Latviski English По-русски
Friday 18.01.2019 | Name days: Antis, Antons

Lithuania’s year of 2018 soaked with patriotism, but tensions will not fizzle out in 2019

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

With the clock chiming the last hours of 2018, we tend to glance over the shoulder, reminiscing the most blissful and upsetting moments of the year at which pinnacle were the year-long centennial celebrations of Lithuanian statehood’s 100th anniversary. However, what were the other events, both in Lithuania and worldwide, that drew attention?

BNN approached several Lithuanian analysts and commentators with the question.

«There were many events worth mentioning this year, however what I liked most about the whole year was the public’s heightened interest in Lithuania’s guerrilla warfare against the Soviet Union during 1944-1953. When Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament) announced this year as a year of Adolfas Ramanauskas- Vanagas, the legendary hero of Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance, I had apprehensions that nothing will change much in terms of acquainting better the society and especially the youth with it and Vanagas’ life and heroism. However, we saw the opposite: a big crowd of people participated in the burial ceremony of Vanagas’ remains and the public rebutted ferociously the attempt by a Klaipeda City councillor to besmear his legacy,» Arvydas Anušauskas, a Lithuanian parliamentarian and researcher of Lithuanian resistance movement, told BNN.

Anušauskas has published two books on Lithuanian guerrilla warfare this year.

The prolonged massive teacher strikes at the end of the year is another thing to remember in 2018, the politician says.

«Teachers and medics are those professional groups in Lithuania that always stand up and speak up, sometimes vociferously, for themselves. Neither this government nor the previous ones were able to solve their issues,» the MP said.

Worldwide, US President Donald Trump’s trade wars against China and some other economic powers are worth mentioning among all the other events in 2018, Anušauskas said.

«He is the first US president to speak out so vehemently on the issue and moreover: slap China with multi-billion taxes,» the MP accentuated.

«I think that the United States has set a good example to the European Union how we here in Europe should defend our European interests against China’s economic interests. Unfortunately, EU so far mostly keeps a blind eye on China’s invasion in Europe,» Anušauskas noted.

As for 2019, he is eagerly looking forward to seeing the results of the municipal council, presidential and the European Parliament elections to be held in Lithuania in the first half year.

«The arrival of ultra-nationalist and populist political forces in the European Parliament would be a bad omen for entire Europe, and Lithuania too,» he inferred.

«In the Lithuanian presidential election, we have to clear favourites, economist Gitanas Nausėda and also economist, my fellow parliamentarian Ingrida Šimonytė. I support the latter,»Anušauskas said.

Petras Auštrevičius, a Lithuanian europarliamentarian, predicted that the new year will bring more tensions, not only between the superpowers, America, China and Russia, but regionally too.

«There are no reasons whatsoever to believe that the traditional troublemakers like Russia and China will calm down and become more peaceful and predictable,» he said. «That coupled with the inconsistence and unpredictability of the US leader, Donald Trump, can make things even less predictable and result in more tensions.»

Reacting to Trump’s statement in Iraq this week that America needs to cease to be the world’s cop, the MEP said he was «a little frightened» by it.

«Then who will be the good cop able to restrain a bunch or unruly hooligans worldwide?» the liberal politician wondered.

Amid talks of a looming new economic crunch, a hot topic in 2018, Auštrevičius says recession talks have been overblown.

«I am not saying it (crisis) will not happen, but if it will (happen), it will be small and perhaps local and will affect certain sectors rather than the entire economy,» he forecasted.

For Auštrevičius, the most important event in 2018 was UK’s steps to complete Brexit.

«We all see what a painful and messy process has it been and how it is weakening the European Union,» he added.

The prominent politician could not single out an event in Lithuania that raised his eyebrows, but noted that he is concerned by the diminishing of control leverages of local politics.

«What is especially alarming is that politics is being done at expense of the civil society,» the MEP underscored. «I won’t be very surprised in 2019 to see Lithuania dropping in major international freedom and democracy standings.»

For Lauras Bielinis, associate professor at Kaunas Magnus University, the elapsing year was not special in a way.

