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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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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ethnic groups 
Lithuanians 81.3%
Russians 8.4%
Poles 7.0%



Valdas Adamkus

Update No: 302 - (27/02/06)

Brazauskas to the fore
Lithuania has an old hand at the helm, Algirdas Brazauskas, who was its first secretary of the communist party in 1990 when it declared independence from that of the Soviet Communist Party, a prelude to national independence a year later. He was backed by Yeltsin, the president of Russia, a vital ally in need.
He is an original thinker, not politically correct. Witness his views on two highly contentious issues before the public - nuclear power and the fate of Belarus. Yet he also has his hand on the pulse of public opinion, which is why he remains in power after all these years.

Brazauskas calls on Baltic brethren for help in building new nuclear plant
Brazauskas thinks that nuclear power is the answer to the grave problem of climate change, agreeing with James Lovelock, the maverick UK scientist, who is the author of Gia, a pioneering work that views the Earth as a living organism.
He has urged Lithuania's Baltic neighbours to help take up the burden of building a new nuclear power plant that would ensure a degree of energy independence for the region after the second reactor of the existing plant in Ignalina is shut down in 2009. 
He told an international energy conference in Vilnius in early February that he would try to enlist Poland's help as well. "All facts show that only three countries could solve such a problem of inter-state importance. I cannot imagine that Lithuania could do that alone. It is a concern of three countries, probably involving Poland," Brazauskas has said. 
He noted that decisions had to be agreed on, envisaging at least a 10-year perspective and ensuring energy supply to all three Baltic states. 
Among reasons for building a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania, Brazauskas said there was a well-developed infrastructure in Visaginas, where the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is located, and that Lithuanian society is not against the idea of being home to a nuclear energy production facility. "All these are big pluses," he said. "The mood of the country's public institutions and society would contribute to that." 
Conference attendants passed a memorandum according to which Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian energy companies would prepare a joint feasibility study on a new nuclear plant. 
Representatives of Latvia's and Estonia's energy companies, Latvenego and Eesti Energia (Estonian Energy), said they were interested in a new nuclear power plant and were ready to take part in the joint work.
However, Gunnar Okk, former chairman of Estonian Energy, said the joint declaration was a "hollow paper." According to him, the memorandum should have been signed by the three countries' economy ministers, but this did not happen. 
Speaking at a seminar in Tallinn, Okk also said time was running out. Indeed, Lithuania's leadership is stressing the urgency for a speedy decision. "A political decision will be made after this study - which will answer questions about the feasibility and financing of a new plant - is conducted," Economy Minister, Kestutis Dauksys, told a news conference. "Starting in 2015, all Baltic countries will be facing energy shortages, and a new atomic plant is a way of solving this problem," he said. 
Rymantas Juozaitis, CEO of Lithuanian Energy, said the study would be part of a common Baltic energy strategy. 
Built over 20 years ago, the Ignalina plant has two Soviet RBMK-type reactors of the kind that were used in Chernobyl and are considered unsafe. Within the framework of its EU membership commitments, Lithuania shut down the first INPP reactor at the end of 2004, with the second one scheduled to be closed in late 2009.
The Lithuanian government is expected to endorse a renewed national energy strategy this year, which will also underline the need for a new nuclear power plant. Leaders, including President Valdas Adamkus, are of the opinion that Lithuania should remain a nuclear-energy dependent country.

