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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, December 27, 2023

Dec 28 2023

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Two irregular migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus
  2. Kaunas branch of Migration Department resumes operations
  3. First passenger train on reopened Vilnius-Riga route departs from Lithuanian capital
  4. Lithuanian president: Russia's ability to threaten NATO to depend on West's Kyiv support
  5. Lithuania reports 90 new COVID-19 cases, one death
  6. Linkevicius appointed Lithuania's ambassador to Sweden
  7. Lithuanian transpmin: passenger train link to Tallinn depends on Latvia-Estonia agreement
  8. Lithuanian economists at odds on defense tax idea - BNS REVIEW
  9. E-cigarette resellers in Lithuania face fines, confiscation of goods 
  10. Lithuanian govt plans to turn to top court over ban on promoting LGBTIQ family concept
  11. Lithuania completes construction of Migrant Multifunctional Center in Pabrade
  12. Lithuania approves plan for marking 20th anniversary of NATO, EU membership
  13. Lithuania to mark 2024 as year of diplomats Lozoraitis with Pantheon concert, events in US
  14. Cold, COVID-19 cases decline in Lithuania
  15. Lithuanian Education Teacher’s Award goes to principal of school in Ireland
  16. Lithuanian, Latvian PMs discuss regional security, support for Ukraine
  17. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, December 28, 2023

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

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away two migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Wednesday morning.

Latvia reported no attempts at illegal border crossings on Tuesday, and nine irregular migrants were not allowed into Poland on Monday, 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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Kaunas branch of Migration Department resumes operations

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – The Migration Department's branch in Kaunas is resuming its work after a fire broke out in its premises, but it will operate in a new location – at 4 Sv. Gertrudos street.

It is also the location of the Pension Department of the Kaunas Branch Center of the State Social Insurance Fund Board.

The Kaunas branch of the Migration Department, which will be housed in temporary premises, will not be fully operational for the time being due to space constraints, with a total of 15 customer service points to be opened.

It is expected that this will allow to serve about 300 Lithuanian citizens and foreigners per working day.

Before the fire, the customer service department at 57 A. Juozapaviciaus street used to receive around 600 people a day.

It is expected that the Kaunas branch of the Migration Department will be fully operational in January next year.

A fire broke out in the Kaunas customer service department last week and is being investigated by fire experts. Damages are being assessed.

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First passenger train on reopened Vilnius-Riga route departs from Lithuanian capital

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – The first train of the reopened Vilnius-Riga direct route of LTG Link, the passenger arm of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), Lithuania's state-owned railway company, departed from Vilnius Railway Station on Wednesday morning fully packed.  

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte and Transport Minister Marius Skuodis also took the first train to the Latvian capital. In Riga, they will meet their Latvian counterparts, Prime Minister Evika Silina and Transport Minister Kaspars Briskens.

According to Simonyte, the Vilnius-Riga train will be a complementary alternative for traveling to the Latvian capital, while rail travel is a "European habit".  

"Many of us have probably tried different ways of traveling between Vilnius and Riga – we have flown by plane, driven by car, taken the bus. Now these options will be complemented by perhaps the most sustainable way of traveling, which is by rail," Simonyte told a presentation of the route at Vilnius Railway Station on early Wednesday morning.

Transport Minister Skuodis pointed out the Vilnius-Riga passenger train stopping in a town like Joniskis is also part of regional policy. He hopes that in the future this route will be complemented by a connection to Tallinn, and that there will be more routes to the neighboring country.  

"We will need to extend the train from Riga to Tallinn, and we really want to do that, and we will need further steps by the three countries. I very much hope that we will have ... not only a train to Riga, but also a simultaneous train from Riga to make traveling even more convenient", Skuodis said.  

"What we will also need is a connection via Daugavpils so that we can easily reach Latvia's largest city," the minister added.

LTG CEO Egidijus Lazauskas said that in Lithuania, the reopened route between Vilnius and Riga will be subsidized by the state budget, while in Latvia it will be operated commercially.