«Quite an ordinary year, I’d say, with exception of the announcement by German chancellor Angela Merkel that she will not seek re-election after her term is up that she is stepping down as the party’s leader,» Bielinis told BNN.

«The weakening positions of the party may open way for other, less predictable and known new political forces, which is quite worrisome taking into account Germany’s role in the European political life,» the analyst said.

Pressed to say what event nevertheless got most of his attention in Lithuania in 2018, Bielinis replied that it was the «never-ending» troubles of Lithuania’s Liberal Movement.

Court has started this year deliberating high-profile political corruption case in which Eligijus Masiulis, former chairman of the party, fights bribe charges. He however at the end the year announced he will participate in the direct mayoral election in Klaipeda City in early March.

Like the other analysts, he also agrees that in the first half of 2019 the marathon of three elections will be capturing all’s attention.

«I wouldn’t be surprised if the turnout for the last election (President’s election will be held on May 12) will be little, as the voters may become tired of the election marathon along the way,» he pondered.

Vladas Gaidys, head of Vilmorus, a pollster, noted to BNN the never-before-seen stability of the political system this year.

«Unlike in many previous years, in 2018 there were two clear frontrunners on all the polls, i.e. the ruling Farmers and Greens party, which represents rural and more elderly voters, and the Conservatives (officially, Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats, TS-LKD), who having attracted many liberals from the embattled Liberal Movement has significantly strengthened its standings in the Lithuanian political system,» Gaidys said.

The fall the Social Democratic Party after a fraction of it split and formed a new party, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party, could be predicted, he said, yet the slump from 15 per cent in many polls before the split to ca 5-6 percent in support now is «a very bad sign» for the party, Gaidys underlined.

After taking a relentless e beating from the striking teachers throughout November and December, Saulius Skvernelis, the Lithuanian PM, also saw a big damage done to his job approval at the end of 2018.

«If he was thought to be a serious contender in the presidential election in the beginning of the year, now even his biggest supporters understand that he has missed the boat,» Gaidys concluded.

Leave a reply

New Unity’s candidate to continue talks with partners on government declaration over weekends

New Unity’s prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš plans to continue working on the government declaration, cooperation agreement and fiscal discipline agreement over Saturday, 19 January, as confirmed by New Unity’s press-secretary Sandris Sabajevs.

Head of Riga City Council’s committee reports results of non-existent vote; dismissal follows

As the chairperson of Riga City Council’s Social Affairs Committee, Olga Veidiņa from Harmony, submitted a written report to the mayor, detailing how all members of her committee had allegedly voted in favour of paying a bonus to Orphan Court chairman Aivars Krasnogolovs even though such a topic was never discussed by this committee, BNN was told by opposition deputy Marija Balcere from New Conservative Party.

1991 Barricades commemoration events in Latvia

One of the most notable chapters in Latvia’s newest history was written in January 1991 – the barricades period, when Latvian residents commemorate the victims and feel pride for the bravery of the nation in defending their country’s freedom.

MEP: Britain’s non-exit from EU is no longer possible

It is no longer possible for Britain to stay in the European Union. Even British politicians who have spoken against Brexit admit as much, said Latvian MEP Roberts Zīle in an interview to Rīta panorama.

Dismissal of Nils Ušakovs alone would not change a thing in Riga

«No change will come without dismissal of Riga City Council and its subsequent re-election. Activities that point towards the possibility of corruption did not appear solely during the term of the current team at Riga City Council. Its roots date a long way to the past. This means cleaning and general disinfection efforts should be very thorough. Dismissing Nils Ušakovs alone would not help change a thing. Ušakovs both maintains and serves the system,» said opposition deputy Jānis Ozols in a conversation with BNN.

Proposal to make ports state capital association faces no major objections in Latvia

No major objections have been voiced so far against transport minister candidate Tālis Linkaits’ proposal on reforming ports as state capital associations.

Latvia’s forming coalition promises to be more open to opposition

The forming coalition in Latvia may consider proposals from the opposition and even support the more constructive of them, said prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš in a conversation with journalists on Thursday, 17 January.

