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Monday 17.02.2020 | Name days: Konstance, Donats

Week in Lithuania: PM admits he has lymphoma, President and experts discuss Minsk ties

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis

Last week in Lithuania, the Prime Minister admitted suffering from lymphoma, contacts with Belarus were discussed by the Lithuanian President and experts and a permit for large mosque in Vilnius was issued.

Lithuanian PM diagnosed with cancer

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis disclosed on Wednesday, August 28, he has stage 1 lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, but hopes for full recovery following treatment in September and October. Skvernelis said changes in his lymphatic system were spotted during a health examination following the May presidential election when he ran for president representing the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union. Earlier this week, President Gitanas Nausėda created a possibility for the prime minister to take sick leave, if necessary, until October 4. Under the presidential decree, the prime minister would be substituted by Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas.

Government puts off selection of EU judge

The Justice Ministry has postponed this week the selection of the second Lithuanian judge at the EU General Court. Gediminas Mesonis, a judge of the Lithuanian Constitutional Court, was initially selected for the position, but he was rejected by a special Luxembourg-based panel. The government then decided to re-appoint Virgilijus Valančius for another term as General Court judge, but did not receive the approval of President Gitanas Nausėda. Lithuania delegates two judges to the EU General Court. Rimvydas Norkus, outgoing president of the Lithuanian Supreme Court, has been approved for the position.

Lithuania’s most influential sports figures named

Lithuania’s basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis has been named Lithuania’s most influential sports figure for the third year in a row, according to the traditional poll of experts released by the online news site on Friday, August 30. Zalgiris Kaunas coach Šarūnas Jasikevičius came in second, followed by Daina Gudzinevičiūtė, the president of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee, in third place. The poll was conducted by the Reitingai magazine.

Priority in raising wages named

New Interior Minister Rita Tamašiūnienė said this week firefighters and border guards will be a priority when raising wages next year, adding that the move will be aimed at closing the pay gap among statutory services. Representing the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, the new ministers also expressed her doubts over possibilities to implement the goal to ensure that police officers earn at least 1,000 per month next year.

MEP wants a new EU body

MEP Stasys Jakeliūnas said this week he will initiate the creation of a new EU body for protecting consumer rights in the financial field. Jakeliūnas says discussions on such a new body will begin in September to October. He expects to discuss the issue with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and other bodies active in the field.

Central bank issues e-money licenses to 2 firms

The Bank of Lithuania has issued this week e-money institution licenses to SumUp EU Payments and Goopal Pay. The licenses authorize the firms to offer electronic money issuance and redemption and certain payment services, the central bank said on Thursday, August 29. SumUp EU Payments is wholly owned by SumUp Holdings Luxembourg.

Power grid synchronisation action plan submitted

A comprehensive action plan for the planned synchronization of Lithuania’s electricity system with that of Continental Europe has been submitted to the Cabinet for discussion, the Energy Ministry said on Thursday, August 29. The plan gives a list of projects and sets deadlines for carrying them out to prepare Lithuania’s power transmission grid infrastructure for synchronous operation with Continental Europe by 2025.

Minister speaks of basic pension raise

Lithuania needs to raise the basic pension in order to tackle the problem of poverty among retirees, Social Security and Labour Minister Linas Kukuraitis said on Thursday, August 29. According to the minister, pensions have been increasing in the past few years, albeit at a lower rate than wages.

 Vatican appointments for Lithuanians

Monsignor Rolandas Makrickas, Lithuania’s Vatican diplomat, has been appointed head of administration of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State. The appointment of Lithuanian clergy to high-ranking positions within the Holy See’s Secretariat of State is a great honour for Lithuania, Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, president of the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference, said on Thursday, August 29. Another Lithuanian, Monsignor Visvaldas Kulbokas, also works at the Secretariat of State.

