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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: 320 - (31/08/07)

Adamkus honours Medininkai dead
President Valdas Adamkus took part in an emotional dawn commemoration ceremony on July 31 to mark the infamous Medininkai massacre of 1991. Accompanied by Parliamen-tary Speaker Viktoras Muntianas and Interior Minister Raimondas Sukys, the president laid a wreath on the spot where seven customs and police officers were murdered sixteen years ago. Relatives of the deceased were also in attendance. 
Gunmen, believed to be soviet special forces, cut down the officers in the early hours of July 31, 1991, during the final days of the Russian occupation of the Baltics, before the independence of Lithuania was recognised. 

Baltics react to Kremlin treaty pullout
Reaction in the Baltic states to Russia's decision to pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty ranged from an appeal for calm to calls for an arms build-up in the region. 

The decision, decreed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 14 but originally announced in April, was most likely timed so as to take place after Putin's visit with U.S. President George W. Bush in Maine; and the International Olympic Committee's final choice for the venue of the 2014 winter games, which ultimately went to Russia. 

Still, the announcement out of Moscow caused a furor.

Kirkilas defends nuclear stance and criticises Russia
In a speech to delegates at the European Union 2020: Enlarging and Integrating conference held in Bled, Slovenia Aug 27, Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas defended his country's commitment to nuclear power and voiced strong criticisms of Russia. 

He defended the EU against accusations that it is merely a "handful of eurocrats and directives", instead characterising it as "solidarity, peace, prosperity, freedom [and] democracy… It is becoming universally accepted that EU enlargement is a success story if not a little political miracle for us." 

"In my opinion the European Neighbourhood policy is a relevant part in the enlargement. We all must, therefore, continue to actively support reforms in the South Caucasus, Ukraine and Moldova, let alone, in Belarus," Kirkilas said. 

Having talked up Europe, the prime minister then talked down Russia. "The political and democratic situation in Russia worries us: abolished media independence, continued violations of human rights and manipulation of energy resources [the unexplained stop of oil supplies via the Druzhba pipeline to Lithuania], aggressive rhetoric as well as recent events in Estonia, UK and Georgia, raise serious concerns." 

Finally, Kirkilas re-affirmed Lithuania's commitment to nuclear energy, justifying it as both a necessity and - more contentiously - an environmentally-friendly move. "I would like to specifically underline the importance of nuclear energy, which reduces the greenhouse effect," he said. 

"Nuclear energy is not an Ugly Duckling any more. It can be an alternative to traditional energy resources. Lithuania opts for nuclear energy since it is very important for our energy security. Our dependence on imported gas from the monopoly supplier will significantly increase due to the closure of Ignalina nuclear power plant by the end of 2009. Unfortunately, we have no energy links with the rest of the EU. 

"Therefore, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland decided to build a new modern Western type nuclear power plant in Lithuania by 2015. It will diminish dependence on almost 100 percent imported hydrocarbons and make our primary energy consumption mix more balanced. In parallel, implementation of the nuclear power plant project will strengthen the commercial attraction of power grids with Poland and Sweden and join the Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE)," he concluded. 

Adamkus and Yushchenko discuss energy
Lithuania has agreed to decommission its one nuclear plant at Ignalina by 2009. This was a precondition of EU membership. 

Naturally it is looking out for alternatives to fill the vital gap between 2009 and 2015, when the new nuclear plant opens. Energy issues were high on the agenda during talks between President Valdas Adamkus and Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko that took place in the Crimea Aug. 13 - 14. 

According to Ukrainian National Radio, Yushchenko said Ukraine's priority was to build an energy corridor connecting the Caspian region and Europe, and added that his country had plans to export electricity to Lithuania. 

Ukraine, which borders the Black Sea, could provide a link to Caspian oil transport networks that bypass Russia - an important step in the Baltic states becoming energy independent from Moscow. 

Cinema attendance on the rise
It is a curiosity that people in former communist lands are going to the cinema far more, notably in Lithuania, bucking a general trend away from it to DVDs and the like.

Lithuania has the fastest growing cinema attendance in the EU, the European Audiovisual Observatory has announced. Last year, the country logged 2.41 million cinema visits, which is 98.3 percent more that in 2005. 

The overall increase across the EU during the same period was 3.6 percent. Attendance is also increasing in other countries such as Slovakia (54.3 percent), Estonia (40.2 percent) and Poland (35.8 percent). 

The number of cinema-goers decreased in Great Britain, Spain and Hungary.

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