Lithuania secretly supports Lukashenka?
Every politically aware person in Lithuania is conscious of the coming election for the presidency in neighbouring Belarus, due on March 19th. The paradox is that the survival of the ghastly dictatorship there might suit certain powerful people in Vilnius just fine.
Such a formulation became possible after Brazauskas thought it expedient to meet with the Belarussian Social-Democrat presidential hopeful, Alexander Kozulin, in Vilnius in early February. It is not a secret in Lithuania that this hopeless hopeful is just supposed "to split the opposition" and to cut the chances of Lukashenka's key rival, Alexander Milinkevich. Now that Milinkevich has just been welcomed in Brussels by the EU foreign ministers and has been proclaimed by the EU as the only alternative to "dictator Lukashenka" as Belarussian president, such a meeting of an EU prime minister with the "puppet" of today's ruler of Belarus seems to many strange, if not symptomatic.
Reflecting the position of the ruling Lithuanian Social-Democratic Party (SDPL) on the presidential elections in Belarus are the following words of the Lithuanian premier: "The Lithuanian Social-Democrats support the Social-Democrats of Belarus and their candidate Alexander Kozulin," he said that after his meeting with Kozulin. "We wish our Belarussian colleagues tenacity and success in the elections and are ready for further constructive cooperation." 
Why after all - wonder Lithuanian political scientists, does the ruling Lithuanian party support not the "Western" candidate Milinkevich, but "some opposition splitter" and, in fact, Lukashenka servant Kozulin? And - what is more - makes this known to everybody? 
True, Kozulin said that he visited Lithuania to, allegedly, congratulate the Lithuanian Social-Democrats on the 5th anniversary of SDPL's consolidation with the Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania and to discuss further cooperation. "We believe that in the future Lithuania must be a key partner of Byelorussia and the ties between our Social-Democratic parties can be a tool for attaining this partnership." As if in excuse, the SDPL information centre said that "the Lithuanian Social-Democrats regularly invite their Belarussian colleagues to seminars and conferences." (ELTA)
But these excuses seemed just funny to the opposition leader, Pro Patria Union chairman Andrius Kubilius, who was the first to slate the Lithuanian premier. DELFI reports the Conservative as saying unambiguously that "this meeting was a display of indirect support for today's authoritarian ruler of Belarussian President Lukashenka."
In a press-conference Jan 30 Andrius Kubilius said: "Brazauskas is advertising himself that he has met not with the united opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich but the united opposition splitting candidate, Social Democrat Kozulin. Thereby the Lithuanian premier is showing his support not for the united opposition but for those disuniting it. Alexander Lukashenka will have to commend Algirdas Brazauskas for that."
Kubilius says that such steps of the former first secretary of the Communist Party of Lithuania undermine the solidity of the country's foreign policy on Byelorussia in the eyes of its Western partners - for "after such nomenclatural foreign political games, it is no longer strange that Western political leaders and experts are unofficially expressing an increasingly big surprise at the new manoeuvres of the Lithuanian policy on Byelorussia." 
But, perhaps, this meeting with the de facto "pro-Lukashenka" candidate was actually a coincidence? Kubilius says that today one can see a whole tendency of "quiet friendship with Lukashenka," with one typical example being the defiance of the Lithuanian authorities to give the green-light to Byelorussian Humanitarian University, a higher school ousted by Lukashenka from Minsk. The university has moved to Vilnius, but the authorities there prevent it from getting official status. Andrius Kubilius: "As far as I know, the education ministry bureaucrats are finding whatever stupefying arguments just not to legalize the university's status. In fact, our bureaucrats are zealously exercising the new concept of their relations with the Lukashenka regime: if Lukashenka does not like the university, we must not like it either."
The slashing criticism by politicians and political scientists has forced the Lithuanian premier to look for an excuse. Jan 31st Brazauskas said to Lietuvas Radijas: "Professor Alexander Kozulin attended our holiday and I used the occasion to have a talk with him. Kozulin is the leader of a trade union, the leader of a Social-Democratic party, he seeks to unite all Social-Democrats. They are broken apart. We are looking for ways to support Social-Democrats in the neighbouring countries. I see nothing bad in my meeting with him. I have my personal view of how to contact with the Belarussian Social-Democrats."
This justification was also criticized. The former first secretary of CPL has since long been disrespectful and opinionated with journalists - he often cuts them short and thinks himself right in whatever he says. Meanwhile, some experts note that by saying the above Brazauskas just confirmed that he is working "for Lukashenka." Instead of helping the single pro-Western candidate Milinkevich and, thereby, upholding the EU's stance, the Lithuanian premier is helping "to unite the Belarussian Social-Democrats," who, as soon as united, will take from Milinkevich the votes of those defying Lukashenka's regime. Brazauskas is cunning when pretending not to see the difference between the actually free Social-Democrats of Germany or Sweden and the often puppet Social-Democrats of the former Soviet republics. To wish "success in the elections" to the Byelorussian Social-Democrats rather than Milinkevich is to openly support Lukashenka.
Also thinking so is one of the leading political scientists of Lithuania, the director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Sciences of Vilnius University Raimondas Lopata. In an interview to BNS he says that at first glance the wish of the Lithuanian Social-Democrats to be friends with their counterparts in Byelorussia seems easy to understand. "But, given the peculiarity of the neighbouring state, the Social-Democrats better find out first who is who in Belarus. After the statement of the Social-Democrats it has become clear that they support the regime rather than the alternative."
The other well-known political scientist, the director of the NG Institution of Belarussia Lauras Belinis is of the same opinion. In an interview to BNS he says that "SDPL has not so far had and does not have a stance on Belarus." "In the last few years we have heard and seen many controversial words and actions by the Social-Democrats on Belarus, which proves that they have no party platform. Obviously, some of them have their personal, hardly explicable, views of Belarus, but they run counter to the relevant viewpoints of either the Lithuanian state or the European Union." Lithuanian media have repeatedly reported scandalous trips by some local Social-Democrats to Belarussia and their praise of "the positive aspects" of the life there.
Meanwhile, in late November last year Milinkevich was received by Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus. The criticism of the Brazauskas-Kozulin meeting by Raimondas Lopata, once reported as Adamkus' "grey cardinal," suggests that there might well be an alternative view of Belarus. But the real power in Lithuania is in the hands of the ruling parties, controlling the Seym and the Government.

