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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, May 29, 2024

Jun 03 2024

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN

 


IN THIS ISSUE:

 

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, May 29, 2024
  2. Lithuanian PM heads to Singapore for security conference (updates)
  3. SocDem leader Blinkeviciute won't be Lithuanian PM – a Freedom Party leader  
  4. Lithuania records no illegal border crossings from Belarus
  5. Lithuanian cabinet gives nod to 1-year bank solidarity levy extension 
  6. Lithuanian govt to turn to CC over absence of institution of partnerships
  7. Bank solidarity levy could fund Lithuanian air defense system procurement – defmin 
  8. Lithuania's govt bans imports of over 2,800 products from Russia, Belarus
  9. Lithuania to contribute radars to German-led air defense coalition for Ukraine – defmin
  10. Shadow economy in Lithuania shrinking at record pace – finance minister 
  11. Lithuanian govt OKs tighter rules for gambling industry
  12. 'Foreign influence' law turns Georgia away from Europe – Lithuanian president (expands)
  13. Shadow economy in Lithuania shrinking at record pace – finance minister (expands)
  14. Lithuanian govt backs proposal to terminate another treaty with Russia
  15. Freedom Party MP sees Simonyte as a candidate for Lithuania's EU commissioner
  16. Cyber security situation in Lithuania stable, no future guarantees – defmin
  17. Lithuania's Cabinet allocates EUR 5 mln to rebuild schools, kindergartens in Ukraine
  18. Lithuanian healthmin urges WHO to invite Taiwan to it assembly as observer
  19. Lithuanian ForMin summons Georgian ambassador over 'foreign influence' law
  20. German Bundeswehr concludes Exercise Grand Quadriga 2024
  21. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, May 30, 2024

 


 

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, May 29, 2024

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

 

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to attend a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Olympic movement in Lithuania at 6.30 p.m.

 

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with members of a delegation from Ukraine's Verhkovna Rada at noon.

 

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to leave for Singapore.

 

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Lithuanian PM heads to Singapore for security conference (updates)

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte is leaving for Singapore on Wednesday to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue defense and security conference.

 

Simonyte is also scheduled to meet with Singapore's Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

 

The program of the visit also includes meetings with representatives of Singapore's scientific and business communities, and with the local Lithuanian community.

 

Lithuania opened its embassy to Singapore in late 2023. Vilnius says it sees the island nation as a gateway to entering Southeast Asian markets.

 

On Sunday, Simonyte will head to Berlin to take part in an East German Economic Forum discussion with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

 

 

 

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SocDem leader Blinkeviciute won't be Lithuanian PM – a Freedom Party leader  

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – MP Vytautas Mitalas, one of the leaders of the ruling Freedom Party, predicts that MEP Vilija Blinkeviciute, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), will not become prime minister even if her political force wins October's parliamentary elections.

 

"I think that even if the Social Democrats are successful, (...) she will simply not be in the post of head of government," he told the Ziniu Radijas radio station on Wednesday.

 

The opposition Social Democrats top opinion polls and are considered by many observers as favorites to win the parliamentary elections

 

However, Blinkeviciute has not yet said whether she will lead her party in the October 13 elections, promising to announce her decision in mid-June when the list of candidates is to be compiled.

 

Currently, she is standing as a candidate in the European Parliament elections scheduled for June 9.  

 

"A prime minister needs to be an active, capable person who works a lot for the sake of Lithuania," Mitalas said.

 

"Blinkeviciute's best times as a minister or in other positions are already behind her," he added.

 

Mitalas said that he wants the Freedom Party's list to be led by Ausrine Armonaite, the party's chairwoman, adding that decisions on this will be taken in the near future.

 

He urged the leaders of all parties to take up leadership in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.

 

 

 

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Lithuania records no illegal border crossings from Belarus

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Tuesday marked yet another day of no recorded attempts to cross into Lithuania from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Wednesday morning.

 

Latvia reported three attempts at illegal border crossings on Tuesday, and 226 irregular migrants were not allowed into Poland on Monday, according to the latest available information.

 

A total of 217 irregular migrants have been barred from entering Lithuania from Belarus at non-designated places so far this year.

 

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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Lithuanian cabinet gives nod to 1-year bank solidarity levy extension 

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – The Lithuanian government on Wednesday approved extending the so-called bank solidarity levy, introduced last year, for another year as an additional source of defense funding, with the final decision to be made by the parliament.

