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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, November 9, 2022

 

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, November 9, 2022
  2. Vilnius hosting 2nd Future of Democracy Forum to discuss emerging challenges
  3. Lithuanian border guards prevent 8 migrants from crossing in from Belarus
  4. Lithuania could serve as gateway to Europe for green hydrogen – environmin
  5. Lithuania reports 328 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
  6. NATO Vilnius summit to take place on 11-12 July 2023 – Stoltenberg
  7. Lithuania's InterMin proposes tightening immigration, citizenship procedures
  8. Lithuanian formin calls on North Macedonia to back special tribunal for Russia
  9. Lithuanian customs officers block tank car with Z symbol from entering from Belarus
  10. Lithuanian formin calls on West to restrict supply of dual use goods to Iran over drones
  11. Lithuania calls on Minsk to immediately resolve safety issues at Belarusian N-plant
  12. Lithuania postpones request for RRF funds after failing to meet certain indicators
  13. Lithuanian president to go to Poland to discuss Ukraine support
  14. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, November 10, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, November 9, 2022

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, November 9, 2022:

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to chair a meeting of the Board of the Seimas at 9 a.m.; to attend a conference on children's emotional wellbeing in hospitals at 9.45 a.m.; to meet with Andorran Foreign Minister Maria Ubach Font at noon; to meet with North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani at 1 p.m.; Speaker of Canada's Senate George J. Furey at 3.10 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to chair a Cabinet meeting and sitting at 1 p.m.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani at 10.30 a.m.

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Vilnius hosting 2nd Future of Democracy Forum to discuss emerging challenges

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – The second high-level Future of Democracy Forum, hosted by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, kicks off in Vilnius on Wednesday.

The event, which will gather supporters of democracy from all over the world, will focus on the biggest challenges facing democracy today and possible actions to rebuff a growing authoritarian pressure.

Bringing together democracy supporters and coordinating mutual action became even more relevant, when Russia began the barbaric war against Ukraine and the interaction of authoritarian forces is increasing, the ministry said in a press release.

One of the main questions the forum’s participants will seek to answer is how to help democracy activists and human rights defenders as well as independent media operating in autocratic countries.

They will also discuss how to reverse the global rise of authoritarianism, how to counter authoritarian regimes’ attempts to weaponize democratic institutions for their own purposes, and how to restore the crumbling global security architecture.

Participants will come from at least 30 countries representing different regions of the world.

The event will be attended by Robert Berschinski, Special Assistant to U.S. President Joe Biden, Thomas E. Garrett, Secretary General of the Community of Democracies, foreign ministers and vice-ministers, former Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, several UN special rapporteurs and prominent democracy defenders, such as a famous historian, journalist Anne Applebaum, journalist Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of murdered Russian opposition politician, Taiwan and Far East specialist Antoine Bondaz from France, and others.

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Lithuanian border guards prevent 8 migrants from crossing in from Belarus

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 8 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Wednesday morning.

Latvia recorded 12 attempts to cross the border illegally on Tuesday, and Polish border guards denied entry to 64 irregular migrants on Monday, according to the latest available information.

The daily number of migrants refused entry to Lithuania reached this year's high of 135 on September 20, nine fewer than the highest ever number recorded on November 12, 2021.

A total of 10,126 irregular migrants have been stopped from entering Lithuania since January.

Lithuanian border guards have sent about 18,200 people back to Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

The SBGS says that illegal migration to Lithuania and the EU is being facilitated by Belarusian officials. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally last year.

Lithuania calls the unprecedented influx of migrants from Belarus, which began more than a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime.

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Lithuania could serve as gateway to Europe for green hydrogen – environmin

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuania could serve as gateway to Europe for green hydrogen, Environment Minister Simonas Gentvilas has said.

According to the minister, green hydrogen is one of the most promising new energy technologies and its wider use in energy, industry and transport would contribute to the process of decarbonization while investment in its production would give an impetus for energy innovations, the Environment Ministry said in a press release.

“Green hydrogen can well be the tool we are all looking for to achieve a breakthrough in combating climate change. Lithuania is ready to offer its infrastructure for importing green hydrogen to Europe. Our country happens to be part of the EU-supported hydrogen supply corridor. Lithuania’s infrastructure – the port of Klaipeda with its LNG import terminal and the gas interconnection with Poland – would allow us to reach the largest European importers,” he said at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt.

