Lithuania is set to step up defence ties with the United States by signing the first bilateral cooperation agreement. The document will provide a more detail definition of the status of the U.S. forces in Lithuania, which fears the threat of aggression from Russia.
«With the agreement, the U.S. anchors and restates its defence commitments to Lithuania, while Lithuania, in its turn, provides all necessary conditions for the commitments to be met,»the Defence Ministry said. The published draft agreements envisage tax privileges for US troops. For instance, purchase of assets for the U.S. Armed Forces or on their behalf would be exempted of value-added tax, sale, use and excise taxes. Furthermore, Lithuania intends to give up its right to criminal jurisdiction for American troops, still retaining the right in special cases. Next week, MP Rasa Juknevičienė will attend a trans-Atlantic parliamentary forum organized by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the U.S. Atlantic Council and the National Defence University in the US.
100th statehood anniversary celebration plan lambasted
The Lithuanian parliament‘s Committee on Culture and Culture Minister-designate Liana Ruokytė Jonsson has criticised the outgoing government’s plan for marking the 100th anniversary of Lithuania’s statehood. Ramūnas Karbauskis, head of the committee, says that the plan lacks a vision and a goal of involving the entire population in the in the festivities and Ruokytė Jonsson thinks that including the construction of a stadium or reconstruction of a square in the plan is a bad idea. The plan, worked out by a special task force, sets the goal of involving a million people in the celebrations. Speaking about a large-scale Song Festival planned for 2018, Karbauskis said that he was surprised to see that the festival would take place only in Vilnius, rather than «in every single village.»The program includes the reconstruction of the capital‘s Lukiškės Square and of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace, the construction of a multi-functional complex (a stadium) and the renovation of the House of the Signatories, a building in Vilnius where the Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed on February 16, 1918.
President appoints Skvernelis-led Cabinet
President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Tuesday, November 29, signed a decree to appoint a new Cabinet led by Prime Minister-designate Saulius Skvernelis. The Cabinet is made up of 11 ministers proposed by the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union and three proposed by the Social Democrats. The new government will take office after its program is endorsed by the Seimas and the ministers are sworn in.
Fertiliser producer‘s oil terminal sues Klaipėdos Nafta
Krovinių Terminalas (Cargo Terminal), an oil product terminal owned by Achemos Grupė, has turned to court over a deal between Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil) and Orlen Lietuva that allegedly violates the Law on Competition and restricts fair competition in the Klaipeda port‘s light petroleum product market. Krovinių Terminalas is seeking almost 6 million euros in damages from Klaipėdos Nafta. The company is also asking the court to declare the agreement between Klaipėdos Nafta and Orlen Lietuva null and void from the date it was concluded in 2011 and to punish Rokas Masiulis, a former CEO of the state-run oil terminal who organized and signed the deal.
Litgrid investment plans
Lithuania’s electricity transmission system operator Litgrid is planning to invest 671.18 million euros in the power grid in the next ten years. The National Commission for Energy Control and Prices said on Monday, November 27, that it had analysed Litgrid‘s plan for the development of the energy system‘s 400-110 kilovolt power line network in 2016 through 2025. The energy market regulator stated after the analysis that the investments envisaged in the plan will ensure a reasonable development of the electricity sector that will meet the market‘s needs, as well as the reliable and efficient operation of the transmission system, which will allow guaranteeing quality services for consumers. Compared with its ten-year plan approved last year, Litgrid this year is cutting planned investments by 44.6 percent, due to the completion in 2015 of investments in the NordBalt and LitPol Link power interconnections, the commission said.