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Wednesday 26.04.2017 | Name days: Rūsiņš, Sandris, Alīna
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Week in Lithuania. Ten refugees arrive, to be given more Lithuanian classes

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Ten refugees who arrived in Lithuania from Syria and Iraq on Friday, July 29, under the European Union‘s resettlement programme will get more Lithuanian classes to speed up the integration.

Press Interior Vice-Minister Justas Pankauskas says that the two refugee families have been resettled from Greece.  For the first several months, the migrants will be placed at the Rukla Refugee Reception Centre for initial phase of integration, until the Migration Department makes the decision on their asylum status.

With the EU‘s resettlement program having reached its midway point, Lithuania faces the challenge of taking in more than a thousand refugees from Middle East within slightly more than a year and successfully integrating people from a culture that is unfamiliar to most Lithuanians. Lithuania has until now been slow in implementing the program, under which it pledged to accept 1,105 migrants over two years.

A mere 39 people have been relocated to the country since the launch of the program almost a year ago. That means that Lithuania still has to take in more than a thousand people from Middle East to fully implement the program by September 2017. The authorities are set to devote more attention and resources to teaching refugees the Lithuanian language, a key challenge in their integration process.

Special services charge chief veterinary officer

Lithuania‘s Special Investigation Service has brought suspicions of abuse of powers against the country‘s chief veterinary officer Jonas Milius. The service said it suspected that the top executives of an unidentified food product company sought to bribe various individuals who could help it to avoid penalties that are normally imposed for violating the rules of occupational safety, packaging, labelling, hygiene or other. On Thursday, July 28, security agents searched offices of Milius and MP Petras Gražulis. Procedural actions were also conducted in offices of Judex food production company, which also employs Gražulis‘ relatives. Milius said that minor exports violations had been established at the company in an investigation a year ago.

Lidl mulls selling more Lithuanian products

German-owned retailer Lidl Lietuva could sell more Lithuanian production in Lithuania and other European countries, says CEO Radostin Roussev-Peine, adding that surveys would be needed.

«We were talking about that we have already started our work in Lithuania and we will start to form our assortment for our customers. We would like to increase the amount of products from Lithuanian suppliers – we are talking about dairy, fruit and vegetable and meat sectors. These are the main points,» Roussev-Paine said after meeting with Lithuania’s Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė.

In his words, Lidl would want to sell Lithuanian products elsewhere in Europe but surveys would be needed about the types and amounts of products that can be sold. After opening in Lithuania in early June, Lidl Lietuva already operates 16 stores across the country and is set to expand the network, which mainly sells Polish production but also features German goods and a very small amount of Lithuanian products.

Land plot found for Russian ambassador‘s residence

A land site is envisaged for the Russian Embassy in the prestigious Valakupių neighborhood in Vilnius for construction of an ambassadorial residence.

«We expect to complete the talks before the end of this year,» the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, July 27.The state is first expected to take over two farm buildings on Melynių Street from the Vilnius municipality. Later on, the land site, which is located further from the guarded territory of residences of Lithuania’s state leaders, could be allocated for the construction of the Russian ambassador‘s residence. Signing of the international agreement on the terms and conditions of the settlement of embassies would invalidate the earlier treaty, which regulates the use of premises close to the residences of Lithuanian leaders in Turniškės by Russian diplomats.

Lithuania hands note to Belarus over new nuclear plant incident

Lithuania‘s government on Thursday, July 28, handed a note to the Belarusian Embassy over the latest incident at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant under construction in Belarus close to the Lithuanian border. Vilnius has also asked Brussels for involvement of the European Union (EU) in the matter. Ludo Segers Belarus‘ chargé d‘affaires Lyudmila Tatarinovich was summoned to the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hoops star accredited to Olympics despite ads controversy

Lidl‘s advertising campaign in Lithuania has not barred Arvydas Sabonis, president of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, from getting accreditation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. There was some doubt about the Lithuanian basketball legend’s accreditation because of a ban on using the name and image of athletes, coaches or officials participating in the Olympic Games for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games. The so-called Rule 40 blackout period began nine days before the opening ceremony. Lidl, which is not an Olympic sponsor and is a competitor to the retail chain Maxima, a sponsor of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LNOC), did not suspend its advertising campaign which features Sabonis.

U.S. ambassador ends term in Vilnius

Deborah McCarthy has completed her tenure as United States ambassador to Lithuania. She served as US ambassador to Lithuania since 2013 and will be replaced by Anne Hall who will come to Lithuania in late September or early October. In the meantime, the U.S. embassy in Vilnius is headed by Chargé D‘affaires Ad Interim Howard Solomon. Hall, a career diplomat, has been acting principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the US Department of State since 2014.

Over one fifth of Lithuanians face misery

Some 640,000 of Lithuania‘s population, or 22.2 per cent, were below the poverty risk line in 2015, up by 3.1 points year-on-year, according to a survey of incomes and living conditions carried out by the country‘s statistics office. The at-risk-of-poverty threshold last year was defined as living on a 259 euro monthly income for a single person and 574 euro for a family of two adults and two children under 14 years of age, Statistics Lithuania said on Wednesday, July 27. Neither minimum wage legislation, nor retirement pensions did much to alleviate poverty of some people, according to the press release.

Lithuania wants to buy out FSRU vessel

If Lithuania secured EU funding for the Klaipeda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, it could begin talks with Norway‘s Hoegh LNG to purchase the terminal’s vessel before the 10-year lease contract expires in 2024, Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis said. The minister says that talks with the European Commission on EU support for the LNG terminal has been ongoing for a year and a half now, noting that the discussion is very difficult because the EU‘s executive body normally does not provide aid for implemented projects. According to unofficial information, Lithuania seeks around 100 million euros in support from the Commission.

Lithuania‘s wind power output surges

Wind power generation in Lithuania soared by 53.5 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015, according to figures from the electricity transmission system operator Litgrid. Experts attribute the strong growth to new wind turbines going online. Wind turbines generated a total of 456.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity in Lithuania in January through June, up from 297.5 GWh in the same period last year and 268.8 GWh in the first half of 2014.Wind power accounted for 49.5 percent of all electricity generated in Lithuania in the first half of 2016.According to Litgrid, the country‘s annual wind power output last year totalled 806.3 GWh, making up 19 per cent of the country‘s total electricity production.

Kaunas mayor discharged after heart surgery

Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis has been discharged from hospital after undergoing a heart surgery, the local authority of Lithuania‘s second-biggest city announced on Thursday, July 28. Matijošaitis, 59, will now start a 20-day rehabilitation program in the seaside resort of Palanga.

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