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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, November 17, 2023

Nov 20 2023

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Lithuanian Post fined EUR 184,500 for poor EU mail delivery
  2. Twenty irregular migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus
  3. OECD to present report on strengthening secondary education in Lithuania
  4. Lithuania reports 608 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  5. Lithuanian SocDems to name their presidential candidate in December – leader
  6. New Danish defense attaché accredited to Lithuania
  7. Expat Lithuanian reps believe in citizenship referendum success
  8. Lithuania registers this year's 1st measles cases, all unvaccinated children 
  9. Lithuania sends power generators, field beds, dry rations to Ukraine
  10. Radioactive waste from Maisiagala to be moved to Lithuanian N-plant by year-end 

Lithuanian Post fined EUR 184,500 for poor EU mail delivery

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS – Lithuania's Communications Regulatory Authority has fined Lietuvos Pastas (Lithuanian Post), the country's state-owned post company, 184,500 euros for failing to meet quality indicators.

The authority states that the quality of international priority mail sent by Lietuvos Pastas between EU member states has been deteriorating over the last few years.

"The company has failed to ensure the delivery of international priority mail between EU countries within the set deadlines. As a result, this year we have imposed a fine for non-compliance with quality obligations in the international section," Jurate Soviene, chair of the CRA Council, said in a statement.

The CRA says that the average time it takes for mail to reach EU countries from Lithuania is 16 percent longer than from Poland, 43 percent longer than from Estonia and 49.5 percent longer than from Latvia.

Mail sent from Lithuanian to some EU countries, e.g. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Romania, Spain, and around half a month to Cyprus, takes more than 10 days to reach addressees.

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Twenty irregular migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS –  Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 20 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Friday morning.

Latvia reported 17 attempts at illegal border crossings on Thursday, and 71 irregular migrants were not allowed into Poland on Wednesday, according to the latest available information.

A total of 2,428 irregular migrants have been barred from entering Lithuania from Belarus at non-designated places so far this year.

Lithuanian border guards have prevented a total of over 21,700 people from crossing in from Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to turn away irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

The influx of irregular migrants to the EU's eastern member states from Belarus began in 2021 and is blamed by the West on the Minsk regime.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally in 2021. However, the vast majority of them fled Lithuania once they were allowed to move freely.

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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OECD to present report on strengthening secondary education in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS – The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will present a report on strengthening secondary education in Lithuania at the parliament on Friday.

The report contains OECD experts' analysis of upper secondary education and the ongoing changes within it, the Education, Science and Sport Ministry has said.

The OECD experts looked at four main areas of change in secondary education: the implementation of the updated general curriculum framework, the reform of the Matura examinations, the effectiveness of career guidance, and the use of academic information.

Their recommendations focus on improving the flexibility of the Lithuanian education system, activating processes among different educational levels, improving the quality of education, and enhancing accessibility in both general education and vocational schools. 

The OECD report for Lithuania will be reviewed by Andreas Schleicher, the organization's director for education and skills.

 

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Lithuania reports 608 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

VILNIUS, Nov 16, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 608 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Friday morning.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals stands at 124, including seven ICU cases. 

The 14-day primary infection rate has risen further to 286.9 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 32.2 percent.

The number of new coronavirus cases hit the peak in Lithuania in early February 2022 when more than 14,000 new infections were recorded daily. Around 1.19 million people in Lithuania have tested positive for COVID-19 at least once.

COVID-19 incidence in Lithuania took an upward turn in mid-September after having stayed at a low level since May. 

Some 68.5 percent of people in the country have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far, according to the statistics.

 

 

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Lithuanian SocDems to name their presidential candidate in December – leader

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS – The Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) will announce its presidential candidate in December, according to MEP Vilija Blinkeviciute, the party's leader, who has not yet said if she will run in next May's election.

"We, the Social Democrats, will nominate a candidate. Proposals from the branches are in, and our plan is to announce our decision on the presidential candidate in December. Everything is going according to plan," she told the Ziniu Radijas radio station on Friday. 

Blinkeviciute, who is proposed by most party branches as the LSDP presidential candidate, said that her decision on whether to run will be well thought out.

"I never make spontaneous decisions, because I have lived a long life and have been in politics for many years, and my decision will be very well measured and weighed," she said. 

Several LSDP braches have also proposes as candidates Nerijus Cesiulis, Juozas Olekas, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Julius Sabatauskas, Gintautas Paluckas, Liutauras Gudzinskas, Sarunas Birutis and Algirdas Sysas.

