic service through competition.

Based on data provided to BNS by the Foreign Ministry, 12 people were appointed to the diplomatic service after temporary contracts in 2014 through 2016. The same number of people was appointed this way between 2009 and 2012. A total of 40 people have become diplomats without competition and examinations since 2004.

Another 16 Syrian refugees arrive in Lithuania

Another 16 Syrian refugees have arrived in Lithuania under the EU’s resettlement program, the Migration Department said.

«Three families of citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic with young children, 16 persons in total, we relocated from Greece to Lithuania on Jan. 11, 2017,» it said in a press release.

This brings to 239 the total number of refugees from Middle East who have been relocated to Lithuania from Greece and Turkey. Lithuania has pledged to take in a total of 1,105 refugees under the EU program.

Lithuania to do all it can to reset ties with Poland

Lithuania will do everything it can to «reset» its relations with neighbouring Poland, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on Thursday, January 12.

«We will do everything possible to reset these relations. This is not easy. I do expect certain contribution from the Seimas,» he told members of the political group of the opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats at the parliament.

Linkevi2ius said that he had maintained rather active contacts with Poland’s former presidents Aleksandr Kwasniewski and Bronislaw Komorowski. Linkevičius described as «shameful» the Seimas’ vote back in 2010 in which the parliament rejected a bill on the use of non-Lithuanian characters in name-spelling.

Ministry proposes to set up single forestry company

Lithuanian Environment Minister Kęstutis Navickas proposes to establish a single enterprise to manage state forests.

«Forest management must be streamlined to make it transparent and efficient. This is our key goal,» the minister said unveiling his visit.

All state forests are currently managed by the Directorate General of State Forests and 42 profit-seeking forestry enterprises which employ a total workforce of 4,000, including some 1,200 foresters and 800 administrative staff. The reform will aim to merge the enterprises and cut the administrative apparatus.

PM paid his first foreign visit to Latvia

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis went for his first foreign visit in the capacity to Latvia on Thursday, January 12. He met with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, Speaker of the Saeima Inara Murniece and President Raimonds Vejonis.

«The meetings will focus on bilateral cooperation, the security situation in the region, energy, transport,» Tomas Beržinskas, an advisor to Skvernelis, said prior to the trip.

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament), paid his first foreign visit to Latvia last month.

President supports cut in university numbers

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė backs the government in its bid to cut the number of universities.

«A higher education reform is among the top priorities identified by the president for the 17th government. The president supports the government in its efforts to reduce the number of higher education institutions and improve the quality of higher education,» the president‘s press office said on Wednesday, January 11.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Education and Science Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė told journalists earlier in the day that only up to five state universities should be left in the country, down from the current fourteen.

Kaunas architecture site added to UNESCO’s tenative list

Kaunas‘ Modernist architecture of the interwar period on Tuesday was included into UNESCO‘s World Heritage Tentative List. Renata Vaičekonytė-Kepežinskiene, heritage program coordinator at the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO, described this decision as a successful up first step for Lithuania’s second-biggest city toward the World Heritage List.

«This is the first step and a successful one. It is opening the way for the member state to prepare a nomination, a serious application to the World Heritage List,» she said.

At this stage, an application is evaluated based on formal criteria to ensure that it meets the technical requirements. Lithuania will then be able to start preparing its nomination to the World Heritage List, a process that takes at least two years, and usually more, to complete, Vaičekonytė-Kepežinskienė said.

Kaunas‘ Modernism formed in the 1930s when the city was the provisional capital of Lithuania, whose historic capital Vilnius was under Polish occupation. Several tens of its buildings are exceptional examples of Modernist architecture.

The Tentative List is a list of sites that countries intend to nominate to the World Heritage List. The other Lithuanian site on the Tentative List is the Historical National Park of Trakai.

Preliminary damage of Vilnius sewage named

The preliminary damage caused by the December sewage spill in central Vilnius stands at 450,000 euros, says Marius Švaikauskas, the head of the Vilnius Regional Environment Protection Department.

«The preliminary damage will total approximately 450,000 euros, and will claim it from the guilty party,» the environment specialist said at the parliament’s Environment Protection Committee on Wednesday, January 11.

He spoke after the municipal waters supplier Vilniaus Vandenys (Vilnius Water) said earlier in the day that the ecologic disaster on Upės Street in the Lithuanian capital last December had resulted in the spillage of about 30,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage in the River Neris. The information was submitted to the Environment Ministry conducting a probe into the accident.

The environmentalists calculated the damages by the amount and concentration of pollutants in the river .

Declared emigration up considerably

The number of emigrants who declared emigration from Lithuania last year increased in 2016, as compared to 2015, Statistics Lithuania said on Wednesday, January 11. In 2016, 51,000 people declared emigration from Lithuania, up by 6,400, or 14.5 per cent year-on-year. Some 21,400 people immigrated in Lithuania last year, which is a decline by 800 from 2015. Among the immigrants, 77 percent were Lithuanian citizens returning to live in Lithuania. In the beginning of this year, Lithuania had 2.849 million permanent residents, indicating a drop by 39,200, or 1.4 per cent, year-on-year, Statistics Lithuania said citing preliminary data.