Companies cleared for exports to New Zealand

Lithuanian companies have been allowed this week to export egg products to New Zealand, the State Food and Veterinary Service announced on Wednesday, August 28. It said to have received confirmation from New Zealand’s competent institution on the harmonisation of the veterinary certificate for processed egg products. It’s already a third food product group Lithuania and New Zealand have reached an export agreement on.

President, experts discuss possible changes in ties with Belarus

President Gitanas Nausėda has had an undisclosed meeting this week with political scientists to discuss possible changes in bilateral relations with Belarus, well-informed sources leaked the news on Wednesday, August 28. The meeting ostensibly took place at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, August 27, and was attended by Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius and eight political scientists.

Construction of small mosque planned in Vilnius

There are plans to build a small mosque for 7–8 million euros in Vilnius over the next few years, reported on Wednesday, August 28. Lithuania’s National Land Service has given the Vilnius Sunni religious community the right to use a land lot of 8,400 square meter free of charge for a mosque in the Liepkalnis area of Vilnius. Under the plan, the new mosque would hold up to 600 people. Now in Lithuania, four mosques operate in Nemežis, Keturiasdešimties Totorių Kaimas (the Village of 40 Tatars) in Vilnius District, Raižiai near Alytus and in Kaunas.

Government proposes banning use of animals in circuses

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, August 28, proposed to the country’s parliament to ban the use of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians in during circus performances. Now 24 European countries restrict the use of animals in circuses.

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Saeima deputies put off vote on final MPC system report; say more time needed

On Monday, 17 February, Saeima’s Parliamentary Investigative Committee for Mandatory Procurement Component System did not vote on the final report. Approximately thirty minutes were spent discussing the fact that not all members of the committee have had an opportunity to study the latest redaction of the document.

Latvia’s president presents no plan for Misāne matter after meeting with heads of institutions

After meeting with representatives of the management of responsible institutions on Monday, 17 February, Latvia’s President Egils Levits did not present a clear action plan for Kristīne Misāne’s situation. However, he did stress the importance of civil activity, including the rising role online petitions.

Rubber stretching. 11th anniversary of Aivars Lembergs’ trial

Rubber stretching is a process that supposedly progresses but yields no benefits to anyone except the person doing the stretching. This allegory can be used to describe Aivars Lembergs’ trial, which has continued for 11 years.

101 applications submitted for project on preservation of cultural and historical heritage

A total of 101 applications for a total amount of EUR 1.68 million have been received for Riga City Council’s announced tender, as reported by Riga City Council chairman’s advisor Baiba Gailīte.

FKTK chief: Latvia has earned the right to avoid being «greylisted»

Latvia has earned the right to avoid being added to Financial Action Task Force «grey list», said the head of Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission Santa Purgaile in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Monday, 17 February.

Latvian government signs new contract for Latvia’s pavilion in Expo 2020

The government has signed a 1.4 million euros worth contract for the construction of Latvia’s pavilion at Expo 2020, which will be held in Dubai, as confirmed by Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro

Eurostat: Latvia’s GDP growth reportedly below average in EU in Q4 2019

When compared to the same period of the previous year, Latvia had a lower GDP than the average in the European Union in Q4 2019, according to data published by Eurostat for 20 of the union’s countries.

Signature collection for a referendum on municipal snap election regulations fails

According to provisional results from the Central Election Commission, it has not been possible to collect enough signatures to initiate a referendum over Saeima’s approved changes to municipal snap elections regulations.

Denmark plans to have Latvian citizen Misāne handed over to South African Republic

On Friday, 14 February, the Danish court ruled not to release Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne from custody. In the South African Republic the woman is accused of kidnapping her own child, as LTV was informed by Misāne lawyer.

Week in Lithuania: retailer Maxima got in trouble, Turkish firm’s assets frozen, New Agency set up

Lithuania's concessions provided to the Polish business group Orlen, operating an oil refinery in Lithuania's Mažeikiai, have helped to improve bilateral relations but were not the key element in their thaw, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said this week.

