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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, October 11, 2022

Oct 17 2022

 

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, October 11, 2022
  2. Foreign embassies have no plans to evacuate from Kyiv – Lithuanian ambassador  
  3. Lithuanian border guards prevent 47 migrants from crossing in from Belarus
  4. Lithuania's 2023 budget bill to be presented to parliament  
  5. Lithuania reports 1,462 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  6. Raising Lithuanian defense budget to 3 pct of GDP would boost borrowing costs – finmin
  7. Energy price support for people, businesses are 2023 budget's priority – Lithuanian finmin
  8. Lithuanian parlt speaker skeptical of 3 pct of GDP defense budget target for 2023
  9. Lithuania's CNSD invites defmin to "coordinate" position on German brigade
  10. Vilnius-based EHU admits twice as many first-year students this year  
  11. Lithuanian president, ten other leaders call Russia's attacks war crimes
  12. 2023 state budget bill presented in Lithuania's parlt
  13. Rare mushroom found in Lithuania after more than 50 years
  14. FIFA, UEFA, Lithuanian Football Federation table plan to improve LFF statutes
  15. Lithuanian, French PMs discuss support for Ukraine, energy security
  16. Lithuania plans to borrow around EUR 6.7b next year
  17. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, October 11, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, October 11, 2022:

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to open the Franco-Lithuanian Business Forum in Paris at 10 a.m. (Lithuanian time); to meet with her French counterpart Elisabeth Borne at 1 p.m.; to have lunch with French political scientists, journalists and intellectuals at 3 p.m.

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Foreign embassies have no plans to evacuate from Kyiv – Lithuanian ambassador  

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Foreign embassies are not planning to evacuate from Kyiv after Russia's missile strikes, Valdemaras Sarapinas, Lithuania's ambassador to Ukraine, said on Tuesday morning. 

"We are certainly not planning to do so. I am in constant contact with the ambassadors of other countries, especially European countries, and nobody has any such plans," he told LRT Radio. 

The diplomat said that Russian media on Monday tried to start a false rumor that foreign embassies were evacuating from Kyiv

"This is completely untrue," he said.

Last night was calm in Kyiv, but other regions of Ukraine, such as Sumy and Zaporizhzhia, were attacked, according to Sarapinas. 

"In the Dnipropetrovsk region, miners are trapped after strikes and rescue work is underway," he said.  

He said that following Monday's air strikes in Kyiv, schools and many institutions in the capital were working remotely, with some traffic restrictions in place and electricity supply reduced.

Russian forces on Monday carried out missile strikes on multiple cities in Ukraine, including Kyiv, following an explosion that damaged a key bridge to the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russia targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure during Monday's strikes.

 

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Lithuanian border guards prevent 47 migrants from crossing in from Belarus

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 47 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Tuesday morning.

Latvia recorded no attempts to cross the border illegally on Monday, and Polish border guards denied entry to 108 irregular migrants away on Sunday, according to the latest available information.

The daily number of migrants refused entry to Lithuania reached this year's high of 135 on September 20, nine fewer than the highest ever number recorded on November 12, 2021.

A total of 9,065 irregular migrants have been stopped from entering Lithuania since January. 

Lithuanian border guards have sent over 17,000 people back to Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

The SBGS says that illegal migration to Lithuania and the EU is being facilitated by Belarusian officials. 

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

Lithuania calls the unprecedented influx of migrants from Belarus, which began about a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime. 

 

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Lithuania's 2023 budget bill to be presented to parliament  

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – The Lithuanian state's draft budget for 2022, approved by the government last Friday, is to be presented to the parliament on Tuesday. 

The draft budget is being submitted to the Seimas earlier than usual this year and the parliament is expected to pass it on November 22, instead of mid-December. 

Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said last week that the bill's key priority was to contain and soften the energy price shock and to take measures to maintain people's purchasing power.

The state's budget revenue is projected to grow by 510 million euros, or 3.4 percent, next year compared with this year to 15.62 billion euros, including EU funds, and expenditure is set to increase by 1.07 billion euros, or 6.1 percent, to 18.61 billion euros.

Next year's budget is planned with a general government deficit of 4.9 percent of GDP. The public debt is projected to rise to 43 percent of GDP. 

The draft budget earmarks 1.930 billion euros to mitigate the impact of energy price increases on households and businesses, with 812 million euros and 446 million euros provided for the purpose, respectively, in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year.

