+255 22 2864971 |  +255 776 018 829 |  info@lithuania-tz.com

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, December 22, 2022

Dec 24 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Thirteen migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus
  2. Lithuanian, German army chiefs to discuss defense, deterrence plans
  3. Lithuanian SocDems top party rankings, conservatives in 2nd place – survey
  4. Corruption scandal hit EP hard – Lithuania's Sinkevicius
  5. President remains most popular politician in Lithuania, defmin 2nd – survey
  6. Deployment of German brigade will depend on Lithuania's readiness – Nauseda
  7. Anti-Russian sanctions have hit ceiling, implementation now key – Lithuania's Sinkevicius
  8. Lithuania's Nauseda sees Russia appeasement policy creeping into EU
  9. Vilnius public transport drivers end strike after VVT, union reach agreement
  10. Formin calls on Lithuanian, German leaders to refine agreement on brigade deployment
  11. Response team of up to 60 troops ready for border protection – Lithuanian defmin
  12. Lithuanian president calls proposal to refine German brigade pact "irresponsible"
  13. China blocks EU request for WTO panel on Beijing's restrictions for Lithuania
  14. Seimas slaps ban on possession of weapons by Russians, Belarusians in Lithuania
  15. Lithuania to send more troops to NATO Response Force
  16. Formin calls on Lithuanian, German leaders to clarify agreement on brigade deployment (updates)
  17. Lithuanian parlt OKs compulsory school tests, threshold for 10-graders
  18. Lithuania signs contract to acquire Switchblade combat drones from US – DefMin
  19. Lithuanian army chief calls German brigade decision political, refrains to comment
  20. We must prepare for new wave of migrants – Moldovan minister in Vilnius

Thirteen migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 13 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday morning.

Latvia recorded 30 attempts to cross the border illegally on Wednesday, and Polish border guards denied entry to 26 irregular migrants on Tuesday, 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.

Overall, more than 11,100 irregular migrants have been prevented from entering Lithuania since January.

Lithuanian border guards have sent more than 19,200 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 more than a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuanian, German army chiefs to discuss defense, deterrence plans

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Germany's Chief of Defense Gen Eberhard Zorn, currently on a visit to Lithuania, will on Thursday meet with Chief of Defense of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupsys to discuss deterrence and defense plans related to the presence of German troops in Lithuania.

They would also discuss the regional security situation as well as talk about support to Ukraine and the restoration of the capabilities of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, which would allow them to continue to supply arms to Ukraine, the Lithuanian Army said in a press release.

Zorn is also scheduled to visit the Lithuanian army's Great Lithuanian Hetman Jonusas Radvila Training Regiment in Rukla, and meet with Marco Maulbecker, commander of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group, and Col Andre Hastenrath, commander of the German contingent of this group, as well as with the German troops stationed in Lithuania.

In the evening, he will take part in a festive event with German troops. Pre-Christmas visits of troops stationed abroad is a long-standing military tradition practiced by the armies of many countries.

Germany has been leading the NATO international battle group stationed in Lithuania since 2017.

In June, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz signed a joint communiqué stating 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".

Germany has so far only deployed the planned brigade's forward command element to Lithuania.

Lithuania and Germany have been at odds lately whether the ultimate goal should be the physical deployment of a full German brigade in Lithuania, as Vilnius wants, or whether its partial presence in Lithuanian would be sufficient, and part of that brigade could be stationed in Germany and be ready to redeploy quickly, if necessary.

Earlier this week, German ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sonn called such debate insulting, adding that any publicly expressed dissatisfaction would not lead to the deployment of any additional troops to Lithuania.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuanian SocDems top party rankings, conservatives in 2nd place – survey

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The opposition Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (SDPL) remains the most popular party in Lithuania, followed by the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), according to the latest survey by Vilmorus for the Lietuvos Rytas daily, published on Thursday.

If elections were held on the upcoming Sunday, 14.5 percent would vote for the SDPL, down from 15 percent in November.

Some 9.7 percent would vote for HU-LCD, down from 10.6 percent in November.