Air temperature in Latvia may drop as far as -21° C next week

After the windiest and snowiest week, as anticyclone activity increases, weather in Latvia will become more stable – it will become drier and considerably colder.

Lithuania’s ruling majority swings at media freedom, experts warn

All media, the so-called fourth authority of power, has been facing some international challenges, with the European Parliament set to vote next Monday on final text of Article 13, the proposed EU directive on copyright, which, if implemented, could censor internet users and internet platform hosts through artificial intelligence-employing filters.

Riga Active Seniors Alliance: seniors’ behaviour on the road should be discussed

Riga Active Seniors Alliance supports Latvian State Police informative safety campaign that addresses the behaviour of pedestrians on the road. This campaign invites seniors to pay attention to their own behaviour to ensure safe movement without putting at risk other traffic participants.

New healthcare service principle’s adoption in Latvia postponed until July

The rights to receive healthcare services as part of state compulsory healthcare regardless of their health insurance contributions will remain available for residents until 30 June 2019, Latvian Saeima has decided.

150 jobs lost in Estonia as polluting power stations reduce operations

Estonian state energy giant Eesti Energia, which mostly generates energy from fossile oil shale plants will reduce its operations at the Narva power plants, resulting in 150 job cuts.

Opinion: Russia will definitely interfere with European Parliament elections

According to Latvian member of the European Parliament Inese Vaidere, Russia will definitely attempt to interfere with upcoming European Parliament elections.

In no-deal Brexit, border control in Ireland would be obligatory

In an interview with the British news portal The Guardian, Michael Lux, a former head of customs legislation and procedures at the European commission, said the UK would have to impose customs checks and tariffs on the northern side of the border, despite claims to the contrary by Brexiters.

Opinion: Daugavpils City Council doesn’t want emergency elections; to agree on new mayor

Daugavpils City Council deputies Rihards Eigims and Andrejs Elksniņš are afraid of voters’ opinion in regards to emergency elections. Because of that, they will agree on the next mayoral candidate at the 17 January meeting, said Latgale party representative Jānis Lāčplēsis.

Scientists suggest sustainable diet to save the planet and prevent premature deaths

An international group of 37 scientists has developed a diet that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet.

Latvian parties taking too long on compiling government cooperation documents

Although work on the new government’s cooperation documents has taken more time than initially expected, Latvian prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš still hopes for the government to be approved next week.

Ministry: more children end up in families in Latvia not through foster families or guardians

More and more children in Latvia end up in families not through adoption, but through foster families or guardians, says Welfare Minister’s office manager Linda Baļčūne.

Estonian population continues to increase, mostly due to immigration

Estonia has registered population growth for the third consecutive year as 4,690 more persons lived in the Baltic country on January 1, 2019 than a year before, official statistics show.

Sweden to nominate head of government, who could finally be confirmed

In the Swedish parliament, three parties have stated they would not vote against caretaking Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to have another attempt to form a center-left government after a four-month political crisis.

In 2018 Latvia experienced more rapid growth of car registrations than EU

Last year the number of newly registered cars in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union, according to the latest data from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Latvian government prepares legislation to protect rights of Latvian in Britain after Brexit

Latvian government has started working on a document that provides for the protection of rights of Latvian citizens working in Britain and vice versa after Brexit, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Karolis Sankovski appointed as chairman of RB Rail council

A new council chairman has been appointed in Baltic joint company RB Rail. Riia Sillave and Edvīns Bērziņš were picked as vice-chairmen, as the company reports.

airBaltic carried record number of passengers in 2018 – 4.1 million

Latvian airBaltic airline carried a total of 4,136,711 passengers to different destinations in 2018. This is 17% more when compared to 2017. The number of passengers carried in 2018 is airBaltic’s all-time highest, as BNN was told by the company.

KPV LV to decide on dismissing Kaimiņš as vice-chairman of party’s faction

KPV LV party’s Saeima faction plans to discuss the proposal of dismissing Artuss Kaimiņš from the post of the faction’s vice-chairman.