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Monday 22.01.2018 | Name days: Austris
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Week in Lithuania. President Grybauskaitė warns Donald Trump of Astravyets N-plant

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Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė told U.S. President Donald Trump at the summit of Central and Eastern European leaders in Warsaw on Thursday, July 6, about the importance of regional security and the threats of the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

«Today in Warsaw all Eastern Europeans and leaders of countries in our region had an opportunity to speak again, meet and state our opinion to U.S. President Trump. We have mentioned this to him in Brussels and now had a good opportunity to show and explain our specifics, the threats we are faced with and the expectations we have from the U.S.,» Grybauskaitė said in a comment circulated by the President’s Office. In her words, not only promises but actual tasks are now heard from the U.S. when it comes to regional security.

Minister expects Kaunas Airport to be ready for passenger influx

Kaunas Airport will be ready for a sharp increase in passenger numbers by mid-July when Vilnius Airport closes for runway reconstruction, Lithuanian Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis said on Tuesday, July 4. Within a month as Lithuania’s main airport, the Kaunas facility will serve about 3,600 flights and nearly 400,000 passengers. According to preliminary calculations, a total of 3,200 flights and 300,000 passengers will be moved to Kaunas for 35 days. Furthermore, the Kaunas airport will handle 460 of its «own» flights and 75,000 passengers over the period. The majority of flights will be moved from Vilnius to Kaunas, some 100 kilometres away from the capital, for 35 days due to the runway reconstruction that is scheduled to start on July 14.

Lithuanians’ OSCE resolution on Belarus’ N-plant blocked

At Sweden’s imitative, Lithuanian parliamentarians’ resolution criticizing the construction of Belarus’ Astravyets nuclear power plant was blocked at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday, July 5. Lithuanian parliamentarians say that they collected the required number of signatures, but the Standing Committee removed the draft document from the agenda of the Parliamentary Assembly’s session in Minsk at the initiative of Swedish Socialist MP Kent Harstedt.

Defence minister setting up rapid response teams for cyber operations

Rapid response teams for cyber operations are being set up from civilians in Lithuania’s defence system. Vice-Minister Edvinas Kerza said three such teams were currently being formed in Vilnius, each consisting of 20 people employed in the field of information technologies. In his words, specialists are currently checking credibility of the candidates to handle classified information. Concerns over cyber attacks have recently been heightened by the ransomware viruses, such as WannaCry.

EU directive stalls at Seimas after refused partnership

Partners were deleted from the definition of family members at the Lithuanian parliament following this week’s discussions to shift the European Union’s (EU) directive to ban discrimination on grounds of citizenship. The provision proposed by MP Petras Gražulis of the Order and Justice party was supported by 44 Lithuanian parliamentarians, while 20 were against and 21 abstained, therefore, the bill was changed considerably and was sent back to the Human Rights Committee. The panel’s recommendation was to reject the Gražulis’ proposal.

PM sees Social Democrats’ initiative as ‘slap in the face’

A draft amendment tabled by the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s junior ruling coalition partner, to reintroduce a reduced VAT rate on district heating and hot water services is «a slap in the face», Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, July 5.

Seimas extends session until July 13 due to forest reform

The Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday, July 4, extended its spring session until July 13. Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, said that the session had to be extended for a second time so that the parliament could vote on a state forest management reform bill in the coming week. The Seimas last week decided to extend the current session until July 7, but the bill cannot be put to a vote this week due to certain procedural violations by the Committee on Rural Affairs.

Minister spars with Russia Today journalist

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius sparred with a journalist of the Kremlin-financed television channel Russia Today over propaganda and journalists working for state-controlled media during an international conference on the safety of journalists in Vilnius on Monday, July 3.

Government asks for ratification of Rail Baltica deal

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, July 5, initiated the process of ratification of an agreement on the development of the European standard-gauge railway Rail Baltica that the three Baltic prime ministers signed in January.

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Latvenergo: Latvia is the largest energy exporter in Baltic States

Latvia continues exporting electrical energy produced in the country – as of Monday, 22 January, it was 832 MW. Especially intensive energy production is recorded for Daugava’s hydro-electric power plants and Riga’s CHP plants. The largest import volume is registered for Lithuania, to which the amount of exported energy equals the amount consumed in Latvia, Latvenergo explains.

LALRG secretary general: we have to reduce gap in quality of life for EU citizens

Ever since Latvia joined the European Union, its population has declined 14%. The most significant decline was caused by the departure of residents of working age to other EU member states. Because of that, the population in eastern regions of Latvia has declined 23%.

Czechs up for close race in this week's presidential run-off

As the Czech Republic nears the second round of its presidential election this weekend, sociologists estimate that the pro-Western academic Jiří Drahoš enjoys a somewhat larger support than the incumbent Miloš Zeman, who easily won the first round.

Producer price level in Latvia’s industry up 3.1%

Compared to December 2016, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 3.1 % in December 2017. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 3.0 %, while prices of exported products went up by 3.3 %. Prices of products exported to euro area countries grew by 3.8 %, whereas prices of products exported to non-euro area countries rose by 2.9 %.