The minister invited, on behalf of Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Oceania to cooperate in developing the production, trade, and use of green hydrogen.

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Lithuania reports 328 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 328 new coronavirus infections and no deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Wednesday morning.

Of the new cases, 253 were primary, 71 were secondary, and four were tertiary.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 119, including five ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 146 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 19.6 percent.

The daily number of new coronavirus cases remains well below the peak of over 14,000 reached in early February.

More than 1.2 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once.

Some 70 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

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NATO Vilnius summit to take place on 11-12 July 2023 – Stoltenberg

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – The next meeting of NATO heads of state and government will take place in Vilnius on July 11-12, 2023, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has announced.

He informed representatives of member states of the Alliance about the official dates of the summit on Wednesday.

“We are very proud to host a NATO summit in Vilnius, Hopefully, it will be a celebration of victory. For this to happen, we call on our partners not only to continue, but also to increase their support for Ukraine,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in comments sent to BNS.

President Gitanas Nauseda said in a Twitter post that he was looking forward to welcoming allies and like-minded partners in the Lithuanian capital.

“Facing Russia’s bloody war in Ukraine, we stand in unity and solidarity, committed to collective defense,” he wrote.

Landsbergis noted that the choice of Vilnius for the NATO summit highlighted the security of NATO’s eastern flank and sent a strong signal that ensuring the Baltic region's security was of importance for the entire NATO.

“At the same time, it is a recognition and evaluation of Lithuania as a reliable ally, which implements agreed commitments. Leaders from all NATO countries will gather in the capital of Lithuania and will take decisions relating to strengthening the security of all of us and our allies,” he said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Stoltenberg also thanked Lithuania for its readiness to host this greatly important meeting.

The NATO summit will be held for the first time in Lithuania. It will bring together high-level delegations from NATO allies and partners, as well as a large number of international media representatives.

The Vilnius summit will focus on strengthening the Alliance’s collective defense and deterrence and on increasing support for Ukraine. To ensure that NATO remains the strongest defensive Alliance, allies will discuss defense investment priorities and needs.

It is expected that Finland and Sweden will participate in the summit as full-fledged members of the Alliance for the first time in Vilnius.

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Lithuania's InterMin proposes tightening immigration, citizenship procedures

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuania's Interior Ministry has proposed tightening the existing immigration and citizenship procedures to prevent nationals from countries hostile to Lithuania from entering as they might pose a threat to national security and public order.

"By tightening the legal regulation on immigration and citizenship procedures, we need to protect the country from individuals who may pose a threat to national security," Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said.

On Wednesday, her ministry said it had drafted changes to the interior minister's orders on the procedure of issuance of documents granting foreigners the right to stay or reside in Lithuania.

The proposed changes will introduce additional requirements to submit additional documents or information for certain categories of foreigners applying for a visa, residence permit or residence card for a family member of an EU citizen.

Moreover, the changes will step up the procedure of stripping a person of Lithuanian citizenship when a person acquires the citizenship of another country and does not fall under the list of exceptions where dual citizenship is allowed.

The Interior Ministry says the deadline for submitting documents for the possibility to have dual citizenship will be shortened from six to three months to prevent persons who do not have the right to be citizens of both Lithuania and another state from enjoying the rights and freedoms of citizens of both Lithuania and another state at the same time.

If a person fails to submit the requested documents to the Migration Department by the set deadline, the Migration Department will initiate the procedure of stripping that person of their Lithuanian citizenship.

Lithuania also supports Ukraine's initiative to create a pan-EU list of undesirable persons, Bilotaite said.

The Interior Ministry also says that Ukrainian law enforcement authorities have created various databases of unwanted persons from Russia and Belarus, and the lists include businessmen, politicians, artists and other people who pose a threat to Ukraine's national security, promote violence, support Russian military aggression and are in favor of overthrowing of Ukraine's legitimate government.

If appropriate international agreements are signed with Ukraine, the aforementioned persons would not be able to flee to Europe and thus potentially undermine institutions of EU member states.

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Lithuanian formin calls on North Macedonia to back special tribunal for Russia

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called on North Macedonia to support the initiative of the Baltic countries on setting up a special tribunal to investigate Russia's crimes of aggression in Ukraine.

