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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, May 26, 2022

Jun 08 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Lithuania's InterMin to propose lifting movement restrictions for migrants – minister
  2. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, May 26, 2022
  3. World must continue to pressure, isolate Russia – Lithuanian parlt speaker 
  4. Lithuanian PM warns Western politicians not to make same mistakes in ties with Russia
  5. Lithuanian border guards turn 11 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus
  6. Bills on civil union, close relationship on Lithuanian parliament's Thursday agenda
  7. Lithuania reports 158 new COVID-19 cases, one death
  8. Almost 4 pct of Lithuanian population live below absolute poverty line
  9. Vilnius plans to renovate Great Synagogue site by 2026 
  10. US rotational battalion with combat equipment arrives in Lithuania 
  11. Lithuanian MPs to debate bills on civil union, close relationship (expands)
  12. Nauseda remains strongest contender in upcoming presidential election in Lithuania (media)
  13. Proposals to cede part of Ukraine to Russia dangerous for Lithuania – Landsbergis
  14. Lithuania's FRD sends 2,800 rescue tools to Ukraine
  15. EU cannot procrastinate 6th sanction package for Russia – Lithuanian president
  16. Lithuanian parlt debate on non-married couples' relations: 10 quotes
  17. Chinese policy brought us closer to Lithuania – Taiwanese vicemin
  18. Lower VAT rate on food in Lithuania wouldn’t benefit people – minister
  19. Slepavicius assumes position of Lithuania's ambassador to South Korea
  20. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, May 27, 2022

Lithuania's InterMin to propose lifting movement restrictions for migrants – minister

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuania's Interior Ministry will propose lifting the existing movement restrictions for irregular migrants who arrived in Lithuania via Belarus last year, Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite says.

"Our decision is that we will not propose extending the existing movement restrictions. That's the plan. The algorithm of the process is currently being worked out," the minister told reporters on Thursday.

Under the existing procedure, the movement of migrants could be restricted for up to 18 months, with decisions taken every six months. The 12-month deadline is now approaching, and the ministry will propose not to extend the restriction for another six months, the minister said, adding that if the decision is approved, the majority of irregular migrants would leave Lithuania.

"Those people will probably leave for the countries they originally planned to go to as soon as they are free to leave their accommodation laces. This will probably result in a situation where we will no longer have most of these people in Lithuania," Bilotaite said.

And Lithuania will seek to send remaining migrants without granted asylum back to their countries of origin within five years, she said, adding, however, it could be problematic with some countries.

Bilotaite says the decision to lift the existing movement restrictions for migrants was made because Lithuania cannot keep them locked up permanently.

"We cannot keep these people indefinitely," she said.

Last year, almost 4,200 people entered Lithuania illegally from Belarus, and currently some 2,700 people remain in Lithuania, most of them at centers in Kybartai, Medininkai and Pabrade.

Some of them have been voluntarily returned to their countries of origin and some have fled.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, May 26, 2022

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, May 26, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to take part in the EU Council's preparatory video conference at 10 a.m.; to meet with candidates for judges at 1:30 p.m.; to present credentials to Ricardas Slepavicius, Lithuania's ambassador to the Republic of Korea, at 3 p.m. 

THE SEIMAS to hold a plenary sitting at 10 a.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to participate in the so-called "government hour" at the Seimas at 12:30 p.m. 

HEALTH MINISTER Arunas Dulkys attending the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska to meet with her Armenian counterpart at 8:30 a.m. 

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with a delegation from the US Congress at 2:30 p.m. 

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite and Police Commissioner General Renatas Pozela to give a news conference at 2:30 p.m. to present the results of a sociological survey on public security.

 

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World must continue to pressure, isolate Russia – Lithuanian parlt speaker 

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The world must continue its policy of isolation and pressure on Russia, Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, said at a meeting with a delegation of US Congress members on Wednesday.

Cmilyte-Nielsen said that the European and global security architecture remains under serious threat, which is exacerbated by talk of concessions to Russia or proposals to resolve the war at Ukraine's expense, adding that it is important to keep arming Ukraine.

"The world cannot allow this approach to prevail. If we want to stop Russian aggression, we must continue the policy of isolation and pressure through sanctions, which are only now starting to have an effect," the speaker said in a press release. 

"It is also important to arm Ukraine and to do everything we can to help it win, because today it is defending democracy, Western values and European security," she added. 

Cmilyte-Nielsen and the US Congress members also discussed the bolstering of NATO's eastern flank, including the creation of the Alliance's brigades, the transformation of the US battalion into a permanent military unit, and the strengthening of air defense in the Baltic region, according to the press release.

