Seimas has endorsed a bill allowing Lithuanians who are born abroad to retain dual citizenship. The amendment to the Law on Citizenship was passed by a vote of 88 against one, with one abstention. President Dalia Grybauskaitė still has to sign it into law.
Under current legislation, Lithuanian citizens, who are also citizens of another state by birth, are allowed to keep both citizenships only until they turn 21. Afterwards they have to choose whether to keep their Lithuanian passport or that of another country. The new law will allow them to retain both citizenships.
The Lithuanian Constitution spells out that, save for several exceptions, Lithuanian citizens cannot be citizens of another country at the same time. An exception applies to Lithuanian expatriates who left the country before 1990, but not after that. The Lithuanian parliament has proposed holding the referendum alongside general elections next October. Advocates of dual citizenship fear, however, that the effort might fail due to low turnout.
Uber kick-starts in Vilnius
Uber, the international ride sharing app, started operating in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on Thursday, November 19. The company has also announced its rates. Uber drivers in Lithuania will charge 0.8 euro boarding fee. The price for the ride will consist of the time and distance components: 0.1 euro/min. and 0.4 euro/km. The minimum price for the service is 1.5 euro. If the ride is cancelled, a fee of 1.5 euro will also apply.
Massive manhunt operation nabs detainee who escaped with Kalashnikov
Thursday evening around 3,000 police officers were searching for Igor Molotkov, a detainee who managed to grab a Kalashnikov rifle from the police and run away. After five hours of manhunt, the fugitive was arrested near the Railway Station, on Palesos street. While on the loose, Molotkov told his neighbours that after had been detained on Thursday afternoon for a minor offense, he was left alone in the back seat of the police car, his hands cuffed. The Kalashnikov rifle had been left on the front seat. Molotkov managed to reach the gun which he later used to threaten the police officers and flee the scene. The Lithuanian police had been given Kalashnikov rifles after terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. The neighbours said that a friend helped him to remove handcuffs on the way back to his home. After running away from the police, Molotkov found his way to his home. Officers had already checked the house that evening, but before Molotkov returned. The fugitive later boasted to other house residents that police officers had been in the yard of the house and had not stopped him. Molotkov also said he used public transport to return home, with a rifle hidden underneath his clothes. He hid the rifle after getting off the bus. A major police operation, involving 3,000 officers and a helicopter, was launched in Vilnius to find the armed fugitive.
Vytautas Landsbergis in hospital
Vytautas Landsbergis, a prominent Lithuanian politician and one of the architects of the modern state of Lithuania, was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Vilnius on Thursday, November 19 and was expecting to be discharged soon.
Vytautas Landsbergis is a former leader of the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats. He came to prominence during the Sąjūdis movement in the late 1980s and was one of the leaders of Lithuania’s efforts to achieve independence from the Soviet Union. Landsbergis was also the first head of state after Lithuania seceded from the USSR in 1990.
Baltic presidents meeting in resort of Palanga
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė will meet with Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at the Palanga Amber Museum on Sunday, November 22. It is a traditional annual meeting held to coordinate positions, at the highest level, on strategic issues for the Baltic States and agree on unified action to counter challenges facing the region, the Lithuanian presidency said. This year, special focus will be placed on joint measures to overcome the refugee crisis, on building up defence and security and on a coordinated response to cyber, information, energy security and possible terrorist threats. According to the Lithuanian president, the chaotic refugee crisis, aggressive neighbourhood and deadly terror attacks that hit Paris a few days ago call for the Baltic countries to be further united, join their forces and have an effective response to counter these challenges. The meeting’s agenda will also include the progress of implementing strategic energy projects, the synchronization of Baltic electricity grids with the continental European network and the completion of an integrated gas market in the Baltic States.
Lithuanian dairy producers closer to exporting to China
The Lithuanian Agriculture Ministry, the Lithuanian State Food and Veterinary Service and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine have signed protocol requirements for exporting Lithuanian dairy products to China.
Lithuanian MEPs will risk their EP seats when running for Seimas
The Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, has adopted amendments to election laws that will prevent members of the European Parliament, municipal councils and town mayors from running for parliament without risking their mandates. Under the new rule, proposed by MP Rima Baškienė, of the Peasant and Green Union, if an MEP, a municipal council member or a mayor is elected into parliament, he or she will automatically lose the mandate he or she holds.
Previously, members of the European Parliament or municipal councils could run for parliament without risking their posts. If they were elected, they could choose whether to take up the MP seat or keep their old position. That, the bill’s author says, amounts to deceiving voters who vote for a party list that often includes candidates with now intentions to take up parliament seats. These candidates are there only to lend their popularity to the list, Baškienė says.
Lithuanian PM met with EC vice president
Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius met with Vice President of the European Commission (EC) in charge of the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič in Brussels on Thursday, November 19. According to the prime minister, establishing the internal energy market in Europe is a priority objective for Lithuania.
The meeting addressed the creation of the internal energy market in Europe and Lithuania’s accomplishments – strategic electricity and gas links, and electricity network synchronisation. Energy security and economic competitiveness development were discussed as well.
The vice president of the EC emphasised constructive cooperation with Lithuania in the area of energy and said that other countries should follow Lithuania’s example while implementing energy projects. The highly important Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal project was noted as an example of how the situation in the energy market can be changed. Prime Minister Butkevičius was pleased that the first State of the Energy Union Report reflected the progress of the Baltic States, including Lithuania. Furthermore, the importance of the LNG terminal, electricity connections NordBalt and Litpol Link, quadripartite agreement over gas pipeline Lithuania-Poland were emphasised.