Direct trains to Riga will run daily, leaving Vilnius for Riga in the morning, at 6.30 a.m., and returning in the afternoon. It will take just over 4 hours to get from Vilnius to Riga by train, which will be similar to a car trip. 

The train will stop in Kaisiadorys, Siauliai and Joniskis in Lithuania, and Jelgava in Latvia.

A ticket to Riga costs 24 euros, or 34 euros in a first-class carriage.

In mid-December, LTG Link received a safety certificate from the European Union Agency for Railways for its operations in Latvia, allowing it to carry passengers in the neighboring country.

Skuodis has said that the train between Vilnius and Riga is one of the most important rail transport projects of the year for him personally.

Previously, a direct train between Vilnius and Riga ran until January 2004. From September 2018 until March 2020, the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Vilnius and Riga were connected by a Ukrainian railway train running between Kyiv and the Latvian capital. According to LTG, Vilnius and Riga were also connected by longer train routes from other national carriers on an occasional basis.

The train route between Vilnius and Riga was agreed by the transport ministers of the three Baltic States in October. It is expected to be extended to Tallinn in the future.

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

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Lithuanian president: Russia's ability to threaten NATO to depend on West's Kyiv support

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Russia's ability to rebuild its forces and pose a real threat to NATO will depend on the course of the war in Ukraine and on how actively the West maintains its support for the country, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said.  

Commenting on the recent political debate that Russia could rebuild its capabilities and attack NATO amid stalling Western military support to Ukraine, he said that in a scenario favorable to Moscow, Russia could be ready to pose a real threat to the Alliance within five years.

"I think this is just a desire to create a debate on a level playing field – nobody has a definitive answer as to when Russia's behavior might change and when it might turn its sights towards NATO. This will depend very much on the scenario of the war in Ukraine. And if Russia continues to fail to break the trend in its favor, they will of course be stuck for a longer period of time and will simply be incapable of fighting on multiple fronts," Nauseda said in an interview with TV3 broadcast on Monday.

According to him, "this could happen" if the West suddenly turns away from Ukraine and stops providing it with the support it needs.

"But the likelihood of such a scenario is very low," the Lithuanian leader stressed.

“We are talking about a period of time during which Russia could, as it imagines, achieve a breakthrough in the war in Ukraine and turn its face towards NATO after mobilizing its resources. And that could be a five-year period".

Lithuanian intelligence projected in the spring that Moscow could do this in the next five to ten years. However, Kestutis Budrys, chief national security adviser to Nauseda, said that if Russia increases its military spending, its capabilities could be restored more quickly.

Recently, Lithuania’s top diplomat Gabrielius Landsbergis has also publicly called for preparing for a scenario where Russia is not stopped in Ukraine and will continue its fight against NATO countries, underlining the need for immediate strategic decisions to bolster the country's security.

Politicians are discussing the idea of universal conscription, as well as the possibility of introducing a separate tax to accelerate the financing of defense.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Lithuania reports 90 new COVID-19 cases, one death

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 90 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Wednesday morning.

The 14-day primary infection rate has reached 356.7 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 28.9 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 1.38 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.

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Linkevicius appointed Lithuania's ambassador to Sweden

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Former Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has been appointed as Lithuania’s Ambassador to Sweden after a cooling-off period of almost three years.

President Gitanas Nauseda signed a decree on this appointment on December 19.

According to the decree, Linkevicius will take up his new duties on January 15.

Linkevicius served as Lithuania's foreign minister for two consecutive terms from 2012 to 2020.

Following the Seimas election, he returned to the diplomatic service in January 2021 and was appointed an ambassador-at-large.

In the same year, there were plans to appoint Linkevicius as Lithuania's Ambassador to the US, but President Nauseda stated at the time he did not see the possibility of appointing the former foreign and defense ministers as ambassadors to Washington and Brussels as they needed a period of "political cooling-off".

In mid-September, the president said that Linkevicius had already "cooled off" enough to head an embassy.

