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Week in Lithuania. President Grybauskaitė warns Donald Trump of Astravyets N-plant

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Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė told U.S. President Donald Trump at the summit of Central and Eastern European leaders in Warsaw on Thursday, July 6, about the importance of regional security and the threats of the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

«Today in Warsaw all Eastern Europeans and leaders of countries in our region had an opportunity to speak again, meet and state our opinion to U.S. President Trump. We have mentioned this to him in Brussels and now had a good opportunity to show and explain our specifics, the threats we are faced with and the expectations we have from the U.S.,» Grybauskaitė said in a comment circulated by the President’s Office. In her words, not only promises but actual tasks are now heard from the U.S. when it comes to regional security.

Minister expects Kaunas Airport to be ready for passenger influx

Kaunas Airport will be ready for a sharp increase in passenger numbers by mid-July when Vilnius Airport closes for runway reconstruction, Lithuanian Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis said on Tuesday, July 4. Within a month as Lithuania’s main airport, the Kaunas facility will serve about 3,600 flights and nearly 400,000 passengers. According to preliminary calculations, a total of 3,200 flights and 300,000 passengers will be moved to Kaunas for 35 days. Furthermore, the Kaunas airport will handle 460 of its «own» flights and 75,000 passengers over the period. The majority of flights will be moved from Vilnius to Kaunas, some 100 kilometres away from the capital, for 35 days due to the runway reconstruction that is scheduled to start on July 14.

Lithuanians’ OSCE resolution on Belarus’ N-plant blocked

At Sweden’s imitative, Lithuanian parliamentarians’ resolution criticizing the construction of Belarus’ Astravyets nuclear power plant was blocked at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday, July 5. Lithuanian parliamentarians say that they collected the required number of signatures, but the Standing Committee removed the draft document from the agenda of the Parliamentary Assembly’s session in Minsk at the initiative of Swedish Socialist MP Kent Harstedt.

Defence minister setting up rapid response teams for cyber operations

Rapid response teams for cyber operations are being set up from civilians in Lithuania’s defence system. Vice-Minister Edvinas Kerza said three such teams were currently being formed in Vilnius, each consisting of 20 people employed in the field of information technologies. In his words, specialists are currently checking credibility of the candidates to handle classified information. Concerns over cyber attacks have recently been heightened by the ransomware viruses, such as WannaCry.

EU directive stalls at Seimas after refused partnership

Partners were deleted from the definition of family members at the Lithuanian parliament following this week’s discussions to shift the European Union’s (EU) directive to ban discrimination on grounds of citizenship. The provision proposed by MP Petras Gražulis of the Order and Justice party was supported by 44 Lithuanian parliamentarians, while 20 were against and 21 abstained, therefore, the bill was changed considerably and was sent back to the Human Rights Committee. The panel’s recommendation was to reject the Gražulis’ proposal.

PM sees Social Democrats’ initiative as ‘slap in the face’

A draft amendment tabled by the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s junior ruling coalition partner, to reintroduce a reduced VAT rate on district heating and hot water services is «a slap in the face», Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, July 5.

Seimas extends session until July 13 due to forest reform

The Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday, July 4, extended its spring session until July 13. Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, said that the session had to be extended for a second time so that the parliament could vote on a state forest management reform bill in the coming week. The Seimas last week decided to extend the current session until July 7, but the bill cannot be put to a vote this week due to certain procedural violations by the Committee on Rural Affairs.

Minister spars with Russia Today journalist

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius sparred with a journalist of the Kremlin-financed television channel Russia Today over propaganda and journalists working for state-controlled media during an international conference on the safety of journalists in Vilnius on Monday, July 3.

Government asks for ratification of Rail Baltica deal

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, July 5, initiated the process of ratification of an agreement on the development of the European standard-gauge railway Rail Baltica that the three Baltic prime ministers signed in January.

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Week in Lithuania: Transport Minister breached law, Vilnius University elects new rector, Polish bank invited

In Lithuania, the top news stories were Transport Minister being found guilty over the violation of law, President Nausėda inviting Poland’s Pekao bank to Lithuania and Vilnius launching its ecological initiative.

BNN summary of the week: Moneyval report. Scandal over VDD building. Žagars and Kairišs at the helm of Dailes theatre

It seems the repair efforts for Latvia’s financial market have paid off. Moneyval published its report this week, which concludes Latvia has successfully completed recommendations for tidying its finance sector. There are still areas in need of improving, but there is room for hope Latvia will not be grey-listed.

Development of areas along Rail Baltica line will require investments worth EUR 300 million

In order to implement infrastructure development projects along Rail Baltica line in Riga, it will be necessary to secure investments up to EUR 350 million in the next ten-year period, as reported by Riga City Council chairman Oļegs Burovs.

Olainfarm shareholders fail to convene due to lack of quorum

Because of the lack of quorum, the extraordinary meeting of Olainfarm shareholders originally scheduled for Friday, 24 January, did not take place. It was planned to discuss changes to the company council during this meeting, as reported by the company’s representative Ieva Lapiņa-Ennīte.