The state plans to cover part of the electricity price for all households to ensure that it does not exceed 28 euro cents per kilowatt-hour in the first half of 2023 and 33 cents in the second half. This will not apply to households who will pay less than 28 and 33 cents per kWh, respectively.   

Natural gas prices for consumers should increase by no more than 40 percent from January 1, with the exact tariffs to be announced by the National Energy Regulatory Council (VERT) in late November. 

Another 56 million euros in budget funds will go to cover the revenue loss due to the zero VAT rate on district heating during this heating season. 

State budget funds will also be used to cut electricity bills for businesses, covering half of the electricity price above 24 cents per kWh in the last quarter of this year and above 28 cents in the first quarter of next year.

Also, businesses whose energy costs will account for more than 10 percent of their total costs will be allowed not to pay taxes until the end of April.

The 2023 budget bill also calls for spending 1.552 billion euros on raising people's incomes and 275 million on security. Investments in various areas from various sources of financing are projected at over 2.9 billion euros next year.

 

By Erika Alonderytė-Kazlauskė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuania reports 1,462 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 1,462 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning.

Of the new cases, 1,146 were primary, 303 were secondary and 13 were tertiary.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 198, including eleven ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 424.6 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests down to 33 percent.

The daily number of new coronavirus cases remains well below the peak of over 14,000 reached in early February.

More than 1.2 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once.

Some 70 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

 

 

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Raising Lithuanian defense budget to 3 pct of GDP would boost borrowing costs – finmin

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – If Lithuania raised its defense spending to 3 percent of GDP next year, its budget deficit would cross the 5-percent-of-GDP mark, which would significantly increase the country's borrowing costs, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said on Tuesday.

"Percentages probably do not mean very much to people, but it is about 300 million euros that are not currently earmarked and no decisions have been taken on sustainable revenue sources," Skaiste told LRT Radio when asked why the defense budget for 2023 is not being increased to 3 percent of GDP.

"So if we are now saying that a 4.9-percent deficit is a red light signaling that we should not go any further, then adding an extra half a percentage point means that we are arriving at 5.4 percent," the minister said.    

"In this case, the markets would react and our borrowing would become much more expensive than it is now," she added. 

President Gitanas Nauseda has repeatedly proposed increasing Lithuania's defense spending to 3 percent of GDP next year.

"If we want not only to declare support for national defense, but also to envisage additional sources of revenue for this purpose, we should probably agree on what new sources of revenue are included in our agreement," Skaiste told the radio station. 

 "If we only declare that we need to raise spending, but fail to look for sources to finance this increase, I would say that such wishes are sometimes declarative," she added. 

The government's draft budget for 2023 is planned with a deficit of 4.9 percent of GDP, a threshold that is still seen as normal in the markets, according to Skaiste.

"Budget deficits in other countries, at least based on what they have submitted, are within 5 percent. I would say that we are within that range, albeit at its upper end. But it is still a level that the markets consider as normal," she said.  

Last week, the government proposed to allocate more than 1.77 billion euros, or 2.52 percent of next year's projected GDP, to national defense.

If approved by the parliament, the 2023 budget bill will also allow the government to borrow as much as necessary to meet the 2.52-percent-of-GDP defense spending target if the Lithuanian economy grows faster than projected. 

In July, Lithuania's parliamentary parties signed an agreement committing to keeping defense funding at least at 2.5 percent of GDP. 

 

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Energy price support for people, businesses are 2023 budget's priority – Lithuanian finmin

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – As the Seimas of Lithuania starts deliberating the 2023 state budget bill, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste says the bill's primary focus is on supporting people and business in the wake of extremely high energy prices.

"The government is presenting the budget bill today, and we see it as a kind of shield to protect the population in this uncertain period when energy prices are really high. So the first priority is to solve the energy situation, to provide compensation for both businesses and household in the current period, and to invest in renewable energy and additional electricity generation in the long term," Skaiste told reporters at the Seimas on Tuesday, adding that preserving people's purchasing power is another budget priority.

"1.5 billion euros are also earmarked for raising residential income to preserve people's purchasing power," the minister said. 

As MPs propose various forms of tax relief for individual business groups, the finance minister said the most important thing was to help all businesses to overcome the energy challenges.

"The energy crisis is probably equally difficult for all businesses, which is why a package of 2.5 billion euros has been proposed to address the business situation," Skaiste said.

