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Saturday 29.02.2020 | Name days:
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Week in Lithuania: Liberals leader turns down LFGU leader’s offer, new MPs sworn in, a new party in the making

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Last week, in Lithuania, the key events were in national politics as new legislators joined the Seimas and an offer on Seimas speaker was rejected and PM favoured taxing bank assets.

Lithuania to fund university studies for Ukrainians from war zone

The Lithuanian government will help four Ukrainians from the war-hit eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk to finance their studies in Lithuanian universities, the Education, Science and Sports Ministry said on Friday, September 27. Education, Science and Sport Minister Algirdas Monkevičius has signed an order to prove funding for the Ukrainians’ studies. Up to 15 Ukrainians can apply for state-funding for university studies after completing secondary education in Lithuania.

Liberals’ leader rejects ruling LFGU offer to take Seimas speaker’s seat

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), has confirmed that he offered the backing of his political group to Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen if the opposition Liberal Movement’s leader agreed to run for speaker of the Seimas. Karbauskis said he thought that Čmilytė-Nielsen would be very competent for the job and she would have received support even if the Liberals did not join the ruling coalition. The Liberals leader declined the offer though, claiming she did not want her party to be used as «a tool in dealing with the ruling bloc’s problems».

Lithuanian visa application centres launched in India

Lithuanian visa application centres have been opened this week in three Indian cities to facilitate the process for Indian nationals, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, September 26. In cooperation with the outsourcing service provider VFS Global, the Visa Application Centre for Lithuania was officially opened in New Delhi on September 25. Such centres have also been launched in Mumbai and Bangalore.

Three new Lithuanian MPs sworn in

Three new members of the Seimas were sworn in in the parliament on Thursday, September 26, following last Sunday’s by-election in three single-member constituencies. Paulė Kuzmickienė of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats won the by-election in the capital’s -Žirmūnai constituency and Rasa Petrauskienė, the other conservative, was elected in Gargždai, in western Lithuania. Social Democrat Liudas Jonaitis scored victory in the Žiemgala constituency covering the northern districts of Pakruojis and Joniškis and a part of Siauliai District.  The by-election was held just over a year before the next general election scheduled for October 2020 after three MPs elected in these constituencies won seats in the European Parliament.

Vilnius mayor asks Belarus for direct access to N-plant monitoring data

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius says he has asked Belarus’ ambassador for direct access to the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant’s environmental monitoring data. Šimašius met with Belarus’ new ambassador, Valery Baranovsky, on Thursday, September 26. Despite an agreement signed between Vilnius and Minsk about two decades ago, there is no cooperation between the two capitals now, according to the mayor.

Opposition MPs call committee meeting over foreign ministers’ meeting

The opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ MPs Audronius Ažubalis, Emanuelis Zingeris and Žygimantas Pavilionis called an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, September 26, of the parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs over Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius’ recent meeting with his Belarusian counterpart, Vladimir Makey, in New York.  The Conservatives want answers from Linkevičius about Lithuania’s position in talks on EU-Belarusian partnership priorities and the course of the negotiations as well as about steps to achieve a common EU stance on safety risks posed by the nuclear power plant.

Lithuanian watchdog slaps fine on City Service

The Lithuanian Competition Council has imposed a fine of 1.07 million euros on the property administration and maintenance group City Service for obstructing an investigation. According to the competition authority, Būsto Aplinka and Mano Busto Priežiūra, both part of the group, obstructed its officials in conducting their investigation and obtaining the necessary documents.

Lithuania’s Order and Justice to found new party

The board of the Order and Justice Party has decided to set up a new political party and bring in a new leader from outside. Members of the party board agreed that the new chairman should be someone from outside the party, he said. According to Žemaitaitis, the new party will be named either «Sovereign Lithuania» or «United Lithuania – Sovereign Lithuania». A task group will be appointed next week to open talks with potential leaders and other people will be invited to join the organization as well, the chairman said.

PM says his cabinet spoke out for tax on bank assets

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says his Cabinet would «approve in principle» a move to tax commercial banks’ assets. The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance, which has tabled such a proposal, says the measure would bring in around 100 million euros in extra budget revenue. Skvernelis thinks, however, that the amount would probably be lower. He said it is difficult to find any logic to why Lithuania still does not have a tax on banking assets. The initiators of the amendments say some European countries, such as Britain, Hungary, Portugal, France and Sweden, have similar taxes on banks and financial institutions.

Lithuanian watchdog decides to block access to 9 online TV sites

The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) decided on Wednesday, September 25, to block access to nine online sites broadcasting TV programs. The nine sites – www.online-television.net, www.pr2pr.net, www.trefoil.tv, www.sunduk-tv.com, www.sunduk.tv, www.videomore.ru, www.viaway.com, www.rus24.tv and www.lapti.tv – will be inaccessible for users in Lithuania, the authority said in a press release.

Government okays agreement with Latvia on joint border maintenance

The Lithuanian Cabinet approved on Wednesday, September 25, the ratification of a Lithuanian-Latvian agreement on the maintenance of their shared state border. Lithuania has earmarked 556,000 euros for border inventory-taking works, with the bulk of the money to go toward border markers and the border strip. Some 69,000 euros will be needed annually to ensure the minimal maintenance of the border.


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Gints Miķelsons put in charge of Latvian Construction Contractors Partnership

From 1 March 2020 onward Gints Miķelsons, who has been the head of Latvian Sustainable Construction Council will be in charge of the Latvian Construction Contractors Partnership, as confirmed by construction contractors.

