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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, December 22, 2023

Dec 28 2023

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Ekspress Grupp fined EUR 140,000 for lrytas.lt acquisition infringement in Lithuania
  2. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, December 22, 2023
  3. Nine irregular migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus
  4. Lithuania's competition watchdog to announce decision on lrytas.lt acquisition
  5. President: there were no signals that Lithuania will not get ready to host German brigade
  6. Lithuania reports 798 new COVID-19 cases, one death
  7. Lithuania’s DefMin buying new optical sights for army for EUR 34 mln
  8. Lithuania's Constitutional Court opens case on diacritical marks in documents
  9. Ekspress Grupp fined EUR 140,000 for lrytas.lt acquisition infringement in Lithuania
  10. Lithuania's FinMin turns to SSD over Yellowstone lease deal
  11. Lithuanian journalist, philosopher, translator Drunga dies
  12. Lithuanian president vetoes Seimas' decision to legalize use of night sights in hunting
  13. Two Lithuanian committee chairs to go to Warsaw amid Ukraine aid shipment problems
  14. Lithuanian president vetoes Seimas' decision to legalize use of night sights in hunting (expands)
  15. Universal conscription, defense industry boost among Lithuania's HU-LCD's proposals
  16. Lithuanian formin calls president's move to name ambassadorial candidates 'unacceptable'

Ekspress Grupp fined EUR 140,000 for lrytas.lt acquisition infringement in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuania's Competition Council on Friday fined Ekspress Grupp, an Estonian media group that operates the Delfi news websites in the Baltic states, slightly more than 140,000 euros for breaking the law when it acquired the Lithuanian news website lrytas.lt.

The Council found that Ekspress Grupp violated the Law on Competition by acquiring Lrytas, the company controlling the lrytas.lt news website, without notifying the institution and obtaining its permission, if the revenue of the businesses involved in the transaction exceeds the legal thresholds.

The ruling can be appealed to the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court.

The Competition Council launched the probe in this case following a complaint by 15min.

Ekspress Grupp acquired the lrytas.lt news website through a newly-established company in Lithuania for an undisclosed value in December 2022.

Until then, the news website belonged to Lrytas, in which Big Group, controlled by Benas Gudelis, owned 36 percent, 26.5 percent belonged to Gedvydas Vainauskas, 13.2 percent belonged to Vidmantas Strimaitis, and the rest was owned by minority shareholders.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, December 22, 2023

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, December 22, 2023:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to attend the ceremony of handover of the Flame of Peace of Bethlehem at 11 a.m.

THE CABINET to hold a virtual sitting at 10 a.m.

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

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

Latvia reported two attempts at illegal border crossings on Thursday, and 11 irregular migrants were not allowed into Poland on Wednesday, according to the latest available information.

More than 2,500 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 almost 22,000 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.

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Lithuania's competition watchdog to announce decision on lrytas.lt acquisition

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The Lithuanian Competition Council will on Friday announce its decision on the deal between Ekspress Grupp, an Estonian media group that owns the delfi.lt news websites in the Baltic countries, and Lietuvos Rytas, a Lithuanian company, on the acquisition of the lrytas.lt news website in Lithuania.

The competition watchdog looked into whether the transaction was in line the law that requires the parties to notify about planned concentration and receive authorization from the Competition Council, if the revenues of the businesses involved in the transaction exceed the legal thresholds.

The procedure was launched in August on the basis of a complaint filed by the company 15min.

Last December, Ekspress Grupp acquired the lrytas.lt news website from Lietuvos Rytas through its company in Lithuania for an undisclosed value. The agreement was signed for the acquisition of 100 percent of shares in Lrytas, a subsidiary of Lietuvos Rytas, and the deal was partly financed by SEB Bank.

Big Group, controlled by Ben Gudelis, owns a 36 percent stake in Lietuvos Rytas, and Gedvydas Vainauskas and Vidmantas Strimaitis own 26.5 percent and 13.2 percent respectively. The rest belongs to minority shareholders. 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 205 85 11, Vilnius newsroom


President: there were no signals that Lithuania will not get ready to host German brigade

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who met with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius a few days ago, says that there were no signals at the meeting that Lithuania would not be able to prepare to host a brigade, and that the social conditions of German soldiers are being discussed, but this does not indicate a reluctance to finance them.

"Mr. Pistorius visited Lithuania a few days ago and there were no signals that Lithuania is not able to do or will not do something. We have always been open with our partners that what is necessary militarily to host the brigade will be done by 2026," the president said in an interview published by the tv3 news portal on Thursday.