The Lithuanian diplomacy chief hailed Skopje’s foreign policy as exemplary and urged the country “to support the initiative for the creation of a Special Tribunal to prosecute crimes of Russia's aggression”, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.

“While on the path to the EU, you are already implementing an exemplary values-based policy, which sets a good example for others. We greatly appreciate your strong position and thank you for providing important assistance to Ukraine. Although our countries are small, working hand in hand we can significantly help the Ukrainians in their struggle,” Landsbergis said after his meeting with Bujar Osmani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia.

The Lithuanian minister thanked North Macedonia for fully aligning with the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy decisions, imposing sanctions on Moscow, and its significant assistance to Ukraine, including military.

He also asked his North Macedonian counterpart to maintain a principled position on Russia's military aggression against Ukraine during the upcoming Chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Following long talks with Bulgaria, North Macedonia started the opening phase of the accession negotiations with the European Union in July.

Previously, the government in Sofia blocked North Macedonia’s path to EU membership talks over the historical disputes between the two countries and a dispute concerning the rights of the ethnic Bulgarian minority.

Landsbergis called on North Macedonia to continue key reforms on its Euro-integration path and vowed strong support from Lithuania.

Foreign ministers also talked about the upcoming NATO Summit due to take place in Vilnius in 2023. North Macedonia joined NATO as its most recent member back in 2020.

In addition, the two ministers discussed the security situation in the Western Balkans, challenges in the energy sector, etc.

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Lithuanian customs officers block tank car with Z symbol from entering from Belarus

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS - Lithuanian customs officers on Tuesday blocked a tank car with fertilizer to enter from Belarus as it had the letter Z, the symbol of Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, on it, the Customs Criminal Service said on Wednesday.

At around 15.30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, customs and border officers checked a train from Belarus at the Kena railway post. The Z symbol spotted on one of the tank cars, the service said.

The tank car was detained and sent back to Molodechno in Belarus.

According to the report, the sender of the shipment for a Lithuanian company was a Russian company.

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Lithuanian formin calls on West to restrict supply of dual use goods to Iran over drones

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called on the West to restrict the supply of dual use products, which Iran could use to manufacture drones supplied to Russia that uses them to attack Ukraine.

“There are certainly no doubts that Iran is the manufacturer of the drones used against Ukraine. According to recent reports, Western technologies are used to manufacture drones. It means that it is possible to track and trace producers, it is possible to track and trace those supply chains, use this way to bring such activities to a stop and reduce possibilities to manufacture drones and supply them to Russia at least in the short-term or medium term,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

As reported on Tuesday, representatives of Ukraine's military intelligence obtained information that may indicate that Iranian drones were supplied to Russia after it invaded Ukraine on February 24.

According to the report, the Iranian-made Mohajer is assembled from parts produced in different countries, with most components being from the United States. In particular, the drone has an Austrian engine and a Japanese camera.

According to intelligence officers, no Russian parts were found in the drone: a visible range camera was made in Japan, a laser rangefinder was made in China, and an aerial bomb was produced in Iran.

“The European Union has not joined US sanctions but there is an area we could align or come up with identical sanctions – these are, specifically, the dual use products,” the Lithuanian minister said.

Ukrainian experts are investigating how come foreign-made parts were used in Iranian drones. Employees of the Main Intelligence Directorate have already transferred the serial numbers and data on the component manufacturers to the partner countries.

Kyiv claims around 400 Iranian drones have already been used against the civilian population of Ukraine and that Moscow has ordered around 2,000.

The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have already imposed sanctions on three Iranian generals and an arms firm accused of supplying Russia with drones.

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Lithuania calls on Minsk to immediately resolve safety issues at Belarusian N-plant

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuania has called on Minsk repeatedly to suspend operation of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (NPP) in Astravyets until all nuclear safety issues are resolved.

Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) sent a respective letter to the Belarusian Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES), which acts in Belarus as nuclear safety regulator, in late October.

“We do not receive information about the safety improvement measures implemented during the planned maintenance of the Unit 1 of the Belarusian NPP and the construction and commissioning of the Unit 2, therefore Lithuania's position does not change - the Belarusian NPP must not be operated until all safety issues are resolved,” VATESI head Michail Demcenko said in a press release on Wednesday.