 

The government plans to table the respective amendments to the Law on Temporary Solidarity Contribution to the Seimas on Thursday and will ask the parliament to debate the legislation under a fast-track procedure.

 

The levy for 2025, just as it is for 2024, is proposed to be calculated on the basis of 2019-2022 net interest income and is expected to raise around 60 million euros.

 

The levy would continue to be charged on the part of net interest income that exceeds the average of the four years by more than 50 percent.

 

Eivile Cipkute, president of the Association of Lithuanian Banks, has told BNS recently that politicians are breaking their promise that the levy will be "temporary".

 

According to Cipkute, the actual taxation of banks in Lithuania amounted to about 30 percent last year. Their pre-tax profits totaled around 1.5 billion euros, of which 0.5 billion euros were paid in corporate income and solidarity taxes.

 

Banks operating in Lithuania doubled their combined net profits in 2023 year-on-year to 986 million euros after the solidarity levy.

 

 

 

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

 

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Lithuanian govt to turn to CC over absence of institution of partnerships

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS - The Lithuanian government has decided to turn to the country's Constitutional Court to find out whether the absence of the institution of same-sex partnerships does not run counter to the country's basic law.

 

On Wednesday, ministers approved a draft resolution prepared by the Justice Ministry, asking the Constitutional Court to assess two provisions of the Civil Code and its enacting law.

 

The Court is being asked on the constitutionality of the provision stating that only male-female partnerships are possible, and also on the fact that the Civil Code's chapter regulating the conditions of cohabitation without marriage registration will only come into force once the partnership law is adopted.

 

"The set legal regulation which makes the exercise of the right of unmarried cohabitants to legal recognition and protection of their family life subject to the legislator's discretion is incompatible with the constitutional principles of legitimate expectations and the rule of law," the document reads. "There can be no legal regulation which does not protect the rights of individuals as enshrined in the Constitution, nor does it protect individuals' legitimate expectations arising from the Constitution."

 

Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska has told BNS earlier that the appeal was prepared after taking into account the case law of both Lithuanian courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

 

The resolution underlines that the Constitution enshrines the principle of equality of persons and the prohibition of discrimination, and that the state is also committed by the country's main document to protecting and defending all families, in line with the constitutional concept of family.

 

The Freedom Party, to which Dobrowolska belongs, has been trying to pass a law on the legalization of both same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships since the beginning of this parliament.

 

In May 2023, the Lithuanian parliament gave its initial OK to the civil union bill by a margin of a few votes but it has not submitted the bill for adoption as it may not get enough votes to pass.

 

The civil union bill states that partners in a civil union would be able to have shared assets, but would also have the possibility of signing a separate agreement on the legal regulation of their assets. They would also get inheritance according to law and without inheritance taxes, have the possibility to act on each other's behalf and interests, represent each other in healthcare, and have access to health-related information.

 

Currently in Lithuania, both male-female and same-sex couple cannot register their partnerships.

 

Previous attempts by lawmakers to legalize them have been unsuccessful.

 

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Bank solidarity levy could fund Lithuanian air defense system procurement – defmin 

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Lithuania could use funds raised from the extended bank solidarity levy to finance its medium-range air defense system procurement, Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas said on Wednesday.  

 

"We'll have about 60 million euros. (...) This is an amount that the state can use as an advance payment for another medium-range air defense system," he told a press conference.

 

The minister said that it is not yet clear which system Lithuania would purchase with the money, but added that it could be NASAMS or Iris-T systems.

 

"I welcome the government's decision and I have no doubt that it will be approved by the Seimas," he said.

 

Earlier on Wednesday, the Cabinet approved extending the bank solidarity levy, introduced last year, for another year as an additional source of defense funding, with the final decision to be made by the parliament.

 

The government plans to table the respective amendments to the Law on Temporary Solidarity Contribution to the Seimas on Thursday and will ask the parliament to debate the legislation under a fast-track procedure.

 

The levy for 2025, just as it is for 2024, is proposed to be calculated on the basis of 2019-2022 net interest income and is expected to raise around 60 million euros.

 

Politicians want to boost defense funding to 3 percent of GDP to speed up the establishment of a military division, to host a German brigade, which is expected to be stationed in the country by 2027, and to prepare for universal conscription.

 

 

 

By Vilmantas Venckūnas

 

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Lithuania's govt bans imports of over 2,800 products from Russia, Belarus

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Lithuania's government on Wednesday approved a specific list of Russian and Belarusian products after the country's parliament banned imports of agricultural products and feed of Russian or Belarusian origin in April.

