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Wednesday 24.01.2018 | Name days: Krišs, Eglons, Ksenija
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania unveils new tourism brand

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Lithuania will until 2020 use a new tourism brand to market itself to foreign tourists. The new brand, unveiled by the State Tourism Department on October 19, features the words «Lithuania. Real is beautiful» printed on a pastel mint postage stamp.

Jurgita Kazlauskienė, head of the State Tourism Department, expects that the new brand, the development of which cost around 40,000 euros, will make Lithuania more visible as a tourist destination. «I do not believe that the brand alone will be able (to attract more tourists to Lithuania), but I do believe that this new concept will make us more visible and more interesting and will help to differentiate ourselves from other states, or at least from our neighbours,»  she said.

Kazlauskienė said that the new brand is part of the Lithuania‘s tourism marketing renewal efforts, noting that the «Lithuania is a brave country»  logo, which has been used for tourism marketing for years, is a country brand, rather than a tourism brand.

Opposition criticizes draft 2017 budget

Lithuania‘s opposition lawmakers say that next year‘s budget drafted by the outgoing government is «a semi-finished product» should not be taken seriously. «It seems to me that the Social Democrats are throwing off this draft budget without any deeper analysis or decisions, leaving all decisions to the incoming government.

This draft should not be given any serious consideration, because the new Seimas will convene around Nov. 6 and the new Seimas will decide on this budget,» Eugenijus Gentvilas, head of the Liberal Movement’s political group in the parliament, told reporters on Tuesday, October 17. He said that the new government would have to make significant adjustments to the draft budget, which he called «a semi-finished product.» Andrius Kubilius, leader of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats‘ political group, said that next year’s revenue projections were not very realistic.

Arms control inspectors to visit Belarus

Lithuanian arms control inspectorswill conduct a verification of the Belarusian Armed Forces‘ 120th mechanized brigade stationed in Minsk, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said. The verification will be carried out on the basis of a bilateral agreement signed within the framework of the 2011 Vienna Document. Based on the findings of their inspection, the arms control inspectors will prepare a report to member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in which they will give their assessment of Belarus’ compliance with international arms control agreements.

Lithuania might broaden sanctions against Russia

Lithuania does not rule out broadening its national sanctions against Russia if the European Union fails to do so at the bloc‘s level, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has said. The minister told the daily Lietuvos Žinios that Lithuania is considering adding the State Duma deputies elected in the Russia-annexed Crimea to its list of personae non grata.

The minister said that none of the 46 names included into the so-called Savchenko List in April has been removed from it following the release by Russia of Ukraine‘s military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, because other Ukrainians, including Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, are still jailed.

President sees Finnish education system as example

Noting that university mergers are inevitable in Lithuania, President Dalia Grybauskaitė says that she will recommend that the new government learn from Finland‘s successful higher education reform experience. «The newly-formed government will have a lot of work to do. I will highly recommend that they come here to look around, talk and learn from the experience and innovation that could be implemented in Lithuania as well,» Grybauskaitė told reporters during her visit to Aalto University  in Finland on Wednesday, October 19.

Child pornography ring cracked

In an international operation against sexual abuse of children, officers of the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau have established eight individuals distributing a large number of pornographic files featuring small children. The suspects were established as a result of criminal intelligence actions online and in cooperation with foreign partners, the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau said on Wednesday, October 19. In the framework of the probe, Lithuanian police initiated eight investigations and conducted 11 searches. The week-long international operation resulted in seizure of 2.38 tons of cocaine and identification of 529 victims of human trafficking.

Kaunas family to be awarded as Righteous Among Nations

Israel‘s Ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon  awarded on Friday, October 21, the Yad Vashem medal and honours of Righteous Among the Nations to the Blazaiciai family, which risked their lives during World War II to rescue Jews from Nazi genocide. The family will be awarded post mortem, with the award to be presented to the family‘s closest relatives.

The Blazaiciai family will be recognized for opening their home in Panemunė to a Jewish family‘s daughter Roza Fin and raising her until the end of the war. According to a press release, the girl‘s entire family was murdered in the Kaunas ghetto, and only her parents survived and were liberated from the concentration camp after the war to come back to Kaunas and find their daughter safely raised in the Blazaiciai home.

Lithuanians diagnosed with hepatitis A after holiday

After two outbreaks of hepatitis A were reported in Lithuania in October, doctors suspect that members of the two Vilnius and Siauliai families were infected during a recent vacation in Turkey. The Lithuanian Center for Communicable Diseases and AIDS said that four members of the families had been diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus.