In its letter to the MES, VATESI reminded that it still lacked specific information about the selection and evaluation of the nuclear facility’s construction site, about NPP equipment resistance to seismic events and to the effects of a large civil aircraft crash, implementation of stress tests recommendations, probabilistic safety assessment, fire hazard analysis and other safety assessment issues.

VATESI also called on the MES and other responsible Belarusian authorities to publish all international expert mission recommendations and their implementation results and once again reminded MES to provide additional information, which is necessary for more accurate forecasting of releases during possible accidents.

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Lithuania postpones request for RRF funds after failing to meet certain indicators

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS – Lithuania is late to submit its first request to the European Commission for the disbursement of hundreds of millions of euros from the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for the country’s important projects.

“The submission of the payment request has been postponed somewhat due to a delay in meeting certain indicators, which were to be reported [to the Commission] in the first payment request. We expect to form the request at the end of this year,” Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste told BNS on Wednesday.

The minister would not specify the indicators the government had failed to meet.

The government earlier planned to submit its first payment request under the RRF to the European Commission in September.

Vaidas Navickas, economic advisor to Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, said that failure to obtain planned European funds in due time might imply that the government would have to borrow from the market at higher rates.

“When interest rates are increasing, it would be costly for us to borrow that money … The longer we procrastinate, the more we’ll have to pay for those RRF funds, which we won’t receive,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Lithuania has been allocated a total of 2.225 billion euros in grants under the RRF, including 339 million euros for this year, more than 1.168 billion euros for 2023-2024 and another 600.1 million for 2025-2026.

Planned investment and reforms include seven components: a resilient healthcare sector, green transition, digital transition, good-quality education, innovation and higher education, an effective public sector, and social inclusion.

By Remigijus Bielinskas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian president to go to Poland to discuss Ukraine support

VILNIUS, Nov 09, BNS - Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda will on Thursday pay a two-day working visit to Poland where he will discuss support for Ukraine and regional security issues with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.

On the first day of his visit, Nauseda is scheduled to attend a second meeting of the Lithuanian-Polish Presidential Council to review bilateral relations, discuss ways to enhance support to Ukraine as it's fighting Russian aggression, defense and security cooperation, and cooperation under the Three Seas Initiative.

On Friday, Nauseda will attend events to mark Poland's Independence Day and will deliver a speech together Duda at a ceremony in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square, the Lithuanian president's spokesman Ridas Jasiulionis told BNS.

A separate program is planned for Lithuania's First Lady Diana Nausediene. She is scheduled to visit a charity center for Ukrainian families together with Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda. Nausediene will also meet with the staff of a Lithuanian-language school in Warsaw, representatives of the Center for Baltic Studies at the University of Warsaw and members of ta Lithuanian book lovers club in Warsaw.

Nauseda and Duda established the Lithuanian-Polish Presidential Council was in 2020 during the Polish president's visit to Vilnius to strengthen bilateral cooperation and cooperation within the EU and NATO.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, November 10, 2022

VILNIUS, Nov 10, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, November 10, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with Speaker of Canada's Senate George J. Furey at 9.30 a.m.; to leave for a working visit to Poland.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to attend a meeting of the Conference of Chairs at 8.30 a.m.; to attend a meeting of the Liberal Movement's political group in the Seimas at 9 a.m.; to chair the Seimas' morning sitting at 10 a.m.; to chair the Seimas' evening sitting at 2 p.m.

THE GOVERNMENT'S hour in the Seimas at noon.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to pay a working visit to Berlin.

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Nov 14 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, October 28, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, October 28, 2022
  2. MPs to turn to Constitutional Court over non-Lithuanian name spelling
  3. Lithuania signs contract on acquisition of Spanish mortars
  4. COVID-19 testing facilities closed at Lithuanian airports
  5. Lithuanian border guards prevent 17 migrants from crossing in from Belarus
  6. US backs Baltic synchronization, BRELL disconnection – Lithuanian energmin
  7. Lithuania reports 383 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths
  8. Lithuania to increase active reserve faster, assign reservists to military units
  9. New education advisor to join Lithuanian president's team  
  10. Lithuanian speaker sees aid to Ukraine, bolstering NATO east flank as 2 sides of coin
  11. Lithuania may spend EUR 550 mln less on energy price subsidies next year – c. bank  
  12. Putin's nuclear threats remind me of North Korea – Lithuanian PM
  13. Lithuania's c.banker criticizes govt over tax reforms
  14. Finnish president to visit Lithuania next week
  15. Two Lithuanian films to vie for Oscar awards
  16. Greek PM to visit Vilnius Monday
  17. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Monday, October 31, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, October 28, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Friday, October 28, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with former and current judges of the Constitutional Court at 10 a.m.; to meet with students of the Medardas Cobotas University of the Third Age at 1 p.m. 