He also said that at present, it was difficult to talk about the social infrastructure for the troops who will arrive with their families because it was not known what the needs would be, and confirmed that Lithuania had asked whether these costs could be shared by both sides.

“Yes, it will cost extra money and we are saying that Lithuania will do its utmost to finance a large part of the cost, but we are only discussing and asking whether this could be done on a cost-sharing basis. This certainly does not imply that Lithuania is not willing to finance something," the president said.

Speaking about the possibility of introducing a new tax to finance defense, he said that if agreed during 2024, a defense tax could be introduced from 2025.

"We are certainly ready for discussions on a defense tax and it is possible to do it in 2024 and to have such a tax already in place in 2025," Nauseda said.

The German magazine Der Spiegel reported earlier this week that, based on a leaked cable, the deployment of a brigade poses major financial challenges to Vilnius.

According to Der Spiegel, diplomatic correspondence from the German embassy in Lithuania, obtained by the publication, shows that Lithuania is convinced that it will only have to pay for the military infrastructure and would only contribute proportionally to the cost of accommodating the German troops.

According to the cable, Vilnius does not feel responsible for building schools and kindergartens for the soldiers’ families.

This information was made public after the Lithuanian and German defense ministers signed the brigade deployment roadmap on Monday as around 5,000 German troops are to be deployed in Lithuania.

The roadmap states, among other things, that the responsibilities and financial arrangements, including host nation support services as well as funding and operation will be agreed and detailed "in technical arrangements to be developed in 2024".

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


Lithuania reports 798 new COVID-19 cases, one death

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 798 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Friday morning.

The 14-day primary infection rate has dropped to 507.7 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 33.4 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 1.36 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. 

Two-thirds of the country's population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far, according to the statistics.

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


Lithuania’s DefMin buying new optical sights for army for EUR 34 mln

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The Defense Ministry is buying new Canadian-made optical sights by Raytheon Elcan Optical Technologies for the Lithuanian Armed Forces for 34 million euros.

The sights will be designed for use with the army's existing 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm caliber firearms, the ministry said in a press release on Friday.

According to the ministry, they will improve the effectiveness of the rapid-fire weaponry of the Lithuanian troops, hitting targets during the day and night, and increase the survivability of the troops. The sights are designed to shoot and hit from 300 meters and beyond.

This procurement is being carried out through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), which is the main procurement platform for defense authorities in Lithuania and other NATO countries.

The first sights will reach Lithuania in the summer of 2024 and the rest will be delivered by the fall of 2025.

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


Lithuania's Constitutional Court opens case on diacritical marks in documents

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuania's Constitutional Court on Thursday opened a case on the possibility to write personal names in Latin characters with diacritical marks in personal documents.

The court says it has started hearing the case in response to the Vilnius City District Court's request to rule whether the possibility of writing names and surnames in personal documents with diacritical marks, which is not in place right now, is in line with the Constitution.

The court will assess the provisions of the Law on the Spelling of the Name and Surname in Personal Documents as to what extend they do not allow writing the names of non-Lithuanian citizens of Lithuania using "Latin-based characters with diacritical marks in other alphabets formed on the basis of the Latin alphabet as well as in the Lithuanian alphabet".

The court has also been asked to rule on the government-adopted rules on the spelling of personal names.

The Vilnius City District Court turned to the Constitutional Court after hearing a civil case on the obligation to change the civil status record so that the name and surname of a certain non-Lithuanian citizen of Lithuanian nationality are indicated using a Latin-based character with a diacritical mark that is non-existent in the Lithuanian alphabet.

The Seimas has legalized the spelling of Lithuanian citizens' names in Latin characters without diacritical marks in documents in certain cases. The Constitutional Court has already ruled that such a procedure does not run counter to the Constitution. However, the spelling of names and surnames in personal documents with diacritical marks has not been legalized.

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


Ekspress Grupp fined EUR 140,000 for lrytas.lt acquisition infringement in Lithuania

Updated version: updates throughout

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuania's Competition Council on Friday fined Ekspress Grupp, an Estonian media group that operates the Delfi news websites in the Baltic states, slightly more than 140,000 euros for breaking the law when it acquired the Lithuanian news website lrytas.lt.

The Council found that Ekspress Grupp violated the Law on Competition by acquiring Lrytas, the company controlling the lrytas.lt news website, without notifying the institution and obtaining its permission, if the revenue of the businesses involved in the transaction exceeds the legal thresholds.

