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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, June 7, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 7, 2022
  2. German chancellor visiting Lithuania
  3. Vilnius expects good news on security from German chancellor – Lithuanian president's aide
  4. Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus
  5. Lithuania reports 215 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  6. IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges
  7. IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges (expands)
  8. Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression
  9. Three MPs call on Lithuanian Seimas to condemn repressions in Hong Kong
  10. Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression (expands)
  11. Lithuanian, German leaders speak of agreement on increasing troop count in Baltics
  12. German chancellor rejects criticism over delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine
  13. Russia will have to withdraw its army from Ukraine – Scholz in Vilnius
  14. Scholz against lifting Minsk sanctions in exchange for Ukrainian grain transit
  15. Germany pledges to beef up NATO battalion in Lithuania to brigade-level (updates)
  16. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 7, 2022

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 7, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at 10.50 a.m.; to host a meeting between the German chancellor and prime ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at 11.30 a.m.; to hold a joint press conference with the German chancellor and prime ministers of Latvia and Estonia at 12.45 p.m.; to visit the General Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area in Pabrade with the German chancellor at 2.10 p.m.

THE SEIMAS to host a press conference on serious violations of human rights and international law by China in Hong Kong at 9.30 a.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to meet with representatives of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) mission in Lithuania at 8.30 a.m.; to hold a meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas at 10 a.m.; to take part in a working lunch with German Chancellor Scholz at 11.40 a.m.; to hold a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins at 1.50 p.m.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to continue his working visit to Japan.

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German chancellor visiting Lithuania

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz is coming on a visit to Vilnius on Tuesday as Lithuania and other Baltic countries call for turning the existing multinational allied battalions in the Baltic States into brigade-sized units.

The meeting, which will be held at the initiative of Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, will mostly focus on regional security and the strengthening of NATO’s capabilities.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades. The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania is currently led by German troops.

“I think we will find formulations that will allow us to work with countries that have a special commitment to Lithuania,” Nauseda said last week.

According to the Lithuanian president, while NATO member countries differ in their positions toward converting the battalions into brigades, there is "a common understanding that the threat exists and that we have to prepare".

However, a specific agreement on this issue has yet to be reached.

Lithuania’s State Defense Council last week described the objective to have a brigade-sized unit deployed in the country as one of Lithuania’s key priorities at the forthcoming NATO summit in Madrid.

“We have all arguments why it is inevitable and necessary for us. It is not a whim, it is an absolute foundation,” presidential adviser Kestutis Budrys told reporters after the council’s meeting.

Latvian and Estonia Prime Ministers, Krisjanis Karins and Kaja Kallas, will also come on a visit to Lithuania on Tuesday and will take part in a four-party meeting with Nauseda and Scholz.

This will be the first visit to Lithuania for Scholz who took office last December.

By Augustas Stankevičius

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Vilnius expects good news on security from German chancellor – Lithuanian president's aide

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Vilnius expects positive news about the strengthening of the region’s security from Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, Asta Skaisgiryte, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda's chief advisor, said on Tuesday.    

“I think, if the chancellor is eventually coming to Vilnius, he is coming with some news, he would not be coming for nothing,” she told the public broadcaster LRT. 

“We are also expecting some messages from the chancellor and I hope that those messages will be very positive for Lithuania,” she added.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

The 15min.lt news website reported on Tuesday citing its sources that NATO’s Military Committee had approved this initiative and would submit its recommendation to policymakers.

The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania is currently led by German troops.

According to Skaisgiryte, a visit by German chancellor in the run-up to the NATO summit is a “special signal” showing concern about the security of the Baltic countries.

“It is very important to bolster physical presence of ground forces, very important to strengthen air and sea defense, very important to ensure very rapid response in case of a conflict,” she said.

The advisor stressed that the measures beefing up the security of the Baltic countries implied the strengthening of the entire Alliance thanks to enhanced protection of its external borders.

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Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours recorded no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Tuesday morning.

Lithuanian border guards have reported attempts to cross illegally from Belarus over just two days in the past week.

