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Week in Lithuania. EC calls on Lithuania to transpose EU in-vitro fertilization legislation

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A nurse works on a micromanipulator machine (used for fertilization)

The European Commission has asked Lithuania to transpose provisions of EU directives on quality and safety standards for medical procedures involving reproductive cells.

The EC Representation in Lithuania said in a statement on Thursday, July 16, that the Lithuanian law transposing the directives does not apply to medical procedures involving reproductive cells, although such procedures may be carried out in the country between spouses.

This represents a public health concern, as medical procedures involving reproductive cells, such as in-vitro fertilization, carried out in Lithuania, are, as a consequence, not compliant with the safety and quality standards required by EU law. Lithuania has now two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Lithuania to the Court of Justice of the European Union. There’s no law on artificial insemination in Lithuania, and inseminations procedures are carried out only at private medical establishment operating under the health minister’s decree of 1999.

Medium speed cams installed on Lithuanian highways

Lithuania’s police have commenced installing on the country’s high-ways speed cameras that record a vehicle’s medium speed in a certain section, rather than its instant speed. The first such cameras have been installed in a five-kilometre section on the Via Baltica highway from the 29th kilometre from Kaunas to Marijampolė, Commissioner General of Lithuania’s Police Linas Pernavas said on Thursday, July 16.

Following a trial period, there are plans to expand the network of such cameras, he said.

«Developed EU members states have long concluded that it’s more effective to calculate the medium speed on the section of several or several dozen kilometres, rather that measuring the instant speed. The Via Baltica has been chosen for its high number of accidents as two people are killed in car accident on this road every week,» Pernavas told journalists on Thursday.

If approved by politicians, the police plan to install another dozen cameras in September-October. Later on, the police plans to propose to the government to increase the number of medium speed cameras in the country to« up to one hundred,» which will cost around 1 million euro.

Two CEOs detained for bribe attempt

Officials of Special Investigation Service (STT) detained two CEOs for an attempt to bribe an employee of the Lithuanian Competition Council (KT). The KT‘s employee refused to accept 14,000-euro bribe, an equivalent of the employee’s annual salary, in exchange for a favourable decision in a suspected bid rigging case. If bid rigging in a public procurement charges were presented and confirmed, serious sanctions could be applied to the companies involved: imposing a fine of up to 10 percent of the annual turnover and cancelling allocations of the EU financial support (up to 174,000 euro in this case).

«As the Chairman of Competition Council, I am extremely proud to work with both professional and honest colleagues. Taking this opportunity I would also like to remind all undertakings that leniency is a far much safer way to escape negative consequences of a competition probe,» says Šarūnas Keserauskas, Chairman of the Lithuanian Competition Council.

Lithuanian government approves Greece bailout talks

The Lithuanian government has approved on Thursday, July 16, the European Commission’s decision to negotiate along with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund financial assistance to Greece under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Six ministers voted in favour of the decision and two ministers, delegated by the Labour Party, which said before the meeting that its ministers would not back the proposed Greek bailout plan, abstained from voting. Six other members of the 14-strong Cabinet were not present at the meeting.

«The government authorized me to vote in the ESM governing council tomorrow in favour of opening negotiations with the Greek side on a concrete assistance agreement and its terms and conditions. This is our agreement to begin negotiations,» Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius told reporters after the Cabinet’s meeting.

EU Commissioner Andriukaitis on GM imports

The European Commission wants that EU member states themselves decide if to import genetically modified (GM) animal feed, just like they decide if to grow genetically modified organisms (GMO), EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said on Thursday, July 16.

«We think that countries themselves have to decide if they look at these problems really seriously and scientifically and based on economic and social calculations, or follow populist slogans, which are not a rarity in this field,» he told.

Andriukaitis said that if EU member states did not state their opinion, the European Commission would have to make the decision.

«Under existing regulation, member countries did not express their opinion and the European Commission has to adopt a decision all by itself. Then it is very easy to accuse the Commission of failing to take into account the public’s sceptical position on GM feed,» he said.

According to the Lithuanian commissioner, a decision to let each individual country to decide whether or not to import GM feed might cause problems to the food industry in some states. Currently, 25 EU member states import about 32 million tons of GM feed annually. Maize is currently the only GM crop allowed to be grown commercially in the EU. It is grown in five EU member states, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal and Romania. GM crops are not grown in Lithuania.

Seimas committee proposes establishing Ukraine aid fund

The Lithuanian Seimas’ Committee on European and Foreign Affairs has proposed setting up an aid fund for Ukraine.

The move comes after the committees endorsed the updated assistance plan for Ukraine. Gediminas Kirkilas, chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, told journalists on Wednesday, July 15, that it remains to be seen whether it will be e government fund or a public institution. The decision will be made after consultations with legal experts, he added.