The position of Lithuania's ambassador in Sweden has been vacant since August 31 when Giedrius Cekuolis left his post.

In Lithuania, ambassadors appointed and dismissed by the president upon the government's proposal and with the approval of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs.

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Lithuanian transpmin: passenger train link to Tallinn depends on Latvia-Estonia agreement

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – The extension to Tallinn of the passenger train service between Vilnius and Riga, launched on Wednesday, depends on agreements between Latvian and Estonian officials, Transport Minister Marius Skuodis has said.

According to him, Latvia and Estonia are currently negotiating a link between Riga and the Estonian city of Tartu, to which the Vilnius-Riga train timetable could be adapted.

"It is very difficult for me to speak about projects that I do not have much direct influence on, because the Estonians and Latvians have to agree first," Skuodis told reporters in Vilnius on Wednesday, answering a question on whether a passenger train between Vilnius and Tallinn could be launched in the current term of government.  

"Negotiations are already underway for a link between Riga and Tartu, and we have that [rail] link from Tartu to Tallinn. If the connection between Riga and Tartu is made, I think we will be able to adjust the timetables [to the Vilnius-Riga route]," the minister said.

Skuodis could not say whether the Riga-Tartu passenger train would be a continuation of the Vilnius-Riga route or a separate route: "It would depend on how we agree.”

Meanwhile, the passenger train link with the Latvian city of Daugavpils, which is being considered, will depend on how Lithuania and Latvia manage to resolve the rolling stock shortage, he said.

"For us in Lithuania, the main challenge is rolling stock, so that we have the trains. The trains are currently being produced. The same challenge is on the Latvian side," Skuodis said.

"It depends on which country will have spare capacity to run the 20 kilometers [between Turmantas and Daugavpils] to one or the other country so that passengers could change trains. And soon I hope that we will have a direct connection," the transport minister noted.

Early this year, the ministers of the three Baltic countries agreed on possibilities of launching passenger train services between Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn before the completion of the European standard-gauge railway Rail Baltica.

The first train of the reopened Vilnius-Riga direct route of LTG Link, the passenger arm of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), Lithuania's state-owned railway company, departed from Vilnius Railway Station on Wednesday morning fully packed.  

The train route between Vilnius and Riga was agreed by the transport ministers of the three Baltic States in October. It is expected to be extended to Tallinn in the future.

Estonian and Latvian media reported in late October that a passenger train service between Riga and Tartu was planned to be launched in 2024.

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

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Lithuanian economists at odds on defense tax idea - BNS REVIEW

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Most economists agree on the need to increase defense funding in Lithuania, but are at odds on the need for a separate tax.

Some experts interviewed by BNS believe that, given the high ambitions to strengthen security, defense and deterrence capabilities, borrowed funds alone cannot be relied on. Others associate the idea of a separate tax with populism and believe that the necessary funds must be raised through a common tax system.

The BNS news agency asked 16 economists and experts to assess the idea of a defense tax, which was put forward earlier this year. Five would be inclined to support it, while eight think that a separate tax is not necessary.

One more expert thinks that the levy may be debatable, while another stresses that it would only make sense if the funds collected were used transparently and for the intended purpose. Yet another expert believes that the priority is not only to have resources, but also to have strong and efficient public authorities.

"The debate on additional funding for national defense continues to show that the fundamental problem of Lithuania's tax system is not being sufficiently addressed. There is no aim to achieve a more significant increase in the ratio of government revenue to GDP," Darius Imbrasas, economist at the central Bank of Lithuania, said.

Experts in favor of introducing a separate defense tax say it would help to better prepare the country to defend itself in case of aggression. Others point out that borrowing alone is not enough, given the growing ambitions for defense funding.

If a decision to introduce such a tax is made, some experts agree that it could be implemented by increasing the rate of value added tax (VAT) and/or broadening the tax base. Others say it could be levied on the turnover of large companies.

