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Lithuania’s political and economic diary. Gazprom drops claim against Lithuania

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View shows a petrol station of Gazprom Neft company and the headquarters of the Russian natural gas producer Gazprom in Moscow

Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration has terminated the proceedings initiated by Russian Gazprom, the Lithuanian Energy Ministry has said, adding that such an outcome had been expected since the onset of the dispute.

The Russian gas giant initiated the proceedings back in 2012 seeking to put on hold or prevent reorganization of Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), a Lithuanian natural gas utility then co-owned by the Russian company.

«Lithuania has always said that Gazprom’s claims and discontent are unfounded and Gazprom’s investment has not been affected. Lithuania has reformed its gas sector in pursuit of a strategic goal to create a diversified and efficient common gas market, where consumers have a choice and monopolies cannot abuse their dominant position,» the Ministry said in a press release.

It added that the termination of those proceedings would have no effect on another dispute between Lithuania and Gazprom, i.e., on the claim, which Lithuania had filed in Stockholm against Gazprom for overcharging for gas supplies between 2004 and 2012.

U.S. congressman in Lithuania: Russia is a bully

Russia is intimidating other countries, because this is how Moscow works, the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services, Mac Thornberry, said in Vilnius on Thursday, April 2.

«Russia is threatening nearly everybody… They want to intimidate the Baltic States, they want to intimidate Poland, Ukraine and Romania – country after country. It’s like a bully on the schoolyard. And the question is, do you let the bully get away with that or do you stand up and say no, you can threaten, but we will not allow to run over us…» the GOP congressman told journalists after meeting with Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

Thornberry said the Russian actions are comparable to the attacks carried out by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, noting that this is the first time in 70 years that the Russian aggression has jeopardized world peace.

Presidential adviser Jovita Neliupšienė said the delegation of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee and Grybauskaitė discussed bilateral cooperation, military, cyber and energy security, the situation in the region and the outcomes of NATO’s Wales summit.

Meanwhile, the U.S. congressman stated that the conversation with Grybauskaitė focused on the Russian aggression in Ukraine and due response.

Lithuanian prosecutors resume CIA prison probe

Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office has resumed an investigation into alleged operations of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) secret detention centre on Lithuanian soil.

Closed in 2011, the investigation was resumed on January 22, 2015.

Lithuania’s road carriers to elect new leader

Following the resignation of chairman of the Lithuanian National Road Carriers Association (Linava) Algimantas Kondrusevičius, Linava Vilnius region’s members convened on Wednesday, April 1, and put forward candidates for the vacant position during the association’s general congress on May 15, where a new president will be elected.

As reported, long-serving president of Linava, Algimantas Kondrusevičius, resigned on his own accord in early March, citing poor situation in the freight forwarding market.

But behind the decision looms the legal action by Linava that has appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office asking it to investigate the actions of Kondrusevičius and former secretary general Ričardas Malkus. The audit of the association has allegedly revealed that both of them might have abused their office. The president maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal.

Printing shop of counterfeit euro notes found

Law enforcement has busted a printing shop that was making counterfeit euro notes in Lithuania’s second-largest city Kaunas on Wednesday, March 1, the police said.

«We managed to establish a person who possibly produced 50-euro bills. The person has been detained and we found nearly all the equipment necessary to make the bills,” Deputy Police Commissioner General Edvardas Sileris.

In his words, the euro notes were produced under home conditions and were of mediocre quality.

According to data available to the police, about 870 possibly counterfeit euro bills have been withdrawn from circulation since the country adopted the new currency on January 1, 2015.

Russia threatens with «nuclear force» to Baltics

Russia has threatened to use «nuclear force» to defend its annexation of Crimea and warned that the «same conditions» that prompted it to take military action in Ukraine exist in the three Baltic States.

According to notes made by an American at a meeting between Russian generals and U.S. officials – and seen by The Times newspaper – Moscow threatened a «spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military» if NATO moved more forces into Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The Russians told the meeting, which took place in Germany last month, that an attempt to return Crimea to Ukraine would be met «forcefully including through the use of nuclear force».

According to the notes, the Russians said that «the same conditions that existed in Ukraine and caused Russia to take action there» also existed in the Baltic States, some of which have sizeable Russian-speaking minority populations.

Lithuanian reserve troops to be mobilized for exercise

Lithuania’s Armed Forces has started Thursday, April 2, to send out induction papers to reserve soldiers for one-day mobilization exercise to check the performance of the mobilization system.

1,000 induction letters will be sent out by Friday, according to Major Dainius Kazlauskas, the head of the Mobilization Division.

Random soldiers from Klaipėda, Šiauliai, Panevėžys and Marijampolė counties will be invited to arrive at certain points on April 23 to verify their personal data and have their health examined.

The induction papers will be sent to reserve soldiers who served between 2000 and 2008.

No Lithuanians were aboard sunken Russian vessel

Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, April 2, it had received a confirmation that there were no Lithuanian citizens aboard the fishing boat that sunk in Russia.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius conveyed condolences to the families and relatives of the killed crew members, as well as the people of Russia, Latvia, Burma, Ukraine, Vanuatu and other countries that lost citizens in the accident.

The fishing boat sank in the Okhotsk Sea on Wednesday evening, killing at least 54 sailors. Fifteen more are still missing, while 63 crew members were rescued.

The preliminary conclusion published by investigators maintains that the ship could have tipped over by dragging a heavy net.

Foreign media said overnight that there could have been Lithuanian citizens aboard the boat. However, they probably confused them with citizens of Latvia.

Dutch politician suggests «second Yalta conference»

Former Dutch EU commissioner and former leader of the liberal VVD party Frits Bolkestein thinks that Europe, the United States and Russia should organize a second Yalta conference to discuss a settlement in Ukraine and even the sovereignty of the Baltic States.

In an article published in the Dutch weekly Elsevier, Bolkestein argues that the current Western sanctions, imposed against Russia for annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and waging a covert war against the country in its eastern regions, cannot be sustained. Instead, he says, European and American leaders should organize a conference with Vladimir Putin in order to confirm the Crimea’s status as part of Russia and settle the federalization of Ukraine. Moreover, the conference, Bolkestein says, should reaffirm the sovereignty of the Baltic States.

He makes a reference to the Yalta Conference, a meeting of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1945. During the meeting, the leaders of the winning powers of World War Two settled the post-war order and, among other things, confirmed the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States and domination in Eastern Europe.

«Seventy years ago, there was a conference in Yalta, attended by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. Maybe it’s time for a second Yalta conference, which would have to follow up on the results of Minsk. Yalta II should reaffirm the sovereignty of the Baltic republics, to accept the new status of Crimea and regulate the federal character of Ukraine,» Bolkestein said.

EU Structural Funds money flow may see end

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius says that the European Union Structural Funds programming period for 2014-2020 will most likely be the last one for Lithuania, therefore funds should be allocated to improve economic and business conditions in the country’s regions.

Regions where GDP per capita is below 75 percent of the EU average may apply for support from EU funds. According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, in 2013 Lithuania’s GDP per capita was at 73 percent of the EU average.

«Support received during this programming period will probably be our last. Lithuania’s economy is growing and we are nearing the level of 75 percent of the EU average GDP per capita,» the prime minister told the national radio on Tuesday, April 2.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.1383

 


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