 

Drafted by the Agriculture Ministry, the list includes more than 2,800 different products.

 

The list includes a total of 24 groups of products: certain live animals, meat and certain meat products, fish and shellfish, milk and milk products, eggs, honey, trees and other plants, bulbs, vegetables, fruits and nuts, coffee, tea, spices, cereals and their products, flour, starch, oils and fats, waxes, sugar, cocoa, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, vinegar, animal feed, food industry residues, tobacco and their processed substitutes.

 

The ban on imports of these products will come into force on June 3.

 

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

 

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Lithuania to contribute radars to German-led air defense coalition for Ukraine – defmin

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – The Lithuanian government on Wednesday approved 13.5 million euros for the purchase of air surveillance radars to contribute to the German-led air defense coalition for Ukraine, Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas said on Wednesday.

 

"Today (...) the government allocated 13.5 million euros for the acquisition of radars that will strengthen the warning system in Ukraine. By doing so, we are joining the German-initiated air defense coalition," Kasciunas told reporters. 

 

"They (Germany) have given (Ukraine) their third Patriot system and other systems, so we are contributing what we can in response," he added.

 

According to Kasciunas, the goal this year is to send four radars to Ukraine.

 

"They will enhance warning, visibility, and the ability to destroy aerial targets. (We'll send) four this year, and then we'll continue to purchase radars because Ukraine needs them; they themselves have identified this need," he said.

 

In response to Kyiv's requests, Lithuania has delivered 155 mm ammunition, M577 armored personnel carriers, drone jamming equipment, power generators, cold season gear and tens of thousands of warm clothing sets, Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle rounds, RISE-1 long-range smart initiation systems, a disassembled L-39ZA Albatros light ground attack support aircraft, and other aid to Ukraine so far this year, according to the Defense Ministry. 

 

Lithuania's assistance to Ukraine has reached a billion euros to date, including around 616 million euros in military aid. Assistance worth about 95 million euros has already been provided this year, "a dynamic aimed to become the norm", it has said.

 

 

 

 

 

By Vilmantas Venckūnas

 

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Shadow economy in Lithuania shrinking at record pace – finance minister 

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – The shadow economy, or the share of unpaid value added tax (VAT), in Lithuania is shrinking at a record pace, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said on Wednesday. 

 

"The gap – the unpaid share of VAT – has contracted and continues to contract at record rates. This has also been confirmed by the European Commission," she told a press conference.

 

The State Tax Inspectorate (STI) forecasts that the VAT gap will narrow to 11 percent this year, compared to 18.7 percent in 2020, according to Skaiste.  

 

"The shadow economy in Lithuania is shrinking and this is shown by objective figures. These trends probably started a few years ago; we observed VAT gap reduction trends during the previous government's term as well," she said.

 

If the VAT gap in the country had not narrowed and remained at the 2020 level, the state would have lost 600 million euros in budget revenue between 2021 and 2022, the minister added.

 

 

 

By Lukas Juozapaitis

 

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Lithuanian govt OKs tighter rules for gambling industry

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – The Lithuanian government on Wednesday approved tighter rules for the gambling business. They will prevent irresponsible gambling, strengthen the protection of problem gamblers and increase transparency in the sector. 

 

Drafted by the Finance Ministry, the amendments will now go to the parliament for further consideration.

 

The bill proposes that gambling houses (casinos), slot machines, bingo parlors and betting shops should have a qualified staff member who, in case of a suspicion of irresponsibility on the part of a gambler, would offer to stop gambling or would be able to stop the person. 

 

The ministry proposes obliging companies to introduce a remote gambling platform which not only contains general information on the gambler and their transactions, but also allows the Gaming Control Authority to access the platform at any time and check the data.

 

The amendments propose fines of 3-5 percent of a company's gross annual revenue for non-compliance with the rules on gamblers' protection, responsible gambling, permitted advertising and other requirements, rising to 8-10 percent for repeated infringements.

 

The existing fines for a first infringement now range between 6,000 and 25,000 euros, and they double for repeat infringements.

 

The Finance Ministry has previously argued that the existing maximum fine of 50,000 euros is equivalent to the average daily revenue of a gambling company and is therefore not an effective instrument to prevent infringements.

 

The new amendments come in response to the case where Sarunas Stepukonis who embezzled around 40 million euros from several companies owned by BaltCap, an investment company, and gambled most of it away.