EY: investors more optimistic about Latvia’s economic competitiveness

Last year, investors’ opinion of the competitiveness of Latvia’s economy improved for nearly all indexes, as reported by EY Latvija representatives.

Bulgaria accuses three Russian citizens for poisoning of arms producer

Three Russian citizens have been charged by Bulgaria over the attempted murder of an arms producer and another two Bulgarians using a poison. One survivor believes there is a link with the poisoning of the Skripals in the United Kingdom.

Ignoring sanctions, Ventspils City Council approves budget created under Lembergs’ watchful eye

In spite of sanctions imposed by USA, Ventspils City Council approved the city’s budget for 2020, which came to be under absolute influence from Aivars Lembergs, on Thursday, 23 January, BNN was told by opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis.

Estonia eyes one-year prison sentence for first-time drunk drivers

Estonian government ministers have proposed harsher sanctions for drunk driving. Their initiative comes after three people got killed in a crash, where a heavily intoxicated driver was involved.

Latvian residents trust National Armed Forces the most and the Saeima the least

Latvia’s residents trust the country’s National Armed Forces and the president the most and the Saeima the least, according to the survey performed by Latvian National Security Academy’s Security and Strategic Research Centre.

In China, coronavirus claims more lives as transport limitations put in place

The Chinese outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus has reached the death toll of 26 people, meanwhile, authorities are trying to keep it from spreading introducing transport movement limitations in at least 10 cities.

Information about VDD new office building’s construction costs is a state secret

Although some media have mentioned different amounts of money the construction of a new office for the State Security Service at the location of former Marss cycling track may cost, the service reports that this information is considered a state secret.

Kariņš: Latvia is no longer the younger brother – our country’s voice is heard

Latvia is no longer the younger brother on the international arena – our country is heard and its opinion is taken seriously, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš at annual foreign policy debates on Thursday, 23 January.

Poland passes law on limiting public actions, statements of judges

The Polish Sejm has passed a draft law that sets forth limiting the say of judges over justice appointments, court reform and politics. The limitations have been widely criticised abroad.

Linkaits: banks once again service Ventspils Freeport terminals

The situation with Ventspils Freeport is gradually becoming more relaxed. On top of that, banks once again service port terminals there, as Latvian Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits affirmed in a conversation with journalists on Thursday, 23 January.

Aivars Lembergs picks ex-prime minister’s freelance advisor Grudulis as his lawyer for debates

The suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, who is also accused of committing serious crimes and is under US sanctions, has picked once the prime minister of Latvia Māris Kučinskis’ freelance advisor Māris Grudulis as his lawyer for debates in court, as was announced in court on Thursday, 23 January.

What is Lithuanian President’s main reason to skip Jerusalem Holocaust forum?

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has unexpectedly flip-flopped on where and how to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. First, he said he will attend the commemoration in Jerusalem, but then changed his mind to pay homage to the Jewish victims in Auschwitz, in Poland. The reason? Well, there is no clear official reason for that – President’s Office did not provide one.

Audit: Rail Baltica slowed by poor risk management and slow progress with municipalities

Delays and cost increase of Rail Baltica project is heavily affected by no risk management and no strategy, as well as slow progress in cooperation with municipalities and passive alienation of properties, Latvian State Audit concluded in its latest report.

China stops public transport in two cities over coronavirus

In China, a new strain of coronavirus has claimed the lives of 17 people. To keep it form spreading, local authorities have stopped the public transport to and from the cities of Wuhan and Huanggang.

BNN investigation | Rebenoks and Krieķis may have plans to return to Olainfarm board despite ties to serious crimes

Ex-Olainfarm officials Mārtiņš Krieķis and Pāvels Rebenoks, the latter also serving as Latvian Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro’s advisor, may return to the company’s board to, possibly, continue walking «well-travelled path» paved with non-transparent deals, according to information available to BNN.

In Estonia, forgetting to register child’s name can lead to municipality choosing it

Estonian law obliges parents to register the name of their child in a month’s time after giving birth. In the unlikely case of them being late, the law opens right to a local municipality to choose it.

Change of concept? Viesturs Kairišs becomes Dailes Theatre’s artistic director

Dailes Theatre’s board member Juris Žagars has picked Viesturs Kairišs as the theatre’s new artistic director, as journalists were told by Žagars on Thursday, 23 January.

Lukashenko: Belarus needs to diversify its oil imports, introducing Baltic supplies

As Minsk and Moscow are in talks to solve a dispute over the continuation of oil imports from Russia, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that Russian supplies could be cut to 30-40% of Belarus’ total imports.

Minister does not exclude possibility of number of municipalities in Latvia increasing

The Administrative Territorial Reform offers reducing the number of municipalities to 39 in Latvia. Still, it is possible there may be one or two more, said Latvian Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Thursday, 23 January.

Thirteen people die from influenza in Latvia

Three people died from influenza in Latvia last week, increasing the number of victims to 13 for this year’s flu season, according to monitoring data of acute upper respiratory tract infections published by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

Lithuania tries to halt haulage firm exodus to Poland with new tax

Lithuania is introducing a new «exit tax» to keep road haulage firms from relocating to other European Union member states. The firms say that other ways of moving business abroad will be used.


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