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LITHUANIA


 

 

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)

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Update No: 315 - (29/03/07)

Lithuanian president calls for strong, unified, open and united Europe
Lithuania is geographically at the heart of Europe, so huge and far north is European Russia. Its people are delighted to be now in the European Union (EU). President Valdas Adamkus on March 22nd called for building a strong, unified, open and united Europe on the 50th anniversary of the Rome treaties, which marked the foundation of the EU. 

Adamkus himself is a septuagenarian and had already come to man's estate when the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957. At the time he was in exile in the US, while Lithuania was under the heel of Moscow in the fold of the Soviet Union, a vast Eurasian entity, in which even European Russia was eclipsed, let alone tiny Lithuania.

He spoke with great feeling, therefore, when he said in a speech that he believed the past 50 years of the EU has been the most successful period in European history. He highlighted the works of the EU founding countries, saying that the decision to establish a unified European family has set the basis for a union of European nations. 

Based on experiences and lessons from history, and expanding the achievements that have been made in the past 50 years, a strong, unified, open and united group of countries and people sharing similar values should be built, Adamkus said, adding that such a peaceful European society is what is currently required. 

As other countries all around the world, the EU faces a series of problems such as global competition, climate change, rapidly exhausting energy resources and threats to international security, Adamkus said. 

He pointed out that the creators of the Rome treaties knew only a unified Europe can bring peace, security and happiness, adding Europe should stick to and carry forward this spirit, which is also the key to solving existing problems. 

The president also reviewed the course that his country took to enter the EU. He said that not every country can expect to enter the process of European integration right from the start. Joining the EU as a new member in May, 2004, he said, Lithuania is proud of its achievements and also of Europe.

Lithuania Won't Block Russia-EU Negotiations - Adamkus
It is appropriate that the elder statesman of Vilnius is striking a new note that does not rule out the almost unthinkable today - the eventual accession of Russia to the EU. In an age of global warming it is clear that Russia has a huge potential, with vast, as yet unknown, resources trapped in the permafrost, that will come to light and prove exploitable. Thinking ahead, it is clear that Russia's role in the world can only grow, along with Canada's, at the expense of the US. Why not within the EU, which could then aspire to bipolarity with the US, indeed North America?

Lithuania won't block negotiations of a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the European Union as was done by Poland, President Adamkus said on Sunday, March 4. "I do not see the need for this. This question is not that relevant today. I think that both the EU and Russia have already come to some common solution," he was quoted by Echo of Moscow radio station as saying.

"Poland is protecting its economic and trade interests. Understanding this, I do not want to interfere in this argument. It is impossible to solve problems by way of confrontation. All signs in the European Union show that Poland won't have to block the signing of this agreement. I think that we will solve these questions by way of negotiations and neither Lithuania nor Poland will be forced to unite and blow up things, which are unprofitable for the whole Europe," Adamkus explained.

As MosNews reported on previous occasions, Poland has been blocking negotiations on a new cooperation agreement between Moscow and Brussels since the end of 2006. Poland says that it won't change its position until Moscow lifts the ban on Polish meat imports. Recently it was reported that Lithuania may join in protest with Poland, demanding that Russia repair its Druzhba oil link, which takes Russian crude to Mazeikiu Nafta - the only refinery in the Baltic states, which is located in Lithuania - before negotiations may take place. However, now the country's president changed his mind and is ready to sit down to the negotiation table. 

Adamkus expects a new impetus for cooperation between Lithuania and Kaliningrad
Lithuania is particularly sensitive to relations between the EU and Russia because the latter has an enclave, Kaliningrad, between itself and Poland, which has a largely nefarious impact on its own polity, being a den of smuggling and corruption (not least of Lithuanian politicians).

During the meeting with Governor of the Russian Kaliningrad enclave, Georgy Boos, who was on a visit to Vilnius in February, Adamkus said he believed that the festival, Kaliningrad Days, that was taking place in Vilnius at the time would lead to new steps in the development of economical cooperation between Lithuania and the enclave.

In his turn, Mr. Boos spoke about the presentation of Kaliningrad's cultural and economic projects at the Days of Kaliningrad Region. He also told Adamkus about the meetings held between the representatives of Kaliningrad Region with Lithuanian experts and officials.

