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Ceturtdiena 17.10.2019 | Name days: Karīna, Gaits

Week in Lithuania: Astravyets NPP emergency drill completed, protests against China held in Vilnius

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Last week in Lithuanian affairs, former President Dalia Grybauskaitė received award in Warsaw, PM defended dialogue with Minsk.

Lithuanian Air Force experts start testing NASAMS in Norway

Experts from the Lithuanian Air Force have started this week testing the NASAMS medium-range air-defence system manufactured for Lithuania at the Kongsberg factory in Norway, the Defence Ministry said. The NASAMS system is expected to be delivered to Lithuania by the end of next year. Lithuania is purchasing the mid-range air defence system under a 110-million-euro contract that the Defence Ministry signed with Norway’s Kongsberg on October 26, 2017.

Seimas speaker paid visit to Armenia

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, who paid visit to Yerevan this week, says Lithuania is rediscovering Armenia and is ready to share its reform experience with the South Caucasus country. Pranckietis discussed possible new bilateral relations initiatives with Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, Ararat Mirzoyan, the president of the National Assembly, and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the Lithuanian parliament’s public relations office said in a press release on Friday, October 4.

Lithuania holds Astravyets emergency drill

Lithuania was holding this week a four-day nuclear emergency exercise in southeastern municipalities to test services’ preparedness to respond to an incident at Belarus’ Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant. The authorities said the exercise involved a total of 24 public institutions and six municipalities, including around 300 officers, soldiers and public servants. Vilnius’ municipal officials did not take part after the city and the central government failed to agree on the scenario.

Lithuanian, Latvian presidents admit differences on Belarusian NPP, agree on faster border talks

 The Lithuanian and Latvian presidents, who met on Thursday, October 3, say they agree on the need to demand that the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant should comply with international safety standards, but admit that the two countries remain divided on the issue of blocking electricity from the Belarusian facility. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda warned that these differences in positions might hinder the Baltic power grids’ desynchronisation from the post-Soviet system and synchronization with the Western European system. The presidents also agreed to expedite talks on a maritime border treaty so that it could be approved within the next four years.  The two neighbouring countries signed a maritime boundary and economic zone treaty back in 1999, but it has only been ratified by the Lithuanian parliament. The Latvian parliament has not endorsed it yet.

Some names may be removed from wall of former KGB Vilnius building

Some of the names engraved on the facade of the former KGB building in Vilnius may be removed after new data have emerged, the daily Lietuvos Rytas reported on Thursday, October 3. The Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Centre has launched a new program to re-verify all the documents based on which the inscriptions on the wall of the former KGB building were made, according to Teresė Burauskaitė, the centre’s director.

Ex-president Grybauskaitė presented with Knight of Freedom

Lithuania’s former President Dalia Grybauskaite received the Knight of Freedom Award at the annual Warsaw Security Forum on Wednesday, October 2. The award is presented by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, an independent Polish think-tank specializing in foreign policy and international security.  According to Grybauskaite’s office, she was given the award for her merits in enhancing the security of the Baltic countries and Poland, and for her strong stance on Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Previous recipients of the award include Lithuania’s former President Valdas Adamkus.

Government appoints new chief archivist, fire and rescue chief

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, October 2, appointed Saulius Greičius as director of the Fire and Rescue Department (PAGD), and Kristina Ramonienė as the country’s chief archivist.

Speaker urges ruling bloc to table no-confidence motion next week

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, urged Wednesday, October 2, the ruling bloc to table a no-confidence motion against him next week, saying the current situation has been dragging on for too long.  In response, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, said that a no-confidence motion will not be put to a vote next week, because a significant number of ruling coalition MPs will be away on foreign trips. The ruling bloc collected the necessary votes to initiate a no-confidence vote against the speaker several months ago, but have not yet table the motion because of the risk that they will fail to muster the minimum 71 votes needed to pass it.