 

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'Foreign influence' law turns Georgia away from Europe – Lithuanian president (expands)

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Tbilisi is turning away from Europe, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says after the Georgian parliament rejected the president's veto on the controversial "foreign influence" law.

 

"The new law represents a dangerous breaking from the democratic values. It turns the country away from Europe," he posted on X on Tuesday.

 

He underlined, however, that Lithuania will always support a "free and independent" Georgia and its "brave people".

 

"A very sad day for Georgia and the rest of Europe," he wrote.

 

Despite mass protests, the Georgian parliament adopted the so-called "foreign agent" law In mid-May. The law requires NGOs and media outlets that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents".

 

The country's President Salome Zourabishvili vetoed the law, but her veto was rejected on Tuesday. The president is required to sign the bill into law within five days. If she fails to do so, the law will be signed by the speaker of the parliament.

 

Critics have condemned the law, saying it is similar to the one in place in Russia, which is being used to silence Moscow's critics. Brussels says the adopted law is incompatible with Georgia's long-standing ambition to become an EU member.

 

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Shadow economy in Lithuania shrinking at record pace – finance minister (expands)

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – The shadow economy, or the share of unpaid value added tax (VAT), in Lithuania is shrinking at a record pace, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said on Wednesday. 

 

"The gap – the unpaid share of VAT – has contracted and continues to contract at record rates. This has also been confirmed by the European Commission," she told a press conference.

 

The State Tax Inspectorate (STI) forecasts that the VAT gap, the difference between the VAT due and the actual VAT revenue, will narrow to 11 percent this year, compared to 18.7 percent in 2020, according to Skaiste.  

 

"The shadow economy in Lithuania is shrinking and this is shown by objective figures. These trends probably started a few years ago; we observed VAT gap reduction trends during the previous government's term as well," she said.

 

If the VAT gap in the country had not narrowed and remained at the 2020 level, the state would have lost 600 million euros in budget revenue between 2021 and 2022, the minister added.

 

According to Skaiste, at least 238 million euros in additional budget revenue were "pulled out" of the shadow economy in 2023. 

 

The Finance Ministry cites data from a report by the European Commission's Centre for Socio-Economic Studies (CASE) showing that Lithuania's VAT gap stood at 14.5 percent in 2021 and 13.5 percent in 2022.

 

 

 

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

 

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Lithuanian govt backs proposal to terminate another treaty with Russia

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – The Lithuanian government on Wednesday backed a proposal to terminate the international treaty with Russia on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family and criminal cases.

 

According to the Justice Ministry, the treaty was signed in 1992 and ratified by the Supreme Council. The aim of the treaty was to ensure equal protection of the personal and property rights of citizens of both countries and of legal entities operating in their territories, and to develop legal cooperation in the field of legal assistance.

 

Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska says the change in the geopolitical situation – Russia's military aggression against Ukraine – has led to gross violations of the principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, and Lithuania must clearly express its political will and cease cooperation in the field of international relations with the aggressor country.

 

According to the ministry, legal cooperation under this treaty has been "de facto non-existent" for more than two years now, "and requests for legal assistance received by Lithuania from Russia have not been executed", except in cases that are exclusively and directly related to the interests of Lithuanian citizens.

 

Latvia and Estonia have already made political decisions to terminate their similar international treaties with Russia.

 

As the renewal of the treaty with Russia is due to take place on January 21, 2025, the aim is to terminate the treaty as soon as possible, before its automatic renewal for another five years.

 

The treaty should be denounced by the parliament. 

 

This is not the first treaty whose termination has been approved by the Lithuanian Cabinet. Last week, ministers approved the termination of Lithuania's agreements with Russia and Belarus on investment promotion and protection, as well as on trade and economic relations.

 

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Freedom Party MP sees Simonyte as a candidate for Lithuania's EU commissioner

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – MP Vytautas Mitalas, vice-chairman of the Freedom Party, the conservatives' ruling coalition partner, sees Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte as a potential candidate to become Lithuania's next European Commissioner.

 

Mitalas said the country has to nominate the best possible candidate to the European Commission to ensure that its portfolio in the next Commission is as influential as possible.

 

"I really think that Lithuania needs the best possible candidate who can have the most serious portfolio in the European Commission," the MP told the Ziniu Radijas radio station. "We often see countries' prime ministers vie for such a portfolio."