While Latvia’s GDP grows 2.2%, other Baltic States experience more rapid growth

In 2019, Latvia experienced the slowest GDP growth among Baltic States, according to data from Latvia’s Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

Latvia’s GDP growth reportedly 2.2% in 2019

Compared to 2018, the economic growth continued and Gross Domestic Product increased by 2.2 %. In 2019, GDP at current prices amounted to EUR 30.5 billion. Compared to Q3, in Q4 2019 GDP at constant prices grew by 0.1 %, according to seasonally and calendar adjusted data.

Retail trade turnover in Latvia up 2.6% in January

Compared to January 2019, total retail trade turnover rose by 2.6 % in January 2020. Turnover of retail trade in food products grew by 4.4 %.

Vilnis Ķirsis to remain in charge of Unity’s faction in Riga

On Thursday, 27 February, Vilnis Ķirsis was once again picked as the head of Unity party’s faction in Riga, as confirmed by the party.

Latvia and USA sign joint declaration to enhance 5G network security

On Thursday, 27 February, Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sign a joint US-Latvian declaration on 5G network security, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Estonian Tallink Grupp sees profit growth of EUR 9.7 million on year

Estonian provider of ferry transport and related services Tallink Grupp has worked in 2019 with a net profit of 49.7 million euros, according to its unaudited financial results of the year, as reported by Estonian public broadcaster ERR.

Jakrins reportedly a beneficiary in a company that organizes Brasas and Deglava bridge repairs

Long-standing Riga City Council official Emīls Jakrins, who was in charge of the Transport Department not long ago, is beneficiary and factual owner of LLC TecPro Construction, which is a contractor to Lithuanian company Kauno tiltai, which has been hired by the city council to repair Brasas and Deglavas bridges, as reported by Diena newspaper, referencing unofficial information.

UK ready to switch to WTO trade rules if no EU by end of year

The British government has declared that unless concessions are made by Brussels in EU-UK talks on their future cooperation, the former EU member would trade with the bloc on WTO rules from 2021, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Residents able to submit compulsory income declarations by 1 June; VID urges using EDS

March 2020 will mark the beginning of the three-month period within which all residents for whom it is compulsory will be able to submit their income declaration for 2019. This period will last three years for residents for whom this process is voluntary, as reminded by the State Revenue Service.

Lithuanian border guards start informing travellers about the situation with Covid-19

As the new coronavirus Covid-19 continues spreading in Europe, Lithuanian border guards have begun informing travellers from Latvia and Poland about necessary protective measures.

Turkish soldiers killed in Syria, in regime airstrike, Ankara says

In the current epicentre of the Syrian civil war, 33 soldiers of the NATO member state Turkey have been killed as Syrian government military aviation carried out attacks on Turkish military posts set up in its neighbouring country, German broadcaster DW reports citing Ankara.

Weather in Latvia to be winter-like at week’s end

Weather in Latvia is expected to be winter-like at the end of the week – air temperature is expected to drop below 0° C at night in most of the country. In some areas cold snap may be felt during the day, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

First coronavirus infection case found in Lithuania

The first coronavirus infection case is confirmed in Lithuania, as mentioned in Lithuanian government’s statement released on Friday, 28 February, as reported by 15min.lt.

SPKC urges passengers of 26 February Istanbul-Riga flight to respond

Latvia’s Disease Control and Prevention Centre is looking for passengers who flew together with confirmed coronavirus patient from Istanbul to Riga on Wednesday, 26 February.

Regional hospitals in Latvia report high demand for protective clothing

Because of the outbreak of the new coronavirus Covid-19, demand has considerably increased for individual protective clothing, which forces prices to go up, as reported by heads of hospitals.

Rail Baltica not just marvelled, but cussed too in Lithuania

If implemented, the ambitious 5.8-billion euro Rail Baltica project aiming to build a nearly 1000-kilometer rail link from Helsinki to Poland through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will be a major infrastructural achievement of the Baltics, but the possibility of dashing at the now surreal speed of 250 kilometres per hour as soon as in 2026, when the project is slated for completion, comes at expense of many land owners in Lithuania’s six municipalities, which will be crossed by the European-gauge tracks.

Construction costs in Latvia up 2.8% in January

Compared to December 2019, the level of construction costs in Latvia fell by 0.2 % in January 2020. Labour remuneration of workers reduced by 0.9 %, prices of building materials – by 0.1 %, but maintenance and operational costs of machinery and equipment – rose by 0.2 %.

In Greece, violent protests against new migrant camps continue for 3rd day

In Greece, continued protests and clashes have resulted in over 60 people suffering injuries as people on the islands of Lesbos and Chios protest against the construction of new migrant centres, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Minister says Latvia’s initiated territorial reform will create more sustainable municipalities

The report from the European Commission mentions that Latvian government’s initiated administrative territorial reform will create more sustainable municipalities with greater capacity and ability to provide services of comparable quality, as reported by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

Latvian Saeima changes the prosecutor general’s selection order

On Thursday, 27 February, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments to the order under which the country’s prosecutor general is selected.

Textile producer in Lithuania complies with Greenpeace standards in industrial textile making

Lithuanian textiles producer Utenos Trikotažas has been deemed by environmental protection organisation Greenpeace as complying with the standards of the later as to not using hazardous chemicals and being fair and transparent in its business, LRT reports.

From March onward prices of alcoholic beverages to increase in Latvia

Through a measured and gradual increase of excise tax rate policy, starting with 1 March 2020 the excise tax rate for alcoholic beverages in Latvia will increase, as confirmed by the State Revenue Service.

435 whistle-blower reports received in eight months in Latvia

In the first year of the Whistleblowing Law, Latvian central state institutions have received 435 reports from whistle-blowers, as reported by the State Chancellery.

Estonia finds first positive coronavirus case

In Estonia, the first case of a person being infected with the novel coronavirus has been found, stated Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik on Thursday, February 27, as cited by Estonian public broadcaster ERR.


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