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, on a visit to Latvia, to take part in a meeting of the Presidium of the Baltic Assembly and the speakers of the national parliaments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at 9 a.m.; to participate in the opening of the 41st session of the Baltic Assembly at 10 a.m.; to meet with her Estonian and Latvian counterparts, Juri Ratas and Inara Murniece, at 11:15 a.m. 

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte, on a visit to Japan, to meet with Hirofumi Nakasone, chairman of Japan-Lithuania Parliamentary Friendship League, and a group of parliamentarians at 6:30 a.m. (Vilnius time); to take part in a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan at 8:30 a.m.; to meet with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura at 10 a.m. 

The Lithuanian Cabinet to hold a meeting at 10 a.m.  

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska to meet with Marco M. Aleman, assistant director general at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), at 10 a.m. 

 

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MPs to turn to Constitutional Court over non-Lithuanian name spelling

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – A group of Lithuanian lawmakers have collected signatures and will turn to the country's Constitutional Court over a law adopted earlier this year and allowing the use of the letters "w", "q" and "x" in personal documents.

Speaking with BNS, Eugenijus Jovaisa, one of the initiators of the move, representing the opposition Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union in the Seimas, says the motion has so far been supported by a total of 30 MPs, including not only those representing the LFGU and Democrats "For Lithuania", but also some representatives of the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

A motion to turn to the Constitutional Court requires at least 29 MP signatures.

"Yes, we have collected the signatures, we are already registering them. I think that once the Seimas speaker, who is now in Latvia, signs it, it will be immediately forwarded to the Constitutional Court," Jovaisa said.

The lawmakers are questioning the constitutionality of the new law on the spelling of names and surnames in documents, which came into force in May. It states that a Lithuanian citizen's name and surname may be written using the Latin alphabet without diacritical marks in personal documents in certain cases, i.e. the use of non-Lithuanian letters "w", "q", "x" is allowed in personal names.

This spelling is possible if a Lithuanian citizen chooses a non-Lithuanian surname of their spouse, as well as if the surname of their parents or one of the parents is written in a non-Lithuanian manner in the source document.

Some MPs also have a problem with the Identity Card and Passport Law related to the new legislation.

The law adopted in January also stipulates that members of ethnic minorities are required to officially declare their nationality in order to change their surname.

As a result of the amendments, some Poles, including Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska, changed the spelling of their names.

Other local Poles say they are not satisfied with the current norm as it still does not allow them to spell their names in their original form using diacritical marks.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Lithuania signs contract on acquisition of Spanish mortars

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS - Lithuania has signed a contract on the acquisition of Spanish mortars, Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense said on Friday.

The contract on the acquisition of towed 120-mm EXPAL 120-MX2-SM mortars was signed with Spain's EXPAL Systems, S.A. for 9.8 million euros, including mortars and their parts.

The company was chosen because it offered the best price.

The weapons are to be delivered within two years, the ministry said, adding that the Lithuanian army is expected to get half of the mortars by the end of next year.

"The acquisition of this modern and high quality weaponry will significantly strengthen the Lithuanian Armed Forces' indirect fire support capability," National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas says. 

The ministry points out that the mortar system is "reliable and in line with NATO weapon standards".

Mobile and versatile mortar systems with increased firepower and accuracy allow infantry and artillery to respond adequately to tactical needs through indirect fire support. The mortars procured by Lithuania can reach targets of up to 8 km away.

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COVID-19 testing facilities closed at Lithuanian airports

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – On-site COVID-19 testing will no longer be available at Kaunas and Palanga Airports as of Friday, and at Vilnius Airport as of November 1.

The service will no longer be provided due to the drop in demands from passengers to get tested before or after their flight, Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports), the airport operator in Lithuania, said.

This year, European countries have been rapidly lifting the restrictions imposed on travelers due to the global coronavirus pandemic as people are no longer required to have a negative test result or to provide proof of having been vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus infection, they said.

Also, the implementation and continuation of successful vaccination campaigns in many countries have removed the need for additional testing.