The opposition Democrats "For Lithuania" continue to rank third with 8.9 percent, up from 8.1 percent in November.

The opposition Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union would be supported by 7.4 percent (6.5 percent in November).

Next on the list is the Liberal Movement, part of the ruling coalition, which would get 5.4 percent of votes (5 percent in November).

“There are no particular changes, except for the Freedom and Justice party. The change is essential and it looks sensational to me,” Vilmorus head Vladas Gaidys told BNS.

The Freedom and Justice party saw its voter support dwindle to 2 percent in December, from 5.9 percent in November.

“There is probably just one reason for that. Remigijus Zemaitaitis, who is popular, was specified as the party’s chair last month and now he is replaced by Arturas Paulauskas, as an acting chair until April. That was probably the reason for the steep fall in support and the ensuing improvement in the rating of Saulius Skvernelis’ party,” Gaidys explained.

Some 13.6 percent of the polled said in December they would not vote at all (13.7 percent in November) while 28.5 percent did not know who they would vote for in a general election (24.6 percent in November).

The survey of 1,000 people was carried out on Dec 8-15.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


Corruption scandal hit EP hard – Lithuania's Sinkevicius

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS - The recent corruption scandal has dealt a major blow to the European Parliament, says European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius.

"The blow was undoubtedly a big one. I think that for people, corruption is one of politicians' most disgusting and heinous crimes," the Lithuanian commissioner told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Thursday.

The corruption scandal erupted last week after Belgian officers detained six people suspected of having received cash and gifts from Qatar as the country's wished to buy influence within the European Parliament.

Four of the detained persons, including Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who lost her post as vice-president, were charged with "criminal organization, corruption and money laundering". The remaining two were released.

Around 1.5 million euros in cash was seized during searches at the homes and offices of the EP-linked figures.

The investigation and the accusations rocked the European Parliament and raised questions about their connections with lobbyists and third parties.

"Clearly, if we compare what the transparency requirements are for commissioners in terms of meetings, in terms of action, in general, and in this case for MEPs, well, they are very different. We should look into this and close these gaps to avoid similar situations in the future," the commissioner said.

"I think the emergence of rules, like those for commissioners, on ethics and transparency would go a long way in solving this," he added.

Last week, EP President Roberta Metsola promised a "wide-ranging reform package" for the Parliament.

Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel told Politico on Wednesday that the corruption scandal was damaging for the EU's credibility and it harder for Brussels to deal with multiple competing crises.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 645 093 86, Vilnius newsroom


President remains most popular politician in Lithuania, defmin 2nd – survey

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS - President Gitanas Nauseda remains the most popular politician in Lithuania, followed by National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas, according to the latest opinion poll carried out by Vilmorus for the Lietuvos Rytas daily and published on Thursday.

The survey revealed that 61.3 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion about Nauseda in December, down from 62.2 percent in November.

Vladas Gaidys, head of Vilmous, pointed out that Nauseda’s rating had increased substantially from December 2021, when it reached 52 percent, and attributed the improvement to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and higher visibility of the country’s president.

“A year ago, it was the consequences of lockdowns, when the president was not traveling, not holding meetings …, whereas this year, the president’s activities have been just as we imagine them to be,” he told BNS.

Anusauskas came in second in the ranking with 45 percent of positive opinions, down from 45.4 percent in November, but up by 12 percentage points from December 2021.

“He is the only Cabinet member that is viewed positively by the public. This has been his year,” Gaidys said.

Anusauskas was followed by MEP Vilija Blinkeviciute, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, with 44 percent of favorable opinions (43.7 percent in November).

Next in the ranking was MP Saulius Skvernelis, leader of the opposition Democrats "For Lithuania", with 36.9 percent of favorable opinions (34.8 percent in November) and an identical share – of 36.9 percent – of unfavorable opinions

The top-5 also included Seimas Speaker Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen with 32.8 percent of favorable opinions (37.4 percent in November) and a similar share of negative opinions.

The most unpopular politicians in the country included Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska, Waldemar Tomaszewski, leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, and Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys, who were favored by 6–8 percent of the polled but disfavored by 51 percent, 56.8 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

Kreivys, in particular, was favored by 6.1 percent of respondents in December, down from 11.2 percent in November, which, according to Gaidys, was a record fall triggered by negative moods in the energy sector.