The ruling can be appealed to the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court. However, if it comes into force, Ekspress Grupp will have to apply for and obtain permission from the Competition Council for the transaction or sell its shares in the company that operates the lrytas.lt website.

Delfi CEO Vytautas Benokraitis did not comment on the Competition Council's decision on Friday.

"Delfi has nothing to do with this as this is Ekspress Grupp's business. (...) You need to talk to Ekspress Grupp as they are commenting on this decision. We continue to live as we have so far, nothing has changed for us," Benokraitis told BNS.

The Law on Competition stipulates that it is mandatory to notify the Competition Council about a planned transaction and obtain its permission if the combined total revenue of the companies involved in the concentration in the Republic of Lithuania in the last business year preceding the transaction exceeds 20 million euros, and if the total revenue of each participant in the transaction in the Republic of Lithuania exceeds 2 million euros.

Ekspress Grupp held the opinion that it was not obligated to notify the Competition Council about the concentration because the combined revenues of the transaction participants did not exceed 20 million euros.

The company argued that the revenues of Lrytas from the sale of advertising space to foreign-registered clients should not be attributed to revenues obtained in the Republic of Lithuania.

Nevertheless, according to the assessment of the Competition Council, the revenues obtained by Lrytas from foreign-registered clients should be considered as revenues obtained in the Republic of Lithuania. This is because, in calculating total revenues, it is important to consider where the competition takes place rather than the registration address of advertising space buyers. According to the experts of the Authority, competition for advertising revenues among Lithuanian online news portals occurs in the Republic of Lithuania. This is because foreign-registered buyers of advertising space through the lrytas.lt website expect to reach the audience of our country, specifically interested in Lithuanian and international news.

The Competition Council concluded that Lrytas' revenues from foreign buyers of advertising space are to be considered as revenues generated in the Republic of Lithuania, and that the total revenues of the parties to the concentration in 2022 exceeded the limit of 20 million euros provided in the legislation.

The Competition Council launched the probe in this case following a complaint by 15min.

Ekspress Grupp acquired the lrytas.lt news website through a newly-established company in Lithuania for an undisclosed value in December 2022.

Until then, the news website belonged to Lrytas, in which Big Group, controlled by Benas Gudelis, owned 36 percent, 26.5 percent belonged to Gedvydas Vainauskas, 13.2 percent belonged to Vidmantas Strimaitis, and the rest was owned by minority shareholders.

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


Lithuania's FinMin turns to SSD over Yellowstone lease deal

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuania's Finance Ministry has asked the State Security Department for full information on the developers of the Yellowstone business center amid plans for the business center to house the European Union's new authority for countering money laundering and financing of terrorism (AMLA).

The move comes as Yellowstone's investors have not been disclosed to the public, and one of them is linked to the former Lewben company.

"We have asked for relevant information available on the company that won the tender for the lease of the premises, its related companies and beneficiaries, which could affect the compatibility with national security interests and could have a negative impact on the execution of the lease agreement for the administrative premises," the ministry told BNS.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said her ministry would ask competent authorities to find out the final beneficiaries of this lease deal amid growing public doubts regarding the reputational risk and other beneficiaries' ties. Once this information is received, the ministry will be able to assess the deal, she added.

She noted, however, that this would only be relevant if Lithuania won the EU competition. Lithuania is competing to host the AMLA with nine other cities, including Madrid, Paris, and Frankfurt, the minister said.

The five-year lease for Yellowstone was signed with Project RE 1 on November 27, with the option to terminate the contract if the EU Council and the Parliament decide to locate AMLA's headquarters outside Lithuania or if no decision is taken within 6 months. The decision on the host country of the new authority’s headquarters is expected in the first quarter of 2024.

The Finance Ministry did not disclose any information regarding the lease deal until this week when it made it public following media attention.

BNS reported earlier that Vilius Kavaliauskas, the founder of the Lewben Group and the largest shareholder of Noewe (former Lewben), is the final beneficiary of Project RE 1, according to the Center of Registers. However, 14 other beneficiaries –investors who are not publicly registered anywhere – do not want to disclose their identity, according to the developer.

Agnius Tamosaitis, the CEO of Project RE 1, told BNS on Monday he would disclose the names of those investors if they agreed. On Tuesday, however, he stated that due to confidentiality reasons he could not do so without their consent, adding that these are "reasonably well-known" investors whi are Lithuanian citizens.

The media has repeatedly raised questions about the Lewben group's links with various individuals from Eastern countries and the content of its services. In 2017, the State Security Department blocked the group's planned acquisition of a business center in Vilnius.