Lab testing company Rezus.lt has been providing testing services to passengers since early 2021.

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Lithuanian border guards prevent 17 migrants from crossing in from Belarus

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 17 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday morning.

Latvia recorded nine attempts to cross the border illegally on Thursday, and Polish border guards denied entry to 73 irregular migrants on Wednesday, according to the latest available information.

The daily number of migrants refused entry to Lithuania reached this year's high of 135 on September 20, nine fewer than the highest ever number recorded on November 12, 2021.

A total of 9,665 irregular migrants have been stopped from entering Lithuania since January.

Lithuanian border guards have sent around 17,700 people back to Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

The SBGS says that illegal migration to Lithuania and the EU is being facilitated by Belarusian officials. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally last year.

Lithuania calls the unprecedented influx of migrants from Belarus, which began more than a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime.

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US backs Baltic synchronization, BRELL disconnection – Lithuanian energmin

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS - The United States supports Lithuania's bid to accelerate the Baltic states' synchronization and their disconnection from the BRELL electricity ring, Lithuanian Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys, currently in Washington, says.

"The United States is the guarantor of our security, not only in the area of defense but also in the area energy security. The US fully supports Lithuania's ambition to accelerate the Baltic states' synchronization and their disconnection from the BRELL electricity ring as early as possible, without waiting until 2025," the minister was quoted as saying in a statement released by his ministry on Friday.

On Thursday in Washington, Kreivys briefed US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the energy security situation in Lithuania.

"Russia's energy blackmail and geopolitical manipulations in the gas market are increasing the likelihood of unilateral actions against EU countries, and faster synchronization with continental Europe's electricity grids would help ensure greater energy security for the Baltic states," Kreivys said.

According to the report, the US energy secretary expressed her full support for Lithuania's intentions and expressed interest in Lithuania's preparations for the winter season.

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Lithuania reports 383 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 383 new coronavirus infections and three deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Friday morning.

Of the new cases, 301 were primary, 79 were secondary, two were tertiary, and one person contracted the virus for a fourth time.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 122, including 13 ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 234.7 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests down to 24.4 percent.

The daily number of new coronavirus cases remains well below the peak of over 14,000 reached in early February.

More than 1.2 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once.

Some 70 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

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Lithuania to increase active reserve faster, assign reservists to military units

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – The Lithuanian Defense Ministry on Friday unveiled plans to accelerate the formation of the country's active military reserve, assign each reservist to a specific military unit and purchase weapons for the reserve brigade.

The aim is to have an active reserve of 36,000 troops and bring the prepared reserve of military personnel close to 120,000 by 2025, it said in a press release. 

By the end of this year, each member of the active reserve will be assigned to a specific unit to which they will be called up for service or to refresh their skills, according to Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas. 

"From next year onwards, active reserve conscripts will be called up to their unit to update their skills, and the number of conscripts called up will double in 2024 compared to 2021," the minister said in the press release. 

"Training programs are also being updated to bring them in line with the needs of the armed forces and the newly acquired modern weapons," he added. 

The active reserve is made up of conscripts who have served in the Armed Forces in the past ten years. They are trained, equipped and assigned to a military unit.

The prepared reserve of the Armed Forces consists of all Lithuanian citizens up to the age of 60 who have completed their military training and active military service. 

Additional quantities of individual weapons and equipment should reach the Armed Forces in the near future to fully equip the units assigned to the Armed Forces' wartime structure, according to Anusauskas.

The acquisition of new modern weapons as part of the Armed Forces' modernization allows allocating existing weapons to the reserve brigade, the ministry said.

 

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New education advisor to join Lithuanian president's team  

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – Professor Jolanta Urbanovic of Mykolas Romeris University is set to join Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda's team on November 7 as an advisor on education issues, the president's office said on Friday.   

Paulius Baltokas, until now a member of Nauseda's Education, Science and Culture Group, has been appointed as the president's representative in the Seimas and will work in the Domestic Policy Group from October 31. 

Reda Brandisauskiene, until recently Nauseda's representative in the parliament, has resigned as presidential advisor for personal reasons, according to the press release.

Urbanovic is a professor at the Institute of Public Administration of Mykolas Romeris University and the head of the Master's program in Education and Science Policy and Management.

She served as education, science and sport vice-minister in 2019-2020.

