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Wednesday 29.03.2017 | Name days: Agija, Aldonis
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Energy Minister discusses energy imports from U.S.

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Lituanian Minister of Energy Rokas Masiulis

Energy Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, Rokas Masiulis has met Lisa Murkowski, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on his visit to the United States of America. The meeting focused on export opportunities of energy resources from the U.S. to Europe and Lithuania.

The goal of the Lithuanian Minister‘s visit was to enhance bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and the US in the area of energy, to share experience as regards energy security and implementation of strategic energy projects. On Wednesday, September 30, Masiulis delivered a report at Georgetown University about Lithuania’s leadership in the European Energy Security Policy.

Lithuanian Seimas wants more authority on refugee resettlement

A group of Lithuanian MPs have suggested that parliament should have a say on issues concerning refugee resettlement. Meanwhile the ruling Social Democratic Party has offered a political agreement among the major parties, saying that an issue as sensitive as asylum seekers should not be made the topic for electoral campaigning. Meanwhile a group of five MPs have suggested including into the legislation that any decisions on refugee resettlement in Lithuania need the approval from parliament.

According to the MPs, the issue is of great relevance to national politics and therefore the Seimas of Lithuania should have a say. The opposition, however, is sceptical about such an agreement, saying that the ruling majority should first put together a plan on how to integrate asylum seekers. Lithuania has pledged to accept 1,105 refugees over the coming two years as part of the European Union’s effort to deal with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

PM‘s advisor slags off Lithuanian president‘s UN appearance

Raimundas Lopata, political scientist and advisor to the Lithuanian PM has slammed the foreign policy of President Dalia Grybauskaitė, saying in an interview published on Friday that her recent speech at the United Nations was« sterile». «The country‘s foreign policy is void of substantial steps, there are no attempts to build partner coalitions in pursuit of national interests,» Lopata said in the interview to the daily Lietuvos Rytas. He added that «Lithuania is no longer seen in international politics as an actor.»

Lithuanian and Finnish cooperation must be bolstered

Lithuania must strengthen cooperation with Finland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius said when meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Timo Soini. He was visiting Lithuania, to discuss bilateral political and economic relations, regional cooperation and key issues on European agenda, including migration, the security situation in the region, relationship with Russia, the situation in Ukraine, cooperation in the fields of energy and transport.

Committees of Baltic Assembly to mull GMO regulation in Baltic States

The Baltic Assembly‘s (BA) Economics, Energy and Innovations Committee and Natural Resources and Environment Committee convened on Friday, October 2, in Kaunas to discuss the influence of the Russian embargo and the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the Baltic states. Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Vilius Martusevičius delivered a report on the implementation of the BA‘s recommendations for agriculture.

Lithuanian parliament tightens instant credit loan issuance

The Seimas has approved amendments to the Law on Consumer Credit which are aimed at regulating the consumer credit market in order to promote responsibility of consumer credit lenders and their clients. Sixty-one MPs voted in support of the amendments, two voted against with six abstentions. However, parliament has to vote a second time to pass the amendments.

The changes will tighten consumer credit advertising regulations. Based on the proposal, it would be prohibited to advertise consumer credit during the events for people younger than 18 years of age or in the advertisements of such events. Information about the activities of consumer credit lender or consumer credit mediator and services proposed will have to be correct, clear and not misleading.

The so-called night credits would be prohibited striving to protect consumers, especially those who abuse concluding consumer credit agreements. As the annual percentage rate of charge for consumer credit was until now at a maximum of 200 percent, it raised doubts whether it meets fair business practice and if such an amount is always fair or is in line with consumer interests. It was proposed to regulate consumer credit prices by establishing a two-stage system. Consumer credit agreement would establish consumer credit interest of up to 75 percent.