Health Minister Arunas Dulkys saw his popularity rating drop to 13.9 percent in December, from 17.3 percent in November and 22.9 percent in December 2021, while the share of those having an unfavorable opinion about the minister increased to 58 percent, from 55.8 percent in November.

The poll of 1,000 adult Lithuanian residents was carried out on December 8-15.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Vilnius newsroom


Deployment of German brigade will depend on Lithuania's readiness – Nauseda

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The deployment of a full German brigade in Lithuania will depend on Vilnius' readiness to host allied troops, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.

"It depends very much on Lithuania's ability to prepare," the president said in an interview with the delfi.lt news website on Wednesday. "I think that even Germany's own political process, its own readiness, will change depending on how much progress we make in this sense."

In his words, Lithuania has no possibility to host German troops but the country's long-term goal is to have a brigade "here in Lithuania". And talking about what has been done would make a "much greater impression" on Germany than discussing Berlin's willingness to send troops, Nauseda underlined.

"We sometimes create problems for ourselves simply by interpreting and discussing things in our own way. The text is clear enough: Germany is trying to increase its military support here in Lithuania to the brigade level", he added.

Earlier this week, German Ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sonn said statements that Germany is backtracking on its commitment to send a brigade to Lithuanian are insulting, adding that publicly expressed dissatisfaction won’t send any additional troops to Lithuania.

The public debate on Germany's commitment to deploy a brigade in Lithuania has acquired the tone of distrust, which is hurting Germany and is a "corrosive and harmful" debate, he said during a discussion at the Lithuanian parliament

In June, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz signed a joint communiqué stating 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".

Vilnius wants a full rotational German brigade to be permanently deployed in the country. Berlin officials, however, have said numerous times that part of the brigade promised by Berlin would be deployed in Lithuania and the rest would stay at home.

Germany has so far only deployed the planned brigade's forward command element to Lithuania.

Germany also leads an international NATO battle group stationed in Lithuanian since 2017.

 

By Augustas Stankevičius

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Vilnius newsroom


Anti-Russian sanctions have hit ceiling, implementation now key – Lithuania's Sinkevicius

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The European Union’s (EU) sanctions against Russia have hit the ceiling with nothing new in the works, Lithuania's European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius has said adding that the most important thing now is to implement these sanctions.

“I have argued for a long time that sanctions have hit their ceiling and there cannot be any novelties, any innovations in those sanctions,” the EU commissioner responsible for the environment, oceans and fisheries told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Thursday.

He described the shift away from the Russian gas in Europe as one of the most important steps.

“I think the biggest step has been taken, as far as energy is concerned, and it’s a major achievement that Russia’s share in the European Union’s gas mix has fallen to less than 9 percent, from 40 percent. I think these are the biggest steps, which will continue mounting pressure on Russia and reducing its possibilities to continue financing its war,” Sinkevicius added.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, the EU has already adopted nine packages of sanctions targeting Russia’s oil exports, top-ranking officials, certain Russian banks and companies.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuania's Nauseda sees Russia appeasement policy creeping into EU

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS - Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says he sees signs that a policy of appeasement towards Russia is trying to creep into the European Union.

In his words, this attitude is the result of Western countries' fatigue over the war in Ukraine taking place for almost 10 months.

"I see such signs, I see such efforts," the Lithuanian president in an interview with the delfi.lt news website on Wednesday, asked if he saw a policy of appeasement towards Russia infiltrating the EU.

"And in such cases, I always tell my colleagues in those other EU countries: we should understand, dear friends, how much Ukraine is suffering today and how tired it is of this war. Our fatigue, our difficulties are ridiculous compared to what the Ukrainian people are suffering," the Lithuanian president added.

The arguments behind this policy of appeasement "are beautiful and noble" and are aimed at ending the war as soon as possible, he said.