The government approved the 2023 state budget bill last Friday.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian parlt speaker skeptical of 3 pct of GDP defense budget target for 2023

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, the speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, is skeptical about President Gitanas Nauseda's proposal that next year's budget should allow borrowing up to 3 percent of GDP for defense funding.  

According to Cmilyte-Nielsen, political parties have agreed to keep defense spending at its current level of just over 2.5 percent of GDP, and it is important to maintain this commitment, rather than "tying ourselves to specific figures and even naming a deadline".

"The agreement on defense has been reached and signed by almost all parliamentary parties, and it is our commitment that our direction will not change and national defense funding will increase," the speaker told reporters.

"I believe it is not right to tie ourselves to specific figures and even name a deadline," she said. "The most important thing is that the direction is maintained, and the year in which we will reach three percent will depend on a lot of factors."

Nauseda has repeatedly suggested increasing Lithuania's defense spending to 3 percent of GDP next year.

Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste maintains that doing so would bring Lithuania's budget deficit above 5 percent of GDP, which would significantly increase its borrowing costs.

Last week, the government proposed to allocate more than 1.77 billion euros, or 2.52 percent of next year's projected GDP, to national defense.

If approved by the parliament, the 2023 budget bill will also allow the government to borrow as much as necessary to meet the 2.52-percent-of-GDP defense spending target if the Lithuanian economy grows faster than projected. 

In July, Lithuania's parliamentary parties signed an agreement committing to keeping defense funding at least at 2.5 percent of GDP. 

 

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Lithuania's CNSD invites defmin to "coordinate" position on German brigade

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anusauskas has been invited to the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense next week to discuss the German brigade issue, Laurynas, Kasciunas, the committee chairman, says.

The aim, he said, is to coordinate the parliament and the National Defense Ministry's positions to make sure that Lithuania's agreement with Germany on a German brigade's deployment in Lithuania, reached after the NATO summit in Madrid, is implemented through the physical deployment of the unit in Lithuania, rather than by keeping it on standby in Germany. 

"I have already prepared the agenda, and we will discuss this issue not this Wednesday, but next Wednesday, after the discussion on the national defense system's budget. I think we all need to coordinate and communicate one and the same thing," Kasciunas told reporters at the Seimas on Tuesday, adding that Lithuania's interest is "when we are ready, the brigade is here".

"We cannot send different signals, in other words, I mean the 10-day model. The formula can only be a temporary solution until we are ready and we will tie our preparation schedule with that of the Germans," Kasciunas said.

Last Saturday, Defense Minister Lambrecht stated that "we will ensure that the brigade can be moved to Lithuania in a short period of time, within 10 days".

Joining her at the press conference, Lithuanian National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said such a time frame was sufficient to react to the build-up of military forces at the country's borders, which Ukraine's experience showed.

Zygimantas Pavilionis, a member of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, representing the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, says the presence of Germans in Lithuania can only be achieved by taking the same position at all political levels. 

In terms of potential threats, there should be no negotiations on the presence of the brigade at the moment, Pavilionis said, adding that "the line of all politicians is the same as Lithuania's".

"One can offer to negotiate to those lying two meters underground in Bucha. We have no other option. Let's not forget that they tried to take Kyiv in three days, and Vilnius is only 30 km from the border. We cannot bargain for our lives, everyone must repeat the same thing at all levels: the Germans must be here," Pavilionis said.

Lithuanian officials said earlier they expected the brigade to be permanently deployed in Lithuania. And the position was reiterated by Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Monday when he pointed out that Lithuania and Germany's agreement this summer was for the German brigade to be deployed in Lithuania, and not on its readiness to come, if needed.

Signed by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz in June, the joint communique states that "in addition to the current and reinforced enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group already in place, Germany is ready to lead a robust and combat-ready brigade in Lithuania dedicated to deter and defend against Russian aggression".

Initially, led by a permanently deployed Brigade Forward Command Element in Lithuania, this brigade will consist of German combat forces specifically designated for this purpose, potentially augmented by possible multinational contributions.

The aforementioned forward presence command element was deployed in Lithuania in September.

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Vilnius-based EHU admits twice as many first-year students this year  

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – The Vilnius-based European Humanities University (EHU) said on Tuesday it has admitted 631 first-year students this year, almost twice as many as last year. 

