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Week in Lithuania. President signs new referendum law

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Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė

President Dalia Grybauskaite has signed the new version of the Law on Referendum, defining referendum organization procedures and allowing more polling places abroad, into law, the presidential press service said on Thursday, December 27.

The Lithuanian parliament adopted the bill last week. Most of the amendments are aimed at adjusting referendum organisation procedures to general procedures for elections.

The key change is that the new law allows polling stations to be set up in foreign countries in addition to the existing ones at diplomatic representations. Lithuania plans to hold a dual citizenship referendum on May 12 and May 26, 2019, in tandem with the first and second rounds of voting in the next presidential election.

Government nominates Kubilius for Council of Europe’s SG

The government on Thursday, December 27, nominated Andrius Kubilius, a former conservative prime minister, for the position of secretary general of the Council of Europe, Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka has confirmed. The Council of Europe’s secretary general is elected for a term of five years during a vote by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Kubilius, who is currently a HU-LCD member of the Seimas, served as Lithuania’s prime minister in 1999 to 2000 and in 2008 to 2012.

Government backs treaty on deportation of illegal immigrants

Lithuania’s government on Thursday, December 27, backed a treaty between Lithuania and Vietnam that will step up the deportation of illegal immigrants from the Asian country. Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas is due to sign the treaty during his visit to Hanoi in late January. The document is more important for Lithuania as Lithuanians do not emigrate to Vietnam. Border guards’ figures show that 374 Vietnamese people were deported from Lithuania in 2015. There were 210 people in 2016 and 85 last year. But the number has risen to 122 this year.

Lithuania buys additional missiles

Lithuania has acquired additional combat and training missiles for the Norwegian medium-range aid defence systems NASAMS it is buying from Norway, Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence said on Thursday, December 26. Due to security reasons, the ministry does not disclose either the volume of the additional missiles, or the price, only saying that the total value of the purchase, including the systems, still stands around 110 million euros.

PM goes on sick leave

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has taken a sick leave for two days, the government said on Thursday, December 26. Skvernelis was to chair the Cabinet’s meeting on Thursday, December 27. Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka replaced the head of government on Thursday and Friday.

Matijosaitis to seek second term

Visvaldas Matijošaitis, leader of the United Kaunas movement, will next spring run for re-election as mayor of Lithuania’s second-biggest city. Matijošaitis, 61, will also head United Kaunas’ list in the election of members of the City Council of Kaunas, the movement’s campaign headquarters said on Thursday, December 27. A mechanical engineer by education, Matijošaitis in the 2015 direct mayoral election on the runoff against incumbent Andrius Kupčinskas of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats with 63 per cent of the vote.

Lithuania, Poland agree on submarine power cable

Lithuanian and Polish power transmission operators Litgrid and PSE signed an agreement on Friday, December 27, on the installation of a Lithuanian-Polish submarine HVDC cable as part of the synchronization of the Baltic states’ power systems with that of continental Europe. With this agreement, the companies pledge to start preparatory work for the installation of the cable named Harmony Link, Litgrid said. Under the plan, the synchronization will take place by 2025 via the existing Lithuanian-Polish LitPol Link and the new submarine cable between the two countries.

LFGU made no violation, watchdog rules

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union made no violation when national costumes were distributed to children in Lithuania, paid for by companies owned by LFGU leader Ramūnas Karbauskis, Lithuania’s election watchdog ruled on Wednesday, December 26. The decision was backed by five members of the Central Electoral Commission, five were against, and its chair Laura Matjošaitytė cast the decisive vote.

Government to index budgetary institution employees’ wages

A special working group, set up by the Lithuanian government, is considering introducing the indexing of the basic amount used to calculate pay for staff of budgetary institutions. According to Government Vice Chancellor Deividas Matulionis, who chairs the working group, the indexing mechanism could also include safeguards to prevent the basic amount from falling in case of deflation, as well as from a drastic rise in case of fast inflation. The basic amount will stand at 134.2 euros as of next year.

Court opens beauty clinic hacking case

The Kaunas Regional Court began hearings in a high-profile case of stealing clients’ personal information and photos from the local cosmetic surgery clinic Grožio Chirurgija. Almost a hundred people and the clinic have been recognized as victims in the case. The court is hearing the case behind closed doors. The clinic was demanded to pay 500,000 euros’ worth of bitcoins and its customers were requested to pay between 50 and 800 euros.

Lithuanian Energy buys wind farm project

Lithuania’s state-run energy group Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy) said on Thursday, December 26, it had bought a wind farm project in the country’s northwestern district of Mažeikiai for an undisclosed value. The group bought 100 percent in the company, VVP Investment, from natural and legal persons. VVP Investment is developing a 60 MW wind farm of 20 turbines, Lietuvos Energija said.

Lithuania will watch Kaliningrad’s isolated energy system testing

Russia’s Kaliningrad region will perform its power networks’ isolated operation testing in May, which will take place around two weeks before a similar test in the Baltic states, necessary for the planned synchronization of the Baltic states’ grids with that of continental Europe. Lithuanian power transmission operator Litgrid says Kaliningrad has carried out similar tests in the past, adding that the latest test will be monitored.

Survey shows Lithuania as most pro-EU nation in Europe

Lithuanians hold a more favourable view of the European Union than any other EU nation, while Greeks have the most negative opinion about the bloc, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey, which resulted were announced this week. Ninety-two per cent of respondents in Lithuania had a positive opinion about the EU and seven percent had a negative opinion. Other nations with the strongest support for the EU are Denmark with 91 percent and Ireland with 90 per cent. Greeks have the least positive opinion about the EU, 61 percent pro it. Observers say Lithuanians like the EU mostly because it offers the freedom to travel and work, as well as financial support and security.


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