It was noted at the meeting that Lithuanian businesses contribute to Kaliningrad's economic growth. Mr. Adamkus underlined that bureaucratic barriers to the development of business and the establishment of private companies should be reduced to improve the economy of the Kaliningrad region and its competitiveness. He is well aware that these barriers are the source of corruption of Lithuanian officials. As always the interface between the state and private business is the locum of venality. 

According to President Adamkus, Lithuania is searching for the optimal solution to avert any obstacles for the residents of Kaliningrad Region travelling across Lithuania after the enlargement of the Schengen area. "The current conditions of successful cargo transit across Lithuania testify that many problems can be resolved through cooperation," said Mr. Adamkus.

Among the other issues discussed were border demarcation issues and the modernization of border crossing points. President Adamkus urged border demarcation work to start as soon as possible and to create a better climate for regional cooperation.

Pocius accuses detractors, avoids dismissal
The relations between Lithuania, Poland and Russia are long likely to be enmeshed and with complications galore. The Mazeikiu Nafta oil complex, which, as we have seen, includes the sole refinery in the three Baltic countries, was sold last year to the Polish PKN Orlen company. At the time Russian oil companies, including Lukoil, had also been bidding to take over Mazeikiu Nafta.

The embattled head of Lithuania's Security Department, Arvydas Pocius, who had already tendered his resignation and was slated for dismissal in a recent parliamentary vote, is now likely to remain in his post after presenting Parliament with dramatic accusations of security leaks and KGB involvement among his detractors concerning the deal.

The Lithuanian Seimas, which a few months ago supported a resolution stating that Pocius was not competent to head the security department, in a surprising vote rejected President Adamkus' decree on his dismissal. Only 32 out of 141 lawmakers supported the president's decree, falling far short of the majority it needed to pass. The vote was largely swayed by Pocius' address to Parliament, during which the security chief delivered a number of bombshell accusations related to national security matters.

"When the discussions on the sale of the Mazeikiu Nafta refinery had started and we had learned about the interests of neighbouring Poland, we found that one unfriendly and very interested neighbour (for which read Russia) obtained classified information [about the matter]. We conducted intelligence work and understood that the information was leaked by former or current traitors within the Security Department," Pocius announced to Parliament. "It was only today that we found out that one or perhaps a few top officials in the Security Department had passed or even sold this information, which was important to the Lithuanian economy and its national security, to a third country. The value of this transaction was 100,000 euros," Pocius added.

Without elaborating, Pocius also announced in his speech that the Security Department has "almost" solved two high-profile past crimes - the detonation of the Brazuole railway bridge in 1994 and blowing up of the Lietuvos Rytas newspaper building in 1995. Lithuanian prosecutors, however, later said they were surprised by Pocius' statement.

Further, the security chief accused Algimantas Matulevicius, chairman of the parliamentary National Defense and Security Committee, the same body that had concluded Pocius could longer head the Security Department, of collaboration with the KGB. 

"The person, about whose collaboration with the KGB there is sufficient archive data and evidence collected by security department officials, boldly continues his work in a top position," Pocius said, adding that he is ready to produce this evidence upon request.

Matulevicius has since denied the accusation and has demanded 100,000 litas in compensation from Pocius for slander. 

Pocius had officially resigned last December after a months-long investigation conducted by the parliamentary National Defence and Security Committee concluded that he was unfit to head the department. During the investigation Pocius openly confronted the lawmakers involved, accused them of playing politics and refused to provide them with information they had requested. He also fired two top counter-intelligence officers during the investigation, claiming they had leaked confidential information.

Despite his resignation, Pocius remained in place during the more than three months it took for the president to find a candidate for his replacement. According to Lithuanian law, only the president, with Parliament's approval, can appoint and dismiss the security chief. 

Adamkus had picked Povilas Malakauskas, head of the Special Investigation Service, for the job. As a candidate Malakauskas was seen as a compromise figure who was likely to be acceptable to the fragile parliamentary majority. After the vote President Adamkus announced that he was recalling his decree on Malakauskas' nomination.

A parliamentary board on March 19 requested that the Security Department present documents proving the statements Pocius made in his speech.