If the decision is made to base the AMLA HQ in Vilnius, Lithuania would cover the costs of renting and maintaining the building for five years, which will cost it almost 13.3 million euros.

By Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian journalist, philosopher, translator Drunga dies

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuanian journalist and public figure Mykolas Drunga has died at the age of 75, Vytautas Magnus University said on Friday.

Drunga was born in 1948 in Tubingen, Germany, and moved with his family to New York in 1959. He attended a private Catholic grammar school, then he graduated from the Lithuanian Institute of Education in Chicago In 1968, and then received a BA degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1969.

From 1969 to 1972, he studied philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and continued his studies at the Lithuanian Institute of Education in Chicago from 1981.

Later, he taught at Lithuanian Saturday schools in Chicago and Boston, and for a number of Lithuanian publications. He was the editor The Observer, a Lithuanian-American magazine, since 1984.

Since 2004, Drunga worked at the VDU Center for Immigration Studies in Kaunas and lectured at Vytautas Magnus University.

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Lithuanian president vetoes Seimas' decision to legalize use of night sights in hunting

to be expanded

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Friday vetoed legislative amendments adopted by the Seimas last week allowing the use of night sights in hunting.

In the president’s view, the use of night sights in hunting is not necessary to achieve the objectives set out in the explanatory note to the law, such as the effectiveness of the fight against African swine fever or better preparedness for national defense.

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


Two Lithuanian committee chairs to go to Warsaw amid Ukraine aid shipment problems

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – The chairs of Lithuania's two parliamentary committees will travel to Warsaw next week to raise the issue of easing procedures amid complaints from Lithuanian NGOs that shipments for Ukrainian troops are stalling in Poland.

"On 28 December, (Foreign Affairs Committee chair) Zygimantas Pavilionis and I are going to meet the new chairs of the National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committees. At least politically, I will raise the issue and I will ask them to pay attention as to whether it would be possible to introduce more flexible and simpler procedures in Poland," Laurynas Kasciunas, the chair of the Committee on National Security and Defense, told BNS on Friday.

On Friday, CNSD members met with members of NGOs taking aid to Ukraine, and the latter said that bureaucratic procedures for processing permits and other documents considerably lengthen the time it takes for aid to reach its intended recipients.

Haroldas Daublys, head of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union's support group for Ukraine, told the CNSD meeting that bureaucratic red tape is a major problem when transporting dual-use or military goods, including thermal imaging cameras, drones, communications equipment, optical devices, and personal protective equipment.

"What you can buy in the EU legally, without any controls, such as thermal imaging cameras, our authorities tend to call them military goods, not even dual-use goods, which immediately complicates the process, meaning that you have to have a pre-received transit permit to cross Poland and a special convoy from a Polish company," Daublys said, adding that convoy services are not cheap.

He gave an example when 1,000-1,500 euros were asked for the transportation of a shoebox-size box.

"We have a shipment worth 30,000 euros stuck at the Polish border for two months as we need to sort out the paperwork," he said.

Jonas Ohman, the founder of Blue/Yellow, says speed has used to be the main advantage of taking aid from Lithuania to Ukraine.

"We have now calculated that with all the added Lithuanian, Polish requirements, and also some Ukrainian restrictions, it takes a month at best to do what we could actually in theory do in a day or two," he said. "This is a totally unacceptable situation."

Some NGOs admit to have even smuggled aid because of the bureaucratic requirements.

Kasciunas says it's normal for a state to want to prevent the uncontrolled transport of military equipment, but, he added, a review of potentially excessive rules is necessary.

"We will raise this regarding any potential flexibility," the CNSD chair told BNS.

He also plans to propose appointing a coordinator in Lithuania to help aid carriers with the necessary paperwork. This could be a deputy minister or an advisor to the prime minister, he said.

"It is very important to have a one-stop shop, that is, to know who to call in advance about Polish procedures, and tell them that we are transporting this and that, that much, how the Poles will treat this and that equipment. Our economic attaché in Poland is an essential point of contact, he could navigate, so that we don't have to go and then have problems," Kasciunas said.

The volumes of aid shipped to Ukraine went up after Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022.

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Lithuanian president vetoes Seimas' decision to legalize use of night sights in hunting (expands)

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Friday vetoed legislative amendments adopted by the Seimas last week allowing the use of night sights in hunting.