PM defends dialogue with Belarus

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, October 2, Lithuania has to maintain dialog with Belarus to protect its interests, attributing the conservatives’ criticism to next year’s parliamentary election. Skvernelis said the government was not revising its position on the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant, but dialog with Minsk was necessary. According to Skvernelis, agreements signed with Belarus by the former government of conservative Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius contributed to the emergence of the Astravyets plant and the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ current rhetoric is aimed at mobilizing voters ahead of the 2020 election.

Ministry proposes to tie car tax to CO2 emissions

The Lithuanian Environment Ministry proposed this week to introduce a one-time car pollution tax and tie it directly to carbon dioxide emissions. Under the draft proposal the levy could range between several tens of euros to 1,400 euros. The tax on diesel cars would be several times higher than that on gasoline-driven vehicles. The ministry proposed that the levy should be paid every time a car is registered or reregistered. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis told reporters on Wednesday, October 2, that the Cabinet would discuss the proposed tax next week.

KN extends oil product handling contract with Belarus’ BNK

Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipėda Oil) has extended its oil product handling contract with BNK (UK) Limited, a subsidiary of Belorusskaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya (Belarusian Oil Company, or BNK), Belarus’ biggest oil product exporter until late 2021. BNK undertakes to ship Belarusian refineries’ light and dark oil products via the Klaipeda oil terminal for another two years, the Lithuanian company said on Tuesday, October 1.

Protest in Vilnius against China held

With China marking 70 years of Communist rule on Tuesday, October 1, around 20 protestors, including public figures and politicians, held protest banners and flags of Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong as they gathered at the capital’s White Bridge, the place where the Chinese embassy was to hold a fireworks display but was refused a permit by the city’s administration.

Keywords: Lithuania nuclear oil

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Latvia decides: Non-citizen children to receive citizenship from 2020

The Latvian parliament passed in the final reading on Thursday, October 17, the draft law that sets forth granting citizenship to new-born children of the non-citizens of Latvia.

Drugstores should focus on health care over money-making, Estonian Minister says

As Estonia is working on a pharmacy regulation reform aimed at reducing the influence of drug wholesalers on pharmacies, Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik has said pharmacy services ought to be focused on healthcare instead of business.

Confiscated EUR 29 mln: Latvia waiting for evidence from Ukraine

As Ukraine seeks to recover from Latvia 29 million euros that have been confiscated by a Latvian court, Ukraine has to provide evidence as it has promised to do, according to Latvian President Egils Levits.

E-commerce for prison inmates considered in Estonia

Estonian prisoners could be allowed to buy products using rather than using current prison shops, such is the option considered at the country’s Centre of Registers and Information Systems.

Riga to keep cooperating with ticket servicing firm, allocating EUR 20.6 mln

Rīgas satiksme, the transport company of the Latvian capital, will not terminate cooperation with SIA Rīgas karte, meaning that the population would pay 20.6 million euros for it.

Video: Evacuation in Lithuania amid fire at tyre recycling plant

Alytus in southern Lithuania was hit by a cloud of black smoke from a fire at a large tyre recycling plant. A hospital nearby has been evacuated.

Von der Leyen’s commission postponed after three commissioner candidates rejected

The next European Commission is to begin its term in office later than expected as the November 1 coronation has been postponed so that three member states could offer new candidates to replace a trio rejected by the European Parliament.

Probing infections in Latvia, salmonella found in meat from Poland

As infection outbreaks in Latvia are under investigation, laboratory tests showed salmonella bacteria in Polish-origin poultry samples taken from SIA Gaļsaimnieks.

Germany to allow Huawei equipment on 5G networks

The Chinese tech giant Huawei will not be banned from the 5G mobile networks in Germany as Berlin stated it wants to create «a level playing field» for vendors.