Lithuania to grant a half million euros to Afghans

Lithuania is set to earmark about 470,000 euros to Afghanistan‘s National Security Forces this year. The Defence Ministry‘s relevant proposal will be discussed at the government‘s meeting on Wednesday, January 11.

«The money would be transferred to a special trust fund, which gets the bulk of the money from Americans. The Defence Ministry suggests contributing half of a million US dollars this year,» Laimonas Brazaitis, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said.

NATO has been conducting the Resolute Support operation in Afghanistan since 2015 to train and support Afghanistan’s national forces and some ministries. Lithuania’s contingent in Afghanistan currently consists of about 20 troops.

Seimas speaker explains his meetings

Lithuania‘s Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis says he is astonished by the criticism over his meetings with the Russian and Belarusian ambassadors ahead of the Freedom Defenders Day, noting that the meetings were held to remind the diplomats about their countries’ unwillingness to extradite defendants in the Jan. 13 attempted coup trial.

«It was an opportunity to tell both ambassadors to note the trials in progress in our country and our aim to prosecute the people who now face charges in absentia, this is what the ambassadors were told,» Pranckietis said in a radio interview.

«What we discussed with the ambassadors was representation of Lithuania’s interests, and they did not hear our questions with big smiles on their faces,» the parliamentary speaker emphasized.

Earlier this week, Pranckietis met with Russia’s Ambassador in Vilnius Alexander Udaltsov and Belarusian Ambassador Alexander Korol.

Hearings into the Jan. 13 attempted coup trial started in a Vilnius court nearly a year ago, with testimony of victims being heard now. Some 65 persons face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, however, merely two of them are present in the courtroom, while others are tries in absentia. The majority of defendants are citizens of Russia.

Belarus ambassador: Belarus sees no problems with N-plant safety

Belarus is convinced in the safety of the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant under construction close to the Lithuanian border and sees no problems in connection to sales of electricity generated there, Belarusian Ambassador to Lithuania Alexander Korol said on Tuesday, January 10.

At a meeting with the ambassador, Lithuania‘s Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis urged Minsk to give access to international observers and expressed concern over the repeated incidents at the facility.

Korol said after the meeting that a mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was expected in Belarus next week for assessment of the site selection.

In his words, electricity generated at the Astravyets facility will be used in Belarus. He assured that the Astravyets facility had already met the commitment of holding stress tests, however, did not specify who conducted them.

President on universal conscription

Universal conscription in Lithuania requires political consensus and proper preparations, says President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

«The number of recruits – between 3,500 and 4,000 annually – stipulated by the State Defence Council and envisaged in the law is currently sufficient for formation of the units for the Armed Forces and the reserve. Universal conscription requires political consensus and relevant preparations,» Grybauskaitė said in a statement.

After a meeting with leadership of the Armed Forces and the Defence Ministry, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said universal conscription of young men would be introduced in 2019. Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis believes two years of preparations would not be enough, adding the scheme was only possible in 2020-2021.

The plan is to conscript all young men graduating high school. The prime minister says about 6,000-7,000 young men graduate schools every year.

Currently, 3,000-3,500 men between ages of 19 and 26 are conscripted to military service every year.

Lithuania updates security strategy

Lithuania‘s updated National Security Strategy will highlight corruption and social exclusion as threats, the chairman of the parliament‘s Committee on National Security and Defence said on Monday, January 9.

«Compared with the document drafted by the earlier government, the new document states that corruption is eroding the state from within. We should calculate the damage that corruption is causing to the state. The Special Investigation Service chief mentioned that this could amount to around 20 percent of the national budget. These are huge losses,» Vytautas Bakas, the chairman, said.

The updated strategy was drafted by the previous government to bring it into line with the security situation which has changed since 2012, when the document was last reviewed.


Leave a reply

Number of accidents caused by tractors and size of claims on a rise

Over the course of the past several years, the number of traffic accidents caused by specialized agricultural vehicles and the size of insurance claims has grown in Latvia, as reported by Motor Insurers' Bureau of Latvia.

Businessmen offer to help fund railway works in Estonia rejected by minister

Entrepreneurs in Lääne County, Estonia, have offered the state to help with funding the reconstruction of a railway section, by attracting private money, but the offer has been rejected by Estonian Economic Affairs Minister Kadri Simson.

International Baltic Bikini military exercises to be organized in Latvia

Baltic Bikini 2017 military exercises will be taking place in Liepaja, Latvia, throughout 24 – 28 July. More than 100 Baltic and American troops will be participating together with State Border Guard and Emergency Health Service to practice survival skills, as reported by Defence Ministry.

SRS: envelope wages will be a priority this year

More than half of Latvian employers pay their employees wages below the minimal monthly amount, said Director of the State Revenue Service Tax Control Office Sandra Karklina Admine in an interview to Rīta panorama on Monday, 24 July.