Latvia has registered no illegal crossing attempts in the past 24 hours either. Polish border guards turned away 20 irregular migrants.

A total of 1,871 people have been prevented from crossing from Belarus into Lithuania at non-designated places so far this year. Some 2,633 such attempts have been reported by Latvia and 5,237 by Poland.   

Lithuanian border guards sent 8,106 people back to Belarus between last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants, and December.

By Austėja Masiokaitė-Liubinienė

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Lithuania reports 215 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 215 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning. 

Some 191 of the new cases were primary and 24 were secondary. 

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals currently stands at 85, including ten ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 53.5 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 11.9 percent.

The daily count of new infections had been rising at a rapid pace since late 2021, but took a downward turn in early February after hitting a new high of over 14,000 cases

More than 1 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once. 

Some 69.8 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

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IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuania is well prepared to meet economic challenges brought by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine as the country’s government has chosen the right measures to address those difficulties, the head of the International Monetary Fund's mission to Lithuania has said adding that inflation should shift to a downward path in the second half of the year.

“Lithuania had a very good response to the situation triggered by the pandemic whereas the inflation driven by the war in Ukraine is likely to stabilize and begin to moderate in the second half of the year,” Borja Gracia said during a news conference at the government on Tuesday as the Fund’s team concluded its two-week mission in Lithuania.

“In the IMF’s opinion, the measures chosen by the government to address these challenges have been right,” he added.

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IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges (expands)

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuania is well prepared to meet economic challenges brought by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine as the country’s government has chosen the right measures to address those difficulties, the head of the International Monetary Fund's mission to Lithuania has said adding that inflation should shift to a downward path in the second half of the year.

“Lithuania had a very good response to the situation triggered by the pandemic whereas the inflation driven by the war in Ukraine is likely to stabilize and begin to moderate in the second half of the year,” Borja Gracia said during a news conference at the government on Tuesday as the Fund’s team concluded its two-week mission in Lithuania.

“In the IMF’s opinion, the measures chosen by the government to address these challenges have been right,” he added.

According to Gracia, both private and public sectors in Lithuania are ready to meet inflation challenges.

Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said that the government was currently not considering extra measures to tame inflation but could bring them forward in fall, if necessary.

“According to current assumptions, inflation will stabilize and begin to moderate in fall. If we see a different situation, some additional measures could be brought forward in fall. However, it is now a bit too early to tell what the economy will look like then,” she added.

The Fund’s mission started work in  Lithuania on May 26 and its experts were due to analyze the general macroeconomic situation in Lithuania, labor market trends, the situation in the financial sector, fiscal policy, the situation in the energy sector and climate change policy.

By Remigijus Bielinskas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but it nonetheless has to increase its assistance, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Vilnius on Tuesday.

“We talked about Russia’s war in Ukraine and Europe’s response. Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but that is not enough. The war has not yet been won. We must stay on this path and in no way reduce the speed. On the contrary, the speed should only be increased,” Nauseda said in a Facebook post after the meeting.

“We must fully support Ukraine, step up pressure on Russia, tighten sanctions, reduce energy dependence on the aggressor. We must do everything to defend our values and peace. We are and want to remain on the right side of history,” the Lithuanian leader stressed.

Nauseda also said that he had thanked Scholz for Germany’s readiness to contribute more to the security of Lithuania and the Baltic countries’ region.

“The presence of German troops, currently leading the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania, is a truly important sign of solidarity and unity of the allies. We are ready to host more German troops and provide all required infrastructure,” he stated.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

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Three MPs call on Lithuanian Seimas to condemn repressions in Hong Kong

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Three MPs have called on the Seimas of Lithuania to condemn Beijing’s repressions in Hong Kong and not to recognize that the appointment of Hong Kong leader in May was democratic.

The MPs held a press conference to present a draft parliamentary resolution urging the Chinese government to release all political prisoners in Hong Kong, including those sentenced for participation in banned Tiananmen crackdown commemorations.

The draft resolution calls to recognize that the Seimas “regrets the anti-democratic electoral reforms that facilitated the appointment of former security chief John Lee as Hong Kong next leader in May and refuses to recognize his election as part of the legitimate democratic process”.