The speaker of the Lithuanian parliament expects the US to back these proposals at NATO's Madrid summit in late June. 

 

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Lithuanian PM warns Western politicians not to make same mistakes in ties with Russia

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has warned Western politicians not to keep making the same mistakes in relations with Russia and not to relax the sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Simonyte was commenting on the EU's stalled talks on a fresh round of sanctions against Moscow and on a suggestion by Henry Kissinger, a former US secretary of state, that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to make peace with Russia.

"If the West steps on the same rake again, that rake will smack it in the face again and that will definitely not be the end of this story," she said in an interview with the Delfi online news site on Wednesday. 

The prime minister noted that some politicians believe that the situation in Ukraine can be resolved outside the battlefield.

"These things are worrying, but I see this, at least for now, as wishful thinking on the part of individual European politicians," she said. 

The EU is currently discussing a sixth package of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The new package includes a ban on Russian oil imports, but the talks are stalling due to opposition from Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy resources. 

 

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

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Lithuanian border guards turn 11 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 11 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday morning.

This follows 15 illegal crossing attempts recorded on Tuesday, 42 on Monday, seven on Sunday and Saturday each, 22 on Friday and 13 on Thursday.  

A total of 1,766 people have been prevented from crossing from Belarus into Lithuania at non-designated places so far this year. Some 2,633 such attempts have been reported by Latvia and 4,984 by Poland.   

Lithuanian border guards sent 8,106 people back to Belarus between last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants, and December. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus last year.

 

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Bills on civil union, close relationship on Lithuanian parliament's Thursday agenda

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – A bill authorizing "civil unions" for unmarried couples and an alternative amendment suggesting a "close relationship agreement" are on the Lithuanian parliament's agenda on Thursday.  

The draft Law on Civil Union, registered by the leaders of the ruling bloc's political groups in the Seimas, and draft amendments to the Civil Code on "close relationship", tabled by opponents, are expected to be introduced before the parliament during the morning plenary session. 

The ruling bloc's bill provides for scrapping the definition of partnership in the "Family Book" of the Civil Code and replacing it with a civil union, a new institution defined as a voluntary agreement between two individuals to legally protect their personal relationship.

The bill was tabled as a compromise after a draft law on partnerships was rejected by the parliament a year ago.

Politicians opposed to the partnership bill have criticized the new version as well, and registered the draft amendments to the Civil Code as an alternative.

The proposed amendments, tabled by over 20 MPs, define a close relationship as 
"a person's relationship with another person arising from a stable and trusting personal social bond".  

The authors of the amendments say such a relationship would cover not only family members and close relatives, but also persons who have entered into a cohabitation agreement and those who have a guardianship, custodial or maintenance arrangement.

In the spring of 2021, the Seimas voted down the previous bill that would have legally recognized "gender-neutral" partnership. 

The rejected draft Law on Partnership would have allowed both opposite-sex and same-sex couples to enter into civil partnership, which was defined as the officially registered fact of cohabitation between two individuals for the purpose of establishing, developing and protecting their relationship.

Currently, Lithuanian laws do not recognize either opposite-sex or same-sex civil partnerships. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to legalize civil partnerships fell through at an early stage of the parliamentary process. 

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Lithuania reports 158 new COVID-19 cases, one death

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 158 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Thursday morning.

Some 136 of the new cases were primary and 22 were secondary.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals currently stands at 76, including nine ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 63.2 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 10.2 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

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

More than 1 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once. 

Some 69.8 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

 

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Almost 4 pct of Lithuanian population live below absolute poverty line

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Around 110,000 people in Lithuania, or 3.9 percent of the population, lived below the absolute poverty line last year, the country's statistics office said on Thursday. 

This is down from 140,000 people, or 5.1 percent of the population, in 2020.  

Last year, the absolute poverty threshold stood at 260 euros per month per capita and 546 euros for a family of two adults and two children under 14 years.

The at-risk-of-poverty rate edged down to 20 percent in 2021, from 20.9 percent in 2020. About 560,000 people lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold last year, down 4 percent from 585,000 a year ago.  

The threshold stood at 483 euros per capita and 1,015 euros for a family.

 

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Vilnius plans to renovate Great Synagogue site by 2026 

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Vilnius Municipality plans to renovate the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in the Lithuanian capital's Old Town by 2026, with a memorial garden square and a Jewish community center to be set up there.

