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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania in with other Baltic states to pursue medium-range air defence system

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

Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas (L), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Latvia’s Defence Minister Raimonds Vējonis (front R) and Estonia’s Minister of Defence Sven Mikser (back R)

Defence ministers of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have agreed to analyze the possibilities of establishing a joint medium-range air defence system.

The commitment was stipulated in a joint communiqué signed by the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian ministers on Thursday, May 28.

«We will look together into the possibility of developing a medium-range air defence system seeking to ensure that the Baltic States are in possession of the critical defence capabilities,» Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told.

He says an agreement was also reached to step up cooperation with Poland as the Baltic States’ neighbour and NATO’s strategic ally «to ensure a unanimous response to possible threats.»

The meeting with the ministers once again reiterated the commitment to continue providing the support of the hosting country to allied troops and addressed joint regional military training, which would contribute to better training conditions for rotational forces.

Lithuanian carrier to file for bankruptcy

Air Lituanica, an airline established by the municipality of Vilnius City, is to file for bankruptcy; the carrier announced a week after grounding all flights.

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius has said that the airline’s bankruptcy might cost more than 1 million euros to the city.

The airline, which is majority-owned by Vilnius local authority, said in a statement on May 22 that it was ceasing operations. Its flights scheduled up till June 5 have been taken over by Latvia’s airline airBaltic.

Symbol of Lithuanian-Finnish friendship unveiled in Vilnius

Lithuanian Dalia Grybauskaitė and former Finnish President Tarja Halonen unveiled on Thursday a sculpture entitled Suomis (The Finn) in Vilnius.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by several dozen Vilnius residents. The Finnish gift was symbolically accepted from the Finnish president by the Lithuanian leader and Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

The Lithuanian president said during the ceremony that the sculpture was a symbol of close friendship between Lithuania and Finland as it was created by Lithuanian sculptors and funded by Finnish companies.

Jewish heritage site opened

Šeduva, a settlement with Jewish roots in the municipality of Radviliškis, marked in a private ceremony the settlement’s recently restored Jewish cemetery in Žvejų Street. More than 400 tombstones have been identified and more than 1,300 have been either painstakingly restored or preserved in a tribute to the lives of the thousands of Jews that once comprised the majority of the settlement.

The restoration of the cemetery and dedication of monuments marks the completion of what is only the first phase in the development of a larger complex that will commemorate Jewish Lithuanian heritage.

Organizers and local officials are confident that the site, easily accessible from the main highway linking Panevėžys and Šiauliai, will become an important stop for visitors interested in Lithuania’s cultural heritage and Jewish history.

The restored cemetery is open daily to visitors except Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

Diplomat to see spying suspect in Moscow

Lithuania’s consul to Russia is to meet on Friday, May 29, with the Lithuanian citizen detained in Moscow on spying charges, the Ministry of Lithuanian Foreign Affairs has confirmed.

On May 20, the Russian Federal Security Service said it had detained a Lithuanian intelligence officer working for the Second Investigation Department at the Ministry of National Defence. The man was arrested for two months and faces spying suspicions.

Aristidas Tamošaitis was detained three weeks after a Russian citizen, suspected of having spied for the FSB, was detained in Lithuania.

The Russian FSB said it had detained the Lithuanian intelligence agent red-handed after he had allegedly received classified information from a Russian citizen.

The ministry, however, did not confirm Tamošaitis was employed at the Defence Ministry’s Second Investigation Department.

Lithuania boasts the largest Western Union site worldwide

EUROC Lithuania celebrates the fifth anniversary of the establishment. Within the past 4 years, EUROC expanded more than 5 times from the initial plan of 250 employees in 2010 to more than 1,300 employees today. During this time, Western Union’s (WU) centre in Lithuania is said to have undergone the strongest growth on the global scale. Now EUROC has become the largest WU site in the world, says Invest Lithuania, the government’s foreign investment promotion agency.

«We operate in 200 countries and territories, but we chose to come to Lithuania to establish our European Operating Centre. 5 years ago, this market was relatively new to us as a global investor and employer. Since then, our decision to develop in Lithuania has proven itself. We expanded 5 times considering the number of employees.

Due to the work and skills of the WU Lithuanian team, we have not only grown in size, but in scope. We have expanded beyond our initial transactional based processes into new, more complex roles such as business development, marketing, big data analytics, pricing analytics, customer insights and user experience specialists. Vilnius site is recognised by our colleagues abroad as a place where processes are improved and results are achieved,» said Kendra Ricenbaw, the head of Western Union Lithuania.

Now 1,300 employees of 34 nationalities speaking 28 languages work in EUROC, and the Centre represents approximately 13 percent of total Western Union workforce. EUROC as the largest WU’s office drives strategic business priorities, such as Digital Operations and Distribution, Anti Money Laundering Compliance, Accounting and Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, Marketing, Operations and various other functions.

Since 2010 EUROC contributed 18.3 million euro to the Lithuanian budget.

NATO jets scrambled over Russian military transport plane

Fighter-jets serving in the NATO air policing mission were scrambled from Šiauliai, northern Lithuania, on Wednesday evening to identify a Russian transport airplane flying above the Baltic Sea without an agreed plan.

The An-72 airplane had its transponder on and was in contact with the flight control centre, the Ministry of National Defence said.

NATO’s Baltic air policing mission is carried out by Italy and Norway from Lithuania, Great Britain from Estonia and Belgium from Poland.

