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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, April 7, 2022

Apr 09 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, April 7, 2022
  2. Security situation won't change, even if war stops – Lithuania's Landsbergis
  3. Lithuania's Klaipeda, Siauliai to hold contact fairs for Ukrainians to meet employers
  4. Lithuania turns 12 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus
  5. Lithuania to recall four ambassadors this summer
  6. Lithuanian court to rule on Belaruskali, govt dispute
  7. Lithuania reports 1,924 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths
  8. Lithuania records lowest daily number of Ukrainian refugees
  9. Lithuanian committee condemns Russian army's crimes in Ukraine, calls them genocide
  10. Buying gas, oil from Russia amid war in Ukraine "immoral" – Lithuanian adviser
  11. Russian Embassy to keep its current name after diplomatic downgrade – Lithuanian FM
  12. Lithuania calls on UNESCO to move heritage committee's session from Russia 
  13. Belaruskali's contract with Lithuanian Railways threatened national security – court  (updates)
  14. Belaruskali's contract with Lithuanian Railways threatened national security – court (expands)
  15. Lithuanian museum raising funds to help save Ukraine's museum treasures
  16. Lithuanian ambassador returns to Kyiv
  17. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, April 8, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, April 7, 2022

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, April 7, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with Auditor General Mindaugas Macijauskas at 11 a.m.

JUSTICE MINISTER Evelina Dobrovolska to leave for Latvia at 3 p.m. 

 

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Security situation won't change, even if war stops – Lithuania's Landsbergis

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS - The security situation would not change even if the war in Ukraine was stopped, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.

"The security situation would not change even if the war was actually stopped. There should be no doubt that this Russia, today's Russia, Putin's Russia, is a completely different country," Landsbergis told reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. 

Therefore, he said, the Alliance must reflect the current situation, take action to defend its eastern flank and be ready to give military response to threats.

"NATO needs to reflect this reality, both politically and security-wise. We hope that this will be the case in our talks and discussions this evening. We want our allies and the NATO organization as a whole to step up their plans to really defend the eastern flank, to defend the Baltic states, to defend Lithuania. Not just to deter, not just to send a political message that something will happen in the event of an attack. Every one of us has to be there and we have to be ready to actually send a military response if something is attempted on NATO's borders", Landsbergis said. 

He expressed hope that the changed approach to the defense of the Alliance's eastern flank would be reflected in the meeting documents.

"I'm coming with the hope that the talks and discussions tonight and tomorrow will show a change in our strategic approach to the defense of the eastern flank. Unfortunately, so far we have not seen a significant change in preparations for this. I think now is the right time for this to be reflected in the conclusions and documents that we can produce," Landsbergis said.

On Wednesday in Brussels, the Lithuanian foreign minister and his NATO counterparts will discuss Russia's war in Ukraine and the Alliance's defense.

Both NATO and EU members are also expected to discuss additional sanctions for Russia.

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

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Lithuania's Klaipeda, Siauliai to hold contact fairs for Ukrainians to meet employers

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS - Contact fairs for Ukrainian citizens who have fled the war will be held in the Lithuanian cities of Klaipeda and Siauliai on Thursday, aimed at Ukrainians seeking employment to meet potential employers.

During the meetings, employers will present their activities and later meet with person interested in a particular field or activity for one-to-one interviews.

Next week, a contact fair with representatives of companies in the service sector is planned in Klaipeda.

Over 5,700 war refugees from Ukraine have been registered with the Klaipeda Refugee Registration Center and the Migration Department, and over 3,200 have done so in Siauliai, according to Lithuania's statistics service, Statistics Lithuania.

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Lithuania turns 12 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 12 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday morning

Latvian border guards have recorded no attempts to enter the country from Belarus over the past 24 hours, and Poland pushed 28 irregular migrants back, according to the SBGS.

Tuesday morning, a Tajik family of six was found in Lithuania's southern district of Lazdijai close to the border with Belarus, and several of the family members were later taken to hospital.

The adult woman and two girls, aged 12 and 17, complained of poor health, and the border guards took them and their mother to a hospital in Alytus. The man and the two boys who had no health issues are currently staying within one of the SBGS units.