 

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Lithuanian speaker sees aid to Ukraine, bolstering NATO east flank as 2 sides of coin

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – Assistance to Ukraine and the strengthening of NATO's eastern flank are two sides of the same coin, Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, said in Riga on Friday.

Cmilyte-Nielsen said at the opening of the 41st session of the Baltic Assembly that in the face of the war in Ukraine, parliamentarians play a very important role in supporting people's determination not to surrender, according to the Lithuanian parliament's public relations office.

"The Kremlin is betting that come winter, people will be scared of rising electricity prices and inflation, the war against Ukraine will become routine, and aggression will be overshadowed by other world events," she was quoted as saying in a press release.

"I am therefore calling on you to show that the Kremlin cannot be more wrong, as it has been so often in this war," she said.  

Alongside efforts to help Ukraine, it is necessary to work towards the security of the Baltic States and to bolster NATO's eastern flank, as any failure to protect at least one NATO member "would deal an irreversible blow to the Alliance itself", according to Cmilyte-Nielsen. 

"I see assistance to Ukraine and strengthening NATO's eastern flank as two sides of the same coin," she said. 

The speaker underlined the need to supply Ukraine with advanced air defense systems and to ensure that those responsible for Russian crimes in Ukraine are brought to justice.

"It is necessary to continue to exert all-out pressure on Russia without hesitation, to impose new sanctions and to properly enforce existing ones. Our immediate and long-term support for Ukraine's reconstruction is also essential," she said. 

 

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Lithuania may spend EUR 550 mln less on energy price subsidies next year – c. bank  

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – The Lithuanian state may spend around 550 million euros less than planned to cover part of natural gas and electricity bills for households and businesses next year, meaning that inflation will not decelerate as rapidly as expected, a central bank economist said on Friday. 

Given the current electricity market prices, the Bank of Lithuania estimates that the state may need 313 million euros less than planned for subsidies for households and 177 million euros less for businesses, according to Vaidotas Tuzikas, principal economist at the central bank's Macroeconomics and Forecasting Division. 

Electricity prices on the Nord Pool power exchange averaged 200 euros per megawatt-hour in October.

"If the price of electricity on the power exchange stayed at this level throughout next year, the need for compensation would likely be lower," Tuzikas told the parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance.  

The 2023 draft budget earmarks 812 million euros for covering part of households' natural gas and electricity bills, and another 234 million euros for price subsidies for businesses.  

The Bank of Lithuania estimates that if the planned amount were fully used, inflation would fall by about three percentage points in 2023 and by two points in 2024. 

However, the central bank forecasts that inflation next year will be driven up by planned increases in wages, the non-taxable income threshold and social benefits.  

"Measures to increase people's incomes (excluding the amount planned for electricity and gas price subsidies) will raise inflation by 0.2-0.6 percentage points in 2023 and by 0.1-0.7 percentage points in 2024," it said.  

 

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Putin's nuclear threats remind me of North Korea – Lithuanian PM

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS - Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons now resemble North Korea's similar behavior, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, currently in Japan, says.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Lithuanian prime minister stressed that Japan, which is situated not far from North Korea, is constantly watching how its representatives "from time to time allow themselves to go out and brandish nuclear weapons".

"Clearly, this is very similar to Putin's threats. Obviously, Japan takes this threat very seriously. It's certainly a matter of great concern and apprehension since it's one of the countries that have survived a nuclear tragedy," Simonyte said.

"Clearly, the global effort aimed at stopping the madmen who even think they can talk about using nuclear weapons, must be more focused than ever," the Lithuanian prime minister said.

Simonyte said she heard Japanese politicians and business people's support for Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion as they understand that "one cannot surrender to autocratic regimes, and democracies must unite to support Ukraine".

Putin has made numerous threats to use nuclear weapons ever since he started the invasion of Ukraine in late February. Most recently, he has accused Kyiv of allegedly preparing to use a "dirty bomb".

These statements have raised concern within the international community that Russia may try to use this statement as a pretext to escalate the situation.

Kyiv suspects that Russia itself may use a "dirty bomb" and blame it on the Ukrainians to justify the use of conventional nuclear weapons after Moscow has recently suffered several military defeats in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, nuclear-armed Pyongyang is a constant source of concern for its neighbors and the international community because of its ballistic missile launches.