On Thursday, the municipality and the Goodwill Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to commemorate the place that is sacred for Lithuanian Jews.

"Many Vilnius residents know why Vilnius was called Jerusalem of the North," Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius said in a press release. "Today, faded Hebrew inscriptions on the buildings of the former Vilna Ghetto, memorial plaques and monuments bear witness to the history of Jewish spirituality and science." 

"We agreed on how we will create a new center of attraction for Lithuanians and foreign visitors on the site of the Soviet-destroyed Great Synagogue," he added. 

Archaeological research on the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, which was destroyed during World War II and the Soviet era, started in 2011. 

Archaeologists have unearthed, among other things, the bases of two pillars of the Bimah, the raised platform from which the Torah was read, and the sites of two mikvahs (ritual baths), as well as the huge outer back wall and part of the floor of the Great Synagogue.

The exact date when the Great Synagogue of Vilna was built is not known. Historians believe that it was built after King Wladyslaw IV Vasa in 1633 granted a privilege to set up a Jewish quarter in Vilnius. The architect of the synagogue is unknown.

The Great Synagogue was one of the largest Jewish religious institutions in Eastern Europe. It was known as an important Jewish spiritual and educational center that gave Vilnius the name of Jerusalem of the North.

The synagogue was 25 meters long and just over 22 meters wide and 12 meters high. Since it was forbidden for a synagogue to be higher than churches, the structure was dug two meters into the ground.  

The size and splendor of this Jewish house of worship is said to have surpassed all the synagogues built in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Some historical sources say that it accommodated up to 5,000 people. 

The Great Synagogue and other buildings in the complex were badly damaged during World War II.  

The remains of the buildings were razed to the ground in 1955-1957 and a kindergarten, which is now closed, was built on top of them in 1964. 

 

By Ignas Jačauskas

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US rotational battalion with combat equipment arrives in Lithuania 

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – A battalion of US rotational forces with combat equipment has arrived in Lithuania's second-biggest city of Kaunas, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Thursday. 

The minister noted that Kaunas Intermodal Terminal was used for the first time to deploy the battalion's combat equipment.

"M1A2 Abrams tanks, Bradley IFVs, armored personnel carriers and other equipment have arrived by rail from the Greek port of Akexandroupolis across Europe to Kaunas," he posted on Facebook. 

The 1st battalion of the US 66th Armor Regiment will replace the 3rd battalion deployed to Lithuania since last fall.

US troops are currently stationed in Lithuania on a rotational basis and the country's politicians are seeking a permanent American presence.

In response to increased threats in the region following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the US has deployed several hundred additional troops and equipment to Lithuania.

 

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Lithuanian MPs to debate bills on civil union, close relationship (expands)

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday agreed to debate two alternative bills aimed at legally regulating the relationship between unmarried people living together.

The draft Law on Civil Union, registered by the ruling bloc's MPs as a compromise to their previous bill on civil partnerships, passed the first reading in the parliament with 70 votes in favor, 49 against and six abstentions.

Draft amendments to the Civil Code on "close relationship", tabled by a group of MPs opposing partnerships, passed the first reading with 70 votes in favor, 23 against and 30 abstentions.

Both bills will now go to parliamentary committees and should return to the full parliament for a plenary debate on June 21.    

Differences between bills

MP Jurgita Sejoniene of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats said while presenting the civil union bill that the draft is basic, setting out only the minimum provisions for "a morally and socially just life together without marriage”.

"The bill is different from what the previously tabled [Partnership Law] and I am asking you to look favorably on this consensus. This draft regulates the common principles: monogamy, voluntariness, equality, legitimate expectations. It will only concern those people for whom it is relevant, and will not affect the rest of our fellow citizens in any way," she said. 

The MP also noted that the proposal to recognize civil unions is relevant for same-sex and opposite-sex couple alike.

"The majority of people in Lithuania do not need such a legal regulation, but there are about half a million unmarried young people in Lithuania," she said. 

MP Paulius Saudargas of the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats presented the alternative draft on "close relationship", stressing that, unlike the other bill, it draws a clear distinction between unmarried couples and family relations.

"We recognize that personal relationships, not just property relationships, between people living together must be protected, which is why we propose to legally recognize close relationships," said Saudargas, who is opposed to authorizing same-sex partnership.

"The bill on close relationship does not create a family relationship, while a civil union gives an impression of creating a family relationship," he said. 

Partnership not allowed for any couples 

The draft Law on Civil Union bill provides for scrapping the definition of partnership in the "Family Book" of the Civil Code and replacing it with a civil union, a new institution defined as a voluntary agreement between two individuals to legally protect their personal relationship.