"But the question is at what cost. After all, no one in Lithuania would understand if someone from outside started trading on Lithuanian territory and said: "You know, take a piece of the north east and give it to your aggressive neighbors for a safe and good neighborhood." If someone raised the issue this way, we would say they were crazy," Nauseda said.

The West has no right to tell Ukraine that it has to make "territorial or other concessions" to the aggressor in order to achieve peace, he underlined.

Ex-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and some Western politicians have previously stated that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to Russia to end Moscow's invasion.

By Augustas Stankevičius

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Vilnius newsroom


Vilnius public transport drivers end strike after VVT, union reach agreement

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Public transport drivers in Vilnius on Thursday ended their strike after their trade union reached agreement with Vilniaus Viesasis Transportas (Vilnius Public Transport, VVT) 

"Good news: the drivers' strike is suspended. I thank both sides – the VVT management and the trade union leadership – for finally reaching agreement," Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius posted on Facebook.

It was later confirmed to BNS by Algirdas Markevicius, leader of the VVT trade union.

A collective agreement with VVT workers, agreed last Friday, will be signed on Thursday the mayor said, adding that it will enter into force on January 1.

"Buses will fully return to the streets as early as this evening," Simasius wrote.

The industrial action took place for a week and a half since December 5 as drivers demanded better working conditions and higher pay.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 205 85 08, Vilnius newsroom


Formin calls on Lithuanian, German leaders to refine agreement on brigade deployment

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called on Lithuanian and German leaders to refine the agreement on the deployment of a German brigade in the country.

According to him, Vilnius and Berlin differ in their understanding of the scale of this unit’s operation in Lithuania.

“Perhaps those people should probably go back to the agreement and repeat that Lithuania [then] definitely signed an agreement on a [full] brigade [deployed] in Lithuania,” he told reporters in the Seimas on Thursday.

“All of us in Lithuania understand it this way and we just want to formalize that fact. But this has to be done by the people who have signed that agreement.”

In June, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz signed a joint communiqué stating 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".

Germany has so far only deployed the planned brigade's forward command element to Lithuania.

Vilnius wants a full rotational German brigade to be permanently deployed in the country. Berlin officials, however, have said numerous times that part of the brigade promised by Berlin would be deployed in Lithuania and the rest would stay at home.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in an interview with the delfi.lt news website on Wednesday that the text of his agreement with the German chancellor was “clear enough”.

“We sometimes create problems for ourselves simply by interpreting and discussing things in our own way. The text is clear enough: Germany is trying to increase its military support here in Lithuania to the brigade level", he pointed out.

German ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sonn said earlier this week that statements that Germany was backtracking on its commitment to send a brigade to Lithuania were offensive and warned that publicly expressed dissatisfaction would not send any additional troops to Lithuania.

He told MPs that the public debate on Germany's commitment to deploy a brigade in Lithuania had acquired the tone of distrust, which was hurting Germany and was a "corrosive and harmful" debate.

Landsbergis said, in his turn, that he was surprised by such statements as “it is not common for ambassadors to assess a country’s internal processes”.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


Response team of up to 60 troops ready for border protection – Lithuanian defmin

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS - A rapid response group has been assigned for border protection and up to 60 troops are ready to respond immediately, Lithuania's Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anusauskas told lawmakers on Thursday.

"Up to 60 troops are on standby and are ready to respond immediately to possible violations of the state border by a higher number of people," Anusauskas told the parliament on Thursday.

The opposition asked Anusauskas and Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite to explain troops assisting border guards were withdrawn from the Lithuanian-Belarusian border in mid-December.

Anusauskas says the army continues to provide assistance from December 16 but under the assistance was modified by taking into account the fact of completion of a physical security barrier and surveillance systems.

In mid-December, Lithuanian troops were withdrawn from the Belarusian border but it was agreed that they could be deployed again, if necessary. The army told BNS the decision was made because the physical barrier had already been completed on the border and the installation of surveillance system was coming to an end.

National Defense Volunteer Force troops had been helping border guards to patrol the border with Belarus for more than a year since the migrant crisis broke out in the summer of 2021.

