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Sunday 17.11.2019 | Name days: Uga, Hugo, Uģis

Week in Lithuania: PM disagrees with President on tax exemptions, President promises to improve relations with Belarus

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Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis (left) and President Gitanas Nausėda

Last week, the key events in Lithuania were the President’s promise to improve Belarus ties, tax disagreement  between the President and the Prime Minister, Parliament Speaker’s leaving the ruling party, and the acknowledgement of the Migration Department to have e-registration problems.

Lithuanian coalition disagreements

The Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, both part of the ruling coalition in Lithuania, were resisting plans this week to increase the existing child benefit less, and are also sceptical about the recent presidential tax proposals to redistribute funds to fight poverty. The government decided last week to propose raising the universal child benefit from 50 to 60 euros, not to 70 euros as it was planned earlier.

Parliament speaker leaving ruling party

Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis handed on Thursday, September 5, his letter and informed the Kaunas District branch of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union about his decision to leave the party. He says he’s taking this step not to give the party an opportunity to expel him. Pranckietis also said he would return to the party if it was not led by its existing leader Ramūnas Karbauskis. The LFGU was to hold a council meeting on Friday, September 6, and discuss Pranckietis’ expulsion as he fails to implement decisions of the party’s board and council.

Department faced with e-registration problem

Lithuania’s Migration Department says it is increasingly facing a problem stemming from intermediaries willing to hire foreigners abusing the e-registration system by reserving free hours in advance. Therefore, members of staff at the Migration Department need to regularly review bookings and delete the fake ones. The new problem came into light after the department introduced an e-registration system for application to solve the problem of long live queues.

President emphasises agriculture, cohesion funding in Brussels

President Gitanas Nausėda tried on Thursday, September į, while in Brussels to convince EU leaders not to cut agriculture and cohesion funding for Lithuania in the new EU budget. Nausėda discussed the new EU budget with President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Lithuania wants funds to be allocated in the 2021-2027 EU budget for the synchronisation of the Baltic power grids with that of continental Europe, and also for the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant.

Court hears appeal against partisan leader’s defamation ruling

The Regional Court of Lithuania’s western city of Klaipėda on Thursday, September 5, heard an appeal by Viačeslav Titov, a local councillor, after a court of lower instance issued him a fine of 12,000 euros for the defamation of the memory of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, one of the leaders of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet partisan resistance. In May, the Klaipeda District Court found Titov guilty of the defamation of the memory of a deceased person, incitement to hatred, and public approval or denial of Soviet crimes. The court ruled that Titov acted intentionally as he had information about Ramanauskas-Vanagas and searched information about him online. The investigation was launched last July after the Klaipėda politician said in a public discussion that 8,000 people, including children, were killed at Ramanauskas-Vanagas’ initiative during the anti-Soviet guerrilla war and that the partisan commander personally pronounced the death sentences.

President proposes Piebalgs for EU’s Baltic synchronisation coordinator

President Gitanas Nausėda proposed on Thursday, September 5, that former European Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs of Latvia is appointed a special EU coordinator for the synchronisation of the Baltic states’ power systems with that of Western Europe. Nausėda said he discussed this candidate during his recent meetings with the leaders of EU institutions.

EP resolution to defend Jan 13 judges from Russia proposed

Lithuania has initiated this week a resolution in the European Parliament that would condemn the investigations launched by Russia against the judges who heard the high-profile January 13 case. The news was on Wednesday, September 4, announced by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, who was that day in Brussels, and Lithuanian MEP Juozas Olekas.

PM vows to leave tax exemption for farmers

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has welcomed President Gitanas Nausėda’s proposal to allocate additional 100 million euros for reducing poverty among pensioners and the disabled, adding, however, it will be impossible to cancel the existing diesel fuel tax exemption for farmers completely. Part of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union registered a proposal in June to increase non-taxable income by 50 euros to 350 euros (compared to the previous proposal of 400 euros), and to increase it to 400 euros (instead of 500 euros) in 2021.

Archbishop sees appointment as gratitude for faith

Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas Sigitas Tamkevičius said this week Pope Francis’ decision to name him a cardinal is a way of honouring, through his person, Lithuanians who were subjected to Soviet repressions. Tamkevičius is among 13 people who will officially become cardinals on October 5. He believes his activity will hardly change once he becomes a cardinal as he has no plans to be involved in Vatican politics.

President will seek to develop relations with Belarus

Gitanas Nausėda said on Tuesday, September 3, he will seek to develop relations with Belarus. In his words, that will be done without Lithuania changing its position on the Astravyets nuclear power plant issue. Ex-Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during her first presidential term, but later on her position changed and she stopped the top-level dialogue with Belarus, stating that it’s impossible due to Minsk’s close ties with Russia and the construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant. In recent years, Lithuania has been blocking the Belarus-EU framework agreement on bilateral relations.

Sinkevičius is likely to get EC climate change portfolio

Lithuania’s delegated member of the European Commission might be made responsible for environment, climate change and fighting pollution, the Verslo Žinios daily reported on Tuesday, September 3. Lithuania’s candidate for European commissioner did not deny that. Sinkevičius met with the European Commission’s new president a week before and said his responsibility could be announced in September. The politician confirmed he and von der Leyen discussed future work in the areas of climate change and digitalisation.

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