"This positive trend confirms the assumption that more and more families are choosing to make a long-term investment in European higher education, which guarantees security and a promising future for young people in Belarus and the surrounding countries," it said in a press release.

Some 800 applications were received during the main intake and 446 new students were admitted, with another 64 taken in during the additional intake. 

A further 131 students entered a Bachelor's degree program ain Computer Science, launched by the university in cooperation with the EPAM School of Digital Engineering. 

This brings the total number of students admitted to EHU this year to over six hundred. 

According to EHU, 450 of the first-year students are from Belarus, 56 are from Russia and 45 are from Ukraine. There are also students from Lithuania, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Georgia. 

The university's new academic year started on October 1.

EHU is a private university that was founded in Minsk back in 1992, but was later closed down by Belarus' authorities. The university reopened in Vilnius at the Lithuanian government's invitation 18 years ago.   

In 2019, the Lithuanian government granted EHU a special status, recognizing it as a higher education institution operating in exile for political reasons.

 

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Lithuanian president, ten other leaders call Russia's attacks war crimes

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and the leaders of then other regional countries have declared Russia's ongoing massive bombardment of Ukrainian cities war crimes.

"On behalf of our states we demand that Russia immediately stop attacking civilian targets. We will not cease our efforts to bring to court persons responsible of today's crimes," reads the joint statement, issued on Tuesday by the presidents, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, the Lithuanian presidential press service said.

The statement also points out that war crimes and crimes against humanity are not subject to any statute of limitations and are covered by jurisdiction of courts all over the world.

The 11 leaders also said they find any threats by Russian representatives to use nuclear weapons unacceptable, and reaffirmed their commitment to protect our countries and allies.

Ukraine reported on Monday that a number of Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, had come under Russia's missile attack, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that energy infrastructure was targeted.

Ukraine's State Emergency Service said on Tuesday up to 19 people were killed during their missile attacks, and another 105 people were injured.

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2023 state budget bill presented in Lithuania's parlt

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Lithuanian Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste presented the country's 2023 state budget bill in the Seimas on Tuesday, and now it will go to parliamentary committees and commission for further consideration.

The Seimas will hold its first budget hearing on November 10, and then it will be returned to the government, and the second parliamentary hearing will be held on November 17. The budget adoption is scheduled for November 22, but the date has not yet been officially confirmed.

Presenting the bill on Tuesday, the finance minister said it's a shield to protect the population from extremely high energy prices, and its focus, therefore, is on controlling these prices next year and investing in renewable energies. 

Given the fact that not only energy prices but also other prices are rising, the budget's main focus is on increasing people's income. Also given the geopolitical situation, the bill also focuses on security as ore fund will be allocated for national defense, the minister said.

The 2023 budget bill is based on the Finance Ministry's September forecasts that Lithuania's gross domestic product will grow by 1.6 percent next year and that average annual inflation will fall to 6 percent, Skaiste pointed out.

"Since the uncertainty is high and there are many risks, they are related to the actions of other actors, what the war in Ukraine will look like, what the level of escalation will be, how long it will last. It's also has to do with Russia's actions in the energy sector, limiting gas supplies and thus affecting the price of gas on international markets," the minister said.

"Also, decisions that are more broadly based, let's say, OPEC countries' decision on oil production and market supply," she added. 

The budget bill was presented earlier than usual this year and is also scheduled to be adopted earlier – on November – instead of mid-December.

By Erika Alonderytė-Kazlauskė, Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Rare mushroom found in Lithuania after more than 50 years

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS - An extremely rare and rapidly disappearing mushroom - the Baeospora myriadophylla – has been discovered in Lithuania this year, the country's Ministry of Environment says.

The last time this rare mushroom was found in Lithuania was more than 50 years ago in Kaisiadorys. 

The latest discovery was made by mycologist Reda Irsenaite in the 19-ha Moniskis forest belonging Sengires Fondas, a non-governmental organization.

Currently, the only place in Lithuania where this mushroom can be found is in the Moniskis forest in Utena District, and there are only 400 such places worldwide.

Established in January, 2020, Sengires Fondas cares for more than 50 hectares of forests.

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FIFA, UEFA, Lithuanian Football Federation table plan to improve LFF statutes

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS –  Two international football organizations, FIFA and UEFA, together with the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF), on Tuesday submitted to Lithuania's authorities a plan for improving the national federation's statutes.

