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Friday 06.12.2019 | Name days: Niklāvs, Niks, Nikolajs
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Week in Lithuania. First presumed presidential race contenders open up their plans

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Vygaudas Usackas, former EU ambassador to Russia

Lithuania’s former diplomats Vygaudas Ušackas and Žygimantas Pavilionis on Friday, April 6, were the first to confirm their plans of running for early elections of the conservative party that will pick its candidate for president.

Ušackas, 53, has been a diplomat since 1991, serving as Lithuania’s foreign minister in 2008-2010. He has headed Lithuania’s embassies to the United States and Great Britain, the European Union’s (EU) diplomatic missions to Afghanistan and Russia. He is currently the director of the Europe Institute at the Kaunas University of Technology.

Pavilionis, 46, has been a diplomat since 1993, serving as secretary at the Foreign Ministry in 2006-2009 and heading Lithuania’s Embassy to the US in 2011-2015. He said he would also seek to become the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party’s candidate for the 2019 presidential race.

Nausėda, 53-year-old adviser to president of SEB Bankas, who is leading all the presidential polls in Lithuania, said his decision on joining the race would come in September.

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union has not yet decided on the scheme of proposing a candidate for the next year’s presidential election. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has said he had not yet decided on joining the race, pledging to give his decision later.

European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis is viewed as the most prospective candidate of the Social Democratic Party, however, says he would announce his decision at a later date.

Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis listed high on public opinion polls has not yet revealed his plans on running for Lithuania’s president.

Apple sets up company in Lithuania

US information technologies giant Apple has set up a subsidiary in Lithuania. Apple Lithuania was listed on the Lithuanian Centre of Registers on March 30, with Ireland-registered Apple Distribution International being its only shareholder. The firm in Lithuania is headed by Apple’s international corporate law director Peter Denwood. Apple Lithuania’s authorized capital is 2,500 euros.

Lithuania leaves Georgia’s name unchanged

Georgia will remain the official name of the country in Lithuania, however, the State Commission for Lithuanian Language will allow the use of alternatives. The decision was taken unanimously, with 15 members in support. Georgia has asked Lithuania to use a different version of its name, as the current one is Russian.

Ruling LFGU MPs want annex on GMO

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union suggest ratifying the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on a condition that it will include Lithuania’s statement on imports of genetically modified organisms and hormone-treated beef. A relevant amendment was registered by members of the LFGU political group, namely, Ramūnas Karbauskis, Mindaugas Puidokas, Agnė Širinskienė and Tomas Tomilinas. In Karbauskis’ words, LFGU aims to clear the doubts that have heightened in Europe on the different standards on GMO applied in the EU and Canada.

New CEO of national broadcaster plans to publish some tender info

Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė, the new general manager of the Lithuanian national radio and television (LRT), pledges to bring more transparency to the operations of the national broadcaster by making some of the deals and tenders public.

RusLine to resume flights from Vilnius to St. Petersburg

Russian airline RusLine announced it intends to resume flights from Vilnius to St. Petersburg in June. The company will conduct the first flight on June 1 and will carry out three weekly flights afterwards, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, Rusline said. In the summer of 2018, RusLine intends to resume flights from Moscow to Lithuania’s largest seaside resort of Palanga.

Professor urges colleagues to work together in analysis of independence acts

Vytautas Magnus University professor Liudas Mažylis who discovered the long-sought Lithuanian Independence Act last year is inviting researchers of countries celebrating their centennial anniversaries this year to pool their efforts for analysis of the independence declarations. The professor noted that the independence declarations had not yet been examined. Conservative MP Emanuelis Zingeris says he would propose synchronising the political statements of all countries. Mažylis found the resolution on restoration of statehood in Germany’s diplomatic archives in March of 2017.

Lithuania grants 20,000 euros in support to Yemen

Lithuania has earmarked 20,000 euros in humanitarian aid to Yemen. Granted by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, the money will be transferred to the United Nations (UN) fund for humanitarian assistance to Yemen. All in all, Lithuania has granted Yemen 65,000 euros since 2014, including the latest donation. The Baltic country has this year already earmarked 115,000 euros in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Palestine’s refugees and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Lithuania joins EU project to develop naval surveillance technology

Lithuania has joined the European Union (EU) initiative OCEAN2020 aimed at boosting naval technological research in surveillance and interdiction missions. The project is the first initiative launched by the European Defence Fund, which was founded last year to step up the integration of European armies and the defence industry. The Ocean2020 project will be conducted by Italy’s company Leonardo SPA with 42 partners from 15 EU nations.

Seimas drafts salvage plan for European Humanities University

Amendments have been registered at the Lithuanian parliament to allow the Vilnius-based European Humanities University (EHU) to continue its operations in Vilnius regardless of the negative expert conclusions. EHU in late 2017 received a negative assessment from the Lithuanian Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education. The government has sanctioned its operations until 2019.

Former Air Force chief seeks reinstatement

Audronis Navickas, former commander of the Lithuanian Air Force, seeks to be reinstated into the position after a court has found that his dismissal was unlawful. Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court last week heard Navickas’ plea on the demand and will pronounce its verdict on April 11.

The finding will be final and not subject to appeals. The Defence Ministry has also turned the court with the plea, asking to annul the ruling of the court of first instance. After the probe of helicopter repairs Navickas was reinstated to office and soon after listed in the army’s temporary reserve, followed by sacking a few months later for humiliating the name of the defence minister and the chief of defence.


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Baltic States and Poland agree to push Rail Baltica as the main transport policy priority

On Friday, 6 December, Baltic and Polish transport ministers agreed during a meeting to continue pushing Rail Baltica as the main transport policy priority in the region, as confirmed by Latvia’s Transport Ministry.