The resolution was drafted by Marius Matijosaitis of the Freedom Party, who chairs the Parliamentary Group for Relations with Hong Kong, as well as Dovile Sakaliene of the Social Democrats and Zygimantas Pavilionis of the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, who both are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.

The MPs also called on the European Union to implement a sanction mechanism against China’s and Hong Kong’s government officials responsible for human rights' and international law violations in the city. They also urged the European Commission to restrict exports of dual-use goods to Hong Kong.

The parliamentarians called on Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and the government “to work out a mechanism facilitating access to political asylum for Hong Kong’s dissidents”.

Sakaliene stated at the press conference that the resolution had been drafted in view of the fact that China had breached the treaty signed with the United Kingdom over Hong Kong, which provided for the principle of “one country, two systems”, by banning commemorations of the Tiananmen Square crackdown not just in China but also in Hong Kong.

“We have stated very clearly our stance that the Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable for international law violations in Hong Kong... We have also stressed that those abusing human rights, being international criminals, cannot hoard up wealth freely and enjoy the privileges provided by our democracies,” she said.

Ray Wong, a Hong Kong activist and an advisor at Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based NGO established to monitor the conditions of human rights, freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong, stated at the press conference that the human rights situation in Hong Kong had been deteriorating in recent years.

Commemorations of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, which had been taking place annually since 1990, had been banned this year and deemed “posing a threat to security”, he said adding that participants of those commemorations were being arrested since 2019.

China continued to demonstrate its force both to the neighboring countries and the whole world, the activist, who is currently residing in Germany, stressed adding that he hoped that “China’s authoritarian regime will collapse”.

Meanwhile, Pavilionis pointed to China’s role in Russia’s war against Ukraine. The MP stated that “the autocracies” retreating from democracy “are starting to play together on the same side and support each other’s aggression”.

“Basically, China currently supports Russia’s aggression in Ukraine economically. Therefore, I am surprised by the statements made by some of our colleagues from other parties when they, on the one hand, support Ukraine very actively and, on the other hand, criticize us, those who have joined forces to stand against Communist China, for deeper ties with Taiwan…,” he said.

Sakaliene said that she expected the draft resolution to be approved by the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and to be discussed by the Plenary as early as next week.

After seven months of pro-democratic protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019, Beijing imposed a law on the semi-autonomous city effectively criminalizing dissent.

In May, a number of countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, joined the European Union (EU) in its concerns voiced about how Hong Kong’s new leader was chosen.

Beijing, in its turn, praised the election process as the “real demonstration of democratic spirit” and claimed that this was the climax of the strategy aimed at having the “patriots only” in charge of the city.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression (expands)

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but it nonetheless has to increase its assistance, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Vilnius on Tuesday.

“We talked about Russia’s war in Ukraine and Europe’s response. Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but that is not enough. The war has not yet been won. We must stay on this path and in no way reduce the speed. On the contrary, the speed should only be increased,” Nauseda said in a Facebook post after the meeting.

“We must fully support Ukraine, step up pressure on Russia, tighten sanctions, reduce energy dependence on the aggressor. We must do everything to defend our values and peace. We are and want to remain on the right side of history,” the Lithuanian leader stressed.

Nauseda also emphasized the particular importance of political support to Ukraine, in addition to military assistance and economic aid, and stated it was necessary to grant the EU candidate status to Ukraine.

“It is time to state clearly that Ukraine belongs with the European Union. We have no moral right to lose this moment,” a press release from the presidential office quoted him as saying.

Nauseda also said that he had thanked Scholz for Germany’s readiness to contribute more to the security of Lithuania and the Baltic countries’ region.

“The presence of German troops, currently leading the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania, is a truly important sign of solidarity and unity of the allies. We are ready to host more German troops and provide all required infrastructure,” he stated.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

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Lithuanian, German leaders speak of agreement on increasing troop count in Baltics

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – With Russia pressing on with its military aggression in Ukraine, it is necessary to beef up defense capabilities by increasing the number of troops deployed in the Baltic countries, the Lithuanian president and the German chancellor stated after a meeting in Vilnius on Tuesday.