Latvians hesitant to use electronic means to request benefits

So far, Latvia residents have been rather slow in the use of electronic tools to request benefits from the State Social Insurance Agency.

Orbán promises solidarity with Poland as it approves controversial court reforms

Following the criticism Warsaw has received in mass protests and from Brussels on the approval of a controversial court reform, the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán has pledged to defend Poland in the European Union.

New Conservative Party takes away one seat from Latvian Farmers Union in Kekava

The New Conservative Party has taken away one seat in Kekava council from Latvian Farmers Union, according to provisional data of the Central Election Commission on repeated elections in Kekava’s 785 election site.

17 journalists of Turkish newspaper charged with aiding terrorist organisation

In Turkey, 17 journalists of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet are to be tried over charges of aiding a terrorist organisation and, if found guilty, they face up to 43 years in jail.

Week to be warm in Latvia, but some rain is still expected

At the beginning of the week, weather in Latvia will be dictated by a small cyclone with its centre above Lithuania. The precipitation zone associated with this cyclone will bring about rain to south-east parts of Lithuania, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

BNN summary of the week: Kucinskis in Ridzene’s room and government’s rushed decisions

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Truth; Business and Growth.

Tourists die in Aegean Sea earthquake

A powerful quake that struck in the Aegean Sea has taken the lives of two persons in Greece, local authorities have stated.

Fashion in business: how to be heard in the modern-day world?

It would seem that nowadays strict fashion trends have «died». This is because people for ways to look beautiful and comfortable. One of the minds behind TRÉS fashion line, Enija Mugurevica shares advice how to start a business in the fashion industry from scratch and be heard and noticed in the modern-day world.

FCMC fines Norvik Banka for EUR 1.3 million and Rietumu Banka for EUR 1.56 million

Finance and Capital Market Commission in cooperation with Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterproliferation Center found out in a target inspection that Latvian banks – Norvik Banka and Rietumu Banka – have not followed requirements of regulations for the prevention of money laundering and terrorism funding.

Saeima approves controversial amendments to Credit Institutions Law

On Friday, 21 July, Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the Credit Institutions Law, which were previously returned to the parliament for a repeated viewing by President Raimonds Vejonis, completely unchanged.

Bank of Latvia: tax reform is a disappointment; it will not improve competitiveness

The tax reform submitted to the Saeima for approval is one big disappointment that will not improve competitiveness, said head of the Monetary Policy Office of the Bank of Latvia Uldis Rutkaste in an interview to LNT 900 seconds.

Betsafe predicts: will Duklavs remain Latvia’s Agriculture Minister?

Although Unity has asked the Union of Greens and Farmers to replace Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs with someone else after the scandalous oligarch talks in Ridzene hotel, Duklavs will likely keep his post, according to Betsafe bookmakers. There is a 33% probability of Duklavs losing his post.

Latvian alcohol industry has an offer to increase excise tax rate

Experience shows – rapid increase of excise tax results in rapid increase of prices and rapid decline of revenue for the state treasury. Based on careful calculations, Latvian Alcohol Industry Association asks the government to stick with the current excise tax increase plan.

Air temperature to reach +24° C… +25° C in Latvia on weekend

Weather is expected to be largely dry this weekend in Latvia. Next week, however, is expected to be rainy, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Saeima deputies sign agreement on Oligarch talks committee’s formation

So far only parliament members have signed the agreement on the formation of a Saeima committee for the investigation of Oligarch talks. Neither of them represents Unity – Karlis Serzants from Union of Greens and Farmers and Einars Cilinskis from VL-TB/LNNK.

Seaima Praesidium approves parliamentary budget for 2018

On 20 July, Saeima Praesidium approved the parliament’s budget request for 2018. It is planned to be EUR 22.04 million, setting funding to maintain current functions on the level of 2017, BNN was informed by Saeima press-service.

Beer brewers: fooling around with tax reforms could destroy Latvia’s beer industry

By increasing excise tax for beer, the goal of reducing alcohol consumption will not be achieved. This is because consumption of other alcoholic beverages will increase as a result, notes CEO of Latvian Breweries Union Peteris Linins, commenting on the government’s plans to raise excise tax for beer.

4,558 marriages registered in Latvia in first six months of 2017

Over the past three years, Latvian birth number almost has not changed and constitutes 22 thousand annually. 10,175 children were born in the first half of 2017, which means 990 newborn fewer than in the same period a year ago.

Broadcasting organizations ask NEPLP to stop meddling with public media contents

The board of Latvian Association of Broadcasting Organizations urges the government and National Electronic Mass Media Council to continue realizing reforms in public media.

Kucinskis also met with Slesers in the infamous meeting room of Ridzene hotel

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis admits having met with Ainars Slesers in the now infamous meeting room in Ridzene hotel a couple of times, specifically when the People’s Party made the decision to join Par labu Latviju.