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Sunday 17.12.2017 | Name days: Teiksma, Hilda
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania, Russia conclude marathon talks on diplomatic buildings

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Lithuania and Russia have concluded lengthy negotiations on properties used by their diplomatic missions in Vilnius and Moscow, including a building in the Lithuanian capital’s Turniškės neighbourhood close to former President Valdas Adamkus’ residence, a Lithuanian newspaper reported.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed that the talks, which had lasted for several decades, were over, but gave no details.

Unofficial sources say that the Russian embassy will take over the ownership of its embassy building in Latvių Street, in the Žvėrynas neighbourhood, in exchange for the Lithuanian embassy building, an adjacent guest house and the Jurgis Baltrušaitis home in Moscow. As part of the deal, Russian diplomats will leave the property in Turniskės and will be allocated a plot of land in Valakampiai, another prestigious neighbourhood of Vilnius, for building a new residence for the ambassador.

The Foreign Ministry would not disclose the contents on the draft agreement, which is yet to be approved by certain Lithuanian and Russian authorities, but it confirms that an agreement on the use of the Turniškės property by the Russian embassy will become void after the new inter-governmental deal is signed.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has promised to comment on the details of the deal as soon as the necessary documents are signed.

Lithuania’s LFGU leader unhappy with LRT responses

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), says he is not satisfied with the answers provided by the national radio and television company LRT to the answers from MPs, planning to take additional steps to obtain the information. In Karbauskis’ words, a decision will be made next week whether LRT should be asked additional questions or the parliament should set up a commission of MPs authorized to work with classified information. The parliamentarians, who want answers from LRT, aim to find out whether the national radio and television is making efficient use of the money from the state budget and has no plans of interfering with the content, said Karbauskis, the chairman of the parliamentary Culture Committee.

Earlier this week, LRT provided answers to the questions asked by nearly half of Lithuania’s 141 parliamentarians who questioned the national broadcaster’s transparency. Some of the requested information was not provided due to confidentiality reasons, as it involved producer companies and LRT audit results.

NASA-related Israeli firm shows interest in Lithuania

Ricor Systems 2011 – A.C.S. Ltd., an Israeli scientific research company working with defence and space projects, has filed an application under the EU Smart FDI instrument and said it aimed to establish a unique perimeter monitoring and security device Halo in Lithuania. According to the project application, the project is estimated at 2.9 million euros, with 1.9 million euros requested from the European Union.

Christmas Tree lit in Cathedral Square in Vilnius

A Christmas Tree was lit in the Cathedral Square in Vilnius on Friday, December 1, kicking off a series of festive events in the Lithuanian capital. The municipality had urged people to arrive at the event by public transport to avoid traffic congestions. Another Christmas Tree was lit in the Town Hall Square on Saturday, December 2.

Prosecutors broaden suspicions against Liberal Movement

In the framework of the pre-trial investigation into corruption allegations involving the MG Baltic concern and a few political parties, Lithuania’s prosecutors broadened the suspicions against the Liberal Movement. The earlier suspicions were in connection to possible bribery and influence peddling by its former members Eligijus Masiulis and Šarūnas Gustainis for the party’s benefit, however, prosecutors last week stated that the Liberals may have benefited from the abuse of Gintaras Steponavičius who has suspended his party membership. The party’s lawyer Raimundas Jurka said that the Liberal Movement stood suspicions of bribery, influence peddling and abuse.

Six Lithuanian energy projects supported by EU

Six Lithuanian energy projects will be able to apply for financial assistance of the European Union (EU) after the European Commission last Friday published a list of EU projects of common interest (PCI). It includes two projects of the Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania ( GIPL ), project to expand capacities of the Lithuania-Latvia gas interconnection, electricity network synchronization with continental Europe project, the second LitPol Link interconnection in Lithuania, power line Vilnius-Neris and a project to boost capacities of the Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant. However, the list, which is usually updated every two years, does not include the Klaipeda LNG terminal and a gas storage facility in Syderiai.

Ministry terminates competition for tourism chief

Lithuania’s Economy Ministry has terminated the third competition for the top official of the Tourism Department, a move pledged by Virginijus Sinkevičius of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union before his appointment as economy minister. The minister explained that the competition should be terminated owing to the restructuring of the institution into a public establishment. The Economy Ministry is in search for a new chief of the Tourism Department after its former leader Justiga Kazlauskienė stepped down in February after it turned out that companies presenting Lithuania to foreigners were using photographs having nothing to do with Lithuania. The third competition involved five candidates.

At Lithuania’s initiative, Israeli PM gets historical invitation

At Lithuanian diplomats’ initiative, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a historical visit to Brussels, EU officials said on Wednesday, November 29. Rasa Jakilaitienė, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian foreign minister, said earlier this week that the meeting between EU foreign ministers and Netanyahu had been initiated by Lithuanian. Lithuania has in the past decade become one of the strongest diplomatic supporters of Israel in the EU. Many other European countries take a tougher stance toward Israel over the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Observers say that Vilnius’ pro- Israeli policy could be partly due to coordination of diplomatic positions with the United States and to the history of Lithuanian Jews. Also, Lithuania and Israel have recently stepped up their bilateral military and economic relations.

The Jerusalem Post has reported that it will be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to the EU headquarters in Brussels in more than two decades.

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