 

"Simonyte could objectively obtain a better portfolio in the European Commission, which no one doubts," he added.

 

Discussions about Lithuania's next EU commissioner reignited last week after Politico named Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, chairman of the ruling conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), as Lithuania's possible candidate for a job in the EU's executive body.

 

In its article on "the front-runners for the next European Commission", Politico said that Landsbergis "is eyeing a foreign policy-related portfolio".

 

"We'll fight for Landsbergis' candidacy as much as they'll fight for the Civil Union," Mitalas said, referring to a bill under consideration in the parliament to legally recognize gender-neutral partnerships.

 

Landsbergis' HU-LCD is part of the European People's Party (EPP) family, which is seen as the favorite to win the most seats in next month's European Parliament elections and to nominate the next president of the Commission.

 

Each EU member country nominates one member of the EU's executive body. 

 

Virginijus Sinkevicius, Lithuania' current European Commissioner, is responsible for environment, oceans and fisheries.

 

Lithuania's nominee will have to be approved by the government, the parliament and the president, with the final decision on all candidates to be made by the European Parliament.

 

President Gitanas Nauseda has said that he will have a strong voice in deciding whom to nominate, but he has not yet named his favorite.

 

Ursula von der Leyen, the current European Commission president, is considered the favorite to lead the new Commission.

 

The European Parliament elections in Lithuania will be held on June 9.

 

 

 

By Saulius Jakučionis

 

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Cyber security situation in Lithuania stable, no future guarantees – defmin

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS - The cyber security situation in Lithuania remained stable last year, but that does not provide guarantees for the future as it is mainly influenced by geopolitical factors and the development of artificial intelligence, Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas said after the National Cyber Security Status Report was published on Wednesday

 

"In 2023, our cyber security situation was deemed stable, but that does not provide guarantees for the future as cyber security must remain a priority of Lithuania's ongoing digitalization processes," the minister told a press conference on Wednesday.

 

Drafted by the Defense Ministry and several other institutions, reports states that the total number of registered cyber incidents dropped by 30 percent last year to 3,300, from over 2,300 in 2022.

 

Geopolitical factors and the rapid development of the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence, had the biggest impact on Lithuania's cyber security, Kasciunas said.

 

"Lithuania remained in the crosshairs of Kremlin-linked groups due to its active support for Ukraine," the minister said, adding that the highest number of incidents last year was recorded between July and September.

 

"This is undoubtedly linked to the NATO summit in Vilnius," Kasciunas pointed out.

 

Last year, the number of more dangerous medium-category incidents grew by 12 percent to 37, from 32 the year before.

 

"What we can see from the incidents is that no super-unique techniques were used as criminals achieved their goals due to our still insufficient security," Liudas Alisauskas, the head of the National Cyber Security Center, told the press conference.

 

Speaking about the development of artificial intelligence, he said the potential use of this technology to plan cyber operations is raising concern.

 

"Although there are no known cases or incidents where it has been said that (artificial intelligence - BNS) has been used, the possibilities and potential are enormous," he said.

 

According to the report, the majority of incidents had to do with the infrastructure of web hosting services, the public administration sector, the infrastructure of internet service providers, and the end devices of individuals connected to it.

 

According to the NCSC, the most damaging types and methods of cyber-attacks last year were malware viruses encrypting electronic data and demanding a ransom, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, supply chain attacks and socially-engineered attacks designed to extort a variety of sensitive data.

 

In order to beef up Lithuania's cyber security, the Defense Ministry started the establishment of a Cyber Defense Command within the Lithuanian Armed Forces earlier this year. There are also plans to further strengthen the NCSC, as well as to continue the cyber security development program to strengthens the public sector's capacity to respond to cyber incidents.

 

By Vilmantas Venckūnas

 

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Lithuania's Cabinet allocates EUR 5 mln to rebuild schools, kindergartens in Ukraine

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Lithuania's Cabinet on Wednesday allocated 5 million euros to Ukraine's education sector.

 

The money will go towards the reconstruction and adaptation of destroyed Ukrainian schools and kindergartens, including the installation of bomb shelters and other safety equipment, the Finance Ministry said.

 

This planned support was announced during Finance Minister Gintare Skaistė's visit to Kyiv in March.

 

The money will be used to rebuild Ukraine's educational and scientific institutions damaged or destroyed during the ongoing war, as well as to purchase teaching aids and computer equipment, to upgrade the research and innovation infrastructure network, and to ensure a safe educational environment.

