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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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