Experts who are skeptical about the idea of a new tax say that defense funding must grow, but have doubts about imposing a higher tax burden on businesses and households. Some also call the tax idea populist, saying that politicians should decide on priorities when adopting the national budget.

By Erika Alonderytė-Kazlauskė

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E-cigarette resellers in Lithuania face fines, confiscation of goods 

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Resellers of electronic cigarettes and their refill containers will face fines and confiscation of goods, the Lithuanian parliament has decided.

The respective amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences were passed last Saturday with 96 votes in favor and one abstention. 

"Until now, anyone could sell e-cigarettes and their containers, and we couldn't catch them, especially when children share them with each other," said Linas Slusnys, a member of the parliamentary Commission for Addiction Prevention.

"Finally, the sale of e-cigarettes will be also regulated through this law. Just like raw tobacco, children will no longer be able to sell them," the MP said. "Preventive measures against illegal activities by adults are also put in place."

"Although it won't be easy to change certain established traditions, we as a state clearly say what we don't approve of," he added.

The amendments impose fines of 220 and 320 euros for buying tobacco or related products, including e-cigarettes, for minors and for selling them to minors in retail outlets or food service establishments. Repeat offenses would result in fines of between 320 and 580 euros.

Currently, these fines range from 30 to 280 euros.

The code was also supplemented with a new article establishing liability for the sale of e-cigarettes and or their refill containers outside retail outlets and food service establishments. This will be punishable by fines of between 220 and 580 euros.

Any of these violations will result in confiscation of tobacco products and related goods.

According to Slusnys, the amendments target those selling e-cigarettes without licenses, and resellers.

The amendments on fines, applicable to both adults and minors, were initiated by the Commission for Addiction Prevention.

Police officers have also called for higher fines on resellers, who currently face only minimum fines. 

The police note that e-cigarette liquid often contains narcotic substances.

 

By Jūratė Skėrytė

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Lithuanian govt plans to turn to top court over ban on promoting LGBTIQ family concept

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – The Lithuanian Justice Ministry is initiating a petition to the Constitutional Court over a law provision that bans disseminating among minors information "that denigrates family values" and promotes the LGBTIQ family concept.

"Today, a draft government resolution on the petition to the Constitutional Court will be submitted by the Justice Ministry to the relevant institutions for coordination," Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska told BNS on Wednesday.

The move comes in response to the European Court of Human Rights' ruling in early 2023 that Lithuania violated the rights of Neringa Macate, a now deceased writer, by applying this provision.

The government proposed that the Seimas remove this provision from the Law on the Protection of Minors from Negative Effects of Public Information, but the parliament rejected the initiative in November.

"We expect to have this issue on the agenda of a Cabinet meeting in late January or early February," Dobrowolska said on Wednesday.

The Strasbourg court ruled that Lithuania violated the European Convention on Human Rights by restricting the publication of Macate's book Amber Heart.

Some legal experts say that the Constitutional Court could be asked to give its opinion on whether the legal regulation, which is still in force, discriminates against a part of society.

Meanwhile, opponents of the government's proposed amendment argue that while the current provision bans denigrating family values and promoting the LGBTIQ family concept, it does not prohibit information about it, and therefore did not need to be changed.

According to Dobrowolska, even if the Constitutional Court decides that the provision does not contradict the Constitution, the court's opinion could bring more clarity to the legal system and be used as guidance by institutions in making their decisions.

Amber Heart, a collection of fairy tales depicting same-sex relationships, was published by the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences in 2013.

However, the university suspended the distribution of the book a few months later, citing as the reason a document from the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics stating that Macate's book was harmful to children aged under 14.

The office said its position was based on existing legal regulations.

 

By Augustas Stankevičius

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Lithuania completes construction of Migrant Multifunctional Center in Pabrade

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Construction of a migrant multifunctional center for the accommodation of foreigners has been completed in the territory of the Foreigners’ Registration Center in Pabrade, Svencionys District, in the east of Lithuania.

"The constructed and equipped Migrant Multifunctional Center will improve the living conditions of foreigners detained and seeking asylum in Lithuania," the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said in a press release.