Numbers of older people on the rise

Statistics Lithuania has published demographic data on the occasion of the Day of Older Persons. It shows that the number of older people is on the rise in the country. People aged 65 and older constituted 15.8 percent of the Lithuanian population in early 2005. Meanwhile by early 2015 the share has increased to 18.7 percent. This year, 547,100 Lithuanian residents were aged 65 and older. 149,100 or 27.3 percent of them were aged 80 and older. 368 people were older than 100 years of age. Moreover, women aged 65 and older accounted for 66.4 percent of all people of this age group. In addition, there were 2.7 times more women than men aged 80 and older. Based on employment study, 5.7 percent of people aged 65 and older were employed in 2014.

Construction of Vilnius railway bypass finished

A second line of Vilnius Railway Bypass has been constructed and will enable to divert freight trains from the city centre. Railway traffic will become safer as a result and hazardous material pollution risk will be reduced. Kyviškės-Valčiūnai Bypass Project worth over 50 million euro was implemented by Lithuania Railways. It will allow directing freight cargoes from the city. The European Union funded 85 percent of the project while Lithuanian Railways funded 15 percent. In addition to the aforementioned changes, two underground pedestrian crossings, a viaduct and a single-level pedestrian crossing were erected. More than 5 km of sound absorbing walls were built and 200 windows in residential buildings were replaced.

EU offsets Lithuanian haulage service losses in Russia

Exports of transport services to Russia is offset by providing more of these services to the European Union (EU) countries, show the results released by the Bank of Lithuania. According to the report, the most rising exports markets are to Austria, Denmark and France. While the exports of transport services to Russia have fallen by more than 40 percent in the first half of the year, the total volume of transport services‘ export fell by only 1.78 percent, according to the Minister of Transport and Communications, Rimantas Sinkevičius. In the assessment of Lithuania‘s export of transport services to the EU, the largest market is in Germany, with France and Denmark being in the second and third places respectively.

Sweden‘s royal couple to pay visit to Lithuania

At the invitation of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and his wife Queen Silvia will arrive on an official state visit to Lithuania on October 7-9. Along with the royal couple, Lithuania will be visited by Sweden‘s ministers of foreign affairs, enterprise and innovation, and defence and the Swedish business delegation of representatives of the country’s largest companies.

Lithuanians in Ireland celebrate anniversary of Lithuanian pilot‘s trans-Atlantic flight

Lithuanians flooded the small Irish town of Ballinrobe, in the west of the country, on September 25-27 for the traditional event «We Still Need Wings». The celebrations were meant to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the feat of a Lithuanian pilot who crossed the Atlantic in 1935.

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Martins Bondars invites Riga residents to «topple» Nils Usakovs

Leaders of political parties Latvian Association of Regions and For Latvia’s Development believe the current Mayor of Riga Nils Usakovs is a real burden for the capital city’s development. This is why they have made it their main objective to «topple» Usakovs, as noted by Latvian Association of Regions.

Unity asks for assessment of Rail Baltica project for influence on Riga’s development

Unity’s representatives in Riga City Council Olafs Pulks and Nils Josts ask for an assessment of Rail Baltica project’s influence on the city’s development.

Latvian Defence Ministry signs agreement on cooperation in cyber security matters

As part of the E-skills week, Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis and President of Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association Signe Balina signed an agreement on cooperation in matters of cyber security.

Elvi and Aibe store networks form joint procurement group

Last week, two local Latvian store networks Elvi and Aibe commenced work on the creation of a joint company that would perform centralized procurements, as BNN was informed by representatives.

As UK readies to launch Brexit, interest in Estonian e-residency grows

A growing number of British citizens are applying for Estonian e-residency as the UK government plans to announce that the country will start leaving the EU later this week.

Expert: municipalities are incapable of attracting new residents

One way to increase budget revenue for municipalities is attracting new residents. This is a problem in Latvian municipalities, especially in Jurmala. «The city lacks cheap and accessible housing offers. This does not contribute to the attraction of new residents,» says real estate expert Jevgenija Dmitricenko.

Estonian gas seller: Excise duty hike unconstitutional

Estonian natural gas importer and seller Eesti Gaas has addressed the country’s Chancellor of Justice insisting that the increase of excise duty passed in 2016 was not in line with the rules of the Estonian constitution.

