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lithuania

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  LITHUANIA

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
65,300

Population
3,717,700

Principal
ethnic groups

Lithuanians 81.3%
Russians 8.4%
Poles 7.0%

Capital
Vilnius

Currency
Litas

President
Valdas Adamkus

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Background:
Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 1940. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but this proclamation was not generally recognized until September of 1991 (following the abortive coup in Moscow). The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently has restructured its economy for eventual integration into Western European institutions.

Update No: 254

Lithuania's president, Valdas Adamkas, is a former US citizen. Indeed, he lived for 50 years in the US before returning to his native homeland in the 1990s, only to end up as its president.
As it so happens, he was scheduled to have a meeting with Bush in Washington on September 11th last year. He had already arrived in the capital when terrorists struck. He spoke immediately on TV of seeing the Pentagon burning. Of course the meeting with Bush was off.
It was rescheduled to January 17th. Adamkas recalled "that awful day" in his new meeting with Bush, who thanked him for his support for the anti-terrorist campaign. 
The extraordinary coincidence of the timing is not likely to be forgotten by either man. It is doubtless lending force to Bush's conviction that Lithuania should be brought into NATO as soon as possible. The events of 9:11 and its aftermath have made what was beforehand an unlikelihood, Baltic state entry into NATO, now a probability.
But of more immediate moment is the issue of Lithuania's entry into the EU, which can really change its prospects far more comprehensively.
The first half of 2002 in Lithuania will be a period of intensive integration into the EU, a session of a Lithuanian government commission responsible for issues related to EU integration said.
"As long as Spain presides over the EU, Lithuania will try to complete negotiations on such chapters as taxation, justice and domestic affairs, regional policy and structural measures, energy, financial and budgetary provisions and agriculture," the Director General of the Lithuanian government's European Committee, Petras Austrevicius, said speaking at the session.
Lithuania also intends to define the fate of the Ignalina nuclear power plant this year. "Lithuania is expecting the EU to make a decision on financial aid for the shutdown of the Ignalina nuclear power plant," Austrevicius said. 
The EU and other donors have already allocated 216m Euros on preparations for shutting down the first of the two power units. Lithuania has already completed negotiations on 21 out of 31 chapters concerning its joining the EU and intends to wrap up the talks before the end of this year, so as to become a full EU member in 2004.

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FINANCIAL NEWS

Lithuanian GDP rises nearly 6 per cent in 2001


The Lithuanian gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.7 per cent in 2001, according to preliminary data, the Statistics Department announced on 29th January, BNS News Agency has reported.
In the fourth quarter of 2001, the year-on-year GDP growth was 7.9 per cent. Fourth-quarter GDP amounted to 12.313bn litas (3.558bn euros) at current prices.
The fourth-quarter GDP rise was basically due to growth in industry, construction and trade.
In 2000, GDP grew by 3.9 per cent. The full-year GDP totalled 45.254bn litas at current prices.
The department is to release final GDP figures in late March 2002.
The Lithuanian Finance Ministry forecast that GDP would grow by 4.8 per cent in 2001, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union said the figure would stand at 4.5 per cent.

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NUCLEAR ENERGY

Lithuanian premier says nuclear plant closure depends on EU financing


Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas has urged the European Union to allocate proper funds for the closure of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP), emphasising that it is the main condition for Lithuania's decision on closing the plant, BNS News Agency has reported.
The prime minister sent a letter to the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, on 29th January, expressing the government's position concerning the INPP closure, the government's press service informed.
The government is convinced that the final date of the plant's closure will have to be coordinated with a reliable financing plan and the internal and international commitments of the country, the letter said.
"The government will therefore propose to the Seimas that the final agreement between Lithuania and the EU on the date and conditions of the decommissioning of the INPP should be properly reflected in Lithuania's EU accession agreement, in which both sides should take on common obligations," the letter of the head of government said.
Brazauskas emphasised in the letter that the implementation of the INPP closure plans depends on drawing financial sources to cover the costs of the closure.
The closure costs include those of the plant's decommissioning, radioactive waste management, social-economic consequences, impact on the environment etc, the press release said. "Lithuania will have to make additional allocations to cover the mentioned costs for a long time, which should be reflected in a separate line of the EU budget," the letter said.
The letter reiterated that the issue of financing the decommissioning of power unit one of the INPP must be solved together with the issue of providing financing for the whole plant's closure.
The technical decision on the issues could be reached in a joint European Commission-Lithuanian government energy working group.
The prime minister thanked Verheugen for his personal attention to the INPP closure and expressed approval of the position that the decommissioning of the plant was an issue of all the EU, not Lithuania alone.
The parliament of Lithuania intends to make a decision on the closure of the INPP's power unit two this year. The EU has been pressuring Lithuania to adopt the decision as soon as possible and close Chernobyl-type [high-power pressure-tube] power unit two of the plant by 2009. Lithuania has made a commitment to close power unit one by 2005.
The European Commission and international donors have granted over 200m euros for the closure of the plant. Lithuania and the European Commission recently signed a memorandum on granting additional 50m euros for closing the plant.
Experts estimate that the costs of the INPP closure will amount to 10bn litas (2.9bn euros). The INPP, considered inherently unsafe, generates over 70 per cent of Lithuania's electricity.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Lietuvos Telekomas inks contract with Nokia


Lietuvos Telekomas, the incumbent operator in Lithuania, and Nokia have signed a contract for the supply of broadband DSL network solutions to deliver fast Internet services throughout Lithuania. The installations will bring high-speed nationwide Internet connectivity to Lithuania, New Europe has reported. Nokia was chosen as a main supplier for Lietuvos Telekomas' ADSL solutions. The agreement covers the delivery of Nokia D50e DSLAM and related support services. Lietuvos Telekomas launched its ADSL service in May. Deliveries started in 2001 and are continuing in 2002.
"Last year we launched ADSL service and we are developing rapidly in this area. Data communication and Internet services are our focus fields, and we need a trustworthy partner to collaborate with in order to provide high quality services," says Tapio Paarma, general manager, AB Lietuvos Telekomas. "Lietuvos Telekomas marks another new customer for the Nokia Broadband IOP Access solution, which allows operators to cost-efficiently rollout initial DSL-based fast Internet service in a scalable way," says Mark Slate, vice president Sales & Marketing, Nokia Broadband Systems.
"We look forward to helping Lietuvos Telekomas deliver reliable, robust services, beginning with fast Internet and toward rich media services," he adds. "For Nokia this contract is an important milestone in helping to build a modern technology-based infrastructure in Lithuania," says Bjorn Keto, managing director, UAB Nokia Lietuva.

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