Books on Lithuania
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: 283 - (26/07/04)
Centrist wins presidency
The former president, Valdas Adamkus, was re-elected on June 13th. He paved the way for the Baltic state's entry into the EU and NATO. "I would venture to say that it was a choice between East and West, and a majority of Lithuanians said they are for the West," Adamkus told a news conference.
Adamkus won the run-off vote to replace Rolandas Paksas, a right-wing populist who became Europe's first leader removed by impeachment in April over accusations including links to Russian mobsters and intelligence.
The 77-year-old independent centrist, who won with 52.5 percent support, is credited with guiding the former Soviet republic into the European mainstream as president from 1998 to 2003, when he lost to Paksas.
In the poll, Paksas had backed Peasants' Party leader Kazimira Prunskiene, who won 47.5 percent, supported mainly by countryside voters.
The five-year presidency is largely ceremonial and limited to overseeing foreign policy, but the poll was seen as a key test, ahead of an autumn general election, of whether Lithuania will see a populist backlash after joining the Western clubs. "We will pay more attention to general European affairs, raising our standard of living at the same time," said Adamkus.
Adamkus campaigned on a promise to return normality to the nation of 3.5 million people after months of political chaos that ended with the ouster of Paksas. The scandal had threatened to bring diplomatic isolation to the EU newcomer. "I am convinced that Lithuanians took this decision looking to the future, and it also shows a conviction that Lithuania will follow a democratic path," he said.
A vote-rigging row cast a shadow over the elections, with an anti-corruption squad led by a Paksas supporter raiding offices of the main parties that had teamed up to oust Paksas during the last week of campaigning, causing another political scandal. In the row that followed, Adamkus called the raids "a pathetic event," while Prunskiene warned of a smear campaign against her by her rival.
Lithuania's first prime minister after independence from the Soviet Union, Prunskiene won support among poor voters unhappy with the unequal distribution of the benefits of the booming economy, which grew a record 9.0 percent last year.
There had been fears Prunskiene would contest the legitimacy of the poll as her party had complained that a top election official warned the raids could affect the election's outcome. But Prunskiene conceded defeat and did not plan to contest the result.
Details of EU membership
The flesh and blood are now being put on the bare bones of EU membership. Lithuania, along with Estonia and Slovenia, has agreed to join the EU's Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM 2). At a special meeting in Brussels at the end of June the finance ministers of the 12-nation Eurozone and the chairman of the European Central Bank (ECB) agreed to admit the three newcomers to an initial transitional phase, in which they are to peg their currencies to the Euro by not allowing them to deviate more than !5% from rates set at the meeting.
That set of rates was fixed so that one Euro will buy 15.6466 Estonian kroons, 3.45280 Lithuanian litas and 239.640 Slovenian tolars. All three countries can expect that trade and investment flows will now improve with the Eurozone. This will be especially true when they attain full membership in 2007. History is being made.
Amber Air takes to the skies
The new air carrier Gintarines Avialinijos (GA) (patented trade-mark Amber Air) has launched its activities by offering charter flights, New Europe reported recently.
The company is planning to begin flying its first SAAB 340B aeroplane in the second half of July. Based in Karmelava near Kaunas, GA is poised to take a strong position in the flight service market. The air carrier also has an office in the capital, Vilnius. GA's Marketing Director Gintare Rimkuviene said the company is now negotiating future flight arrangements with clients. However, she has been reluctant to reveal any details of the deals.
Klaipedos Nafta exports up 7.5%
Lithuanian oil terminal Klaipedos Nafta increased transshipment of oil products 7.5% year-on-year over January-June 2004, company Commercial Director, Ricardas Milvydas, said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
He said that in the first half the terminal exported 3.64m tonnes of fuel oil and light oil products, compared to 3.39m tonnes in the same period last year. In June Klaipeda shipped 581,600 tonnes of oil products compared with 446,900 tonnes in June 2003. The terminal trans-shipped 6.62m tonnes of products in 2003, down 1.2% from 6.7m tonnes in 2002.
Breakthrough for Volvo Buses in Lithuania
Volvo Buses recently received an order for 90 city buses from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, New Europe has reported.
This is Volvo Buses' first order for new city buses in Lithuania and is a breakthrough for the company in another of the new European Union countries. The new EU countries of eastern Europe are expected to be some of the fastest growing markets in the world for buses over the coming years, which is why Volvo Buses is investing heavily in marketing its products in these countries.
At the end of last year Volvo Buses was the first foreign company to receive a city bus order from Budapest, the capital of Hungary, also a new member of the EU. "Lithuania has a number of old Volvo buses, but this is the first time we have received an order for new city buses," said Pawel Halas, sales manager for Lithuania and Poland. The order is for 90 Volvo 7700s, the same city bus sold to Hungary. 60 of the buses are single buses and 30 are articulated buses.
The first 10 articulated buses will be delivered at the end of September this year and the first 20 single buses a little later in the autumn. The other 60 buses will be delivered in 2005 and 2006. The customer is the city traffic company in Vilnius, UAB Vilnius Autobusai. The company has a fleet of around 300 buses and carries 220,000 passengers every day. The buses are produced at Volvo Buses' factory in Wroclaw, Poland.
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