Majority Lithuanians oppose abortion ban

Nearly 60 percent of Lithuanians would object to a law banning abortions, shows a new survey. Asked whether they would agree to a ban on abortion, 17.2 percent of respondents replied in the positive, while 59.8 percent were categorically against and another 23 percent said they would support a ban with certain exceptions relating to women’s health and sexual violence.

Older people and those with lower education were more likely to support abortion ban, while women and people between 26 and 45 with higher education more often expressed the opposite view.

According to the survey, 68 percent of those polled think the abortion ban would not lead to higher birth rates in Lithuania, including 41.3 percent who think that women would seek illegal procedures or go to get abortions abroad. Twenty-seven percent think that people would use contraception more. Another 14.4 percent of respondents said a ban on abortion would lead to higher birth rates.

The poll of 1,007 respondents was carried out by Spinter Tyrimai (Spinter Surveys) public opinion and market research company on April 17-25.

In Lithuania, abortions are currently allowed up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

Financial crimes agency chief to keep his post

After an official inquiry, Lithuania’s Interior Ministry has decided that Kęstutis Jucevičius, the head of the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT), may stay in his post and have access to classified information.

«Institutions basically did not provide any new information which would justify revoking the FNTT chief’s right to work with classified information,» said Giedrius Cininas, inspector general of the Interior Ministry, and added that a financial audit in relation to Jucevičius has also been carried out.

Interior Minister Saulius Skvernelis does not oppose the inquiry conclusions.

As reported, Interior Minister Skvernelis had ordered to carry out an official inquiry as regards the director of the FNTT over his suitability to hold office and alleged corruption ties. The director was suspected of having demanded a large bribe, but allegations were retracted due to lack of evidence. Nonetheless, an official inquiry was launched over the director’s suitability for the office.

Latvians and Estonians join Lithuania’s Mission Siberia

Youth from Latvia and Estonia will this year join Lithuania’s Mission Siberia 2015 project, during which they will travel to Russia’s Tomsk region to clean up the graves of Baltic deportees sent to Siberia under Stalin.

The participants of the expedition were selected in cooperation with Latvian and Estonian youth organizations and will attend a pilot trip in a forest in southern Lithuania this weekend. All in all, the trip will include 71 young people and will result in selection of 16 participants who will leave the Vilnius railway station for the Tomsk region on July 17 this year.

Mission Siberia has been held since 2006 to pay tribute to the Lithuanian nationals who suffered and lost their lives in deportation, promote mutual understanding and enable young people to get a closer look at past events and again show the society that young people care about their country’s history.

Different Baltic States’ take on arms supply to Ukraine

Lithuania will continue its support to Ukraine in the shape of training and humanitarian aid, while support in weapons will remain at a minimum level, said Artūras Paulauskas, chairman of the parliamentary National Defence and Security Committee.

Lithuania’s support to Ukraine in an effort to help the country develop its armed forces and reform the defence sector was discussed at a meeting of the committee and Ukraine’s Defence Minister Colonel General Stepan Poltorak in Vilnius on Thursday, May 28.

«We offered our help in the teaching of both parliamentarians and heads of ministries, today they need experience we have accumulated very much…We spoke a lot about munitions, financing of their defence sector and the tactical training we could hold,» Paulauskas told journalists after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Latvia and Estonia said they intend to continue providing support to Ukraine, but they are not yet considering aid in the form of weapons or munitions, defence ministers of the two countries said at a meeting in Lithuania on Thursday.

«Estonia has provided different types of assistance to Ukraine, we have more or less doubled the budget from last year to this, we are also providing assistance in the field of cyber defence capabilities, medical training. So we are doing what we can. At this point, we are not discussing any armaments, any weapons supplies,» Estonia’s Defense Minister Sven Mikser told.

Latvia’s Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis also said that his country would for now limit its aid to treatment of wounded Ukrainians and other measures but did not speak about weapons.

Putin: Russia willing to cooperate with Lithuania

After receiving diplomatic credentials from a new Lithuanian ambassador to Russia, Putin, the Russian President, told «Russia is willing to cooperate with Lithuania and expects an analogous reaction from the Baltic state».

«Our cooperation potential with Lithuania is not yet exhausted by far,» Putin said at the Kremlin on Thursday, May 28, after receiving letters of credence from Lithuania’s new Ambassador Remigijus Motuzas and 12 other diplomatic envoys.

«In our turn, we are ready to build the cooperation on principles of good neighbourhood and mutual respect, furthermore, would like to draw an analogous reaction from our partners in Lithuania,» he added in a speech cited by the Kremlin’s press service.

He presented his credentials together with diplomats of 12 other countries, namely, Albania, Austria, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Macedonia, Monaco, the Philippines, Republic of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia and South Sudan.

Before appointment to the post in January, Motuzas served as first deputy to the government’s chancellor.

Defence Minister: some politicians belong in a zoo

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says he sees no sense in discussing statements made by Russian Duma member Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s about «redeeming Vilnius and Klaipėda» and hinted that the politician belongs to a zoo.

Asked by BNS, a Lithuanian news agency, to comment on Zhirinovsky’s statement, the minister said some politicians belonged in a zoo.

«I do not want to discuss this. I have already said that there are politicians who belong in a zoo. I see no sense in joining this level of discussions,» the minister told.

He noted that Zhirinovsky had been blacklisted by the European Union (EU) since last September and would not be able enter the community’s territory.

Ref: 020/

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