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Friday 28.10.2016 | Name days: Ninona, Ņina, Antoņina, Oksana

Week in Lithuania. Litgas and Statoil sign revised gas supply contract

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

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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Belgian regions agree on CETA changes to support EU-Canada free trade agreement

The political leaders of Belgian regions and communities have on October 27 agreed on a consensus to support the free trade agreement between the EU and Canada, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel stated.

Post-election flare-ups emerge in Lithuania, as winners build new government

Nearly a week after the second round of Lithuania‘s general election, the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union, the holder of 54 mandates in the141-member Lithuanian Parliament, has not gotten a step closer to agreeing with other political parties on a new Cabinet.

Antane: we still need Russia in order to work with China

«There is nothing good I can say about the current state of Latvia’s transit industry – cargo volumes handled by the country’s ports continue to decline. The volume of coal cargoes transshipped by Ventspils port, for example, has dropped to 40%. The overall decline last year, when compared to 2014, reaches 20.5%. This decline has been continuing since 2012,» – Inga Antane, president of the Baltic Association –Transport and Logistics, said in an interview to

Construction costs in Latvia up 0.1%

Compared to August, the level of construction costs in Latvia increased by 0.1% in September 2016. Prices of building materials, as well as maintenance and operational costs of machinery and equipment did not change significantly, whereas labour remuneration of workers grew by 0.5%.

Think tank forum to assess the state and development of 16+1 format

Latvia’s Foreign Policy Institute will organize a forum for international think tanks for countries taking part in the 16+1 format in the Foreign Ministry in Riga on 4 November.

EP: 2017 budget should allocate more money to jobs and youth

The European Parliament has carried out a plenary vote to request more money to help young people find jobs, enhance economic growth and help third countries deal with the migration crisis. According to MEPs, the opinion of the EU Council in regards to budget cuts should be changed in the opposite direction.

EP approves million-euro assistance to Estonian laid-off industry workers

The European Parliament has backed the allocation of 1.1 million euros to assist people in north-eastern Estonia, who lost their jobs in mass lay-offs in shale oil production and chemical industry.

NATO confirms entry of two Russian warships into Baltic Sea waters

On Wednesday, 26 October, NATO confirmed the entry of two Russian warships into the waters of the Baltic Sea.

Italy hit by earthquakes again

A pair of powerful earthquakes have shaken central Italy on October 26, causing damage to buildings.

Changes to Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law and other matters viewed by Saeima

On Thursday, 27 October, the Saeima will gather for a meeting to decide on the new legal draft On Public Procurements. New regulations for procurements provide a number of changes and additions to the current regulations.

Study: Wildlife populations have globally decreased by 58% since 1970s

The numbers of wildlife in the world have since 1970 decreased by 58%, it has been found in a study.

Fine applied to two Knauf Group plasterboard suppliers

On 30 September, Latvia’s Competition Council made the decision to punish Knauf and Knauf Group’s Norgips sp.z.o.o. from Poland for using a loyalty system that considerably restricted competition, thereby breaching the prohibition on abuse of market dominance.

Pharmacies in Sweden restrict sale of paracetamol

Restrictions should be put in place in the sale of paracetamol setting forth a ban to sell more than one pack of the drug to minors, decided Swedish pharmacies on October 26.

Ambassador: we are beneficial to the Chinese, but we can be even better

On 5 November, Latvia will not only be the host for the 16+1 format, but also the destination for the first official visit by the Chinese prime minister, said Latvia’s ambassador in China Maris Selga.

UK pledges to send drones and tanks to Estonia

British defence minister has this week outlined the country’s plans of its involvement in NATO’s push to increase the defence capabilities of Estonia.

Not all Roma happy about Lithuanian firm making tours to largest Roma village in Baltics

Lithuanian Roma representatives have been critical about a tour agency organising sightseeing tours to the village of Kirtimai promoted as «an extreme challenge» having a former drug addict as a guide.

Fifteen Syrian refuges arrive in Latvia from Greece

On Tuesday, 25 October, fifteen people, including nine children, arrived in Latvia from Greece as part of the European Union resettlement programme.

African swine fever reaches Dundaga

Latvian Food and Veterinary Service has received laboratory test results that confirm the presence of African swine fever in two dead wild boards found in Dundaga.

Latvia receives historically highest score in latest Doing Business rating

In the latest Doing Business 2017 study of the World Bank, Latvia is put on the 14th spot among 190 participating countries. This is historically the highest accomplishment for Latvia and an improvement over last year’s result. In terms of business-friendly environment, Latvia is on the 6th place among EU member states.

Raimonds Graube steps down as commander of Latvian Armed Forces

Raimonds Graube, commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces. He said he decided to do so in order to «allow the military chain of command to develop».

Vatican prohibits keeping cremation ashes at home

Leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican has this week announced in its cremation guidelines that the ashes of cremated Catholics may not be scattered or stored at home.

Arrests in Serbia target people involved in spying on PM of Montenegro

The Serbian government has stated on October 24 that a group of persons involved in spying on the Montenegrin head of government have been arrested. «There is irrefutable evidence that some people, and that's not those who were arrested, monitored the movement of the Montenegrin prime minister on a daily basis, every second, telling other people who were supposed to act on it,» Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić stated.

BATL: industry doubts economic justification of electrifying Latvia’s railway network

The project for the electrification of Latvia’s railway network is currently under review by Finance Ministry, Edgars Putra – the ministry’s parliamentary secretary – told Krustpunktā programme of Latvijas Radio on Tuesday, 25 October.

In pictures: France evicts migrants from notorious Jungle tent village

In northern France, near Calais, authorities have commenced transporting migrants away from Jungle, the tent village, where several thousand migrants have been living for years.

Payments of benefits to be stopped for refugees who left Latvia

On Tuesday, 25 October, the Cabinet of Ministers supported the legal draft detailing amendments to the Asylum Law, which were developed to enhance Latvia’s asylum provision system.

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