Bulgarian parliamentary election won by Borissov’s centre-rights

In the early parliamentary election of Bulgaria, the centre-rights led by the country’s long-time Prime Minister Boiko Borissov have won.

E-skills week to address the matter of digital security

Priorities of this year’s E-skills week include digital security and digital skills for employment and entrepreneurship, as well as e-services, comments vice-president of Latvian Information and Communication Technology Association Mara Jakobsone.

Strīķe: whenever contraband was associated with parties, SP put up all kinds of barriers

«I would never join any of the political parties that are currently in power,» said former official of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and mayoral candidate from the New Conservative Party Juta Strīķe.

Penalty for not complying with state language rules – up to EUR 10,000

Amendments have been prepared for Latvia’s Administrative Violations Code. These amendments provide for a major increase of fines for non-compliance with state language regulations, as reported by the National Alliance.

Navalny jailed in Russia after organising anti-corruption mass protests

Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny has been convicted for disobeying police at a mass protest in the weekend.

Imants Liegis becomes Latvia’s first ambassador to Algeria

Submitting a copy of credentials to Algeria’s Foreign and International Cooperation Minister Ramtane Lamamra, Imants Liegis became Latvia’s first ambassador to Algeria with a residence in Paris, France, as BNN was informed by Foreign Affairs Ministry’s press-service.

EC develops stricter requirements for EU competition institutions

The European Commission invites member states to provide competition institutions with resources, independence and effective authority, as BNN was informed by Competition Council.

Tallinn Airport summer schedule to contain 36 routes

Tallinn Airport has announced its summer schedule that will include direct flights to 36 destinations and take effect from mid-April to late May depending on the airline.

«Elf» movement created to oppose internet «trolls»

«While the internet is the leading platform for topical news, it is also an environment for intentional disinformation and lies,» says researcher of the Eastern European Policy Study Centre Maris Cepuritis.

Construction costs in Latvia up 0.8% in February

Compared to January, the level of construction costs in Latvia increased by 0.2 % in February 2017. Labour remuneration of workers rose by 0.8 %, prices of building materials as well as maintenance and operational costs of machinery and equipment grew by 0.1 %.

Pärnu property sold for building plywood plant

Finnish capital company Metsä Wood Eesti has bought 104,000 square metres of land with plans to construct a 50 million euro plywood factory that would employ 200 workers.

Green farmer Krauze does not agree that circus animals have earned «freedom»

«When we were fighting for our freedom, I never would have imagined that we would start closing different circuses, because they present historical and cultural values. I believe we should not restrict that on a legislative level. If any circus owner wants to do that, they can. But we should not establish such restrictions on a national level,» said Armands Krauze, member of the Union of Greens and Farmers.

Providus/Delna notice major risks in approval of KNAB chief’s retirement pension

Saeima’s decision to support amendments to the Law on Retirement Pension of the Chief of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has signs of state take-over, as stated by Providus and Delna in their Saeima work monitoring report for February 2017.

Programme: new TV3 and LNT owner will likely sell channels to someone else

The next owner of TV3 and LNT television channels, American Providence Equity Partners investment company, will likely sell these channels to someone else after some time, as concluded by De Facto programme of LTV.

Opinion: multi-speed development idea in Europe is not in Latvia’s interests

The idea of having a multi-speed Europe, as described in the Rome declaration signed by EU member states, does not comply with Latvia’s interests, says president of European Movement – Latvia Andris Gobins.

European Regional Development Fund allocates 15 million euros for start-up ideas in Latvia

For the first time in Latvia, Altum development financial institution has announced a search for acceleration fund managers. These funds will allocate so-called smart money for the realization of different business ideas in their early stages of development. Businessmen will be able to receive up to EUR 250,000 to realize their ideas.

Navalny detained as series of anti-corruption protests held across Russia

The leading Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny has been detained in Moscow as series of anti-corruption protests were held across Russia.

Hundreds of protesters arrested in Belarus after mass protests

Several hundred people in Belarus have been arrested after participating in mass protests in Minsk and other cities.