The bill was tabled by the leaders of the ruling bloc's political groups in the Seimas as a compromise after a draft law on partnerships was rejected by the parliament a year ago.

Politicians opposed to the partnership bill have criticized the new version as well, and registered the draft amendments to the Civil Code as an alternative.

The proposed amendments, tabled by over 20 MPs, define a close relationship as "a person's relationship with another person arising from a stable and trusting personal social bond".  

The authors of the amendments say such a relationship would cover not only family members and close relatives, but also persons who have entered into a cohabitation agreement and those who have a guardianship, custodial or maintenance arrangement.

In the spring of 2021, the Seimas voted down the previous bill that would have legally recognized "gender-neutral" partnership. 

The rejected draft Law on Partnership would have allowed both opposite-sex and same-sex couples to enter into civil partnership, which was defined as the officially registered fact of cohabitation between two individuals for the purpose of establishing, developing and protecting their relationship.

Currently, Lithuanian laws do not recognize either opposite-sex or same-sex civil partnerships. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to legalize civil partnerships fell through at an early stage of the parliamentary process. 

 

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Nauseda remains strongest contender in upcoming presidential election in Lithuania (media)

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Incumbent Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda is predicted to make it into the runoff of the upcoming presidential election in Lithuania, public opinion polls show. While four other politicians are named as his most realistic rivals, according to the results of the Vilmorus and Norstat LT surveys published by the 15min.lt news website on Thursday, two years before the 2024 presidential vote.

The polls present the TOP-5 of the politicians with the most realistic chances of making it into the presidential election runoff and they include Nauseda, Saulius Skvernelis, Lithuania's former prime minister and now leader of the Democrats "For Lithuania", Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen who leads the Liberal Movement, Vilija Blinkeviciute, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, and also Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.

Both surveys show Nauseda is expected to get into the presidential runoff, and Cmilyte-Nielsen is named as having the lowest chances of doing so.

According to the Vilmorus poll, Nauseda leads the list (21.1 percent of respondents would vote for him), followed by Blinkeviciute (11.9 percent), Skvernelis (10.6 percent), Simonyte (8.7 percent) and Cmilyte-Nielsen (4.6 percent).

In the Norstat LT survey, Simonyte would receive 22 percent of respondents' votes, followed by Nauseda with 16 percent, Skvernelis with 7 percent, Blinkeviciute with 6 percent and Cmilyte-Nielsen with 4 percent.

Vilmorus surveyed 1,000 Lithuanian adults during face-to-face and telephone interviews. And Norstat LT carried out an online survey of 18-74 year olds.

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Proposals to cede part of Ukraine to Russia dangerous for Lithuania – Landsbergis

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Suggestions by some Western politicians and experts that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to make peace with Russia are dangerous for Lithuania, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Thursday. 

"They are dangerous for us, Lithuania, because they normalize not only relations with the regime [of Russian President Vladimir Putin], but also normalize what that regime is doing," Landsbergis told reporters.

"This is a very strong signal to all other aggressors, potential criminals, that if you commit a crime and you are not swept away in three months, then everything is fine, everything can stay that way", he said.

According to Lithuania's top diplomat, the proposals to cede part of Ukraine's territory to Russia are aimed at normalizing the current situation. 

"It seems to me that this is a very dangerous trend," Landsbergis said. "On one hand, we say that the Putinist regime that rules Russia today is a genocidal regime that is ready to wipe people out just because they belong to one or another nation."  

"Any normalization with this regime is incomprehensible to me," he said. "Statements by Kissinger and by heads of state in that direction are fundamentally inadequate to the reality we see today," he added. 

The minister stressed that the end of the war must be declared in Kyiv.

"Kyiv will say when and under what conditions the war is over for them. No Western country, no country in the world can speak for them, because Ukrainians are paying for this war in blood," he said.  

Henry Kissinger, a former US secretary of state, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to Russia to end the war, and warned that a humiliating defeat for the Kremlin could result in wider destabilization.

According to Kissinger, a return to the "status quo" before Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine would be ideal.

"Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante," he said.

Russia formally annexed Crimea in 2014 and pro-Moscow separatist groups took control of Ukraine's easternmost regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

 

 

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Lithuania's FRD sends 2,800 rescue tools to Ukraine

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuania's Fire and Rescue Department has sent 2,800 civil aid items to its Ukrainian colleagues.