In the president’s view, the use of night sights in hunting is not necessary to achieve the objectives set out in the explanatory note to the law, such as the effectiveness of the fight against African swine fever or better preparedness for national defense.

Nauseda believes that "this law contradicts the fundamental principle of lawmaking – expediency, which means that a bill should be drafted and the law adopted only if the objectives pursued cannot be achieved by any other means", according to a press release published by the presidential office.

“Moreover, the law adopted by the Seimas formulates the authorization of the use of night sights in a very broad manner, not on an individual basis but on a general basis. This means that, apart from the species of animals specified in the law and allowed to be hunted with night sights, the law does not contain any conditions restricting the use of night sights," the press release stated.

According to the president, the legalization of night sights in hunting would make it very difficult in practice to ensure control over the use of such tools, and would effectively render inapplicable the administrative and criminal liability for the illegal use of night sights in hunting.

By Augustas Stankevičius

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Universal conscription, defense industry boost among Lithuania's HU-LCD's proposals

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS - The presidium of the ruling Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats on Friday started discussing national defense priorities it will propose to all parliamentary parties to agree on as the region security situation deteriorates.

Drawn up by the party's Policy Committee, the plan includes proposals to introduce a model of compulsory universal conscription, give the national defense industry a boost, upgrading the army, stepping up the training of the army reserve, speeding up the creation of a division, ensuring the infrastructure for the reception of the German brigade, as well as carrying out a review of key defense-related laws.

Speaking after the committee meeting, Jonas Survila told reporters the plan has not been approved yet but there is agreement on the main directions. Once the party has approved its proposals, their package will be presented to other political forces, their proposals will be heard and agreement will be reached on their consider implementation.

"For it not to be a one-party decision by a temporary-majority, especially when it comes to those decisions that require additional funding and need to be effective, they need to be continuous and implemented," Survila said.

For his part, Mindaugas Linge, who chairs the Policy Committee, says once the priorities and objectives are set, the need for funding will become clear.

However, there are no discussions yet on how defense funding could grow in the coming years, he said.

HU-LCD leadership launched a review of defense priorities after the party's leader, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, sais that the existing support given to Ukraine might not be enough to win against Russia, and the latter could rebuild its capabilities for a new offensive against NATO countries within a few years. Lithuania should not be apathetic in thinking that NATO's Article 5 will protect it, he said, and called for strategic changes in the country's defense.

By Jūratė Skėrytė

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Lithuanian formin calls president's move to name ambassadorial candidates 'unacceptable'

VILNIUS, Dec 22, BNS – As Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has disclosed the names of the considered candidates for the position of ambassador in Poland, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says such a situation is unacceptable and undermines foreign partners' confidence in Lithuania. 

His comment came in response to Nauseda's interview with the TV3 television when he disclosed that Kestutis Kudzmanas and Petras Zapolskas had been considered for the position.

"For the time being, we are looking into the situation. It is not acceptable as the exposure of people, real or alleged, in public is unequivocally harmful," Landsbergis told the Lietuvos Rytas TV on Friday.

As the presidential office, the Foreign Ministry and the ruling majority are embroiled in public debate on the stalling appointment of the country's ambassador to Lithuania, Nauseda told the TV3 television on Thursday he wanted answers as to why the ministry's prior competition for the country's ambassador to Poland had been deemed invalid.

"I would like answers to the questions why he was not suitable. Whether because of his professional competences or other things since Petras Zapolskas speaks Polish and has worked at other embassies, as well as Mr Kudzmanas," Nauseda said.

Landsbergis believes people taking part in competitions for diplomatic appointments or even being considered should not be named in public because of legal restrictions, "even if there's no restricted-use label on their name".

Such disclosure of the diplomatic appointment process, he said, is to the detriment of Lithuania internationally as well.

"I would like to say that our partners we are talking about have their own embassies, they have ambassadors in place who certainly write memos, press reviews and send back to the capitals where all our discussions are discussed. This is not, I would say, a good way to defend Lithuania's interests," Landsbergis argued, adding that not only the appointment of the country's ambassador to Poland is problematic.

Lithuania has "three embassies flashing red", meaning that they do not have ambassadors, Landsbergis said, and, according to the existing practice, the nomination process is started at least a year before the expiry of the incumbent diplomat's term of office.

According to the foreign minister, there are currently 14 diplomats who have been waiting for "signals of approval, in particular from the president" since October.

Lithuania's Ambassador to Poland Eduardas Borisovas was recalled on September 7 after his term expired, and the embassy is currently headed by Minister Plenipotentiary Audrone Markeviciene.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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