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Klaipeda to host auto show in April 

The Lithuanian Klaipeda seaport city will host an auto show with over 50 participants on April 27-30, New Europe reported.
In the meantime, 10 car manufacturers have registered to participate in the fair and plan to introduce their cars, as well as motorcycles and scooters, Expo Vakarai, the organizer of the show, said. Apart from cars, visitors will be able to find spare parts, accessories, security and audio systems, to learn the latest in car repair and related equipment as well as insurance and leasing services.

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KazMunaiGaz mulls 2 plans for gas to Mazeikiu 

Kazakstan's national oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz, which is a candidate to buy a controlling stock interest in the Lithuanian oil concern Mazeikiu Nafta (MN), is considering two possibilities for delivering gas to the company's oil refinery, KazMunaiGaz PR director, Mikhail Dorofeyev, said, Interfax News Agency reported.
The first option KazMunaiGaz is currently considering would be a SWAP-operation with Mazeikiu Nafta, in which the Kazak company would provide oil it produces at the Caspian Sea in return for oil MN produces in the North Sea for its further transit to Lithuania. Dorofeyev did not specify which companies KazMunaiGaz would cooperate with in this matter.
The second variant envisions "the purchase of oil at the Primorsk terminal that has been delivered through the Baltic pipeline system, which could either be Russian or Kazak oil," he said. This oil could then be brought to Lithuania by tankers, he said.
"This is all possible. All of these options are being considered in a working regime. At the same time, we're working with Transneft and counting on their mutual understanding," he said. KazMunaiGaz is awaiting the results of a tender on the sale of a 53.7 per cent share in MN that is currently controlled by YUKOS, Dorofeyev said. "Then we'll make a decision on exactly what option to use for deliveries to the oil refining complex," he said. KazMunaiGaz needs to ensure oil transportation to Butinge as part of its plan to acquire the 53.7 per cent stake in the company from YUKOS. Poland's PKN Orlen, and British-Russian joint venture TNK-BP also submitted final MN offers to YUKOS on January 27th. The Kazak company is prepared to pay 1.2 billion Euro for the stake. KazMunaiGaz announced its intentions to buy 20 per cent of MN shares from the Lithuanian government, which has a 40.66 per cent stake in the company. Transneft earlier refused to transport oil to the Butinge terminal for KazMunaiGaz, saying that the necessary changes had not been made to an intergovernmental agreement between Kazakstan and Russia. The Russian Industry and Energy ministry also does not believe it is necessary to provide KazMunaiGaz with the opportunity to transit 12 million tonnes of oil to Lithuania for the long-term. 
Mazeikiu Nafta includes the Mazeikiu refinery, which has projected capacity of up to 12 million tonnes of oil per year, the Butinge oil terminal, which has capacity of eight million tonnes of oil per year, and Lithuanian oil pipelines.

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Lithuanian brewery Ragutis increases cider sales 

The sale of Kaunas-based brewery Ragutis' canned cider, Fizz, grew by 10 times in the fourth quarter of 2005 as compared to the same period in 2004. From October to December last year, the company sold 357,000 litres, whereas only 35,000 litres of cider was sold over the same period in 2004, New Europe reported.
Yet Lithuania still consumes less cider than the neighbouring countries. Dalius Rutkauskas, marketing director of Ragutis said, "The success of the last year surpassed all our expectations. June and July alone accounted for 38 per cent of all annual cider sales. We think that this year the cider market will expand by 40 per cent.

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Sales of Lithuanian tour operator Novatours up by 200% 

The sale of the largest tour operator Novatours in Baltics that is the Estonian subsidiary of Novaturas UAB reported EEK 158 million last year in Estonia, New Europe reported.
The sale was up by 200 per cent as compared to the year 2004 that was 49 million. The company sold over 20,000 tour packages in Estonia last year or around 170 per cent more than a year ago. At the end of January Novatours signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Estonian Air, which will carry customers of Novatours to Turkey, Greece and Croatia.

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EU provides Lithuania 26m litas to renovate Vilnius 

The Lithuanian Roads Directorate and road builder, Kauno Tiltai, have signed a contract on the renovation of the Vilnius-Prienai-Marijampole A16 transit road, New Europe reported.
The EU Cohesion Fund has provided 26.80 million litas for the project and the rest has been allocated from the national budget. On this main road a 10.53 kilometres stretch will be reinforced, while another 15.70 kilometres stretch will be widened and reinforced. Under the 30.7 million litas contracts, a number of environmental protection measures will also be implemented.

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