The shipment included builders and firefighters' helmets, goggles, rubber footwear, work gloves, crowbars, shovels and axes that were handed over to Ukraine in response to the country's request, the FRD said on Thursday.

"The shipment contained a total of 2,800 various tools. It's is now in Ukraine," the FRD said.

Other shipments were sent to Ukraine in March and earlier this month.

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EU cannot procrastinate 6th sanction package for Russia – Lithuanian president

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS - The European Union cannot procrastinate the adoption of the sixth package of sanctions for Russia, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.

This package must be adopted immediately and must include an embargo on Russian oil, he said during a video conference on Thursday, adding that a seventh sanction package must be on the EU table.

The conference was held to prepare for next week's extraordinary European Council meeting in Brussels on May 30-31. The meting will focus on assistance to Ukraine and its reconstruction plan, energy, food security and the European Union's security and defense policy, the presidential press service said.

The EU is currently discussing an already sixth package of sanctions for Russia as it is waging war against Ukraine. The new sanctions would include a ban on Russian oil imports, but the talks are being stalled by opposition from Hungary as it says it will not support an embargo because of its over-reliance on the resource.

Speaking on Ukraine, the Lithuanian president said Lithuania was in favor of using frozen Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine. Nauseda also stressed that political support for Ukraine remains important, and he, therefore, calls for granting Ukraine EU candidate status as soon as possible.

Speaking on energy issues, Nauseda said the EU should achieve full energy independence from Russia. This, he said, requires EU member states' political will and appropriate decisions, including those on the diversification of energy sources, investment in renewable energy, and filling gas storage facilities.

Nauseda said export of Ukrainian grain was another issue that required swift decisions.

"Russia is using Ukraine's grain exports as a manipulative tool in its war. Unblocking the port of Odessa should be the primary objective, but Lithuania is ready to provide its railway infrastructure and seaport to ensure that Ukrainian grain exports do not stop going through Poland," he said.

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Lithuanian parlt debate on non-married couples' relations: 10 quotes

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday gave its initial backing to two rival bills regulating the relations of cohabitating non-married couples.

BNS provides 10 quotes from the parliamentary debate:

HU-LCD MP Jurgita Sejoniene: "A very close person of mine, who is not with us today, committed suicide 11 years ago, but I think if he were alive today and wanted to legalize his relationship with someone else, he would be really grateful to me. And there are more than a few people like that, and I do not agree in any way with the idea that in a 21st century democracy, we can speak about, well, letting them be, just letting them be."

LFGU MP Algimantas Dumbrava: "I am not asking you as an MP, but I want to ask you as a Christian. Today, same-sex relationships, be they civil unions, partnerships or families, are considered a sin. Would you agree that we, as Christians, are becoming two-faced, let's say, in your case?

Labor party MP Viktoras Fiodorovas: "I would like to paraphrase a well-known Lithuanian folk saying about the dress and the lady. I have an impression that it's essentially the same bill, the same Tomas Vytautas Raskevicius, only in the person of Mrs. Sejoniene. It’s essentially a smokescreen, a lesson learned from the original mistakes when the bill was first tabled and they lost in the parliament with a few votes."

HU-LCD MP Sejoniene: "I don’t know where you get the idea that I am Raskevicius in disguise, because I supported the previous bill as well, that's obvious and I have never hidden that. I understand the need for a consensus, I think Raskevicius and other people do too, and I am glad that we have found that consensus."

LFGU MP Aurelijus Veryga: "What do we in general want to achieve as a country, as a state? Do we want to survive, do we want to thrive, do we want to grow, or do we just want to move in the direction where everything is slowly moving towards some personal comfort and pleasure, and we are just disappearing? How will this project contribute to our survival as a country, a state and a nation?"

Lithuanian Regions Party MP Valdemaras Valkiunas: "The dictatorship of relativism from the West is sweeping across the world, and a spiritual genocide is the ambition of destructive forces. Law is undergoing mutation without any responsibility, which is what is being done now. There's ongoing visual and audible aggression from the LGBT community and other similar organizations, which is what we also see here in this room. Same-sex marriage demoralizes and destroys civilization".

Social Democrat MP Algirdas Sysas: "I find it very strange that we, in Lithuania, are trying to call normal things something else. You and your colleagues once referred to family violence "violence in a close environment", when it mostly happens within the family. Now, instead of calling a spade a spade, you are introducing a new institute, "a close relationship". So, my question is whether it's possible to have a harem in Lithuania under that close relationship, including your proposal with this bill?"