Bank: Latvian residents have become more active with making savings

Following increased economic growth, there has been an improvement with Latvian residents’ financial reserves, according to data compiled by Swedbank. Nearly 17% of them have managed to save up money worth three or more wage amounts (2% more than last year), according to data from Swedbank.

Brexit – one of most spectacular mistakes in EU history, Tusk says

Donald Tusk, the former President of the European Council, has stated that the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has been a spectacular mistake after a campaign of misinformation.

Environment Protection Minister to request Riga City Council’s dismissal

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has decided to request dismissal of Riga City Council because according to the ministry the municipal administration has failed to perform one of its autonomous functions – provide carrying of household waste.

Estonia’s prime minister: Rail Baltica project unlikely to be finished on time

It is unlikely European standard railway width project Rail Baltica will be finished on time – by 2026, admits Estonia’s Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

Estonia points to human rights violations in occupied parts of Georgia, Ukraine

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu has noted in a meeting of the OSCE that violations of international rights and fundamental rights along with the continued crises in Georgia and Ukraine endanger security in the wider region of OSCE countries.

For the first time since 2003, woman possibly infected with rabies dies in Latvia

A woman that was possibly infected with rabies has died in Daugavpils, as reported by Disease Prevention and Control. This may be the first death caused by rabies in Latvia since 2003.

French pension strike engages 800 000 people

In France, the first day of mass demonstrations and public sector strike has involved over 800 000 in marches in many cities of the country, as protesters seek to force President Emmanuel Macron not to push forward with pension reform.

Interior Affairs Minister wants to use modern technologies to combat contraband

To ensure a more effective way to combat against contraband, Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens wants to use modern technologies that would work in parallel to customs officers. He said as much in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 6 December.

Ušakovs says he wants to run in Riga City Council snap elections

Member of the European Parliament and ex-Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs says he is prepared to start in snap elections in Riga if they are organized, as confirmed by Harmony chairman Jānis Urbanovičs.

Germany’s Merkel to visit Auschwitz Holocaust camp for first time

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has headed the German government since 2005, will on Friday, December 6, visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

VID officials will need to have spotless reputation, Saeima decides

From now on, officials of the State Revenue Service will need to have a spotless reputation. This is decided by Saeima’s amendments to the Law on State Revenue Service approved in the final reading on 5 December, as BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

Brazil at risk of losing vote in UN General Assembly because of high debts

There are risks that because of failure to pay its debts to the United Nations Organization, Brazil could lose its voting rights in the UN General Assembly, Reuters reports.

Strained Lithuanian budget is desperate for additional sources of revenues

With the adoption of the new year’s budget skidding, two major professional groups – teachers and doctors – have had this week their demand for higher salaries satisfied, thus deepening the holes in the shallowing budget. Where to scoop up money to patch all the gaps and satisfy all the demands? This week, Seimas, Lithuanian legislature, was in a frantic search for additional sources of revenues.

Estonian Police and Border Guard Board official detained on suspicion of embezzlement

Estonian Internal Security Service has detained a senior officer of Police and Border Guard Board at the South Prefecture on suspicion of document forgery and embezzlement of more than EUR 250 000, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Saeima supports government’s decision to extend state of emergency in Riga

On Thursday, 5 December, Saeima agreed with the government’s decision to extend the state of emergency with waste management in Riga’s administrative territory until 12 March 2020, as reported by the Saeima’s press-service.

Flu infection rates remain low in Latvia, but infection spread continues nonetheless

A total of 30 clinically confirmed flu infection cases were registered in Latvia’s healthcare institutions. Nevertheless, virus activity remains low in the country, according to the latest monitoring report on influenza and acute upper respiratory tract infections compiled by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

France braces for intense protests over Macron’s intended pension reform

France shaken by this decade’s biggest protests in which trade unions urge other residents to oppose French President Emmanuel Macron’s intended pension reform, Reuters reports.

Marguerite Fund to sell Conexus shares to Japanese Marubeni fund

Shareholder in Latvian natural gas transmission and storage system operator Conexus Baltic Grid, Marguerite Fund plans to sell its owned 29.06% of Conexus shares to Japanese company Marubeni fund.

Saeima’s majority may move towards Riga City Council’s dismissal

The majority of Latvia’s Saeima may vote towards dismissing Riga City Council, according to unofficial information from LETA. There is also a more reserved position on this, but generally it is admitted that Riga City Council’s dismissal process will be initiated.

National Economy Committee invites reviewing Rail Baltica project’s management structure

«Considering the unstable situation and lasting stagnation with the project’s management, the National Economy Committee invites Transport Ministry to review the structure of RB Rail,» says Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee chairman Jānis Vitenbergs.

«Riga’s residents overpay.» Kleins proposes terminating contract with Rīgas karte

Riga City Council vice-chairman and shareholder in municipal company LLC Rīgas satiksme Druvis Kleins, has ordered the company’s lawyers to assess the option of quickly terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as confirmed by Kleins, who represents For Riga! bloc in the city council.

Newspaper: Russia plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad next year

Russia has plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad Oblast, which shares borders with Poland and Lithuania, as reported by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Ex-president says conflicts with territorial reform surface where the rich refuse to share

The objective of the territorial reform remains unchanged – forming economically more efficient administrative territories. This means creating counties able to sustain themselves and develop economically. Conflicts with the reform usually surface in areas, where the rich refuse to share. There are also situations when the poor want to receive and do nothing on their own, BNN was told by ex-President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers.

October’s industrial production output in Latvia increases 3%

Compared to October 2018, industrial production output increased by 3 % in October 2019, according to calendar adjusted data at constant prices.


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