 

The World Bank estimates the damage to Ukraine at 450 billion euros, and the minimum reconstruction costs in 2024 will stand at 14 billion US dollars.

 

The Finance Ministry estimates that Lithuania has provided Ukraine with aid worth around 1.5 percent of its GDP since the outbreak of the war.

 

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Lithuanian healthmin urges WHO to invite Taiwan to it assembly as observer

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Lithuanian Health Minister Arynas Dulkys has urged the World Health Organization to invite Taiwan to attend the World Health Assembly in Geneva as an observer.

 

"Given the global toll of war, conflict and crises, it is important to learn from those countries that have an excellent record in responding to pandemics. Taiwan's contribution, including its expertise in health security, disease prevention and crisis management, is invaluable. The unjustified rejection of Taiwan's contribution calls into question our All for Health, Health for All commitment," the minister was quoted as saying in the Health Ministry's statement.

 

The World Health Assembly is taking place from May 27 until June 1. Attending the assembly, Dulkys also stressed that Russia's crimes are depriving Ukrainians of access to adequate health services.

 

The Assembly is discussing preparedness and response to health emergencies, infection prevention and control, universal health coverage, chronic non-communicable diseases, reproductive health, maternal and child mortality, and other topical issues such as the strategy to fight tuberculosis, antimicrobial resistance, climate change and health.

 

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Lithuanian ForMin summons Georgian ambassador over 'foreign influence' law

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS – Lithuania's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Georgia's ambassador was summoned to express its concern about the situation in Georgia

 

Earlier this month, the Georgian parliament passed a controversial "foreign influence" law despite mass protests and calls from foreign countries to repeal it. The law was vetoed by the country's President Salome Zourabichvili, but the parliament overrode the veto on Tuesday.

 

Critics condemn the law, saying it is similar to the one in force in Russia, aimed at silencing Moscow's opponents. The EU has warned that the law is incompatible with Georgia's long-standing bid to join the block, which is enshrined in the country's constitution and is supported by more than 80 percent of Georgians, according to public opinion polls.

 

"Deep concern was expressed to the ambassador over the decision by Georgia's ruling party, as well as other actions aimed at intimidating and restricting the activities of civil society in the country, which are fundamentally at odds with the country's constitutionally enshrined aspirations for EU-NATO integration," the Foreign Ministry's statement reads.

 

The law stipulates that all independent NGOs and media organizations that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad must register as acting in the "interests of a foreign state".

 

"Lithuania is deeply concerned about these developments in Georgia and is working with its partners to consider possible responses," the ministry said. "Stressing the need to ensure free and fair elections reflecting the will of the Georgian public, Lithuania continues to consistently support the aspirations of the Georgian society to link the country's future with the EU and NATO."

 

Last week, the United States imposed new visa restrictions on people involved in the passage of the controversial law in response to the situation.

 

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said on Tuesday that Tbilisi was turning away from Europe with this action, while Foreign Minister Gabriel Landsbergis said that the law would "essentially stop" Georgia from joining the European Union.

 

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German Bundeswehr concludes Exercise Grand Quadriga 2024

 

VILNIUS, May 29, BNS - The large-scale Exercise Grand Quadriga 2024, a joint exercise of the German Bundeswehr and the Lithuanian, Dutch and Franco-German brigades, concluded on Wednesday.

 

The exercise focused on the redeployment of two divisions from the central European region to the east, with more than 3,000 German troops and 200 pieces of military equipment deployed to Lithuania by land, rail, sea and air for almost a month, the Lithuanian army said.

 

Lithuanian Chief of Defense General Valdemaras Rupsys underlined that it was an exceptional exercise in terms of its in scope.

 

"This is the first time since the Cold War that Germany was conducting such a large-scale redeployment of its forces at divisional level to NATO's eastern flank, including Lithuania. This is part of NATO's regional defense plans, endorsed last summer at the NATO Vilnius Summit, which aim to test in real conditions the rapid redeployment of their assigned capabilities to the required area of operations," Rupsys said.

 

During the exercise, the German army deployed Leopard 2 tanks, Puma infantry fighting vehicles, PzH 2000 self-propelled artillery systems and Tiger attack helicopters in Lithuania.

 

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, May 30, 2024

 

VILNIUS, May 30, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, May 30, 2024.

 

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to continue her visit to Singapore.

 

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to pay a working visit to Prague, to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

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