Later in the day, medics concluded that the underage foreigners' health was in no danger and they did not need any treatment. Medics decided to leave the woman for overnight observation, and the two girls stayed with her.

A total of 1,281 people have been prevented from crossing from Belarus into Lithuania at non-designated places so far this year.

Lithuanian border guards over 8,100 people back to Belarus between last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants, and December. However, the number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus last year.  Western countries accuse the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".

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Lithuania to recall four ambassadors this summer

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS - Four Lithuanian ambassadors will be recalled this summer, based on bills drafted by the country's Foreign Affairs Ministry this week.

In July, Ambassadors to the Netherlands and Estonia Vidmantas Purlys and Giedrius Apuokas will be recalled.

In August, Ambassadors to the Holy See and the Order of Malta and the United Kingdom Petras Zapolskas and Renatas Norkus will be recalled.

The ambassador to the Netherlands also represents Lithuania at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, while the UK ambassador is also accredited to Ethiopia, Portugal and Oman.

In Lithuania, ambassadors are appointed by the president upon nomination by the government and approval the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs.

By Ramūnas Jakubauskas

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Lithuanian court to rule on Belaruskali, govt dispute

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS - Vilnius Regional Administrative Court is set on Thursday to rule on the ongoing dispute between Belarusian potash fertilizer producer Belaruskali and the Lithuanian government.

Sanctioned by the US and the EU, Belaruskali in January appealed against the Lithuanian government's decision to order Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), the country's state-owned railway company, to terminate its long-term contract with Belaruskali on the transit of its fertilizers via Lithuania as of February 1.

The Belarusian company asked the court to annul the government's decision of January 12, as well as the December 21 decision by the government's special commission vetting transactions of strategic companies.

Belaruskali transit from the Belarusian border to the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda took place for more than a decade and was terminated on February 1 after the government confirmed that the contract between LTG and Belaruskali, which was due to expire in later 2023, was not in line with the country's security interests.

LTG Cargo, a rail freight transport company, used to transport about 11 million tons of Belaruskali's fertilizers a year.

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Lithuania reports 1,924 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 1,924 new coronavirus infections and six deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Thursday morning.

Some 1,625 of the new cases were primary, 295 were secondary and four were tertiary.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has dropped by several dozen to 978, including 53 ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has gone down to 1,107.1 per 100,000 people, and the seven-day percentage of positive tests has also inched down to 28.4 percent.

The daily count of new infections had been rising at a rapid pace since late 2021, but took a downward turn in early February after hitting a new high of over 14,000 cases.

Almost 69.7 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

The latest fatalities were aged 70-79 and 80-89, and five of them was fully vaccinated.

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Lithuania records lowest daily number of Ukrainian refugees

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – The total number of Ukrainian war refugees so far registered in Lithuania has risen to almost 41,400, including 17,300 minors, the latest official statistics showed on Thursday.

Some 469 people have registered with the registration centers or branches of the Migration Department in Lithuania over the past 24 hours, and the number included 153 minors, including 28 children under the age of 6.

The official daily number of incoming Ukrainian refugees was the smallest since the peak on March 17 when 2,234 people registered.

The 7-day average of those coming from Ukraine now stands at 484 and is also the smallest since the peak reached two weeks ago.

Around a third of all refugees have been registered by the capital's registration center.

Of the total number of war refugees registered so far, 4,700 are children under the age of six, and over 12,700 are minors aged between six and 18 years. Almost 1,800 people are aged over 65.

Some 796 refugees, including 275 minors, have been registered in Lithuania in the past 24 hours alone. The number of minors includes 84 children under the age of six.

Most of the arrivals are women and children and the majority of them have applied for a temporary residence permit on humanitarian grounds.

According to the United Nations, some 4.2 million people have left Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor in late February, and over 7.1 million euros are internally displaced.

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Lithuanian committee condemns Russian army's crimes in Ukraine, calls them genocide

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – The Lithuanian Seimas' Committee on Foreign Affairs has strongly condemned the Russian army's crimes in Ukraine's in Bucha, Irpin and elsewhere in Ukraine, describing them as genocide, the Lithuanian parliament's press service said on Thursday.

