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Friday 20.01.2017 | Name days: Aļģirds, Orests, Oļģerts, Alģis
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania eyes beef exports to Algeria

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The Lithuanian and Algerian authorities are finalizing veterinary certificates for Lithuanian meat product exports to the North African country.

The daily Lietuvos Zinios reported citing Mantas Staškevičius, head of the Veterinary Sanitary Division at the State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS), the export certificate approval process is also underway with other Muslim counties, including the United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Tunisia. Lithuania has recently had veterinary certificates approved by Iran and is already exporting Halal-compliant beef to Egypt and Lebanon.

Germany reaffirms pledges on Lithuania’s security enhancement

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to discuss preparations for the NATO summit in Warsaw and the situation in Ukraine.

According to the President, the tense security environment and the enhanced presence of high-readiness military forces in the neighbourhood of the Baltic countries make it necessary to deploy NATO’s adequate deterrence measures on the Eastern border of the Alliance.

Therefore, at the upcoming NATO summit due to take place in Warsaw in July, allies must finally agree on a significant increase in NATO’s presence in the Baltic countries.

Lithuania and Germany already maintain intensive cooperation ties in the field of defence. Germany has sent its troops to Lithuania for exercises. This year a total of 600 German troops are to arrive in our country in several stages. Lithuania purchases the world’s most advanced infantry fighting vehicles Boxer from German producers. Of all NATO allies, Germany has been rotating its troops in the Baltic air policing mission most frequently.

The meeting also focused on the situation in Ukraine, ongoing military actions in Donetsk and Luhansk and the annexation of Crimea.

Two universities may merge by 2019

Vilnius-based Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences and Kaunas-based Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) may to merge into one higher education institution by 2019.The universities still need to obtain approval from the Seimas before launching the merger process.

According toRaimundas Paliukas, chairman of the parliament’s Committee on Education, Science and Culture, it would be a strong humanities university as they both have similar programs.

According to him, Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) and Lithuanian University of Health Sciences have also announced merger plans. Many experts say that there are too many universities in Lithuania.

President congratulated Georgia

President Dalia Grybauskaitė extended congratulations, both personally and on behalf of the Lithuanian people, to President Giorgi Margvelashvili of Georgia on the 98th anniversary of Georgia’s Independence Day. According to the President, Georgia has come a long way in the last twenty five years towards the community of western nations. Common values, love of freedom and democratic choice have transformed Georgia into one of the most successful Eastern partnership countries.

Dalia Grybauskaitė wished the Georgian President and the people of his country continued success, prosperity and peace.

Central Bank wants daily to be prosecuted for slander

The Bank of Lithuania has asked the Prosecutor General‘s Office to investigate alleged slander by the daily Lietuvos Rytas. In early May, the daily alleged that Vytautas Valvonis, the Bank of Lithuania‘s Supervision Service director, was involved in a racketeering scheme, publishing what it said were his phonetap transcripts. The Bank of Lithuania says the transcripts are fake and that it has asked Lietuvos Rytas to retract the story six times, to no avail.

Andrikienė to replace Landsbergis in EP

Lithuania‘s Central Electoral Commission has cancelled Gabrielius Landsbergis’ mandate as a member of the European Parliament.

The leader of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats said during the commission’s sitting that he had given up his MEP mandate on May 13.The election watchdog on the same day transferred the MEP mandate to Laima Liucija Andrikienė, another member of the conservative party.Landsbergis announced his plans to resign as a MEP following reports about bribery suspicions against the then leader of the Liberal Movement, Eligijus Masiulis.

Strawberry price bewilders consumers

Locally grown strawberries in Lithuanian marketplaces have been a shock for consumers. A kilogramme of Lithuanian-grown strawberries at a Klaipėda market sells for 9 euro.

Lithuania totweak law on land sale

With the European Commission asking Lithuania to ease its rules on the sale of land to foreigners, Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė says that the ministry will propose minor changes to the current law.

According to Baltraitiene, farmers’ opinion is that the current law should not be changed and, therefore, the Agriculture Ministry will propose to amend only some of its provisions related to the administrative burden and red tape.The Commission noted in a press release that the requirement for buyers of land in Lithuania to qualify as farmers is excessively restrictive.

According to Baltraitienė, the ministry proposes to leave in place the requirement that a company that wants to purchase over 10 hectares of land must derive more than 50 percent of its revenue from agricultural activities.

Prosecutors to complete spying probe

The Prosecutor General‘s Office will soon finish the investigation of spying suspicions against a soldier of the Air Force, with the case to be handed to court in June. Along with the Lithuanian citizen, suspicions should be brought against a Russian citizen who received the classified information from the airman.

Both the suspects and their lawyers have already studied the case materials.

Municipality aims to halt industrial amber extraction

As the Lithuanian Geological Service prepares to announce a tender for surveying of an amber deposit near the seaside resort of Juodkrantė, the local Neringa municipality is considering the possibility to block amber extraction for business purposes. Neringa Mayor Darius Jasaitis stated that the 112-ton amber deposit should be intended to promote the state rather than for narrow business interests. He criticized the proposals of leaving merely five hectares of the total 80-and-more for tourism development.

