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Tuesday 12.12.2017 | Name days: Otīlija, Iveta
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Week in Lithuania. Litgas and Statoil sign revised gas supply contract

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Lithuania’s gas trade company Litgas, a subsidiary of the state-owned energy holding Lietuvos Energija, signed a revised LNG supply contract with Norway’s Statoil.

Under it, Lithuania will buy a smaller amount of gas for a lower price.

Lithuanian President calls on EU to implement its decisions

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, who was in Brussels attending an EU summit on the implementation of the decisions already taken to deal with the migration crisis, has urged the EU member states to implement adopted decisions on the issue.

«Europe has decided on a number of measures to contain the migration crisis and we must turn them into action. There is no need for plan B. We will cope with the situation only when we start implementing what has already been agreed,» the President said.

According to the President, the European Union must protect its external borders, instead of raising internal walls. It is necessary to eliminate the deficiencies in external border control and to establish a European border and coastguard agency. Europe must also demonstrate very clearly that the incomers cannot dictate their own rules, the Lithuanian head-of-state emphasized.

Working together with Turkey in tackling the migrant crisis is also urgent, Grybauskaitė asserted. According to her, it is necessary to implement the EU-Turkey agreement aimed at stemming migratory flows. Europe needs well operating registration hotspots. Half of those necessary are not working. Only 500 refugees have been resettled out of a total of 160 thousand that EU members agreed to relocate.

President’s condolences to Turkey

President Dalia Grybauskaitė extended sincere condolences to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey over the terror attack in Ankara, which took the lives of dozens of people and left many injured. Grybauskaitė stressed that Lithuania, together with the international community, strongly condemned this most brutal and inexcusable crime.

Embattled former Kaunas judge asks for donations

Former Kaunas judge Neringa Venckienė has asked for donations to fight extradition from US to Lithuania. Venckienė, a former Lithuanian lawmaker and judge, has played the first fiddle in the so-called Garliava paedophilia scandal. With the prosecutors readying to charge her with a string of charges she fled Lithuania in 2013.

Foreign Affairs Minister met with the Palestinian Assistant Minister

The Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Afairs, Linas Linkevičius, has met this week with the Palestinian Assistant Minister on European Affairs Amal Jadou. Reportedly, a range of issues was discussed.

Ultra-nationalists march in Kaunas

Around 300 ultra-nationalists marched in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, on Independence Day, February 16, chanting anti-refugee and anti-EU slogans. Jewish groups were quick to renounce the gathering comparing the marchers with WWII Nazi-collaborators.

Ukraine at cusp at Vilnius Book Fair

The Vilnius Book Fair to be held on February 25-28 will include meetings with over 300 authors and publishers and an entire stand will be dedicated to Ukraine.

Energy and Russia issues discussed

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius and the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans discussed a set of issues in a meeting in Brussels last Monday, February 15. The topics also included Lithuania energy, relations with Russia, as well as the EU’s Eastern neighbours.

Lithuanian start-up makes breakthrough with Google

Lithuanian start-up Sems Technology which develops solutions that allow retailers to track and analyse customer behaviour and flows in their stores has become one of a small number of Google-approved beacon manufacturers, according to The Lithuania Tribune.

Lithuania condemns Russia’s moves

Attempts by Russian institutions to ban activities of the Mejlis, or council of Crimean Tatars is politically-motivated persecution, says Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Neither Lithuania nor the entire international community recognizes the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in spring 2014.

«We consider this annexation, all the occupation authorities in Crimea and their actions illegal…Lithuania, which enjoys close historic relations with the Tatar community and fosters the rights and freedoms of ethnic communities, strongly condemns the systematic flagrant violations of human rights of the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians by the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea over the past two years. Moreover, we would like to draw the attention of the international community to the systematic limitation of freedom of the press in Crimea,» a statement by the Ministry says.

Finance minister steps in as acting minister of healthcare

Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius was announced as acting head of the Ministry of Healthcare until a replacement for Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė is found. Šalaševičiūtė was forced to resign after admitting to have bribed a doctor in the past. The prime minister has said he has two candidates in mind, but would not reveal the names before the end of February.

Minister: Russia uses refugees as a weapon

Refugees are being cynically used as a human weapon by Russia-backed Syrian regime in peace negotiations, says Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius. A terrorist attack in the Turkish capital Ankara on Wednesday will only make the situation in the Middle East tenser, he added.

Lithuania opens honorary consulates in India, Finland

Lithuania has opened two new honorary consulates in India and Finland this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday, February 17.

Star Interior Minister to run for MP seat with Social Democrats

Interior Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who is basking in record-high support ratings in recent months, says he has decided to join the Social Democratic Party seeking a seat in Parliament in the coming general elections in late October.

Google surprised Lithuania with Gediminas Castle logo

Internet behemoth Google painted its logo in the Lithuanian flag colours with Gediminas Castle at the centre its logo on February 16 to congratulate Lithuania with its Independence Day. Google logos were redesigned to reflect special events for the first time in 1998.

New trains to operate between Vilnius and Klaipėda

Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, Lithuania’s state railway company announced that the old-generation trains on the railway from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius and seaport of Klaipeda will be replaced with Polish-made passenger trains.

Belarus is invited to cooperate in field of nuclear safety

In the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius has called on Belarus to cooperate constructively with the relevant international authorities on nuclear development. Lithuania is concerned about the safety of a nuclear power plant in Belarus’ Astrav, where the construction is under the way.