HU-LCD MP Vilija Aleknaite Abramikiene: "I am calling on you to support this bill as much as possible as, unlike the bill presented by my colleague Sejoniene, it does not run counter the Constitution and the concept of family enshrined in it, and it does not cause a conflict with the majority of our society and does not impose state coercion on it".

HU-LCD MP Gabrielius Landsbergis: "These are people who are in the Seimas hall, here and everywhere around us. It seems to me that it's normal not to be afraid and to call things as they are, but politics is the art of compromise."

Lithuanian Regions Party MP Agne Sirinskienė: "I am really glad that you have managed to come up with such an original solution for recognizing different relationships without, at the same time, transforming them into family-marriage or marriage, or even pseudo-marriage".

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Chinese policy brought us closer to Lithuania – Taiwanese vicemin

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – China's sanctions imposed on Lithuania in response to the opening of Taiwan's representative office in Vilnius last year has boosted Taiwan's economic partnership with Lithuania, Taiwan's economic affairs vice minister said in Vilnius on Thursday.

"Last year, neither Lithuania, nor Taiwan intended to provoke China. Because of a simple name of the Taiwanese Representative Office, China took undeclared sanctions against Lithuania," Chen Chern-chyi said at a round-table discussion on Thursday, organized by the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists and the Taiwanese Representative Office.

Taiwan's representatives at the meeting, also attended by politicians, businessmen and scientists from both countries, presented opportunities for cooperation in the areas of semiconductors, start-ups, biotechnology, electric vehicles and their parts, and lasers.

"We have enough experience how to deal with China. We must stand up, we come to Lithuania to show our solidarity," the Taiwanese vice minister said.

In his words, the Taiwanese delegations, which arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday, is scheduled to meet with the ministers of the economy and innovation and communications and transport, and also visit companies in Kaunas and Klaipeda during the three-day visit.

Beijing downgraded its diplomatic relations with Vilnius after the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius last fall, and also blocked Lithuanian exports and imports.

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lower VAT rate on food in Lithuania wouldn’t benefit people – minister

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The Lithuanian government has no plans to cut the VAT rate on food as it would not benefit people, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste says amid calls by presidential advisers to introduce a lower VAT rate on food under a different model that would benefit consumers.

"We have repeatedly expressed this position that VAT exemptions in sectors where prices are mostly unregulated do not serve their purpose as they benefit resellers, the big supermarkets and suppliers, and not the end consumers," Skaiste told journalists on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Irena Segaloviciene, the president's chief adviser on economic and social policy, said a lower VAT rate on food could be introduced to fight rising inflation, adding, however, that a model should be found to ensure it benefitted the end consumer.

Skaiste says a better option would be to increase incomes of the most socially vulnerable people.

The current VAT rate in Lithuania stands at 21 percent.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Slepavicius assumes position of Lithuania's ambassador to South Korea

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Ricardas Slepavicius on Thursday assumed the position of Lithuania's ambassador to the Republic of Korea after he received credentials from President Gitanas Nauseda.

During the meeting, the ambassador and the president discussed the prospects for strengthening political relations between Lithuania and South Korea, as well as economic and cultural cooperation, the presidential press service said.

South Korea is considered one of the most innovative economies in the world, the president said, stressing the importance of strengthening cooperation in high value-added economic areas and encouraging Korean investments in Lithuania.

The president and the ambassador also discussed cooperation in the areas of science, education and culture.

Slepavicius has long-standing diplomatic experience of working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has previously served as Lithuania's ambassador to Italy, as well as to Malta and San Marino, and as the country's permanent representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Lithuania established its embassy in the Republic of Korea last year. It's currently headed by interim Chargé d'Affaires Vilijus Samuila.

Lithuania and South Korea established diplomatic relations on October 14, 1991. Lithuania was previously represented in South Korea by the country's embassy in China.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, May 27, 2022

VILNIUS, May 27, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Friday, May 27, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to take a train from Vilnius to the Kaunas Intermodal Terminal and hold a press conference at noon.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with the heads of delegations to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly at 4.30 p.m.

Raimundas Lopata, chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas' Group for Inter-Parliamentary Relations with the Republic of Armenia, to meet with Armenia's justice minister at 11 a.m.

A press conference on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's spring session to be held at 1.30 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to meet with Ukrainian Vice Premier for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna at 1 p.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to attend a meeting of Baltic defense ministers in Estonia.

THE FOREIGN MINISTRY

The 8th Vilnius Russia Forum to take place in Trakai District. FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis  to hold a joint press conference with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the Open Russian Foundation, at 1 p.m.

 

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