«The establishment of an aid fund is the new thing. We will ask the government to make a small contribution and hope that that fund will be able to attract funds,» Kirkilas said. In his words, the fund will be set up in Lithuania as the European Union already has one. «The EU already has its fund and this one will be ours, Lithuania’s fund,» Kirkilas underlined.

Lithuanian and Latvian presidents discuss joint arms purchase

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis have met for talks in Vilnius this week. During their meeting both head-of-states have discussed, among other things, collective armaments purchase, in particular, jointly acquiring medium-range air defence systems.

According to Vējonis, joint purchase of air defence systems has great potential in the format of bilateral cooperation; however, cooperation of all three Baltic States and Poland in this area is no less important.

«We have discussed ways to enhance our joint military exercises. There are many good ideas, including the air defence field and purchase of missiles. We can see considerable potential for our cooperation,» Vējonis said, stressing that all purchases will have to be made in accordance with approved funding. President Grybauskaitė did not go into detail about the bilateral plans, but underlined that all potential purchases would have to be made in line with financial capabilities of all countries involved.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.2620


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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.

Weather to remain winter-like in Latvia during the weekend and next week

On Friday and Saturday, no major increase of snow is expected. Air temperature will increase slightly, but colder masses of air will slow into the country on Sunday, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Winter storm in Netherlands and Germany turns tragic

A powerful winter storm in western and central Europe has claimed the lives of eight people.

Lithuanian bishops: skipping fasting on February 16 this year is not a sin

In an unprecedented move, the Conference of Lithuanian Bishops, the governing body of the Lithuanian Catholic Church, said that meat dishes okay for the people of faith on February 16, which marks the 100-year anniversary of Lithuania's statehood and the Lent Friday, which is traditionally a day of fasting for religious Catholic people.

Coincidence? Votes from Harmony and UGF ensure Sudraba remains the head of Oligarchs case committee

On Thursday, 18 January, the majority of Saeima members voted against the proposal to dismiss Inguna Sudraba from the post of the head of parliamentary investigative committee in charge of the review of the infamous Oligarchs case.

Kaljulaid criticised over involvement of acclaimed, but unrestrained director in centennial reception

As Estonia readies for the presidential reception to honour the 100th anniversary of Estonia, its President Kersti Kaljulaid is being criticised in an open letter for trusting Tallinn’s NO99 theatre, whose director physically assaulted a female colleague.

22.1% of Latvia’s residents subjected to risk of poverty

In 2017, 425 thousand persons or 22.1 % of Latvia population were at risk of poverty in 2016 – 0.3 percentage points less than in 2015. Equivalent income of this part of the population were below 330 euros monthly.

LAAC: Latvia’s milk market can be sorted out by joining forces in exports

Latvian Association of Agricultural Cooperatives (LAAC) has received support and praise for the public discussion regarding rapid milk procurement price changes, which is something that has recently affected the majority of agricultural cooperatives. This has helped cooperatives band together in order to sort out the milk market. This idea came from the example set by grain producer cooperatives, which did the same thing fifteen years ago, as reported by the association’s representatives.

Forevers announces its decision to exit from Latvian Federation of Food Companies

Forevers meat processing company has decided to exit from Latvian Federation of Food Companies (LFFC). The contract between two parties will be terminated in January.

Saeima’s Oligarchs case investigative committee hastily approves final report

In spite of objections, grammatical errors, criticisms about lacking effort, as well as Inguna Sudraba’s unfit status to lead the committee, members decided to move the meeting from 11:00 to 08:00 and approve the final report in a rushed vote.

Removal of 1 and 2 euro cent coins from circulation suggested by Bank of Estonia

Estonian central bank is willing to follow the eurozone trend of limiting the circulation of euro 1-cent and 2-cent coins and in time to remove them entirely from circulation in the Baltic country.

Cert.lv: attacks on e-health system and LETA were likely ordered

Attacks on e-health system and LETA agency were likely ordered, said Cert.lv deputy manager Varis Teivāns in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.

As Catalan parliament reconvenes, it elects pro-independence speaker

The Catalan regional parliament has in its first sitting since its ousting and snap December election elected a separatist-minded politician as its Chairman, which indicates that the attempts to break the region away from Spain would continue.

Latvia’s National Armed forces receive new Harris tactical radio equipment

In 2017, Latvia received tactical military radios worth USD 10.5 million from American Harris Corporation. Procurement of radio equipment will further improve command function and help develop a lasting communication system with other NATO member states, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry.

MEP: Europe continues strengthening its energy independence

«The European Parliament has voiced strong support towards Europe’s energy independence and moving its energy policy away from Russia’s monopoly by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources,» said MEP Krišjānis Kariņš after the vote on Clean Energy Act’s first reading in Strasbourg.

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