Klaipedos Nafta signs long-term fuel oil loading contract

Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil), the Lithuanian state-controlled oil loading company, has signed a long-term three-year fuel oil loading contract with the Belarusian oil company Belorusskaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya (Belarusian Oil Company, or BNK ). «The contract ensures loading of oil products from Belarus‘ main utilities – Mozyr and Naftan. Long-term cooperation has proven Klaipėdos Nafta to possess the necessary competences and technological capacities, furthermore, be able to respond promptly to client needs and ensure high-quality services,» Klaipėdos Nafta‘s CEO Mantas Bartuska said in a press release.

Baltic defense budgets grow faster than elsewhere

Since the Ukraine crisis began, the Baltic countries‘ borders for new defence equipment have doubled and will double again in the next two years, according to an analysis released by IHS Markit on Thursday, October 20. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia increased spending on new defence equipment from 210 million U.S. dollars in 2014 to 390 million dollars in 2016. Together by 2018, the three countries are expected to spend around 670 million dollars a year on new equipment. Latvia and Lithuania have been the two fastest growing defence budgets in the world since 2014, according to IHS Jane‘s analysis. The high rates of growth will be sustained until 2018.

Voter turnout at 1.41 pc

Some 33,625 people, or 1.41 percent of all eligible voters, cast their ballots on Wednesday, October 19, the first day of early voting in the run-off round of Lithuania’s parliamentary election, Central Electoral Commission said. This is slightly down from 36,765 voters, or 1.47 percent, who cast their ballots on October 6, the first day of early voting in the first round. However, the turnout is higher compared with 0.92 percent on the first day of early voting in the second round of the 2012 parliamentary elections.

Axis Technologies bags contract in Ukraine

Axis Industries, a Lithuanian industrial and energy project company that is part of the Icor Group, has bagged a contract worth 6.4 million euros in Ukraine. Axis Industries said that it has won a contract from Kharkiv‘s district heating grid operator to supply and install 1,000 heat metering units in the Ukrainian city within 28 months.

Lithuanian police to meet with refugees

Police officers were planning to meet with refugees living in the Rukla refugee reception center and the local community of the central Lithuanian town following a recent incident against two female migrants. Two unidentified young men on Wednesday, October 19, evening attacked two women from the refugee reception center – a Syrian and an Iraqi -who were taking a walk through the town with a baby in a pram. The men blocked the women‘s path and when they tried to escape, they grabbed the migrants by their clothes and broke the glasses of one of them.

Regulator gives nod to merger

Lithuania‘s regulator has given the green light for merging the mobile operator Omnitel into the integrated telecoms, IT and TV services provider Teo LT. The Supervisory Authority of the Bank of Lithuania has approved the reorganization of Omnitel by way of merger into Teo LT, the latter company said in a statement published on the Nasdaq Vilnius website on Wednesday, October 19. Teo LT in early January purchased 100 percent of shares in Omnitel from its shareholder, Sweden‘s Telia Company, for 220 million euros. Under the terms and conditions of the merger, approved in early June, Omnitel will cease to operate as a separate company following the reorganization.

President unhappy about Labour Code

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite says that the outgoing parliament has failed to deliver on its promise to amend the new Labor Code. «I think that all of us, spectators of that performance of promises, look at this in the same way: there is hardly anyone who still believes that this ruling majority keeps to its promises,» Grybauskaite, on a visit to Finland, told reporters on Wednesday, October 19 after the Seimas on failed to muster enough votes  earlier to pass amendments to the Labour Code under the urgency procedure. Sixty-four members of the parliament registered for the vote, while the Seimas Statute requires that at least 71 lawmakers take part.

Lithuania to start lacking power in 10 years

Lithuania will start lacking electricity in just over a decade and power interconnections will not be enough, if no changes are made, says Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis, adding that the country should consider construction of gas-powered or nuclear plants. Speaking at the Lithuanian Energy Conference on Tuesday, October 18,Masiulis said that the electricity shortcoming in Lithuania may be over 500 megawatts in 2030. Currently, the electricity surplus is 4.7 megawatts, including the capacity of all electricity interconnections and production capacities.

The energy minister said that Lithuania’s energy needs will swell from 500 MW to 2,450 MW in 2030, however, capacities of power links will decline, thus pulling down imports volumes. In his words, the 700 MW electricity interconnection with Sweden, NordBalt, is the only reliable link.

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