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LITHUANIA


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 18,213 13,796 12,000 74
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,490 3,660 3,350 74
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 322 - (25/10/07)

Adamkus and 'Sarmatia'
Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus gave another example of his deal-brokering skills October 10 at the Vilnius Energy Conference, which he was hosting. 

Adamkus persuaded the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland and Ukraine to join him in signing an agreement as a basis for further cooperation in the energy sector - in particular the creation of a new transportation corridor for crude oil and natural gas from the Caucasus to Eastern Europe. Azerbaijan however, has made the point that as the presumed supplier, their participation will depend upon their having been able to increase their production, to meet this new market demand. 

At an earlier meeting in Krakow, the presidents had agreed to begin work on the so-called Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk Project. Now, a consortium of companies representing each country will oversee the project.

The main goal of the new consortium - named 'Sarmatia' - is to prepare a feasibility study for the transportation system from the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia, then to Ukraine and Poland to European and international markets. 

The presidents also agreed that the next meeting of the 'Krakow Forum' countries will be held in Kiev, Ukraine next year.

However, despite the lavish compliments paid to him by the other presidents - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili even talked of Adamkus performing another "special miracle" - Adamkus may have been short of one additional signature he would have liked to add to his collection. 

No agreement was signed between Lithuania and Poland concerning the proposed 'energy bridge' link that would supply power from a future nuclear power plant at Ignalina, Lithuania to the north-east of Poland - an area facing an even more acute energy crisis than other parts of Poland.

"We had bilateral negotiations about the electric bridge," Adamkus said at the evening signing ceremony in the grounds of the presidential palace. "It has to be built and it will be built. Today we have not signed for one reason only. It will be signed immediately after a company structure has been established - before the end of this month."

Polish president Lech Kaczynski also tried to talk up the project, but seemed less willing to provide a specific timetable or talk in anything but vague terms. Indeed, when one journalist asked if Poland could be regarded as a reliable partner in light of its demand - delivered just days before the conference was due to start - that it must receive at least a third of Ignalina's output, Kaczynski became indignant, responding: "I would not like to receive such questions in the future." 

From the comments of the presidents it seems that in return for their huge supplies of gas and use as transit routes, the Caucasian members of the consortium will gain strong support for closer ties with the EU from their Eastern European counterparts. In the cases of Georgia and Ukraine, that could mean backing for an actual EU membership bid - which considered realistically might not make much difference to their near-term prospects!

Adamkus optimistic about Ignalina
President Valdas Adamkus believes Lithuania may be able to convince the European Union of the necessity to extend the lifespan of the current Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP). 

He is confident, however, that the country will avoid "energy famine" under any scenario. Even if a new Ignalina II facility is completed by 2012 - a prospect that seems increasingly unlikely - there would be a three-year gap between shutdown of the old Soviet-era plant and the opening of the new state-of-the-art facility. However, 2015 is looking like a more realistic target given the ongoing wrangling between the Baltic states and Poland over their respective shares in the project and the share of power output they could expect to receive. 

"First of all, we shall evaluate the current circumstances, future prospects, and then go, talk and negotiate using the language of arguments; I think this is reasoned and necessary. I think it is possible [to convince the EU]," said Adamkus, October 16 in an interview with Lithuanian radio station Ziniu Radijas. 

"There are lots of reasonable people and they see the actual situation as it is, since we are an EU member state, and it is important for the EU not to ruin the whole economic life of one of its members. I think we will not be able to build [Ignalina II] by 2009; (that was a condition of acceptance of their membership of the EU), it might be expected that we will build by 2012 if we are not put back by vain discussions now. Reasonable people may always agree on a period of two or three years, I believe," Adamkus said in Tuesday's interview to the news radio station Ziniu Radijas. 

"The most important thing is that we have a new power plant to build, and it would be unreasonable, irrational to cut any further supply sources we are using at present. I think that any reasonable establishment or person will understand [that] we may consider a period of extension so as to have us shift from one system to the other," Adamkus said. 

"I will be visiting Sweden in mid-November, I have already spoken about a possibility to have a link to Sweden via the Baltic Sea, via Estonia, and get electricity from Sweden. Again, Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, who is well aware of the circumstances, told me during the Vilnius Energy Conference that Ukraine was ready to sell electricity to Lithuania, if required," Adamkus said. 

Adamkus' hope for an extension of the Ignalina deadline directly contradicts what European energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said just days earlier. 

"The power plant shall be closed as scheduled, since it has been provided for in Lithuania's Accession Treaty. Moreover, a shutdown compensation scheme has been worked out. The funds being assigned will be lost if the obligations are not fulfilled. Finally, the closure date is no surprise to Lithuania," the commissioner told the media. 

"Let us not waste time on vain discussions," he warned.

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