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LITHUANIA


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

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)

Books on Lithuania

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
65,200 

Population 
3,607,899 

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Lithuanians 81.3%
Russians 8.4%
Poles 7.0%

Capital
Vilnius 

Currency 
Litas

President
Valdas Adamkus



Update No: 301 - (30/01/06)

Former president acquitted; liberal democrats seek his comeback
Two key figures in last year's presidential impeachment, Rolandas Paksas and Yuri Borisov, the former's biggest financial supporter, can relax after victories in Lithuanian courts. Former Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas has won acquittal from the country's Supreme Court on charges of revealing a state secret. The high court said there is no sufficient evidence to the ex-president's culpability.
Paksas was impeached in 2004. In March, an appeals court found him guilty of telling his financial sponsor, Russian businessman Yury Borisov, that the State Security Department had tapped his telephone.
Finally, justice has triumphed, Paksas said, adding that the high court had ruled that 15 of 16 charges against him were unfounded. He said that the only remaining charge is that he improperly allowed Borisov to be naturalized as a Lithuanian citizen.
Paksas may use the decision to make a political comeback, something the liberal democrats are urging him to do. Paksas was previously a popular mayor of Vilnius and was thereby brought to the national stage as prime minister. He then became president. 
Still in his forties, he is politically a spring chicken compared to the pair of septuagenarians at the helm of Lithuanian politics, President Valdas Adamkus and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas. They both have the aura of elder statesmen, however, while a certain raffish lack of respectability still pertains to the dare-devil aviator and adventurer Paksas.

Putin supports calls for Baltic Russians to move to Kaliningrad
Tension between Lithuania and Russia remains high, not least because of the machinations of politicians in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, in Lithuanian affairs. Kaliningrad is notorious for its corruption and nefarious ways.
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the Kaliningrad Oblast governor's idea of inviting ethnic Russians from the Baltic countries to resettle in the exclave. "I have heard nothing about such an initiative, but I support it, once it has been made," Putin told reporters on December 16th in the resort town of Sochi. 

The liberal backstop for Russia
Putin is well aware that Lithuania is an historic nation in the FSU. Its declaration of independence, on March 13th, 1990 set off the collapse of the USSR. 
It had a further goal in mind - the end of totalitarianism throughout the length and breadth of the dire calamity of a bankrupt empire. It succeeded. It is a truly historic nation, which may yet play a further role in Russian affairs.
The Baltic states are "the key advocates of human rights in Russia." For several years already Lithuania has been known as a venue for the gatherings and parties of Byelorussian oppositionists. Recently some Russian "oppositionists" too have, seemingly, begun seeking support in Vilnius. 
Recent months have seen the visit of certain anti-Putin oppositionists to Lithuania, interviews with them in the media, as well as a number of articles with negative assessments of Russia. Almost every periodical in Lithuania took it as a duty to interview Sergey Kovalyov, who met with everybody, including Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus in person. They did not neglect either the publication of a book by Yelena Tregubova. Strange as this may sound, but Russian "dissidents expect small Lithuania to 'assist' them in fighting the 'Putin regime'."
This is exactly how Delfi headlines its interview with Tregubova: "Y. Tregubova: We Expect Your Assistance." The Russian journalist says that Lithuania was very lucky to make its timely escape from Russia. Noting that "Putin has already liquidated the whole mechanism of constitutional elections existing under Boris Yeltsin's rule, Tregubova concludes: "For Russia this is an absolute fallback to a ruling party monopoly, as was the case with the Supreme Council in the Soviet times. So, you are lucky to have broken away in time."
Further in the interview the author of "The Kremlin Mysteries," a book that has become a best-seller in Lithuania, gives an interesting geo-political picture of the present situation, where the only advocates of democratic Russia in Europe, apart from Ukraine, are the Baltic states. 