"The International Criminal Court has already opened an investigation into the war crimes committed in Ukraine and we demand that everyone, not only Putin and Lukashenko, the Russian military commanders who ordered the killing or failed to stop the slaughter of civilians, but also the ordinary soldiers, be held accountable for the bloodshed and destruction of innocent lives in Ukraine," Laima Andrikiene, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

"Russia's actions are incompatible with its membership of the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Council, and we call for Russia's expulsion from these and other international organizations," she added.

In its statement, the committee calls on the international community to unanimously condemn Russia's aggression and war crimes, describing them as genocide against the Ukrainian people.

The committee's statement stresses that the sanctions imposed on the Kremlin regime are insufficient and that the Euro-Atlantic community, together with its partners, must now introduce "comprehensive sanctions that would significantly weaken the Kremlin regime and stop Russian aggression".

The committee calls on EU member states to immediately halt imports of Russian oil and gas, to impose a ban on Russian ships entering all EU ports, and to suspend land transport to and from Russia in all EU member states.

Lithuanian MPs also call on international organizations and parliaments of democratic countries to increase their governments' military, financial, humanitarian and diplomatic support to Ukraine.

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Buying gas, oil from Russia amid war in Ukraine "immoral" – Lithuanian adviser

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – Buying Russian gas and oil amid the ongoing war in Ukraine is immoral, says Asta Skaisgiryte, chief adviser on foreign policy issues to the Lithuanian president.

Her comment came as the EU is getting ready to impose new sanctions for the Kremlin, but has failed to include these energy resources in its fifth package of sanctions.

"It seems to us that it’s immoral to buy oil and gas from Russia as this war is taking place. It is a tool to fund the war because these are huge sums of money that go into the budget," the adviser told the public broadcaster LRT on Thursday.

In her words, Lithuania is constantly calling for sanctions on gas, oil and coal. However, the latest package is likely to include only coal, as EU countries heavily dependent on Russian gas and oil are not yet willing to give up these resources.

Meanwhile, Hungary has announced its readiness to pay for Russian gas in roubles, becoming the first EU member state to do so.

"The sanctions should also include a ban on entry into the EU: over 200 army commanders, oligarchs, their wives, by the way, the list also includes Putin's daughters, propagandists, politicians of the two so-called people's republics," Skaisgiryte said.

"Also, there are new financial bans. (...) Four Russian banks have been disconnected from SWIFT, and now talks are underway to freeze their assets, as well as sanction cryptocurrency operations," she added.

Although gas and oil are not included in the sanction package, the advisor says this should be done in the future.

The presidential adviser also said the suspension of transit to Kaliningrad is also under discussion, adding, however, that Lithuania cannot do this unilaterally.

Russia invaded Ukraine more than a month ago and started a war that has sparked outrage and anger around the world. Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed this month and several million have been forced to flee the war-torn country.

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Russian Embassy to keep its current name after diplomatic downgrade – Lithuanian FM

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS - The Russian Embassy to Lithuania will keep its current name even after diplomatic representation between the countries is downgraded, Lithuania's Foreign Ministry told BNS.

On Monday, the Lithuanian government decided to downgrade diplomatic representation between Lithuania and Russia and ordered the country's ambassador to leave Lithuania in response to the massacre in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. The government decided to close the Russian consulate in the western port city of Klaipeda.

Approached by BNS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that following this decision, the name of the Russian Embassy in Lithuania would remain as it was and Russian Ambassador, Alexey Isakov would have to leave the country within seven days of the delivery of the note.

The ministry states that the Consulate General in Klaipeda must be closed within 15 days of the delivery of the note, and that the staff must leave the territory of Lithuania within the same period.

Lithuania has also recalled its Ambassador Eitvydas Bajarunas from Moscow. In its response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that the recalled Lithuanian ambassador is on a business trip during which procedures will be carried out for his recall from his post.

Following Lithuania's decision to downgrade its diplomatic representation, relations will be maintained at the level of lower-level diplomats, i.e. at the level of chargés d'affaires.

The discovery of mass graves and hundreds of brutally murdered civilians in the small town of Bucha, north-west of Kyiv, angered the international community. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of civilian massacre.

Russia rejects the accusations and claims that Kyiv faked the video footage of corpses in Bucha.

