Latviski English По-русски
Wednesday 29.01.2020 | Name days: Valērijs, Aivars

Bye-bye bombshell-free 2019 in Lithuania!

(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Lithuania, summary of the year, Vilnius, 2019

The National Christmas tree stands in Cathedral Square in Vilnius

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

As the lengthy holiday season is slowly embracing everybody, Lithuanians glance backwards towards the expiring year. 2019 has brought three major elections, saw in mid-December a series of changes in taxation that will affect every citizen. Yet were they what most will remember about 2019? BNN spoke to all walks of life, asking of their most vivid memories this year.

Simplest questions are hardest

Lauras Bielinis, associate professor of Kaunas Magnus University, quipped that simple questions are always hardest to answer. «This one – what was most important for Lithuania and the world this year – is of the kind,» he said. «Obviously, the presidential election Lithuania held in May was the biggest attention catcher. On the global scale, I can hardly discern any event, perhaps with the exception of the dragged-out Brexit drama, which unfolded in a landslide, quite surprising victory for Boris Johnson-led Tories in December,» Bielinis told BNN.

Synergy of globalism and nationalism

Marius Venskus, a popular Catholic priest in the Tauragė parish, wishes that people could grasp the true meaning of Christmas. «As nice are the holiday festoons glittering and glimmering on the Christmas trees and on the window sills, I suspect however that the gist of the coming celebration is often missed – secularisation is taking its toll,» regretted the preacher.

Yet Venskus praised the Tauragė community for engaging substantially in the celebratory 800th anniversary of the first mentioning of Samogitia, an ethnic group in northwestern Lithuania. «I was truly amazed to see the rise of huge respect to our roots, our ancestral heritage, also to the legacy of our freedom fighters, partisans. There was this unique synergy of our full support for the European Union and the active cherishing of what makes us a single nation,» Venskus told BNN.

Town got visibly greener

The minister also discerned the efforts of the Tauragė municipality, situated in southwestern Lithuania, to make the city more sustainable. «Although the town is industrial, most of the local public institutions are powered by sustainable energy sources, be it wind or solar,» Venskus noted.

Political career started in 2019

For Svetlana Grigorian, a councillor of the Palanga municipality in western Lithuania, the elapsing year will be memorised as a year of a new political career in the municipal council. «In the councillor election, we, Social Democrats, grabbed two seats, eclipsing many other parties. For me, a young politician and leader of the local branch of Social Democrats, it was huge,» Grigorian told BNN. No other political event could however compete with the presidential election in Lithuania in the past spring, she believes.

Astonishing rise of Finnish premier

«Globally, it was very interesting to see how Brexit unfolds. Brexit will definitely generate a lot of talking in the new year. However, personally to me, the dearest political event internationally was the rise of 34-year-old Social Democrat Sanna Marin to post of Finland’s prime minister. She is the world’s youngest prime minister at the helm of a government led by women.

This is great news to all Lithuanian women, (it is) very empowering and encouraging,» Grigorian emphasised. «This is what Lithuania needs».

A «shake-up» free year

Arvydas Sekmokas, former Energy minister, called the year «shake-up free». «There were no major incidents and bloodsheds in the world and things went quite smoothly in the Baltic region and Lithuania, too. In terms of our security, the London NATO summit was a big event and, despite sceptic predictions to its outcome, unity of the bloc was reaffirmed by all the members,» Sekmokas told BNN. In the field of energy, Sekmokas, who is an independent energy analyst now, singled out sanctions by US Senate and Congress against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas project, which is thought to undermine the interests of Ukraine as a major gas transit country.

Year of far travels

«Locally, the biggest political event undoubtedly was the presidential election. The kick-start of the presidency is promising – president Gitanas Nausėda has already proved himself as a tough leader,» Sekmokas said.

He admitted that, for him personally, the year of 2019 has been a year of long trips to far-flung countries. «Because of my busy schedule, before I’d travel in the European Union most of the time. But this year I made it all the way to Peru and Bolivia, where I spent one month. It was very interesting to see how people live there. Seeing the poverty, I was overwhelmed with the conclusion that we live very well here in Lithuania,» he said.

Bubbling real estate market

For Raimondas Reginis, top manager at Ober Haus, one of the largest real estate companies in the Baltics, 2019 was extremely busy. «The construction sector was booming, the new residential and commercial estate sales were record big, however only in Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania’s two largest cities. In terms of the construction intensity and the price growth the two are far upfront than other cities,» Reginis told BNN.

MP: a «chaotic» year

Jurgis Razma, a Conservative parliamentarian, called the year «very chaotic». «Legislatively, I really missed cohesion, logics and non-partisanship,» Razma told BNN.

In Lithuania, the presidential election was the most significant event, believes Razma. However, he says he has not yet formed a «clear opinion» about the new head-of-state, Gitanas Nausėda. «His predecessor, Dalia Grybauskaite, seems to me to have been more straight-forward and determined. Nausėda is a lot more careful with his rhetoric and actions. It seems he avoids any tensions with anyone so far. It remains to be seen how his presidency will evolve,» Razma said.

Internationally, Brexit has been No1, the legislator believes. «Exit of Great Britain from the European Union is imminent now and it saddens me a little. Britain has been our ally on all our security matters until now. I can just hope that it will remain such after it leaves the bloc,» Razma told BNN.

Leave a reply

Levits: search for a new location for VDD would delay project and create losses

If the government decides to look for a new location for the State Security Service’s new headquarters, it could delay construction by several years and create considerable financial losses, Latvian President Egils Levits told journalists on Wednesday, 29 January.

