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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania expects Poland’s new President Andrzey Duda to turn attention to Central Europe

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Poland‘s new President Andrzey Duda should pay more attention to the Central and Eastern European region than his predecessor Bronislaw Komorowski, say Lithuanian political scientists.

«There will be more concern about the Russian threats and more active work with regional partners,» Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, told BNS, a Lithuanian news agency, on Thursday, August 6.

In his words, this will be due to historic governance tradition of Duda‘s political party, Law and Justice, which the new president left after being elected. More active ties with Central and Eastern Europe were maintained by the party‘s member, former president Lech Kaczynski who was killed in an airliner crash in Russia in 2010. Duda was in close contact with the late president.

Duda was Thursday inaugurated as Poland‘s 6th president since 1989. In run-off voting on May 24, he secured 51.55 percent of the vote, defeating his predecessor Komorowski.

Five Lithuanians injured in bus crash in Turkey

Five Lithuanian tourists experienced minor injuries after a bus flipped over in Turkey. According to data provided by the Lithuanian Embassy to Turkey, the five persons with minor injuries are in stable condition.

The Lithuanian consul managed to get in contact with three of the victims who have been released from hospital after tests.Lithuanian diplomats are working to reach two more citizens of the country to inquire about their need for consular assistance. The accident occurred reportedly between Pamukkale and Antalya.

Lithuanian interior minister visits refugee accommodation facilities

Lithuania‘s Interior Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Vice-Minister Elvinas Jankevičius visited the town of Jonava on Thursday, August 6, to discuss accommodation and integration of refugees to be hosted by Lithuania.

In Rukla, in the Jonava district, the minister inspected the living premises and the territory intended for the refugees, inquiring about their routines and integration challenges. At a meeting with Jonava Mayor Mindaugas Sinkevičius, the minister said he understood the concerns of some of the members of the society about hosting the refugees, particularly the fears of Rukla residents, the Interior Ministry said in a press release.

The minister emphasized that Rukla would be granted additional attention from the police and other agencies of the Interior Ministry after refugees are placed in the town. Lithuania has committed to accepting 325 refugees from Africa and the Middle East within the next two years. The EU programme is intended to ease the burden of refugees for Italy and Greece.

Air policing reduction is so sign of NATO‘s weakness

Russia has no reason to interpret the reduction of the number of NATO aircraft in the Baltics as a sign of NATO’s weakness, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says. The Alliance‘s attention to the Baltic States has not declined, since patrolling of the Baltic airspace is just one aspect of NATO‘s presence in the region, according to him.

According to Linkevičius, everything is progressing according to decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Wales, and, considering NATO‘s efforts to strengthen the security of the Baltic states, the situation is evolving favourably for Lithuania – the country is organizing military exercises for the Alliance’s troops, while the launch of the NATO command unit and deployment of American heavy materiel is scheduled for the fall.

As reported, from September NATO will reduce the number of aircraft assigned to the Baltic air policing mission from sixteen to eight, according to NATO military spokesman Jay Janzen.

Lithuania to create state-controlled group of energy companies

The Lithuanian Government has approved on Thursday, August 6, the plan to set up and development EPSO-G, a state-controlled group of energy companies. That way, the separation of rights of the state, as the regulator of the energy sector, and the state, as the owner, in the management of state-controlled companies engaged in the energy sector will be implemented.

The reform will also contribute to greater transparency and efficiency in state-owned companies, believes Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius.

Maxima Lithuania embroiled in tax evasion accusations

Vilniaus Prekyba UAB, the owner of the international retail chain Maxima, has rejected reports in the media that the company is using tax evasion schemes. On Thursday, August 6, Vilniaus Prekyba asked Lithuania‘s State Tax Office (VMI) to initiate a tax audit of the company.

Raimonda Kižienė, head of Vilniaus Prekyba, told that company is «ready» to provide all the necessary documents that will dispel even the slightest doubts about the transparency and lawfulness of the company‘s activities.

According to data available to the VMI, which is conducting inspections of Vilniaus Prekyba‘s shareholders, a total of 2 million euro of taxes, arrears and fines is due for the period since 2012. Meanwhile, Mindaugas Marcinkevičius, one of the owners of Maxima and the Akropolis shopping and entertainment centres, told Lithuanian media that he, Nerijus Numavičius, and other members of the group had not paid around 208 million euro of taxes to the state.

Mission Siberia participants meet Russian ambassador

Russian Ambassador to Lithuania Alexander Udaltsov met with participants of Mission Siberia 2015 earlier this week after they returned to Lithuania from the Russian region of Tomsk. The meeting was held on the ambassador‘s initiative on Tuesday, August 4.

Mission Siberia is an annual trip of young Lithuanians to the places of deportation of their countrymen under Stalin‘s Soviet rule. Political issues were not discussed either during the meeting with the ambassador or with Russian residents during the mission itself.

The Russian Embassy in Lithuania said in a statement that Udaltsov stressed the importance of such trips by young Lithuanian people to Russia when they have the opportunity to not only pay respect to repressed people but also get acquainted with life in modern Russia.

Organized annually since 2006, Mission Siberia is intended as a tribute to people who were deported to Siberia and either died there or survived and returned to Lithuania. The mission seeks to promote understanding between different generations and give young people an opportunity to learn about the history of their nation. More than 11,000 young people have filled in applications for joining Missions Siberiasince 2006. And 13 expeditions have already visited places of Lithuanian deportations in Russia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

Kaunas City and Jewish organization agree on cemetery maintenance

The Municipality of Kaunas, Lithuania‘s second-largest city, has signed a cooperation with Jewish organization Maceva regarding the Old Jewish Cemetery in Kaunas, the municipality said. Maceva, a non-governmental non-profit organization, is a small group of dedicated individuals involved in maintaining and documenting the remaining Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania.

It has already documented over 50 Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania.Last month, the Kaunas authorities decided to start gradual maintenance of the Old Jewish Cemetery near Radvilėnai road.The city plans to tend to the cemetery in several stages and allocate EUR 8,000 for the inventory and identification of graves. The Jewish cemetery in Žaliakalnis was opened in 1861 and closed in 1952. It is listed as a protected heritage site.

Protesters urge Lukashenko regime to free political prisoners

Protesters in the Town Hall Square in Vilnius urged Belarus last Tuesday, August 4, to release political prisoners and ensure civil rights in the country. Political scientist Vytis Jurkonis who is behind the campaign organized for the fourth consecutive year said that it was intended for both Belarusian and Lithuanian societies.

Lithuanian foreign minister hopes UK stays in EU

Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius expressed hope after meeting with the new Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Vilnius Claire Lawrence that the UK would stay a member of the European Union (EU).

The Lithuanian foreign minister said that the United Kingdom was an important and strong member of the European Union, and hoped that the country would stay in the EU, the ministry said in a press release.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on the country‘s EU membershipAccording to the press release, Linkevičius welcomed the United Kingdom‘s strong and consistent position on Russia.

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