“Maximum readiness and beefed up forces in our region are the security guarantee of the whole Alliance. We have agreed that it is necessary to enhance defense capabilities in the Baltic countries by increasing the number of troops deployed and by strengthening air and sea defense,” Gitanas Nauseda said during a joint press conference.

Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz confirmed that members of the Alliance were committed to defend and protect every single centimeter.

“We have envisaged that we will scale up our contribution to the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank, we will create a strong brigade, have discussed that with each other and will have to work on this,” Scholz said.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

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German chancellor rejects criticism over delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, currently in Lithuania, has rejected criticism over the delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine.

"Germany is one of the key military supporters of Ukraine, with probably only the United States providing more support, but Germany is certainly providing a lot of assistance to Ukraine as we are providing large quantities of ammunition, armored systems, and the most sophisticated howitzers are set to be delivered to Ukraine", the German chancellor told a press conference in Vilnius, adding that Ukrainian troops are currently being trained in Germany on how to use these weapons.

"We often see reports that are completely untrue, stating that the Ukrainians do not want some weapons (...). In fact, we are supporting Ukraine very actively, and we have the so-called arms exchanges that have been agreed with, for example, the Czech Republic, Greece, other countries, and the Ukrainians will certainly be able to use these weapons," Scholz assured.

"My decision for Germany to supply arms during the conflict, it's a decision that we are implementing on a large scale", he added.

Having long delayed sending arms to Ukraine, Germany is now facing pressure to provide heavy weapons to Kyiv. So far, Berlin has not been sending them directly but has been asking other countries to do so, pledging to compensate their losses.

Last week, Scholz said he had agreed with Greece that Athens would send Soviet-era military equipment to Ukraine in exchange for more modern weapons from Berlin. Germany has already signed a similar agreement with the Czech Republic.

Berlin has also promised second-hand self-propelled howitzers and self-propelled anti-aircraft systems Gepard, and they are due to arrive in Ukraine in July. However, Kyiv expects more from Germany and wants it to directly send Leopard tanks and Marder IFVs.

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Russia will have to withdraw its army from Ukraine – Scholz in Vilnius

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS - The West will not accept peace terms dictated by Russia and it will have to withdraw its army from Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Vilnius on Tuesday.

"We will definitely not accept a peace dictated by Russia, we will not accept such a peace. It is, therefore, very important and clear to us that the result of this military situation will be that Russia will have to withdraw its troops and that Ukraine will defend its independence," he told a press conference in Vilnius.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's military aggression has only achieved the goal of further uniting Western allies, the German chancellor pointed out.

"What Putin has achieved is that NATO has become even more united, that NATO is further strengthening its capabilities, and we are strengthening NATO's eastern flank near the Baltic Sea, and that Sweden and Finland have decided to become NATO members. So this is what Putin's military aggression has achieved: we are becoming even stronger", the German chancellor said.

Since Putin has not succeeded in seizing the whole of Ukraine, he is continuing his brutal war and trying to achieve something, Scholz said, adding that the sanctions imposed on Russia would also have an effect as they would set the country's economy back decades.

Also attending the press conference, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said Putin would start talking about peace only after realizing that he's losing.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says the West's effort to "save Russia's face" is hard to understand because "then we are acting inconsistently towards ourselves".

"When we say there must be a decisive and united response to Russian aggression, we ourselves are trying to get to Putin through the back door, to talk to him, to persuade him, to plead with him, and so we are legitimizing him in a way", he said during the press conference, asked about the attempts by some Western leaders to talk to the Russian president.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas insisted it was important to talk to and help Ukraine, not Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is in telephone contact with Putin, has urged European leaders to avoid humiliating Russia. Meanwhile, ex-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and some Western politicians have said Ukraine should cede part of its territory to Russia to end Moscow's invasion.

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Scholz against lifting Minsk sanctions in exchange for Ukrainian grain transit

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, currently in Vilnius, has ruled out lifting the existing sanctions for Minsk in exchange for Ukrainian grain transit through Belarus, adding that Western countries are looking for ways to get grain safely out of the war-torn country to avoid a global food shortage.