OECD: Bribery prevention results in Latvia disproportionate to cross-border risks

Latvia’s results in fighting bribery are still disproportionate with the risks of cross-border bribery and money laundering the country is subjected to, says the Working Group on Bribery of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In pictures: Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in Latvia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian first lady made an official visit to Latvia on Wednesday, October 16.

airBaltic not planning to cancel flights with Airbus A220

airBaltic does not plan to reduce its flights with the Airbus A220-300 plane, after Swiss International Air Lines decided to do this being concerned over the aircraft’s engine problems, according to a statement of the Latvian airline on social media.

PM Kariņš recommends spending confiscated EUR 29 mln as single investment

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has recommended the 29 million euros confiscated by the Riga Regional Court for being criminally-acquired to be spent on a one-off investment, according to an interview to LNT programme 900 sekundes.

Latvian security service develops terrorism financing prevention strategy

The Latvian State Security Service (VDD) has prepared its Strategy for the Prevention of Terrorism Financing 2019-2021 with its goal being improvements of the system of preventing such financing, developing Latvia’s abilities to fight such illegal attempts and to improve the country’s reputation in foreign financial markets.

Estonian President sends invitation to Russian President

Estonian head of state Kersti Kaljulaid has invited her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit the Baltic country during a gathering of Finno-Ugric peoples in 2020.

Riga transport company needs additional 2.9 million euros

Rīgas satiksme, the transport company of the Latvian capital, will request from the municipal budget an additional allocation of 2.9 million euros, said Rīgas satiksme’s council chairman in an interview with Latvijas radio.

Government decides: Latvia will have 39 municipalities

The Latvian government has backed the draft Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Places that sets forth cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 39.

Rail Baltica: In rebuilding of Riga Central Station deadlines and quality are key

In Rail Baltica, the new railway project, the rebuilding of the Riga Central Station is planned, where meeting deadlines and quality are key, said the head of Eiropas dzelzceļa līnijas, the company responsible for the project in Latvia, commenting on how the project could be affected by involved builders ReRe grupa being under the scrutiny of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and the Competition Council.

Deal or extension? Last day of Brexit talks on before decisive EU summit

The Brexit delegations from London and Brussels are on Wednesday, October 16, spending their last day of talks before a key European Union summit intended either to discuss a potential deal or to decide on an extension of the Brexit process.

Exclusive | Latvian MP: Top justice figures, Bičkovičs and Kalnmeiers, working like this in private sector, would be sacked long ago

The Moneyval report has told us not only that Latvia is unable to deal with financial crimes, but also that long court cases are under scrutiny. It is about the scale of money laundering – branding us a major power of money laundering. The expert committee also has questions: where are the guilty ones and where are the sentencing rulings? «The same Lembergs’ case; believe me, Moneyval is observing carefully, how it’s going forward,» MP Gatis Eglītis (NCP), the head of the Financial Sector Supervision Committee of Saeima Budget and Finance (Taxation), said in an interview with the BNN.

Latvian medical workers to hold unprecedented protests against funding cuts

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers has decided to hold protests it calls unprecedented against state budget plans that would result in reduced funding for health care, according to the LVSADA Council.

History repeating: Lemberg’s-linked medium recalls false news about Meroni

Once again, a medium linked to the criminally-accused Latvian politician Aivars Lembergs has been forced to admit its lies and to recall its unfounded claims directed at lawyer Rudolf Meroni. This time the recall has been published by Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze daily.

Unity: Riga City Council tries to retain structure of despite liquidation

In the Riga City Council, opposition Unity faction fears a near-million increase of the municipality’s Public Relations Division could be coming in city budget effectively to transfer the structure of, the foundation up for liquidation.

Latvian minister: System wants its people as Prosecutor General, top court chairman

«There is information that the system prepares its heirs and wishes to appoint people close to it,» discussing reforms in the Latvian justice system, including the changing of the chairman of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General, has said the Latvian Justice Minister speaking to Latvijas Televīzija programme Rīta Panorāma.

Latvian coalition reaches deal to support changed administrative reform

Latvian government parties have agreed to support the country’s major administrative and territorial reform expanding the initial plan of cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 36.