By Milena Andrukaitytė

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuanian president calls proposal to refine German brigade pact "irresponsible"

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis' recent proposal to refine the June communiqué on a German brigade, signed by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, is irresponsible, the Lithuanian presidential office says.

"Today, six months after the document was signed, the foreign minister's proposal to refine the Lithuanian president and German chancellor's joint communiqué on the deployment of a brigade in Lithuania is irresponsible, to say the least," the office said in a comment sent to BNS.

In it, the president called on the foreign and national defense ministers "to finally focus on joint work with Germany to ensure that the allied brigade arrives in Lithuania as soon as possible and to stop raising internal politicking to the international level".

As Vilnius and Berlin differ in their understanding on the deployment of a German brigade in Lithuania, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Thursday called on the Lithuanian and German leaders to refine their brigade agreement.

"Perhaps those people should probably go back to the agreement and repeat that Lithuania [then] definitely signed an agreement on a [full] brigade [deployed] in Lithuania," Landsbergis told reporters at the Seimas earlier on Thursday. "All of us in Lithuania understand it this way and we just want to formalize that fact. But this has to be done by the people who have signed that agreement."

In his interview with the delfi.lt news website on Wednesday, Nauseda the text of his agreement with the German chancellor was "clear enough".

"We sometimes create problems for ourselves simply by interpreting and discussing things in our own way. The text is clear enough: Germany is trying to increase its military support here in Lithuania to the brigade level," he pointed out.

Landsbergis, however, stressed that he had heard during informal conversations that "at the time of the agreement, it was clear to everybody that the agreement was made in Berlin's understanding".

German ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sonn said earlier this week that statements that Germany was backtracking on its commitment to send a brigade to Lithuania were offensive and warned that publicly expressed dissatisfaction would not send any additional troops to Lithuania.

He told MPs that the public debate on Germany's commitment to deploy a brigade in Lithuania had acquired the tone of distrust, which was hurting Germany and was a "corrosive and harmful" debate.

Landsbergis said, in his turn, that he was surprised by such statements as "it is not common for ambassadors to assess a country’s internal processes".

By Jūratė Skėrytė

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


China blocks EU request for WTO panel on Beijing's restrictions for Lithuania

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – China this week blocked the European Union's request to set up a panel at the World Trade Organization to look into Beijing's impose imports restrictions on Lithuania. Vilnius, however, says, it should not delay the process very much.

"China has exercised its right to block the EU's request to the WTO to set up a special panel to resolve its dispute with Lithuania. However, China can only use the blocking right once and it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the start of the proceedings," the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a comment sent to BNS on Thursday.

China also blocked the EU's separate request to set up a panel to look into China preventing European high-tech companies from using the possibility to defend their patents at EU courts.

The Chinese newspaper South China Morning Post's news website reports that Beijing views the EU requests "puzzling" and "premature".

However, the EU will again request that panels to hear the cases are formed in January. China will no longer be able to veto the proceedings at this point since member states can only block such requests once, the website writes.

Trade restrictions with China followed Vilnius' decision to allow Taipei to open a Taiwanese trade office in the Lithuanian capital. The EU turned to the WTO early this year following a major drop in Lithuania's imports and exports to and from China.

By Saulius Jakučionis

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 205 85 10, Vilnius newsroom


Seimas slaps ban on possession of weapons by Russians, Belarusians in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday slapped a ban on the possession of weapons by Russian and Belarusian citizens domiciled in Lithuania.

Respective legislative amendments were passed in a vote of 112 to one with 13 abstentions.

The parliament took account of the proposal by Laurynas Kasciunas, chair of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, and supplemented the Law on Control of Weapons and Ammunition with a provision stating that permanent residents shall be allowed to acquire and possess weapons in Lithuania, except for Russian and Belarusian nationals who do not have Lithuanian citizenship.

Kasciunas earlier said that this amendment would help prevent the formation of diversion groups in Lithuania in the event of unrest.

Pursuant to the law, those who possess such weapons already will have to give them up within one year of the law's entry into force by selling them, converting them or handing them over to the police, and their weapon permits would be revoked. Failure to do so would result in confiscation.

