Books on Lithuania
Update No: 292 - (26/04/05)
NATO visit demands top security
On April 19-22, Vilnius was host to a NATO meeting, the first to take place in a
former Soviet state, which must have irritated Moscow no end, even if the
Kremlin did send an emissary, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov no less.
Foreign ministers of 26 NATO countries gathered in the Lithuanian capital, and
Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Boris Tarasyuk attended meetings between
the NATO-Russian council and the NATO-Ukrainian commission.
Militants guarded all bridges travelled on by the delegations, officers
patrolled the streets, some disguised in civil clothes, and the Lithuanian Air
Force and Dutch aviators increased security over the no-flying zone above
The real significance of the event was that it took place at all on former
Soviet territory. Veritably the world is moving on.
Ambassador Cepov to be recalled
There is a considerable diplomatic spat in progress between Lithuania and Russia
at the moment. It all concerns the Second World War, or rather its historical
Early in March the Lietuvos Rytas paper reported that the Russian Ambassador to
Vilnius, Boris Cepov, might be recalled from Vilnius for failing to convince
President Valdas Adamkus to go to Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of the
victory over Nazi Germany.
Cepov irritated his boss, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after the former
unleashed a tirade against Lithuanians in an interview to the local paper. An
informed Russian official said that Cepov's verbal assault against Lithuania was
a defensive reaction in an effort to avoid a possible recall.
The ambassador responded to the article by an angry public letter, accusing the
daily of spoiling bilateral relations. Later, in an interview to the Respublika
daily, Cepov said he had a feeling that Lithuania "is not a country but a
place for rally of scandal-living brawlers."
According to the daily, there had already been a premature recall of Cepov from
the office of ambassador in Kenya in 2000, after the diplomat "assessed and
analysed the situation in the country in an inappropriate way."
Following the Russian diplomat's statement about Lietuvos Rytas, Lithuanian
Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Albinas Januska publicly stated that he cannot
imagine how the diplomat will work as ambassador in Lithuania in the future.
Lavrov has allegedly dismissed his offensive public letter to Lietuvos Rytas'
editor-in-chief as inappropriate, and the attack against Lithuania has extremely
irritated the Russian foreign minister, the source told the paper.
However, according to Lietuvos Rytas, Cepov has at least partially achieved his
goal. "Although the Russian Foreign Ministry considers the ambassador's
recall to be virtually settled, Moscow will now be forced to try to remain
dignified. Therefore, such recall is possible in a few months at the
earliest," the paper wrote.
Congressmen call on Moscow to admit occuption
That the Second World War is a highly sensitive subject in the Baltic states is
The celebrations raise positive and negative emotions for citizens of the three
Baltic states, which were forcibly incorporated in the Soviet Union in 1940,
captured by the Nazis, and then retaken by Soviet troops in 1945. Lithuania is
perhaps the least hostile of the three states toward Moscow, with little
friction between Balts and resident ethnic Russians, who number only 11% of the
population, as opposed to 20% in Estonia and 34% in Latvia.
Of the three presidents of the Baltic states, only Latvia's President Vaira
Vike-Freiberga has said she will go to Moscow. At the same time, she has made it
clear that she does not consider the Soviets to have liberated Latvia, but to
have occupied it.
A US Congress resolution urges the Russian government to issue a clear and
unambiguous statement of admission and condemnation of the illegal occupation
and annexation by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991 of the Baltic states of
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
According to the draft, such a step by the Russian government would lead to
improved relations between the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and the
people of Russia, form the basis for improved relations between the governments
of the countries, and strengthen stability in the region.
The resolution was initiated by Congressman John Shimkus and joined by Dennis
Kucinich and Christopher Cox, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland
Lithuanian politics is going the Latvian way. In Latvia parties that are
barely one year old invariably win the elections, as Einars Repse's New Way did
last time in 2002 and then fade away after becoming unpopular in power,
invariably as head of a coalition government.
Lithuania used to have a more consistent pattern with an alternation of Social
Democrat- and Conservative-led coalitions in power. On Oct.10th the Lithuanians
propelled Russian multimillionaire Victor Uspaskich and his populist Labour
Party, founded only a year ago, to victory in Lithuania's parliamentary
Lithuania is one of 10 nations that joined the EU May 1. Its $18 billion economy
grew 9.7 per cent last year, the fastest pace in Europe, and expanded 7.2 per
cent in the first half of 2004.
France becomes Lithuania's biggest importer in January
Lithuania exports to France more than doubled in January from the same month a
year earlier, making France the Baltic country's largest export market, the
national statistics department said on March 10th, AFP reported.
Exports to France totalled 235.4m litas (68.2m Euro) compared to 98.7m litas in
January 2004. France took in 10.7% of all exports, which grew overall by 27% to
202bn liltas. Germany absorbed 10.2% of Lithuania's exports and Russia accounted
for 9%. Refined oil products accounted for 114.7m litas, or almost half of all
exports to France in January. The European Union, which Lithuania joined on May
1st, accounted last year for 66.4% of Lithuanian exports and 63% of its imports.
Turkish, Lithuanian agriculture ministers discuss EU, cooperation
Agriculture and Forestry Minister, Kazimiera Prunskiene, of Lithuania recently
on a visit in Turkey to hold meetings, met Turkish Minister of Agriculture and
Rural Affairs, Sami Guclu, on 8th April, Anatolia News Agency reported.
Guclu said in the meeting that the commercial and agricultural relations between
the two countries should be improved, indicating that Turkey was ready to
cooperate with Lithuania particularly in the field of agriculture.
Prunskiene said that Lithuania has been a member of the European Union (EU) for
one year, adding that "we can inform you on our experiences as a country
which recently became a member of the EU." Guclu noted that sharing
experiences could be very useful for Turkey.
Lithuania's yield on privatisation reaches 7.4m Euro
Lithuania's receipts on privatisation of public and municipal assets came in at
25.41m litas (7.4m Euro) in January and February, a plunge of 9.6 times from the
year-earlier figure, according to the foreign ministry's website recently.
The State Property Fund (SPF), the government's privatisation of state and
municipal-owned assets, which generated 17,409m litas in proceeds, reported a
three-fold plunge from the receipts of 51.4m litas in February 2004.
Privatisation of state assets brought 14.291m litas into the state's coffers in
18 transactions. The privatisation of municipal assets, a total of 43 deals,
generated 3.118m litas in proceeds. Elektros Tinklu Statyba, the electricity
grid builder, and Kietaviskiu Gausa, the greenhouse operator, were privatised in
public tender procedures in February. Finnish equity company Empower acquired
85.72% in Elektros Tinklu Statyba for 8.108m litas.
Europa group opens new hotels in Baltics
Europa Group, a Lithuanian owned hotel chain is on expansion spree. It intends
to invest some 80m litas equal to 23m Euro over the next few years in an
ambitious expansion plan for the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, The Baltic
The group will open two new hotels in Riga this year with an investment of 24m
litas and is planning to establish two more in Tallinn between 2007 and 2008.
The chain's expansion in Lithuania will be completed by 2008 with the opening of
two new business class hotels under franchise agreements. The group currently
owns three hotels in the country. Europa Group aims to boost its annual revenues
to 40m litas within the next three years.
"This will complete our expansion programme in the Baltics. Our network of
hotels across this area will give us a competitive edge," Europa Group CEO,
Martynas Kaciulis said. "In the future, we intend to expand into Eastern
European countries. We bought a building in Bucharest in February and also have
plans to open a hotel in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia," he said.