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"Bought by the Kremlin" or simply fearing the nuclear button, the leaders of the key EU countries and the US do not criticize Putin and Russia. Only the Baltic states, says Tregubova, tell the truth. Asked "will Lithuania free itself from Russia's influence? Or is this influence only a myth, a fantasy by Lithuanian politicians?" Tregubova says: "Today Lithuania, like all the Baltic states, has a unique position on Russia in the world. In the last two years the leaders of your small but proud states have forced people to speak loudly about them, have forced them to give attention to their principled positions. You won just because your presidents refused to be somebody's addition on the international arena. You have joined Europe. And you are not ashamed of openly criticizing Russia, unlike some European states."
Veidas analytical weekly suggests a similar concept of "the Kremlin-bought" Europe in its article "Russia Buys Europe in Parts." "Who are the biggest friends of Russia and Vladimir Putin in the European Union? The leaders of which big EU states have always called and are calling the Kremlin KGB agent 'a real democrat' and keep defending him from the cavils of the European media?" asks the reviewer and answers: they are corrupt Berlusconi, Chirac and Shroeder. With Shroeder everything is clear - it has just become obvious that he has been bought by Gazprom for a highly paid job. Chirac cannot be sued as the French constitution gives him legal immunity. As to Berlusconi, his accomplices in the parliament have pushed through a law giving him similar immunity, but the Italian constitution doesn't and so, the author says, he can sooner or later face prosecution. 
Thus, "it turns out that the biggest friends of Russia in Europe are also the biggest bribers of Europe." "Having realized its inability to influence EU politicians in a normal, civilized way, Russia has decided to act in its own way - to buy the politicians of big European states - not a hard job, as it turns out, especially as they have wagons of money in the Kremlin due to skyscraping oil and gas prices, and there are very many wishing to have it." The author gives no evidence of Russia's "buying" Chirac or Berlusconi. As you may know, even if there is suspicion of their corruption, it is not due to Russia.
Obviously for lack of such evidence, the weekly aims mostly at the German ex-chancellor and makes far-reaching conclusions about "the Kremlin-bought" Lithuanian politicians: "Lithuania should make a very important conclusion from the story with Shroeder. If Gazprom can buy the chancellor of the biggest European state, can't it really buy Lithuanian politicians too? Once we have made this conclusion, we should see which politicians and parties in Lithuania have been generously sponsored by Gazprom and its daughter companies. Once we have seen it, we should think it over." 
Sergey Kovalyov: "Why reckon with Russia?" "One Should Stop Being Afraid of Russia" - this is how Ekstra weekly headlines its interview with civil advocate Sergey Kovalyov when he was on a visit to Lithuania. This interview almost keeps the tone of Tregubova's interview, but instead of giving Lithuania the role of a pharos in the struggle for democratic Russia, Kovalyov casts vitriol at everybody. "You have the partner you allow him to be. And you find no guts to cope with him. As long as you bear with such a Russia, it will be the way it is."
In the opinion of "the last and the only critic of President Putin," as the magazine calls Kovalyov, a very dangerous realpolitik is spreading amongst Western politicians." Just because they want to reckon with Russia. 
But why? Why a state respecting no democratic rights and freedoms is given some special status? You say because of oil- and gas-pipelines? But if you try very hard or just tighten hard your belt, you can well go without the Russian pipeline flow. On the other hand, what would the selfsame Russia do were there no pipelines? Would it drink, eat this oil?" 
Kovalyov very much welcomed the decision of the Lithuanian president not to attend the Victory Day in Moscow last year: "I don't know the motives, but I applaud President Adamkus for being as brave as not to go to the May 9th parade in Moscow."

Has Lithuania actually won in the fight for the EU budget?
Lithuanian media report Lithuanian President Adamkus as calling "a big victory" the agreement for planned funds which Lithuania has won in its talks over the EU financial prospect. At the same time, Adamkus notes the responsibility Lithuania must show in using the money.
At a meeting December 19th Lithuanian Prime Minister Brazauskas informed Adamkus about the agreement reached in Brussels concerning the EU budget 2007-2013 and Lithuania's share thereof. The press secretary of the president Rita Grumadaite said after the meeting that "Lithuania's success will depend on how transparently and rationally it uses the money." She reported the president as believing that the past talks have shown that "25 countries can work together and agree even if they first seem to be inevitably at variance."
The agreement says that in 2007-2013 Lithuania will get over 36 bln litas (almost US$15 bn). Per year Lithuania will get 56% more than on an average in 2004-2006. Brazauskas says that the EU budget for Lithuania implies that one litas it will put into the EU budget will come back in 5 litas.
The agreement on the EU financial prospect was made on December 17th after long and hard negotiations. Two states objected to the UK's final compromise proposal - Lithuania and Poland. Brazauskas was the only one to speak twice at the EU Council. He tried to prove that the bigger financing requirement for the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant should not be linked with the amount of the aid Lithuania gets from the structural funds. Brazauskas said that Ignalina is not Lithuania's problem, but the EU's commitment. 
In response to Brazauskas' speech British Premier Tony Blair said that he understands the problem, that's why they have made exception for Lithuania - "the structural assistance has been raised by 120m Euro." Blair pledged to find this money in the EU budget together with European Commission.
In the EU budget 2007-2013 Lithuania got an additional 220m Euro of structural aid, 50m Euro for closing Ignalina and the above 120m Euro - a total of 400m Euro. Meanwhile, in July the then EU chairman Luxembourg proposed 600m Euro for Lithuania. So, looking at this "victory" now the 400m Euro result may as well be a loss. (BNS) Even more, Blair's compliance caused a wave of fury in the European Parliament and the leadership of the rich EU states, including the British parliament - a vivid proof of how some in the EU rich actually regard the needs and plights of their newcomer counterparts.

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AUTOMOBILES

Honda dealer offers car order by Internet

In Lithuania Honda dealers offered the service of offering new cars through the Internet. The website www.accord features a comprehensive list of all the new generation Honda Accord cars that are to be shipped to Lithuania in the near future, so the buyer can make a reservation in advance. It also provides technical information as well as car prices and specifications. Veho, the dealer, also is planning to launch a similar reservation system for Honda Civic cars on the website www.civic.lt.

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