"We want answers by March 21 and then the Parliament will decide what to do next - to continue the procedure on Pocius' dismissal or not," Viktoras Muntianas, speaker of Parliament, told journalists.

However, it was unlikely that the decision to keep Pocius in place would be reversed; and it was not. "The Seimas has decided that Pocius will continue his job," Rita Grumadaite, the president's spokesperson, told journalists immediately after the vote. She also said on March 16 that the president did not plan to submit a new decree on Pocius' dismissal.

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ENERGY

Poland, Lithuania agree on new Ignalina facility 


The prime ministers of Poland and Lithuania on March 2 signed a joint statement of political intent to co-operate on building a new nuclear power facility at Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power facility, Polish Radio reported. 
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and visiting Lithuanian Premier Gediminas Kirkilas termed the move in Warsaw an "important step" in the construction of a new reactor with the participation of European Union members Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. 
The three latter Baltic states agreed to cooperate on the expansion of Ignalina last year. 
As part of the project, Poland has agreed to hook-up its electrical power grid with that of Lithuania, thus allowing greater energy co-operation between EU states. 
Lithuania has promised to close down Soviet-built reactors at the Ignalina facility by the end of this decade while initial plans call for the first new nuclear power facility to be constructed within the next decade.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Cooperation with Ukraine in Afghanistan 

Lithuania and Ukraine recently reached an agreement - signed by Lithuanian Defence Minister, Juozas Olekas, and Ukrainian Defence Minister, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, - on forwarding Ukrainian peacekeeping personnel within Lithuanian contingent to Afghanistan, New Europe reported.
An official statement revealed that 10 Ukrainian military medics would assist in medical support of the Lithuanian contingent. The Ukrainian Defence Ministry earlier stated an intention to send Ukrainian military medics to Afghanistan and rejected any participation of Ukrainian peacekeepers in military actions. 

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Support for Moldova's European integration efforts 

Lithuania would further support Moldova's European integration efforts, and would give the necessary assistance to this end, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus was cited as explaining at a March 5 meeting with Moldovan Premier Vasile Tarlev, who was on a official visit to Lithuania, website moldpres.md reported. 
The sides highlighted the consistent positive dialogue between Moldova and Lithuania and the full understanding between the two countries. Valdas Adamkus reiterated Lithuania's full support for Moldova's European integration efforts, saying that the Vilnius authorities would further provide the assistance necessary for Moldova to meet its European aspirations as soon as possible. The officials also appreciated the increasing dynamics of the interstate cooperation and mutual support relations. 
For his part, Premier Vasile Tarlev thanked the Lithuanian authorities for their support, and also informed the Lithuanian officials about Moldova's medium-term goals such as receiving the preferential visa regime for Moldovan citizens, signing the agreement on asymmetric trade with the EU and establishing a juridical framework between Moldova and the EU once the EU Action Plan expires. After the visit to the presidency, the governmental delegation's members went to the memorial to the heroes who died for Lithuania's independence, where they laid flowers. Diplomatic relations between the two states was established in July 1992. 

Plans to expand cultural, scientific relations with Iran

On a recent visit to Iran, Head of Lithuanian Vilnius University's Oriental Department Audrius B Inverse discussed strengthening and the expansion of mutual cultural relations with Iranian officials, website tehrantimes.com reported. 
According to a report released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry Media Department on March 3, during the visit, the Lithuanian conferred with the chancellor and instructors of Tehran University on matters of mutual concern. 
He also met a number of university students majoring in European and American studies and with head of the European and American Studies Department of the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS). At the meeting, Inverse reportedly expressed interest in scientific cooperation with this department and called for an exchange of instructors and students.

Lithuanian President says Azerbaijan becoming more important 

Azerbaijan has become a more important state both for Lithuania and the EU and should continue to boost its presence in the international arena, Lithuanian President, Valdas Adamkus, recently said, website en.apa.az/news reported. 
He also announced Lithuania's first ambassador to Azerbaijan, Kestutis Kudzmanas. While visiting the US last month, Valdas Adamkus called American entrepreneurs to invest in the Caspian region, particularly in Azerbaijan and Kazakstan stressing the importance of free market for the security of energy policy. 

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