The buildings, which cover an area of more than 5,000 square meters, are equipped with living rooms for migrants, a canteen, offices for social workers and psychologists, sports and recreation facilities, and prayer rooms.

The buildings, which can accommodate 462 people, are adapted for people with disabilities.

According to the data provided by the SBGS, the project "Reconstruction and Construction of the Pabrade Foreigners’ Registration Centre" was implemented over a period of four and a half years, from June 2019 to December 2023.

The total value of the project exceeds 14 million euros, including almost 13 million euros allocated from the European Neighborhood Instrument.

The project involved upgrades to the infrastructure of the Foreigners’ Registration Center in Pabrade by building a Migrant Multifunctional Center, a hostel for detained women and a reception building for foreigners.

The administrative building was also reconstructed with the addition of an extension, a technical store with police and firefighters' facilities, a canteen and two warehouses. Dog kennels were built, external utilities were installed, old buildings were demolished and the area landscaped, and the necessary equipment was purchased.

The renovated Foreigners’ Registration Center will be capable of accommodating a total of 685 foreigners.

According to the SBGS, an agency established on the basis of the Refugee Reception Center will launch operations on July 1 next year and will be the main agency responsible for the reception of migrants.

The agency will ensure that they are provided with social, accommodation and other essential services.

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.

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.

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Lithuania approves plan for marking 20th anniversary of NATO, EU membership

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – The government has approved a plan for marking the 20th anniversary of Lithuania's membership of NATO and the European Union next year, featuring a celebratory run, a tour for foreign journalists, a climate week, exhibitions, concerts and other events.

The plan, worked out by the Foreign Ministry, comprises 56 projects, including a Runway Run at the Lithuanian Armed Forces' air base, a concert in Vilnius, an international Baltic military conference entitled from Vilnius to Washington, a scientific conference on the 20th anniversary of Lithuania's EU membership, and a conference on EU enlargement.

The plan calls for producing and presenting a documentary on Lithuania's path to the EU, Adolfas Venskus, its first ambassador to the EU and NATO, and the country's achievements over the 20 years.

Among other ideas presented in the plan are a tour of Lithuania for NATO journalists, a climate week, a NATO Military Tattoo 2024 festival, a debate program, discussions, exhibitions, and others.

Lithuania joined the EU and NATO in 2004.

 

By Greta Zulonaitė

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Lithuania to mark 2024 as year of diplomats Lozoraitis with Pantheon concert, events in US

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – The Lithuanian government has approved a plan for marking 2024 as the year of the Lozoraitis family of diplomats, featuring a classical music concert at the Pantheon in Rome, a documentary film, and a commemoration program in the United States.

According to the plan, the concert at the Pantheon will feature a special program by the Vilnius String Quartet to commemorate the life and work of the Lozoraitis family in Italy and the Vatican.

The plan also calls for organizing an exhibition, entitled Villa Lituania, at Rome's Museo della Civilta, and running an information campaign, including a video film and a series of lectures at Italian universities, targeting the Italian media, the academic, political and business communities, and the general public.

A documentary film is planned about the Lozoraitis family, featuring testimonies from witnesses from Lithuania, the US and Italy. The film will be screened at events held at Lithuanian diplomatic missions, the Italian parliament, during lectures at Italian universities, and on Lithuanian and Italian television.

Lithuania will also organize events in the US to present the history of the Lozoraitis family, which reflects the history of Lithuania, to the political, academic, business and cultural communities, young people, and the general public.

The program of events in Lithuania includes a Vilnius Festival concert dedicated to Stasys Lozoraitis Jr., to be hosted by the National Philharmonic Society.

The parliament has designated 2024 as the Year of the Diplomats Lozoraitis to mark the anniversaries of three prominent diplomats of the same family: Stasys Lozoraitis Sr., a Lithuanian foreign minister of the interwar period, Stasys Lozoraitis Jr., Lithuania's diplomatic representative in Washington, D.C., and Kazys Lozoraitis, Lithuania's ambassador to the Holy See.

