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: 281 - (27/05/04)
The Lithuanian did a bold thing on April 6th. They impeached their president, Rolandas Paksas, a former premier and mayor of Vilnius. He stood accused of an improper relationship with a local Russian business man, suspected of mafia connections, who has financed his election last year. Paksas still has his supporters, especially in the countryside and may well stand again in the June 13th election.
The grandfather of Lithuanian politics, now premier, Algirdas Brazauskas, may well decide to bow out in style by standing for the presidency, which has occupied before. The job is largely ceremonial.
NATO and EU membership
Since May 1st Lithuania has been in both NATO and the EU. This means that a part of Russia, the enclave, Kaliningrad, is surrounded by NATO and EU powers. Moscow has negotiated special transit terms for its citizens and freight across Lithuania.
The proximity of Kaliningrad to Lithuania has had a profound impact on its economic and political life. There are considerable mafia elements operating out of the enclave, a hornet's nest of crime and corruption. Various politicians are thought to have had their palms greased. Hence why just a suspicion of corruption meant that Paksas had to go.
The airfield at Siauliai, about 125 miles northwest of Vilnius, used to be a major Soviet airbase. Now, no doubt to the chagrin of the Kremlin, Belgian F16s and other NATO planes can use it as a new NATO base. Sergei Ivanov, Russia's defence minister, sounded the alarm in mid-April. "The alliance is gaining greater ability to control and monitor Russian territory. We can not turn a blind eye as NATO's air and military bases get much closer to cities and defence complexes in European Russia."
NATO's new Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Sheffer, went to Moscow in April to re-assure the Russians that the expansion is directed against international terrorism, not them. Putin understandably showed scepticism about that. After all the expansion could have more than one rationale! Over 70% of Russians in polls aver that the expansion is directed against them. NATO and western politicians will have their work cut out to persuade them otherwise.
Lietuvos Energija Q1 exports down 3.3%
Lithuania's Lietuvos Energija exported 2.9bn kWh of electricity in the first quarter this year, down 3.3% from 3bn kWh in the same period in 2003, the company said in a statement, New Europe reported recently.
Most electricity exports - 1.4bn kWh - went to Belarus and to Russia's Kaliningrad region - 1.3bn kWh. Exports to Latvia amounted to 57m kWh, Poland - 125.3m kWh and Estonia - 16m kWh. Lithuania exported 1.1bn kWh of electricity in March, up 16.8% year-on-year.
The republic exported 338.2m kWh of electricity recently. "Due to planned repairs at the first power-producing units at Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant electricity production will fall sharply; therefore exports fell in April. However, we will meet all contracted supply volumes," Lietuvos Energija Director General Rymantas Juozaitis was quoted as saying. Lietuvos Energija exported 7.5bn kWh of electricity in 2003, up 10.3% from 2002. The state owns 96.62% of shares in Lietuvos
Gold currency reserves up 7.9%
Lithuanian gold and currency reserves increased 7.9% in March to reach 9.748bn litas, the Bank of Lithuania said, New Europe reported.
In the year from end-March 2003 until end-March 2004 reserves increased 4.8%. The bank said that growth in reserves in March was due to a €600m Eurobond placement. In addition, during the month commercial banks sold the Bank of Lithuania 27.6m litas more foreign currency than they bought.
FOOD & DRINK
Vodka ups Bennet's Q1 sales
Alcohol importer and wholesaler, Bennet Distributors, recently posted sales of 17.6m litas in the first quarter, up 53% year-on-year, New Europe reported.
BD's sales came to 11.5m litas in the same 2003 period. The growth is attributed to an increase in the sales of vodka, brandy and cider thanks to better positioning on supermarket shelves. BD estimates that it has a 10% market share of the Lithuanian vodka market.
Alita to buy Anyksciu Vynas
According to recent informal reports, the last state-owned Lithuanian alcohol company, Anyksciu Vynas, will be sold to rival Alita in a tender, New Europe reported.
Alita has offered 25m litas for the state-owned stake, the highest bid in the privatisation tender. The Competition Council has not yet taken a final decision on the requested amalgamation of the two wineries, but has allowed the State Property Fund to hold talks with the winner.
Laivu Remontas sale begins
The Lithuanian State Property Fund recently started selling the privatisation prospectuses of the shipyard Klaipedos Laivu Remontas, New Europe reported.
Information about KLR has been sent to two companies and one consortium that have expressed their wish to take part in the tender. Privatisation documents were sold recently. Potential bidders were required to pay 50,000 litas and sign and confidentiality agreement, after which they were be provided with the privatisation documents and acquainted with KLR in greater detail.
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