«On Lithuania’s initiative, the Council’s conclusions focus on nuclear safety also beyond the borders of the EU and call on Belarus to cooperate constructively with the relevant international authorities on nuclear development,» said Linkevičius.

The EU Foreign Ministers discussed issues related to Moldova, Belarus, climate diplomacy and Syria. The Council has lifted majority of sanctions against Belarus, but agreed that the arms embargo and restrictive measures related to four individuals listed in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two persons would be extended.

Liberal Movement picks best among its ranks

Lithuania’s Liberal Movement Party celebrating its 10th anniversary, has awarded the best members of the party. Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius was named the politician of the year for 2015.

Polish party wants Election law amendments

The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania party has proposed an amendment to electoral laws that would lower the threshold for ethnic minority parties to win parliament seats. Lithuania will held new parliamentary election in October.

MEP Guoga to give up Australian citizenship

Lithuanian MEP Antanas Guoga, a member of the Liberal Movement party, says he has decided to renounce his Australian citizenship. The move might allow him to run for a seat in the Lithuanian parliament, but Guoga says it is not the reason he decided to do it.

Forty five TB cases among children recorded in Lithuania in 2015

Forty five cases of tuberculosis were recorded among children in Lithuania in 2015, according to the country’s Center for Communicable Diseases and AIDS. Compare to 2014, the number dropped from 62.Just as every year, the majority of TB cases among children were the result of their contracting the disease form other family members.

The Revenant cinematographer of Lithuanian descent wins BAFTA

Emmanuel Lubezki, the director of Lithuanian descent who has already won consecutive Academy Awards for Best Cinematography for his work on the films Gravity and Birdman, has won a BAFTA for best cinematography for The Revenant.

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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.

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.

State Environment Service applies fine to Nordic Recycling for unprocessed waste

Latvian State Environment Service (SES) has finished reviewing reports submitted by Nordic Recycling on waste processing system’s function last year. The conclusion has been made that Nordic Recycling electrical appliances processing system does not comply with requirements set by regulations.

SEA: unemployment in Latvia reached 6.7% in November

The registered unemployment level in Latvia grew to reach 6.7% in November, which is 0.1 percentage points higher than in October, according to information compiled by the State Employment Agency (SEA).

Riga’s Vice-Mayor denies Ainars Šlesers acted as his «task master»

Vice-Mayor of Riga and chairman of Riga Freeport Andris Ameriks denied during a meeting of the Saeima’s Investigative Committee on Monday, 11 December, that former politician Ainārs Šlesers acted as his «task master».

Foreign trade turnover in Latvia up 10.3% in October

In October 2017, Latvian foreign trade turnover amounted to EUR 2.31 billion, which at current prices was 10.3 % more than in October 2016, of which the exports value of goods was 9.7 % and imports value of goods was 10.9 % higher.

Businessmen: labour force deficit already exists; foreign students should be integrated in labour market

61.2% of businessmen in Latvia already experience problems with finding qualified workers. More than one-fifth of them expect difficulties in the near future. 79.7% of interviewed entrepreneurs said they support the idea of integrating foreign students in Latvia’s labour market, as concluded in data from a survey performed by Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), interviewing 225 businessmen.

Commissioner: EC offers support to member states that wish to join Eurozone

European Commission offers additional support to EU member states that wish to join Eurozone, says EC Vice-President for Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis.

Estonia to continue five school break schedule until 2021

Estonian Ministry of Education and Research has arrived at and published the dates of school breaks for three school years to come and has promised uphold its new system of five breaks instead of the historical schedule of four.

How much does violence against women cost Latvia?

The costs associated with partners’ violence against women in Latvia reach EUR 442 million a year, says Welfare Ministry’s Child and Family Policy Department’s senior expert Viktorija Boļšakova with reference to data from European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

De Facto: company responsible for Rail Baltica project involved in a fraud case

The company owned by the new head of Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas Andris Linužs is involved in a criminal process regarding fraud and document forging when receiving state funding for procurement of wind turbines. The committee that picked Linužs for the important post was not aware of this fact, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.

French salmonella outbreak prompts recall of Lactalis baby milk formula

Baby milk powder producer Lactalis in France has made an international recall of its produce marketed globally under the Milumel, Picot and Celi brands after a salmonella outbreak in France.

Mayor of Riga: New Hanza business quarter to improve city’s development

During his visit to New Hanza business and residence quarter, Chairman of Riga City Council Nils Ušakovs said that every project of this kind improves the quality of life in the city, create new space for apartments and offices, jobs and public-access buildings, as well as pull up the quality of life in surrounding territories.

«European Oscars» dominated by satire drama «The Square»

The awards of the European Film Academy have been given to laureates at a ceremony in Berlin on December 9, where the joint production of Sweden, Germany, France and Denmark «The Square» dominated with six awards.

7.3% less cigarettes exported from Latvia in nine months of 2017

In the first nine months of 2017, roughly 1.9 billion cigarettes were exported from Latvia to other countries, which is 7.3% less when compared with the same period of 2016, according to State Revenue Service’s data compiled on excise goods circulation.

Weather in Latvia to be windy; air temperature to reach +9° C

On Monday, 11 December, air temperature in Latvia will be at -3° C… +2° C. It is expected to be somewhat warmer along the coast, however. Some precipitation will be present, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

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