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Lithuania calls on UNESCO to move heritage committee's session from Russia 

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called on UNESCO to move the next session of its World Heritage Committee from Kazan, saying that allowing Russia to host the event would show "a cynical disrespect" to the victims of the war in Ukraine. 

During UNESCO's Executive Board session in Paris, Landsbergis urged Audrey Azoulay, the organization's director-general, in a letter to relocate the committee's session, scheduled for June 2022, from Kazan and to stop Russia from chairing the event. 

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Thursday that the letter had also been forwarded to members of the UNESCO Executive Board and of the World Heritage Committee.

In his letter, Landsbergis called Russia's aggression against Ukraine "a flagrant desecration of the order based on international rules".

"By wantonly destroying Ukraine's cultural and historical heritage, religious sites, museums, schools and monuments, including those marked with the emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention, Russia is breaking its obligations under the Convention and is in flagrant violation of international law," the minister was quoted as saying. 

"It would be absurdly cynical to hold the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's session in Russia while the Russian war machine is on the rampage in Ukraine," he said, adding that " "the civilized world must realize this and take the appropriate decisions". 

Vilnius also calls on UNESCO to review its legal system to prevent representatives of countries that violate the UN Charter from holding leadership positions in the organization in the future.

Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys has said that he sees "no point" in attending the World Heritage Committee's session if it is hosted by Russia as planned. 

 

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Belaruskali's contract with Lithuanian Railways threatened national security – court  (updates)

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – Belaruskali's contract with Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) on the transport of millions of tons of fertilizers through Lithuania posed a threat to national security, a court ruled on Thursday.  

Vilnius Regional Administrative Court dismissed the Belarusian potash giant's appeal against the Lithuanian government and a special governmental commission vetting deals by strategic enterprises.

Belaruskali, which is on the US and EU sanctions lists, in January appealed against the government's decision to order LTG to terminate its long-term contract with Belaruskali on the transit of its fertilizers via Lithuania as of February 1.

The court stated that as a result of a review of Belaruskali's compatibility with national security interests, the Belarusian company was found to have links with foreign government bodies or natural or legal persons that posed a threat to national security.

"The applicant did not contest in principle the finding that it had links with Belarus' non-democratic regime," the court said in a statement. "These findings were also corroborated by information provided by the authorities concerned, as well as by other documentary evidence in the case." 

"This ground alone [...] would be sufficient to declare the transaction incompatible with national security interests," it added. 

 

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Belaruskali's contract with Lithuanian Railways threatened national security – court (expands)

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – Belaruskali's contract with Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) on the transport of millions of tons of fertilizers through Lithuania posed a threat to national security, a court ruled on Thursday.  

Vilnius Regional Administrative Court dismissed the Belarusian potash giant's appeal against the Lithuanian government and a special governmental commission vetting deals by strategic enterprises.

Belaruskali, which is on the US and EU sanctions lists, in January appealed against the government's decision to order LTG to terminate its long-term contract with Belaruskali on the transit of its fertilizers via Lithuania as of February 1.

The court stated that as a result of a review of Belaruskali's compatibility with national security interests, the Belarusian company was found to have links with foreign government bodies or natural or legal persons that posed a threat to national security.

"The applicant did not contest in principle the finding that it had links with Belarus' non-democratic regime," the court said in a statement. "These findings were also supported by information provided by the authorities concerned, as well as by other documentary evidence in the case." 

"This ground alone [...] would be sufficient to declare the transaction incompatible with national security interests," it added. 

Based on the commission's conclusion that LTG's contract with Belaruskali was not in line with national security interests, the Cabinet decided on January 12 that the deal had to be terminated as of February 1.

After the EU imposed sanctions on Belaruskali on March 2, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said that the government's decision to stop the transit was no longer relevant. 

Belaruskali product shipments via Lithuania were halted on February 1, almost three months after the US sanctions against the Belarussian company came into force on December 8.  

The transit from the border with Belarus to the seaport of Klaipeda had been going on for more than a decade and was to continue until the end of 2023 under the contract.  