 

By Greta Zulonaitė

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Cold, COVID-19 cases decline in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Lithuania registered a decline in the overall number of flu, acute upper respiratory infection (URI) and COVID-19 cases last week, the National Public Health Center said on Wednesday. 

The overall incidence rate for flu, URI and COVID-19 stood at 1,609 cases per 10,000 inhabitants last week, down from 1,772 a week earlier and down from 1,788 at the same time last year, it said.

The lowest incidence rate was recorded in Telsiai County and the highest in Vilnius County.

Despite the overall decrease, the number of flu cases rose to 1,322 last weeks, from 970 a week earlier.

Thirty-seven people were hospitalized with flu last week, including 27 children aged under 17 years. No flu patients were treated in intensive care units.

Currently, the epidemic incidence level (more than 1500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) has been registered in 19 out of Lithuania's municipalities, but none has declared an epidemic yet.

 

 

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Lithuanian Education Teacher’s Award goes to principal of school in Ireland

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – This year's Lithuanian Education Teacher's Award has been granted to Donata Simonaitiene, principal of the Irish Lithuanian school Gintarelis and a teacher, the Education, Science and Sport Ministry said on Wednesday.

The teacher has been in charge of the Lithuanian school in Cavan, Ireland, for 15 years. She also teaches the Lithuanian language and history to older children, actively communicates with the parents of her pupils, and provides advice on bilingualism and multilingualism.

Since 2016, she has contributed significantly to the development of the Lithuanian language testing system according to the European language levels (A1-C2). In 2017-2018, Gintarelis was a testing center for Lithuanian schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

According to the ministry, Simonaitiene assists other Lithuanian schools abroad, is actively involved in the activities of the Irish Education Council, organizes teacher training events together with her colleagues, and is the author of the idea of the annual camp-congress for teachers from the Lithuanian schools in Ireland, and, together with her colleagues from Dublin, organizes a methodological holiday camp for Irish teachers.

Last year, the award was granted to Igor Korolyov, lecturer and head of the Center for Baltic Studies at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

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Lithuanian, Latvian PMs discuss regional security, support for Ukraine

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte met with her Latvian counterpart Evika Silina to discuss regional security, support for Ukraine and joint infrastructure projects after arriving in Riga on the first train of a new service linking the Lithuanian and Latvian capitals. 

"Recognizing that failure to confront Russia's aggression would manifest in new outbreaks in Europe or other continents, Lithuania is determined to continue to provide support and urge partners to step up, particularly in the military aid," the government's press office quoted Simonyte as saying during the meeting. 

Simonyte and Silina also discussed joint infrastructure projects, such as the Baltic power grids' synchronization with the continental European system and the Rail Baltica European standard-gauge railway.

The two prime ministers "highlighted the importance of further close cooperation between national electricity transmission system operators to ensure the successful synchronization by the agreed date in February 2025", according to the press release.

"In discussing Rail Baltica, it was emphasized that it goes beyond being merely a transportation link connecting the three Baltic States. It is, in fact, a vital railway line crucial for military mobility. Its timely implementation is seen as a significant contribution to enhancing regional security," it said.

The Lithuanian and Latvian prime ministers "highlighted the new railway route linking Vilnius and Riga as "a successful example of cooperation between the two countries, with benefits extending to the residents of both nations".

LTG Link, the passenger arm of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), will operate the direct service between Vilnius and Riga daily. The train will stop in Kaisiadorys, Siauliai and Joniskis in Lithuania, and Jelgava in Latvia.

The train trip between the two capitals takes around 4 hours and 15 minutes. 

 

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, December 28, 2023

VILNIUS, Dec 27, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, December 28, 2023:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to participate in the Global Lithuanian Awards ceremony at 6 p.m. 

COURTS

The Constitutional Court to pronounce at 2 p.m. its ruling on the spelling of names and surnames in Latin-based characters with diacritical marks in personal documents.

 

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