According to the Committee’s data, there are currently 294 Russian and 46 Belarusian citizens in Lithuania who have permits to possess or carry weapons.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 645 093 86, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuania to send more troops to NATO Response Force

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament has increased the number of troops assigned to the NATO Response Force and serving within EU military headquarters.

Under the Seimas resolution, up to 338 Lithuanian troops and civilian employees working for the national defense system will be sent to take part in international operations in 2023, the parliament's press service said.

It also allows sending next year up to 139 Lithuanian troops and civilian staff to participate in international operations NATO or the EU Council decided to partake.

This year, the total number of troops in both aforementioned cases amounts up to 432.

Moreover, the number of troops and civilians assigned to the Joint Expeditionary Force to participate in international operations in the territories of NATO and EU member states also been increased to 160 from the existing 142.

The number of Lithuanian troops participating in international operations is approved by the parliament on the president's recommendation.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 645 093 86, Vilnius newsroom


Formin calls on Lithuanian, German leaders to clarify agreement on brigade deployment (updates)

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called on Lithuanian and German leaders to clarify the agreement on the deployment of a German brigade signed earlier this year.

According to him, Vilnius and Berlin currently differ in their understanding as to in what quantity the brigade should be deployed in Lithuania.

“Perhaps those people should probably go back to the agreement and repeat that Lithuania [then] definitely signed an agreement on a [full] brigade [deployed] in Lithuania,” he told reporters in the Seimas on Thursday.

“All of us in Lithuania understand it this way and we just want to formalize that fact. But this has to be done by the people who have signed that agreement.”

Paulina Levickyte, spokeswoman for the foreign minister, later told BNS that Landsbergis was thus “proposing to the Lithuanian president and the German chancellor to speak up once again about what precisely was written in the communique and how they understand its content”.

In June, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz signed a joint communiqué stating 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".

Germany has so far only deployed the planned brigade's forward command element to Lithuania.

Vilnius wants a full rotational German brigade to be permanently deployed in the country. Berlin officials, however, have said numerous times that part of the brigade promised by Berlin would be deployed in Lithuania and the rest would stay at home.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in an interview with the delfi.lt news website on Wednesday that the text of his agreement with the German chancellor was “clear enough”.

“We sometimes create problems for ourselves simply by interpreting and discussing things in our own way. The text is clear enough: Germany is trying to increase its military support here in Lithuania to the brigade level", he pointed out.

German ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sonn said earlier this week that statements that Germany was backtracking on its commitment to send a brigade to Lithuania were offensive and warned that publicly expressed dissatisfaction would not send any additional troops to Lithuania.

He told MPs that the public debate on Germany's commitment to deploy a brigade in Lithuania had acquired the tone of distrust, which was hurting Germany and was a "corrosive and harmful" debate.

Landsbergis said, in his turn, that he was surprised by such statements as “it is not common for ambassadors to assess a country’s internal processes”.

By Augustas Stankevičius, Saulius Jakučionis

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 205 85 10, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuanian parlt OKs compulsory school tests, threshold for 10-graders

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuanian lawmakers on Thursday backed the introduction of compulsory school tests for Grades 4 and 8, and also set a threshold as of 2025 for Grade 10 students to continue their education in gymnasium.

This move will change the current testing system as tests will become compulsory for Grades 4 and 8, but there will be no more tests for Grade 6.

Under the new scheme, the gymnasium threshold will be phased in for 10-graders, starting with four points in 2025 and going up to five points from 2029.

Currently, children's achievements are assessed in Grades 4, 6 and 8, but they are not compulsory. Nevertheless, some 96 percent of children in general education establishments undergo such evaluation.

Under the new rules, 10-graders will complete their basic education not only by completing the basic education curriculum, but also by passing a Basic Education Achievement Test (PUPP) and receiving satisfactory grades.

Those who fail to pass their PUPP test will be able to retake it, or will be offered the option of repeating the whole Grade 10 course or focus on a specific subject to prepare for the PUPP test next year.

By Milena Andrukaitytė

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 239 64 16, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuania signs contract to acquire Switchblade combat drones from US – DefMin

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The Defense Materiel Agency under Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defense has signed a contract on acquisition of Switchblade 600 combat drones from the US Government, the Defense Ministry reported on Thursday.