The contract provided for the transport of about 11 million tons of Belarusian fertilizers via Lithuania to the seaport of Klaipeda annually. In the port, the fertilizers were handled by Biriu Kroviniu Terminalas (Bulk Cargo Terminal, or BKT), a company controlled by Igor Udovickij, a local businessman, and Belaruskali. 

 

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Lithuanian museum raising funds to help save Ukraine's museum treasures

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – The Lithuanian National Museum of Art has launched an initiative to raise funds to buy packaging materials and other items needed to preserve Ukraine's museum treasures during the war.

Arunas Gelunas, the national museum's director, told BNS on Thursday that the fundraising has already begun in cooperation with the Jonas Karolis Chodkevicius Charity and Support Foundation, adding that the money will be initially sent to the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv.

Next week, the Lithuanian museum will run special tours, including of the Old Arsenal's rarely-opened cellars that will host an exhibition, named "Icons on Ammunition Boxes", by Ukraine's artists Sofia Atlantova and Oleksandr Klymenko.

"No doubt, saving people is the top priority," Gelunas, who will lead the first tour, told BNS. "But our fellow museum workers have stayed in their institutions; apparently, some of them, because all the staff cannot stay during the war."

"It is a huge challenge for them to preserve cultural assets in different Ukrainian cities," he added. 

The director said that the Ukrainian National Art Museum of Ukraine had considered temporarily relocating some of the most valuable collections in Lithuania or Poland

However, the Ukrainians decided to move some of the exhibitions and the most valuable works to basements and bunkers, fearing that that might be destroyed in an attack by the Russian army during transportation.

But these basements and bunkers "do not have the usual climatic conditions of conventional exhibitions or drier premises on the ground", Gelunas said. 

Therefore, storing museum treasures there requires "special packing materials, special polythene, special non-combustible fabrics, plywood for boxes, and finally fire extinguishers in case of fire, as well as folders for works on paper, prints, drawings and photographs", according to him.  

 

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Lithuanian ambassador returns to Kyiv

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – Valdemaras Sarapinas, Lithuania's ambassador to Ukraine, returned to Kyiv on Thursday, following Russian forces' retreat from the Ukrainian capital.

"I have just walked through the embassy's door," the diplomat told BNS.

The Lithuanian embassy until recently was based in the western city of Lviv, following a temporary relocation to Ukraine's border with Poland. 

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry earlier this week announced its decision to return the ambassador to Kyiv. 

According to Sarapinas, six Lithuanian diplomats and several other staff members will be based in Kyiv. Before the evacuation of the staff prior to the Russian invasion in February, the diplomatic mission employed 32 people.

The ambassador confirmed that Lithuanian was the first country to move its embassy back to Kyiv. 

Despite the war, the diplomatic missions of Poland and the Holy See did not leave the Ukrainian capital.

"Of those who left, I was the first to come back," said the Lithuanian diplomat.

Back in Kyiv, Sarapinas said he would continue to maintain regular contacts with Ukrainian officials, in particular from the ministries of foreign affairs and defense, and parliamentarians.

The ambassador also expects further visits by high-level Lithuanian officials.

Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, the speaker of the Seimas, and other parliamentarians, as well as foreign, defense and health ministers, have visited Ukraine since the start of the war.

"Not only military, material and humanitarian aid, which we are trying to coordinate, but also political and moral support is very important for the Ukrainians, especially those in-person visits. They are very much awaited by the Ukrainians and they will continue," the ambassador said.

Sarapinas said Kyiv was returning to normal life after the Russian army's retreat from the capital. 

"It was a dead city a couple of weeks ago," he said. "Now there are people and cars on the streets, and cafes are opening. There is life."

Following Russia's withdrawal from Ukraine's north, Kyiv and Western countries fear an intensification of attacks in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

 

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, April 8, 2022

VILNIUS, Apr 07, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Friday, April 8, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to have a video call with candidates for heads of Lithuanian diplomatic representations at 1:30 p.m.  

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with Iceland's Foreign Minister Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir at 9:30 a.m. 

JUSTICE MINISTER Evelina Dobrovolska, on a visit to Latvia, to meet with her Latvian and Estonian counterparts at 11 a.m.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with his Icelandic counterpart at 10:30 a.m., to be followed by comments to the media at 11:30 a.m. 

 

 

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