BNN summary of the week: Levits urges protecting officials. Riga City Council toppled. Tax changes planned

The BNN gives you a summary of the key events of the past week, told in news stories of the following topics: Serious signals; Perseverance; Dismissal; Tax changes; Media supervisors; Inflation; Slower over the bridge and Belief protectors.

Prime minister orders development of proper government MPC monitoring rules

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has ordered Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro to immediately commence work on a new mandatory procurement component monitoring project and submit it as soon as possible to ensure efficient control over the system, as confirmed by the prime minister’s office.

1 700 medics infected with coronavirus in China; six dead so far

More than 1 700 medics in China are confirmed infected with the new coronavirus. Six of them have already died, as confirmed by healthcare officials.

Number of foreign guests hosted in Latvian places of accommodation up 1.6%

2.85 million foreign and Latvian visitors stayed at Latvian tourist accommodation establishments in 2019, which is 1.6 % more than in 2018. Compared to the previous year, the number of nights spent by visitors increased by 2.6 %, reaching 5.51 million in 2019.

Experts approve Riga Central Station’s Rail Baltica regional train reception solution

A solution has been found to install a four-lane railway section at Riga Central Railway Station to replace the existing two-lane section. This will help secure not only international and airport connectivity for Rail Baltica trains but also further improve intercity and suburban train services, as reported by the project’s representatives.

Beness Aijo asks Vladimir Putin for political asylum; claims Russia has released him

Beness Aijo, who fled Latvia to avoid criminal prosecution for calls of a violent overthrowing of the government, has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide him political asylum. He also claims Russian authorities have released him from custody.

Share prices plummet on stock markets over concerns for coronavirus

On Thursday, 13 February, share prices around the world plummeted as concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic in China. London Stock Exchange index declined shortly after British Finance Minister Sajid Javid’s sudden resignation.

Saeima to add considerable amendments to Criminal Procedure Law

On Thursday, 13 February, Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law that provide the duty to provide truth in testimony if a person uses the right to testify.

Week’s end in Latvia will be snowy, rainy and windy

Strong wind, which may reach a speed of 25 m/sec along the coast, is expected at this week’s end in Latvia. Air temperature, however, will remain mostly unchanged, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

National Alliance and New Unity may run in Riga City Council elections separately

Following the decision made by the New Conservative Party to run in upcoming Riga City Council snap elections separately, a similar decision will likely be made by the National Alliance «All for Latvia – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK» and New Unity.

Airbnb and Vilnius sign «historic» agreement, taxmen to zero in on short-term rentals

Long chastised for little regulation, Airbnb, a popular short-term rentals platform, was praised this week in Lithuania after capital city Vilnius and Airbnb inked an agreement, envisioning that from February 1 onwards Airbnb will automatically collect Vilnius city tourism tax due per night and per person and transfer the sum directly to the City of Vilnius on behalf of hosts.

Latvian parliament dissolves Riga City Council

The Saeima has decided to dissolve Riga City Council. The city council remains active, however, because the law on its dismissal will come to force the next day after its promulgation. Now President Egils Levits has ten days to make his decision on the promulgation.

Tallinn residents reject proposal to limit driving speed to 40 km/h

Residents of Tallinn have rejected mayor Mihhail Kõlvart’s proposal to limit driving speed within city limits to 40 km/h, forcing the municipality to look for other ways to control road traffic speed, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Journalists Kalderauska and Eglītis approved as members of National Electronic Mass Media Council

On Thursday, 13 February, Latvia’s Saeima approved journalists Ieva Kalderauska and Jānis Eglītis as new members of the National Electronic Mass Media Council.

European Parliament urges putting an end to illegal pet trade

To protect animal welfare, pet owners and public health, the European Parliament urges the European Union to come up with an action plan to put an end to illegal pet trade, BNN was informed by EP press-secretary in Latvia Jānis Krastiņš.

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