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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian teachers to strike on December 10

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Lithuanian teachers will hold a strike on December 10, two days later than previously planned due to a requirement to warn about a strike seven days in advance. On Tuesday, December 1, representatives of the Government and teachers’ trade unions convened for a conciliation meeting but failed to reach an agreement that would satisfy teachers’ demands.

As a result, the strike will take place on December 10, 8 AM. A third of Lithuania’s teachers are expected to strike for 2 hours. After several days of negotiations, some trade unions were inclined to agree on a compromise, while others demanded to fulfil all of their demands made in late October. The strike will take place despite the ruling coalition’s Political Council’s decision to additionally allocate 10 million euro in next year’s budget to partially meet teachers’ demands. However, according to Education and Science Minister Audronė Pitrėnienė, at least 100 million euro would be needed to fully satisfy their demands.

Lithuania keeps bristling against permanent EU refugee resettlement mechanism

A meeting between President Dalia Grybauskaitė and the Parliamentary Committees on Foreign and European Affairs discussed the EU’s refugee relocation scheme. According to the European Affairs Committee chair Gediminas Kirkilas, Lithuania’s position is to oppose proposals of introducing a permanent mechanism for refugee resettlement. According to the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Benediktas Juodka, the meeting thought it was important to integrate refugees as soon as possible rather than keeping them separate from the society.

Five parties would clinch parliamentary seats

Five Lithuanian parties would pass the 5-percent threshold and secure seats in the Lithuanian Parliament if elections were to take place in the nearest future, the latest public opinion poll has revealed. The survey by pollster Baltijos Tyrimai has shown that the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (LSDP) would win the elections, as it would be supported by 25 percent of voters. The Liberal Movement would come second with 11 percent of the vote, followed by the Labour Party with 10 percent, the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats(TS-LKD) with 9 percent and the party Order and Justice with 8 percent of the vote. The Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union (LVZS) and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (LLRA) would not pass the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats for a party list.

Merger of Lithuania’s electricity grid operator and gas company

Lithuanian electricity grid operator LESTO is merging with the gas company Lietuvos Dujos. The purpose of the merger is to optimise the operations, and reduce costs so that consumers can pay less for gas and electricity, according to Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis.

Lithuania’s competitiveness progress is slow

A Baltic Sea region index compiled by Swedbank shows that despite considerable progress, Lithuania is still not as competitive as it could be. Lithuania was placed among the top third of the most competitive countries in the world, which is a better result than last year, but essential progress is still needed. Swedbank economists note that there are shortcomings in state governance, tax system, innovation and education policies, which are the main obstacles for a faster economic growth and rise in living standards. The most important indicators used in the index are business environment, labour market functionality, tax policies, efficiency of financial markets, foreign trade, education system, state governance, infrastructure, logistics, and environment for innovations. In all the criteria, except business environment, Lithuania is below the region’s average. The most important points of underperformance are related to insufficient funding opportunities, weak transport infrastructure and poor environment for innovations.

Lithuanian documentary to première at Stanford’s Baltic Film Series

After sold-out premières in Vilnius, Lithuania, and New York, new documentary film «Land of Songs» will have its West Coast Première on the closing night of Stanford University’s 2015 Baltic Film Series. Land of Songs The film will screen on Monday December 7 at Bishop Auditorium on the Stanford campus. The free event begins at 6 pm with a reception co-hosted by the Consulate General of Lithuania in Los Angeles and the Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Northern California.

Crimea must remain on OSCE’s agenda

A meeting of the Group of Friends of Ukraine with the Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev was held on Lithuania’s initiative ahead of OSCE meeting during December 3-4, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. During the event, the Ukrainian, Swedish, Norwegian, Turkish and Canadian foreign ministers, high-ranking officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Poland and Romania drew attention to the alarming human rights situation in the Russian-annexed Crimea and called on Russia to provide access to international human rights missions to the peninsula. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius, who chaired the meeting, called on the OSCE to maintain its political attention on the Crimean issue.

Lithuanian government endorses electronic voting

The Lithuanian government has approved a bill proposed by the Justice Ministry that would institute a voting system via the Internet. This year, the Justice Ministry commissioned a survey which showed that 56 percent of Lithuanian citizens supported the idea of casting their votes online. Sixty-six percent of respondents said internet voting would be preferable for its convenience and a fourth of respondents thought it would increase citizens’ interest in elections.

Kaunas international community concerned after racist attack

Kumar Anubhav Tiwari from India, who is working as a lecturer at Kaunas University of Technology, says that while Lithuania seems to him a peaceful and welcoming country, a recent attack that he thinks was motivated by racism has shaken his good impression of the country. In a letter to the public, he explains his concerns. Kumar Anubhav Tiwari says that although Lithuania is a very calm and peaceful country, he was surprised to discover about incidents of violence based on ethnic, national, racial and religious. He remembered one racist incident involving a Nigerian student happened near the Basement bar/club in Kaunas where two Lithuanian guys and one girl attacked him with a knife. The Nigerian student is still in hospital. The Indian lecturer calls the situation «really serious» and encourages the authorities to take some action, because such incidents may defame the country, which is not yet in the spotlight at the international level for such type of racist crimes.

Two swimmers break national records in European championship

Two Lithuanian swimmers, who competed in the European Swimming Championship in Netanya, Israel, improved two Lithuanian records. Twenty-six-year-old Giedrius Titenis participated in a 50-meter breaststroke event. He was fifth with the time of 26.38 seconds and broke the second Lithuanian record on the tournament. The previous Lithuanian record for 50-meter breaststroke was set by Titenis himself just nine hours previously at the same championship. Twenty-year-old Danas Rapšys participated in a 200-meter backstroke event and finished the distance in 1 minute 51.03 seconds, which put him at the fourth place. Still, he also broke the Lithuanian record. Seven Lithuanian swimmers are competing in the European Swimming Championship in Israel.

Lithuania may send more soldiers to Mali

Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius says Lithuania may send more than 20 soldiers to Mali next year, after receiving a request for assistance from France. A relevant decree was prepared by the Ministry of National Defence together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September and submitted to Parliament by the president. It states that in 2016 Lithuania could send up to 20 soldiers and civilians to join the United Nations mission in Mali. Linkevičius told on Thursday, December 3, that the proposed number of soldiers is not final and could increase. The minister did not reveal how much the number might grow but said it would depend on the capabilities of the national defence system..

Majority of Lithuanians approve of taking part in anti-terrorist effort

A poll commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has revealed that Lithuanians are mostly interested in relations with neighbouring countries, Poland being among those with which they believe cooperation should be most intense. People in Lithuania are also interested in security and NATO, and favourably assess Lithuania’s position on Ukraine and the country’s contribution to fighting terrorism. In November, public opinion and market research company Vilmorus carried out a survey on foreign policy which was commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The survey showed that 66 percent of the respondents were interested in relations with neighbouring countries, 44 percent cared about NATO and security issues. Thirty-nine percent were interested in assistance the MFA could provide them with while travelling abroad; 36 percent took interest in the European Union’s issues, 34 percent in Lithuania’s international image, 32 percent in economic and energy security projects implemented by Lithuania. People believe that Lithuania should most actively cooperate with Poland (61 percent of the polled), Germany (61 percent) and Latvia (60 percent). More than half of the respondents, 52 per cent, also mentioned Estonia.

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