Ambassador convinced that Finnish armoured vehicles suit Lithuania best
Harri Mäki-Reinikka, ambassador of Finland to Lithuania, is convinced that the Finnish Patria, as the market leader among 8X8 armoured wheeled vehicles, is the most suitable option for Lithuania. Patria AMV XP IFV Ambassador considers that Patria’s offer is a perfect match for the Lithuanian needs, priced very competitively and include a local Life Cycle Support solution, continuous development with the latest technology, according to a press release by the Embassy of Finland.
Patria’s AMV enables many benefits for international EU or NATO operations and strengthens regional interoperability, the ambassador says, adding that Patria’s vehicles are in use of Finnish, Polish, Estonian, Norwegian and Swedish Armies. Lithuania has received a total of 10 proposals on the acquisition of infantry vehicles for the Armed Forces. The purchase could be the largest acquisition in the history of Lithuania’s army. The decision on the equipment to be bought should be made by the State Defence Council in late November.
Government endorses Lithuanian airport concession bill
Lithuanian government has approved the bill on the Lithuanian airports concession, which is expected to boost competitiveness of Lithuania’s air transport system. Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has said hopes that the parliament will adopt the needed legislation to announce the international concession competition for the Lithuanian airport management. According to the prime minister, the Ministry of Communications will submit the amended bills to the government by the beginning of December. Lithuania has three international airports, in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga.
Lithuanian enforcement institutions demand extra money
Reacting to the terrorist attacks in France, Lithuania’s Parliamentary National Security and Defence Committee has requested additional funding for the State Security Department, the Lithuanian Police Anti-Terrorist Operations Unit, Aras, and the State Border Guard Service. The committee requests to designate 14.4 million euro to these institutions in next year’s budget. The position was expressed after a meeting of the Parliamentary National Security and Defence Committee. Representatives of the Interior Ministry, the State Security Department, the Government, the Financial Crime Investigation Service and the Police Department attended the meeting.
New poll: Lithuanians not welcoming refugees
A new poll suggests that most Lithuanians are not very welcoming refugees and do not agree with the government’s policies of offering asylum to people fleeing wars in the Middle East. Every sixth Lithuanian thinks positively about receiving refugees, while 61.3 percent completely disagrees with the Lithuanian government’s decision to welcome refugees under the European Union’s quota system.
As many as 72.7 percent of the respondents think that welcoming refugees will be disadvantageous for Lithuania and 67.6 percent negatively evaluate the entire EU refugee policy, shows a poll by the market research company Sprinter Tyrimai, commissioned by Delfi.lt, a Lithuanian news website. The survey, conducted in late October, involved 1,011 respondents. Lithuania has agreed to accept 1,105 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea over the course of two years.
U.S. to maintain troops in Lithuania
While on a formal visit in the United States, Lithuania’s Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas met with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on November 17 in Washington, Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence reports. Carter reiterated the long-term plans for US presence in the region and Lithuania.
Seimas speaker not worried about budget warnings from EC
Lithuania’s draft budget for 2016 allows for conservative optimism, says Loreta Graužinienė, speaker of the Seimas. According to the speaker, there is no risk that budget spending would exceed income in 2016 more than projected. On Tuesday, November 17, the European Commission (EC) said that Lithuania was at risk of failing to comply with the structural government sector’s balance rate and suggested taking relevant measures to avoid it. However, Graužinienė believes there is no such risk.
EC: Lithuanian consumers pay least for gas in region
Both household consumers and industrial companies in Lithuania pay the smallest price for gas in the region, according to the newest report on European gas markets by the European Commission (EC).
According to the report, in the second quarter of 2015, the average gas price for households in Lithuania was 0.045 EUR/kWh, in Latvia 0.0484 EUR/kWh, Estonia 0.0472 EUR/kWh, Poland 0.0492 EUR/kWh. In other words, gas price for Lithuanian consumers was 5-10 percent smaller than in neighbouring countries. Non-household consumers also paid less for gas than neighbours.
Based on the EC’s report, the average gas price for non-household consumers in Lithuania was 0.0284 EUR/kWh, while the price in Poland was 10 percent bigger, in Latvia 18 percent bigger, in Estonia 20 percent bigger than in Lithuania. Even in Germany industrial consumers had to pay more for gas than those in Lithuania, the EC says.
Seimas endorses new LNG terminal financing model
The Lithuanian parliament approved the new LNG terminal financing model on Tuesday, November 17, as the old model would have resulted in higher heating prices next year. In fact, experts say heating prices will go up under the new model as well, only not in Vilnius, which would have experienced the biggest hikes, had the old model stayed in place, but in smaller municipalities and only very slightly.
Under the old scheme, if consumers had not used enough gas, they would not have paid enough to ensure supply security. According to the new model, the tax would be counted by expectation of maximum gas demand in one day.. Under the amended law, energy producers have to buy the necessary LNG quantity from the designated supplier or a part of this quantity for a price projected and confirmed by Lithuania’s National Commission for Energy Control and Prices (VKEKK).
If, taking into account the forecasts of natural gas consumption by energy producers or actual natural gas consumption, it is impossible to sell some of the necessary quantity of the LNG terminal’s gas to energy producers, then the designated supplier must realize the necessary LNG amount on Lithuania’s natural gas market or global LNG market in the most cost-effective manner, in accordance with the principles of equality, non-discrimination, transparency, lowest cost, and smallest negative impact on natural gas prices to consumers.
Central bank proposes to cap charges for basic banking services
The Bank of Lithuania has drafted a list of private banking services that it proposes should be made more accessible. If the proposal is endorsed by parliament, commercial banks will have to provide basic services like debit card administration, cash withdrawals and money transfers in the EEA to their clients at a fixed charge. According to the central bank’s proposal, commercial banks should not charge more than 1.53 euro per month for a list of basic services that it deems essential.