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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: 321 - (28/09/07)

Adamkus the elder statesman
The president of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, is a remarkable man. A US citizen for fifty years, he ended up the head of state of his homeland in his seventies. His career is parallel here to former president of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who stepped down last month. 

They both have punched above their weight on the world stage by reason of being a Balt. Everyone loves the Balts, the doughty David against Goliath, who had to endure first centuries of Russian subjugation and then decades of Soviet tyranny.

Even the Russians like the Balts. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the far rightist in Russia, puts it as follows: " I love the Balts so much I want to live with them without frontiers." Well quite.

Another country that Lithuania did once live without frontiers is Poland - and, moreover, voluntarily. Lithuania and Poland are historically very close. They were conjoined as one country in the Union of Lublin of 1569. 

But everything fell apart in the three partitions of Poland (1772-95), in which Lithuania fell to the Russians. 
The rest is history.

Adamkus arrives in Poland to talk power 
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus arrived in Poland in late August for talks with Polish President Lech Kaczynski, which focused on energy security, including plans to build a new nuclear power station at Lithuania's Ignalina facility. The existing one, built on a Soviet model, is to close in 2009.

The two leaders met behind closed doors at Kaczynski's Baltic Sea presidential residence at Jurata on Poland's Hel peninsula. They also discussed European Union issues. 

Controversy erupted over Lithuania's bid to control a larger 34 per cent stake in the future Ignalina nuclear power station. Remaining Baltic region partners in the venture, Estonia, Latvia and Poland, would each hold a 22 per cent stake. 

Unhappy over the prospect of a 22 per cent stake and the possibility the new reactor will not generate enough power to sufficiently supplement its considerable energy needs, Poland has not yet made a final choice on whether to participate in the project. Non-EU member Ukraine has recently expressed interest in participating, according to Lithuanian media reports. 

Plans call for the project, designed to ease the Baltic EU states' dependence on Russian fuel supplies, to be completed by 2015. 

Integral to the project is the construction of a so-called "power bridge" hooking up the electrical power grids of the Baltic states with Poland and other EU states further west. 

Azeri leader unsure of pipeline running to Poland
Another major energy development involving Lithuania is afoot. An energy summit is to be held in Vilnius on 10th-11th October, to be hosted by Adamkus, that could alter the energy balance of Central Europe.

It all hinges on Azerbaijan, which has the oil, and on global prices. Baku is not certain that it will make sufficient profit from possible supplies of Caspian oil to Europe through the Odessa-Brody [oil] pipeline which has been extended to Poland, President Ilham Aliyev has said. "We plan to increase the output and we have a considerable potential, but we will only be able to increase it if we have a route to transport oil," Aliyev said at a news conference on September 14th, following negotiations with President Adamkus. A spur to Lithuania would be de rigueur.

"The Polish and Baltic markets are very attractive to us and there is robust political support for the project, but very favourable economic conditions are necessary for it to be implemented," Aliyev said. 

The leaders of Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia and Poland agreed in May 2007 to set up a working group for the project of extending the oil pipeline. The heads of state taking part in the project are to hold their next consultations in Vilnius in October 2007.

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