MEP: an even greater UGF dominance would slow down Latvia’s development

If the Union of Greens and Farmers (UGF) gains an even greater presence in the upcoming Saeima elections, Latvia’s continued development would suffer, said member of the European Parliament Artis Pabriks in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Tax reform challenge in January: labour tax recalculation

2018 commenced for Latvia with a historical tax reform and conceptual changes, significantly affecting everyday work performed by businessmen, employers and accountants. One of the changes financial specialists have to remember when calculating wages for January is the one for personal income tax, which also includes changes for state social insurance fees and solidarity tax, BNN was told by accounting experts.

Total tax debts in Latvia reach 1.217 billion euros at beginning of 2018

At the beginning of the year, total tax debts in Latvia, including existing debts, halted debts and debts with extended repayment debts, reached EUR 1.217 billion, which is 3% less when compared with the previous month, as reported by the State Revenue Service.

Estonia emphasises animal welfare as demand for animal food products grows

Although the demand for food products from animals is increasing, attention should be paid both animal welfare and sustainability in agriculture, Estonia's Minister for Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm has stated.

Latvia hopes to recover its status as a country free of swine fever

There is hope that Latvia may yet recover its status of a country free of swine fever, says Food and Veterinary Service’s (FVS) Animal Infections Monitoring Department lead expert Mārtiņš Seržants.

Estonia prepares to inform population of actions in case of emergency or war

Estonia is preparing a brochure on how its population should act in case of major crisis or war.

De Facto: international lawsuit against Latvia is associated with infamous Winergy case

Norvik Bank’s lawsuit against Latvian state in the international court of arbitration in Washington is associated with Winergy wind park business, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV. The bank has yet to announce the amount of money it wishes to enforce from the state

German Social Democrats vote to U-turn on coalition talks with Merkel's conservatives

In Germany, where four months after its federal parliamentary elections there is still no government, the Social Democrats have voted to enter coalition talks with the conservatives led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Weather in Latvia to become warmer this week; thaw to settle in

Weather in Latvia will be dictated by an anticyclone at the beginning of the week. Precipitation is only expected in some areas, mostly in the north. The sky will be cloudy for the most part. Still some sun is expected every now and then, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Turkey crosses into Syria to attack Kurdish militia

Turkey's ground forces have entered the territory of neighbouring Syria strengthening Ankara's offensive to push Kurdish militia, considered to be terrorists by Turkey, away from the border.

Week in Lithuania. Fake news on Lithuanian Defence Minister planted on news portal

The Tv3. lt news website was hacked on Thursday, January 18 - a fake news story about Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis was posted claiming that Karoblis allegedly harassed Ridas Jasiulionis, a journalist at the Žinių Radijas radio station, and admitted being gay.

BNN summary of the week: final report on Oligarchs case and ordered attacks on e-health

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Attack; Growth; Decline; Opinion; and Study.

Economist: the most important reform has to happen in people’s heads

«Of all the clever things taught to us in school about psychology, one thing that has stuck with me over the years is the idea of internal/external control point. There are people who believe they make their own fate. There are also people who believe our fate depends on external powers. I suspect people in Latvia explain successes and failures with external factors much more than people in Switzerland or any other country that has enjoyed its freedom longer than Latvia,» comments Luminor Bank’s economist Pēteris Strautiņš.

Minister promises bigger wages for working people and support for country’s industry

«Latvian Economy Ministry’s priorities for 2018 include increasing wages for working people and providing support to the country’s industry. For Latvia’s centenary year, every resident should have the right to experience the increase of the personal and state welfare,» promises Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Latvenergo: electricity price has declined 30% in the past three years

Average electricity price in Latvia has declined in recent years. The average price of electricity has declined by 30% at Nord Pool exchange between 2014 and 2017, allowing end user costs to decline, says Latvenergo.

Alcohol sellers in Estonia to be checked by little «police»

To find shop assistants illegally selling alcohol or tobacco to minors, Estonian police introduces the method of sending minors as police aides to retail shops to try to purchase the products banned to them.

EY study: cyber security has become a priority to banks this year

Over the course of the year, priorities of banks around the world have switched from reputation and risk management to data security matters, as concluded in the latest EY Global Banking Outlook 2018.

Political association: UGF and Harmony are covering up state capture

«Parliamentary investigation of Oligarchs case has shown what is what in the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia. Green farmers are in full harmony, covering up Aivars Lembergs and the fact of state capture. They and Inguna Sudraba have made the parliamentary investigation into a farce. Unfortunately, the power in those people’s hands is no farce – rather misfortune for all of Latvia. I hope citizens will take all that into account when they go voting,» says leader of Kustība Par! Daniels Pavļuts.

Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel plan lacks ambition, says «Angry Birds» game maker

While Finland and Estonia work on plans of an under-sea tunnel from Tallinn to Helsinki, the construction of which could start in the 2030s, a Finnish businessman, previously involved in development of Angy Birds video game, has presented plans to finish the massive construction project in 2024 already.

Experts: healthcare financing law will deny healthcare to the least protected

In a discussion regarding healthcare, experts said that Latvian President Raimonds Vējoņis’ proposed Healthcare Financing Law is economically unjustified and ineffective. The document lacks principles of a socially responsible state, because healthcare is becoming less accessible, which will likely worsen public health indexes, says Kustība Par! political party.

Branded «aggressor state», Russia says Ukraine buries Minsk peace agreements

As the Donbas War continues, the parliament of Ukraine has passed the so-called Donbas reintegration bill after three days of debates defining territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country as temporarily occupied by Russia.

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