Estonian children start school with 49.5% missing some vaccines, study finds

In Estonia, 49.5% of first-graders are not fully vaccinated in the framework of a state vaccination programme, a study, cited by Estonian public broadcaster ERR, has found.

Four persons detained in criminal case on the laundering of 50 million euros

Four persons have been detained in the criminal process on the laundering of no less than EUR 50 million, as part of which searches were performed at ABLV Bank on Tuesday, 28 January, according to information from LETA.

SEB operating revenue in Estonia was EUR 173.5 million in 2019

The operating revenue of the Estonian branch of the Swedish SEB bank was 173.4 million euros in 2019, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Retail trade turnover in Latvia increases 2.3%

Compared to 2018, total retail trade turnover rose by 2.3 % in 2019. Turnover of retail trade in food products increased by 1.2 %, turnover of retail trade in non-food products, except for retail sale of automotive fuel, rose by 4.0%, whereas turnover of retail sale of automotive fuel – by 0.4 %.

Latvian State Police warn about encryption ransomware virus attacks

Latvian State Police periodically receive complaints from private and legal persons regarding different encryption ransomware virus attacks. Viruses of this kind encrypt files and hard disks, denying owners the use of their computers and information stored therein, police report.

Lithuania operations announced by US military firm NBC Security

An announcement of entering the Lithuanian market has been made by the American military and defence company NBC Security, which aims to open a manufacturing facility in the Baltic country.

Kariņš: coalition’s partner wants to combine all three special services in Latvia, but I won’t allow it

One of the ruling coalition’s partners wants to combine all three of Latvia’s special services, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to TV3 programme 900 seconds, on Wednesday, 29 January, adding he would be against such a proposal.

Estonian parliament to vote on divisive pension reform

In the Estonian parliament votes on pension reform are planned as the opposition has pledged to do its utmost to keep it from being passed amid concerns what effects the chance of withdrawing second pillar payments ne masse could have.

Six persons reportedly involved in case for laundering of 50 million euros

According to LETA, six people are involved in the criminal process regarding the laundering of illegally obtained funds of nearly EUR 50 million. As part of this criminal process, Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau performed a search at ABLV Bank on Tuesday, 28 January.

International evacuations from China held as coronavirus infections exceed SARS

The European Union and other countries are organising the evacuation of their citizens from China, where the infection cases of the new coronavirus have exceeded the SARS outbreak.

One step closer towards changing prosecutor general replacement order

On Tuesday, 28 January, Latvian Saeima’s Defence, Internal affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee conceptually supported planned law amendments that provide for changing the order under which the country’s prosecutor general is replaced.

Trump offers new Middle East peace plan

US President Donald Trump has offered a new peace plan for the turbulent Middle East region. It envisages the recognition by the US of Israeli occupied territories and a map of territories for the establishment of a state of Palestine.

Government: climate and energy plan for 2030 is a step towards climate neutrality

The National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 (NEKP) supported by Latvian Cabinet of Ministers is an intermediate stage on the path towards accomplishment of climate neutrality in 2050, ministers admitted during a meeting on Tuesday, 28 January.

Latvian Economy Minister does not have plans to make taxes «green»

Currently there is no specific plan to use taxes to improve state goals in relation to climate neutrality in Latvia, said Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro at a press-conference after a government meeting on Tuesday, 28 January.

KNAB’s search at ABLV Bank related to laundering of 50 million euros

The search performed at ABLV Bank by Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on Tuesday, 28 January, is related to the laundering of at least EUR 50 million between 2015 and 2018, as reported by the office of the prosecutor.

Aviation giant Airbus concedes to corruption investigators in France, UK and US

World’s largest airplane maker, European multinational has agreed to potentially very expensive settlements with bribery investigators in France, the UK and the US.

Latvian government sets term for Riga and Ventspils port board members – five years

On Tuesday, 28 January, Latvian government adopted amendments to the by-laws of Riga and Ventspils port management boards, setting the term at five years for port board members.

Delna: Latvia is not doing well with corruption prevention

For years Latvia’s position has stagnated in the Global Anti-Corruption Coalition Transparency International composed Corruption Perception Index because our country is not doing well with corruption prevention, said Society for Openness Delna director Liene Gātere in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Tuesday, 28 January.

In Estonian choice of child names, Western European names replace Russian ones

In Estonia, the lists of most popular child names in 2019 have shown changes in trends compared to the year 1989 as the popularity of Russian language names has lost ground to names associated with German and English-inspired ones.

Corruption watchdog performs search at liquidated ABLV Bank

On Tuesday, 28 January, Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau performed investigative activities at the liquidated ABLV Bank.

Ķirsis: the current Riga City Council should not be the ones to decide on 2020 budget

Considering to the shadow of corruption looming over the current composition of Riga City Council and their failures, they should not be the ones to approve the municipality’s budget for 2020, said opposition deputy Vilnis Ķirsis in an interview to TV3 programme 900 seconds.

Nausėda in Auschwitz: «We must identify the hate-inciting forces»

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious death camp, where pointed to the need to « identify the hate-inciting forces», who can lead to devastating consequences.

Olainfarm: Olmafarm misleads society about alleged shareholder meeting

By reporting information about the shareholder meeting that allegedly took place Friday, 24 January, medicines manufacturer Olainfarm’s largest shareholder LLC Olmafarm council and board mislead society and ignore the ruling of the court, Olainfarm representatives say.

U.S. military plane crashes in Afghanistan

In eastern Afghanistan, a U.S. military plane has crashed. U.S. forces in the country and NATO alliance have not provided details on possible casualties and the cause of the crash.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!