Opinion polls indicate that Gitanas Nauseda, the incumbent, is currently the clear favorite to win the presidential election scheduled for May 12. The other two top contenders are Ignas Vegele, a lawyer, and Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.

The ruling conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD) has named Simonyte as the party's presidential candidate.  

Nauseda and Vegele have said they will announce their decisions on whether or not to run in the 2024 race later this year.

The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union is fielding Aurelija Veryga, a former health minister and now an MP, in the presidential election. The Democratic Union "For Lithuania" has named Giedrimas Jeglinskas, a former deputy defense minister and NATO assistant secretary general, as its candidate, and the Freedom Party is nominating Dainius Zalimas, a former president of the Constitutional Court.

The Liberal Movement's branches propose to nominate Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, the party's leader and speaker of the parliament. She has said she will announce her decision later.

Valdas Tutkus, a former chief of defense, Mantas Varaska, the mayor of Kazlu Ruda, a town in southern Lithuania, and Antanas Kandrotas have also announced their intention to run for president. 

Kandrotas, known by the nickname Celofanas (Cellophane), is on trial in a criminal case concerning the August 2021 riot outside the Lithuanian parliament building. 

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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New Danish defense attaché accredited to Lithuania

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS - Denmark's new Defence Attaché to Lithuania, Captain (Naval) Visti Salomonsen, was accredited at the Lithuanian Defense Ministry on Friday. 

"Denmark and Lithuania share the same values, interests and approach to European security and defense. I would like to underline Denmark's continuous and significant contribution to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission as Danish troops have been deployed as part of the emission eight occasions," Lithuanian Defense Vice Minister Greta Monika Tuckute said at the ceremony.

Outgoing attaché Colonel Niels Henrik Johansen was also awarded the Lithuanian National Defense System's Medal of Merit in recognition of his service, the ministry said.

Salomonsen joined the Danish army in 1993. Having been deployed Iraq, the Danish captain has been awarded numerous decorations.

According to the Defense Ministry, Denmark and Lithuania are members of several multilateral cooperation formats, such as the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), the North-Baltic-8 (NB8) and the Northern Group, the North-Baltic-US (NBUS).

The Danish officer is the head of the NATO Force Integration Unit, established in Lithuania in 2015, which is responsible for hosting the NATO response forces in Lithuania.

Denmark has also expressed its intention to join the Lithuanian-led demining coalition and it joined the Lithuanian-coordinated Cyber Rapid Response Teams project in August. There is also close cooperation between the two countries in providing assistance to Ukraine.

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Expat Lithuanian reps believe in citizenship referendum success

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS – Representatives of the Commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian World Community believe in the success of the upcoming referendum on multiple citizenship and see changes in its preparation, such as greater institutional involvement and support from the country's leaders.

"The difference we see from 2019 is the early preparation, i.e., the amended Law on Referendum, it has been announced earlier, which gives more time to inform the public. We see working groups both in the Seimas and in the government, action plans are being drawn up and implemented," Jonas Bruzas, chair of the parliamentary commission, told a press conference at the Seimas on Friday. "I think that the advance work is a major difference, compared to the last referendum, and I very much hope that it will successful."

The referendum on the legalization of multiple citizenship will take place on May 12, alongside the first round of the presidential election. Preparations for the referendum were discussed earlier this week by the Commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian World Community.

The commission adopted a resolution proposing that the Seimas and the government ensure that information about the referendum is disseminated as widely as possible, that the necessary funds are allocated for this purpose, and that the number of voters in Lithuania and abroad who have the right to vote in the referendum is specified. More than half of the citizens with the right to vote must vote in favor of multiple citizenship in the upcoming referendum for it to be legalized.

Dalia Henke, chair of the World Lithuanian Community, says the big difference from the 2019 referendum, when there were not enough votes to change the Constitution, and the upcoming referendum is the knowledge that a large part of the public supports the legalization of multiple citizenship, and state leaders back it too.

On 12 May, people will be invited to vote on the following provision of the Constitution: "Citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania shall be acquired by birth and on other grounds and in the manner prescribed by the constitutional law. The constitutional law shall also lay down the grounds and procedure for loss of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania."

This would remove the prohibition of dual citizenship from the country's basic law. 

The detailed conditions, procedures and other matters relating to the acquisition and loss of dual citizenship would be laid down by a constitutional law. A draft law has already been prepared and registered in the draft legislation database.