In their letter to the parliament, the government and the Education, Science and Sport Ministry, the organizations say that the revised statutes will set "the highest eligibility requirements" for the LFF Executive Committee's members, who will be directly elected by the LFF Conference.

"The review process will address, in addition to other important reforms, (...) revision of the LFF membership and the composition of the LFF Conference to ensure a fair balance between the Lithuanian football stakeholders, including clubs, (and) revision of the composition of the LFF Executive Committee, including the direct election of its members by the LFF Conference," the letter reads. 

The plan also calls for introducing "the highest eligibility requirements for the members of the LFF Executive Committee and of an eligibility and integrity check mechanism, in line with FIFA and UEFA standards".  

The LFF Conference would also appoint "members of the LFF judicial bodies, including the LFF Ethics Committee".

The letter confirms plans to convene an extraordinary LFF Conference, "in the presence of FIFA and UEFA", by December 23 to vote on the revised statutes.

The LFF started drafting its revised statutes after a group of parliamentarians initiated a draft law to temporarily place the federation under the state's direct management. 

Despite warnings by FIFA and UEFA of a possible suspension of Lithuania's national football team and clubs from international tournaments, the bill passed the first reading in the parliament in early October. 

However, the parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance last week halted the consideration of the bill to give the LFF time to reform its governance.

In recent years, the LFF has been criticized for poor sports results and for some of its officials' alleged links to the criminal world.

Lithuania is currently at number 142 in the FIFA rankings, its second-lowest position since 2017, when its men's national team ranked 149th. 

 

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Lithuanian, French PMs discuss support for Ukraine, energy security

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte on Tuesday thanked her French counterpart, Elisabeth Borne, for her country's contribution to bolstering the security of NATO's eastern flank and its support to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

The two prime ministers met in Paris to discuss bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and France, the European security situation in the context of Russia's continued war against Ukraine, energy security issues, and support for Ukraine, the Lithuanian government said in a press release.  

 "We are grateful to France for its contribution to the strengthening of NATO's eastern flank and of the Alliance as a whole, as well as for its support to Ukraine, which is today absorbing Russia's strikes not only against itself, but also against the entire democratic world," it quoted Simonyte as saying. 

She noted that initiatives such as the third Lithuania-France Business Forum, which opened on Tuesday, "are key" as Lithuania seeks to deepen its bilateral economic cooperation with France.

According to the prime minister, Lithuania sees particular potential for partnership in the innovation and high-tech sectors, such as life sciences, renewable energy, information and communication technologies, and in logistics. 

"As Russia continues its unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine, launching new attacks against civilians, such as the one earlier this week, it is important to maintain strategic patience, to increase pressure on Russia through sanctions, and to continue to support Ukraine in responding to its expressed defense needs," she said.

The two prime ministers also discussed Europe's energy security and "the complete rejection of Russian resources, which Lithuania has already done", according to the press release.

 

 

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Lithuania plans to borrow around EUR 6.7b next year

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS - The Lithuanian government plans to borrow around 6.673 billion euros domestically and abroad next year, with the government debt is expected to reach around 30.2 billion euros, or 43 percent of GDP, by the end of 2023.

The government plans to borrow around 2 billion euros domestically by issuing government securities, and also borrow 4 billion euros by issuing Eurobonds abroad. A further 639 million euros would be borrowed from international financial institutions, according to the government's 2023 borrowing program.

Some 1.998 billion euros will be used to repay the country's debt, including 1.765 billion euros for the internal debt and 233 million euros for the foreign debt.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, October 12, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 12, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, October 12, 2022:

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with Stéphane Séjourné, leader of the Renew Europe political group in the European Parliament, at 8.45 a.m.; to meet with members of the Renew Europe group at 9 a.m.; to visit the opening of an exhibition "Ukrainian Woman" by a Ukrainian civil society hub and the Polish Sejm at 10.30 a.m.; to have lunch with EU parliament speakers and EP President Roberta Metsola at 12.30 p.m.; to attend an exchange of opinions with EP President Roberta Metsola and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at 4 p.m.; to attend a meeting of EU parliament speakers on the humanitarian situation and assistance to EU member states hosting refugees from Ukraine at 2.30 p.m.; individual press conference of speakers of national parliaments at 4.15 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to chair the Cabinet's sitting at 1 p.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to pay an official visit to Brussels.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska to attend a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Luxembourg.

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