EU has few levers for Belarus‘ NPP safety assurance

The European Union has almost no levers for ensuring that the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus meets all nuclear safety and environmental requirements, Algirdas Saudargas, a Lithuanian member of the European Parliament said on Wednesday, May 25.

According to Saudargas, the most efficient way of blocking access to the Lithuanian market for electricity generated at the Astravyets plant is to ensure sufficient and cheap electricity production in the domestic market.

Lithuanian troops complete their anti-piracy mission

Lithuanian troops on Wednesday completed their mission as part of the EU anti-piracy operation Atalanta off Somalia and are handing over the responsibility for the protection of a UN‘s World Food Program ship to another country, the National Defence Ministry said.

The Lithuanian Naval Force‘s third autonomous vessel protection detachment (AVPD-3) on Wednesday successfully reached the port of Djibouti in East Africa, the last route escorted by Lithuania‘s troops aboard this ship.

The ministry expects that the soldiers will return to Lithuania at the end of this week after handing over their mission to Serbian troops. The 16-strong Lithuanian team has guarded the World Food Program ship since early December 2015.

Lithuania hails Ukrainian pilot‘s release

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has praised the release of Ukraine‘s jailed military pilot Nadiya Savchenko as very good and symbolic news, but underlines that overall relations with Russia remain tense. According to him, the pilot‘s courage became a symbol of Ukraine’s struggle, which makes her release particularly significant.

However, the minister does not think that this step signals a turning point in relations with Russia, noting that other political trials are still ongoing in the country and reports of new deaths are coming from the front-line in Ukraine.

Authorities approve offshore wind farm project

The Lithuanian government is initiating the construction of wind power plants in the Baltic Sea, with projects to be implemented following the examples of Denmark and Germany.

The Cabinet endorsed on Wednesday, June 25, amendments to the Law on Energy from Renewable Sources and will send them to the Seimas for approval. According to Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, this is a long-term project that calls for new wind power plant projects in the Baltic Sea to be carried out after 2020. However, the necessary studies and preparatory work need to be done now, the government’s press office said in a press release.

Lithuanian company to fly to Estonia‘s large islands

The Lithuanian company Transaviabaltika has won a tender of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to operate subsidized flights between the mainland and Estonia’s large western islands.

Transaviabaltika will start operating the services to Kuressaare, capital of Saaremaa Island, and Kardla, capital of Hiiumaa, at the beginning of June. Transaviabaltika will use a 19-seat Jetstream-3200 as the main aircraft and a 19-seat LET L-410 as substitute aircraft to operate the routes. The latter may also be used as the main aircraft at the beginning of the contract period depending on when the agreements with the county governors are signed.

Liberals‘ ex-leader rejects charges

Eligijus Masiulis, a former leader of the Lithuanian Liberal Movement, disagrees with the suspicions of influence peddling and unlawful enrichment that were formally brought against him on Tuesday.

Masiulis said that he would continue to cooperate with law-enforcement bodies. The former lawmaker did not comment in more detail on the suspicions, saying that he was under obligation not to disclose any information related to the pre-trial investigation. The politician described the situation as a blow to the entire political system and a crisis of confidence.

Lithuania‘s EU commissioner, Russian minister talk on pork embargo

EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis has held talks with Russia‘s agriculture minister Alexander Tkachev on the lifting of Moscow’s ban on pork imports.

The meeting took place in Paris on Sunday, Andriukaitis‘ spokeswoman informed on Tuesday, May 24.Lithuania‘s EU commissioner was in Paris for the General Session of the World Assembly of Delegates of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).The European Commission two years ago turned to the World Trade Organization over Russia‘s ban on pork imports from the EU, which was imposed after ASF was found in Lithuania in January 2014.

AviaAM Leasing, China‘s HNCA to set up joint venture

Lithuania-based aircraft leasing company AviaAM Leasing and China‘s Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment Company (HNCA) have signed an agreement to establish a joint venture for aircraft leasing.

It is planned that the joint venture will be based in China’s central province of Henan and will build and manage a fleet of narrow-body aircraft worth of up to 900 million US dollars.

Court upholds businessman’s detention

The detention of Raimondas Kurlianskis, MG Baltic group vice-president suspected of bribery, trade in influence and unlawful possession of a state secret, was legitimate, a Vilnius court ruled on Tuesday, May 24.Kurlianskis‘ lawyer told journalists that his plea against the detention had been overruled.

Kurlianskis was detained on May 12 for 20 days on charges of bribery and trade in influence and as already spent 12 days behind bars. The Tuesday’s finding is final and not subject to appeals.

Lithuanian law-enforcement are investigating suspicions that Kurlianskis may have paid a bribe of about 100,000 euros to Eligijus Masiulis, former MP and former leader of the opposition Liberal Movement. The businessman pleads not guilty.

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