The acquisition would also include drone launching and control equipment, a simulator for personnel training, and a maintenance package, the ministry said adding that the contract was worth an estimated 45 million euros.

“We are the first country in the world, after the United States, to acquire Switchblades 600. These combat drones comprise a new redeployable capability that will give the Lithuanian Armed Forces the ability to destroy enemy tanks and other armored vehicles up to 40 kilometers away. Our Armed Forces have never had such a capability before,” the press release quoted Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas as saying.

The United States will also hand over smaller and lighter Switchblade 300 combat drones to Lithuania in the near future. This capability intended for the Lithuanian Armed Forces is expected to be financed by the US Military Assistance Fund.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 205 85 10, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuanian army chief calls German brigade decision political, refrains to comment

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Chief of Defense of Lithuania Valdemaras Rupsys says the decision on the deployment of a German brigade in Lithuania is a political one, and he refuses to comment on it.

"The presence or absence of a brigade is a political decision. And I will certainly not comment today on what politicians will decide," Rupsys told reporters on Thursday after meeting with his German counterpart Eberhard Zorn in Vilnius.

The Lithuanian and German armies are working on "some details" related to the needs of the German brigade, for example, warehousing or training.

Rupsys' comment came amid reignited debate on the Vilnius-Berlin brigade agreement, with Lithuania maintaining that Germany committed to deploying a full brigade in Lithuania.

The agreement was signed in Vilnius in June by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and it 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".

Germany has so far only deployed the planned brigade's forward command element to Lithuania.

Earlier on Thursday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called on the Lithuanian and German leaders to explain what they exactly agreed on.

The German army chief refrained to provide comment on his visit to Lithuanian media.

German officials say a brigade assigned to Lithuania would be deployed in the country within 10 days, if necessary.

By Saulius Jakučionis

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 205 85 10, Vilnius newsroom


We must prepare for new wave of migrants – Moldovan minister in Vilnius

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS - Moldova and other Eastern European countries need to be ready for a new wave of Ukrainian refugees as Russia' continues to attack Ukraine's energy and civilian infrastructure, Moldova's Interior Minister Ana Revenco said in Vilnius on Thursday.

Moldova has learnt to react quickly and to rely on friends, like Lithuania, ever since hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to Moldova in the wake of the war, Revenco said.

"Now, as winter is already here, houses, as the temperatures go lower, and the attacks on the energy infrastructure is increasing in tension, it could indeed generate a new wave of refugees, force people to leave their houses. We must stay prepared, we understand that. The situation remains quite volatile. What we have learned since February 24 is to react, rely on friends, such as Lithuania," the Moldovan minister told BNS after meeting with the Lithuanian counterpart Agne Bilotaite.

According to Revenco, Russia is using hybrid tools in its fight, including "using migration also as a tool, as a weapon".

Moldova is the first country on the refugee front and it has dealt with a major influx of migrants because of the war in Ukraine, Bilotaite said. Nearly 650,000 Ukrainians initially fled to Moldova, and around 80,000 people remain there today. Lithuania, for its part, has received some 72,000 people from Ukraine.

"Lithuania was the first country to offer to help Moldova take in up to 2,000 Ukrainians, and around 250 Ukrainians from Moldova have arrived," the minister told BNS. 

Cold weather may force Ukrainians to leave their country, and Lithuania is ready to take in an additional 20,000 to 30,000 Ukrainians, Bilotaite said.

During their meeting, the two ministers discussed the regional situation, security issues and shared their experiences in coping with the challenges of war.

Last fall, Moldova faced several Russian-induced hybrid attacks, including several power cuts across the country due to Russian missile strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, as well as mobile phone outages. There have also been false reports of bombs in courts, schools and institutions, organized pro-Russian protests in Chisinau, as well as cyber attacks against government institutions and representatives.

By Jurgita Andriejauskaitė, Paulius Perminas

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Vilnius newsroom

Read 65 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About The Author

Upcoming events

There are no up-coming events

Our Gallery