Lithuania held a referendum on dual citizen back in 2019 in conjunction with the presidential election and it sought to provide for more possibilities to have dual citizenship, but there were not enough votes for such a change. At that time, over 956,000 voters in total voted in favor of the proposed amendment.

Lithuanians who emigrated after the restoration of independence on March 11, 1990 are currently not eligible for dual citizenship, with some exceptions.

The Constitutional Court has clarified that only a referendum amending the Constitution can open the possibility of dual citizenship to Lithuanian citizens who have acquired citizenship of other countries since the restoration of Lithuania's independence.

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Lithuania registers this year's 1st measles cases, all unvaccinated children 

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS – Lithuania's first three measles cases this year have been registered in the port city of Klaipeda, the National Public Health Center (NPHC) said on Friday. 

All the cases were children aged between 4 and 12 years who had not been vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, it said.

According to the center, the highest incidence of measles in the country in the last decade was recorded in 2019, with 834 registered cases of the infectious disease.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, measles was diagnosed in two individuals. No cases were reported in 2021 and 2022.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 1,331 measles cases were reported in 19 countries in Europe between January and September this year.

The NPHC notes that the drop in measles vaccination coverage to 90 percent during the pandemic, not only in Lithuania but also in other European countries, allowed measles to spread to unvaccinated children and adults.

Experts emphasize that achieving a 95 percent vaccination rate among the population is crucial to control measles. Otherwise, there is a real threat of measles outbreaks not only among children but also among adults.

 

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Lithuania sends power generators, field beds, dry rations to Ukraine

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS – Lithuania has sent a new shipment of power generators, field beds and dry rations to Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said on Friday.  

Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas says Lithuania purchased these items in response to Ukraine's urgent needs.

The 160 kW stationary diesel-powered electric generators are intended for generating electrical energy and ensuring its supply to installations in locations where there are no electrical supply lines or where the supply has been disrupted.

The generators have equipment that automatically switches on the generator engine when the electricity supply from the fixed electricity grid fails and turns it off when the electricity supply is restored.

The generators can run continuously for at least eight hours at full load and can be operated in temperatures ranging from -30 to +40 degrees Celsius.

Lithuania handed over a shipment of anti-drones and generators to Ukraine last Friday, and NASAMS launchers at the start of the month. 

According to the Defense Ministry, Lithuania's military aid sent to Ukraine earlier includes Mi-8 helicopters, L-70 anti-aircraft guns with ammunition, M113 armored personnel carriers, millions of rounds of ammunition, ammunition for grenade-launchers, and radar kits.

In addition, Lithuania is also training Ukrainian soldiers, providing medical treatment and rehabilitation to wounded Ukrainians, and expert advice, and contributing to international funds for assistance to the country which is fighting back against Russia's military aggression.

Lithuania has also drawn up a long-term support plan for Ukraine, providing for a new military aid package worth 200 million euros for the years 2024-2026.

According to the Defense Ministry, Lithuania's assistance package already provided to Ukraine totals more than 1 billion euros, or more than 1.2 percent of its GDP, with military aid making up a half of the amount.

 

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Radioactive waste from Maisiagala to be moved to Lithuanian N-plant by year-end 

VILNIUS, Nov 17, BNS – Radioactive waste from the decommissioned Maisiagala storage facility in the eastern Lithuanian district of Sirvintos is planned to be transported to the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) storage facilities by the end of the year, INPP CEO Linas Bauzys said on Friday.

"As soon as we receive the permits from the authorities, we immediately start (waste collection and removal). The aim is to complete all the removal work by the end of this year," he told BNS. 

According to him, 300 cubic meters of radioactive waste will be transported from the Maisiagala facility to the INPP. 

The so-called cold testing of the Maisiagala storage facility's waste management equipment and systems has already been carried out, the INPP, which is responsible for the safety of the facility, said on Friday. 

Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys says Lithuania will be the first in the world to dismantle such a facility in accordance with the highest international safety standards.

"Once all the waste has been removed from the storage facility and it has been confirmed that there are no contaminated structures and soil left on its grounds, the area will be returned to the public," he said in a press release. 

The government decided back in 2018 to decommission the Maisiagala facility, with an estimated 16 million euros in EU funds needed for the purpose.

The facility, a monolithic reinforced concrete basement, is located at a depth of three meters in a forest in Sirvintos District, some 7 kilometers northwest of the town of Maisiagala and about 30 kilometers from Vilnius. 

The facility was used to store unsorted radioactive waste collected from industrial enterprises, medical and scientific institutions, and military units between 1963 and 1989. 

It was closed and mothballed in 1989. 

 

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