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Lithuania's c.banker criticizes govt over tax reforms

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS - Despite the existing geopolitical and economic uncertainty, the Lithuanian government should not delay tax reforms or at least decision-making, Gediminas Simkus, board chairman of the central Bank of Lithuania, says.

In his words, the country's tax system is still a thriving "cattle farm" and it is in the state's interest to put it in order.

"We believe there are gaps in our tax system as we have a very large VAT gap, we also have a "cattle farm", and our real estate tax base is also very narrow, and our country collects very little in environmental taxes. These are the many things that can and should be done better sooner than later," Simkus told reporters on Friday.

"Perhaps, we could do some changes to the tax system that would come into force after some time, with some transitional periods. But we cannot avoid these issues and not to address them. We have to put them on the table, discuss them and make decisions," the central banker said.

He says he cannot justify delaying the tax reform on the grounds of the ongoing war in Ukraine, economic slowdown and inflation.

"There is always something going on in life but we have to decide what is important for us as a country because a well-functioning tax system is the foundation of our public finances," Simkus said.

He earlier called for a debate on property and environmental taxes and he was also against the proposal to extend indefinitely existing VAT relief for hotels, which was set to expire this year.

In an interview with BNS in early October, Lithuanian Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said her ministry had prepared a tax relief review, but she did not believe at the time it should be put forward for discussion and adoption amid the existing economic uncertainty.

Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has suggested that the Lithuanian government should cut tax relief measures and introduce environmental taxes. Earlier this year, the government , however, dropped plans to introduce a car pollution tax.

By Remigijus Bielinskas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Finnish president to visit Lithuania next week

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to pay a visit to Lithuania next week. 

He is scheduled to meet with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Friday, November 4. 

The two leaders "will discuss the security situation in Europe, Finland's NATO membership and bilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation in the European Union and energy issues," Nauseda's office said on Friday.

The bilateral meeting will be followed by a joint press conference, it said. 

Niinisto's visit to Lithuania was originally planned for November 2021, but was postponed due to the Finnish president's illness.

 

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Two Lithuanian films to vie for Oscar awards

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS - Two more films from Lithuania, Sergei Loznitsa's documentary Mr. Landsbergis. Destroy the Evil Empire and Limousine, Saule Bliuvaite's documentary short, have been chosen to represent Lithuania and vie for an Oscar, the Lithuanian Film Center announced on Friday.

The two films have been proposed for the awards by the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' commission in Lithuania. They will join the ranks of Laurynas Bareisa's Pilgrims which had already been approved by the commission.

Mr. Landsbergis. To Destroy the Evil Empireis a contender in the documentary category, while Limousine will try to get into the documentary short category.

The two films are contenders for an Oscar nomination after they won in the competition programs of A-grade festivals. Limousine was awarded the Best Documentary Short Film prize at the Warsaw International Film Festival in 2021, and Mr. Landsbergis was the winner of the Best Documentary Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) last year.

Loznitsa's film is also up for nomination at this year's prestigious European Film Awards.

Loznitsa film made its debut in 2021 and tells about the endless desire for freedom.

"This film is important as a reminder that courage is the most important weapon in the hands of even a small nation, capable of destroying an evil empire," the film director said.

According to the Lithuanian Film Center, Bliuvaite's Limousine looks at people from different generations who rent a limousine for one hour. In such a short time, the passengers experience moments of anger, happiness and sadness as they try to fulfill their vision of a party.

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Greek PM to visit Vilnius Monday

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to pay a visit to Vilnius on Monday. 

Mitsotakis is coming to Lithuania at the invitation of Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte. 

He is also scheduled to meet with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation within NATO in implementing the Madrid Summit's decisions, the president's office told BNS on Friday.   

Nauseda also plans to discuss with Mitsotakis cooperation in the EU format on energy security and further military, political and humanitarian support to Ukraine to help it counter Russia's military aggression, it said. 

 

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Monday, October 31, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 28, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Monday, October 31, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at 2:40 p.m. 

THE SEIMAS to host at 9 a.m. a discussion on "Rethinking Russia: Which lessons does the war against Ukraine teach us about Russia?"

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte and Mitsotakis to hold a bilateral meeting at 12:05 p.m., to be followed by a meeting of the prime ministers and delegations at 12:25 p.m., and a joint press conference by the prime ministers at 12:50 p.m.   

 

 

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