"By no means, it does not mean we should lift the sanctions we have adopted for (Alexander) Lukashenko," the German chancellor told reporters in Vilnius on Tuesday after holding a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Gitans Nauseda and Latvian and Estonian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Kaja Kallas.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also ruled out such a possibility.

Ukraine, one of the world's biggest grain exporters, is unable to use its Black Sea ports as they are being blocked by the Russian navy. The West is considering shipping Ukrainian grain by rail via other European countries, but this is difficult to do due to large grain volumes.

Lithuania has proposed building a coalition of countries to unblock the port of Odessa. In other words, Western warships would escort Ukrainian cargo ships to prevent them from being attacked by Kremlin forces.

"Russia is responsible for the fact that grain cannot be taken out of Ukraine. (...) We will try to find a solution, and the United Nations is also trying to find a solution," Scholz said in Vilnius.

If a decision to unblock the port of Odessa is taken, it should also be ensured that "Russia does not abuse such decisions", the German chancellor said.

Turkey has not allowed military ships to pass through the Bosphorus since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as this is the only waterway to the Black Sea.

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Germany pledges to beef up NATO battalion in Lithuania to brigade-level (updates)

(Updated version: updates throughout)

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – In response to Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, Germany has pledged to bolster the existing international NATO battalion stationed in Lithuania to a brigade-size unit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Vilnius on Tuesday, stressing that allies are committed to defending the Alliance's every centimeter.

"We envisaged that we will scale up our contribution to the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank, we will create a strong brigade, have discussed that with each other and will have to work on this,” Scholz told reporters at the Presidential Palace.

And Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda confirmed it during his visit to Pabrade.

"Germany is going to take the lead and (...) bolster its military presence here. They intend to beef it up it to the brigade level. This is one of the goals, one of the dreams that we are thinking about as we look forward to the NATO summit. In practice, it is becoming a reality today", the Lithuanian president said, adding that Berlin and Vilnius will take these steps gradually.

"As a host country, we will take care of all the necessary infrastructure. In particular, I pointed out to the chancellor that it would make sense for us to have an additional battalion here for permanent exercises, for permanent training," Nauseda said, refraining to say exactly when the brigade will be in Lithuania.

He stressed, however, that it would "not take years", adding that the military unit would include not only German troops, as it does now.

"Over the next year or 18 months, we can expect to have the necessary combat unit here. We have to do some work, first of all, on the construction of barracks, on deployment sites, on infrastructure. I think this is a realistic timeframe", the president said.

Focus on the Baltic region

Earlier in the day, Nauseda met with the German chancellor and the Latvian and Estonian prime ministers at the Presidential Palace, and the Lithuanian president stressed the need to strengthen defense capabilities by increasing the number of troops in all three Baltic states.

"Maximum readiness and beefed up forces in our region are the security guarantee of the whole Alliance. We agreed that it is necessary to enhance defense capabilities in the Baltic countries by increasing the number of troops deployed and by strengthening air and sea defense," Nauseda told a joint press conference after the meeting.

He also pointed out that the new strategic reality, Russia's attack on Ukraine, was pushing NATO to increase its military presence in the region.

"We need to realize that Russia's military threat is not going anywhere and it will remain a long-term threat to the entire Euro-Atlantic area. (...) Looking into the Russian threat, we must shape a strong response and strengthen our defense," the Lithuanian president said, adding that Lithuania is ready to host allied troops.

"Joint allied action, unity and solidarity are vital and indispensable in the current security environment," Nauseda stressed.

Official decisions expected in Madrid

Scholz welcomed Germany's decision to up defense funding and hoped it would be maintained in the future.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas also said Baltic defense should be upgraded.

"Allied presence must be increased in the air, on land and at sea, and decisions have to be taken in Madrid," she said. "We need to make it clear to the aggressor that NATO has the will and the clear ability to defend every centimeter of its territory."

Both the Estonian prime minister and her Latvian counterpart Krisjanis Karins believe the German leadership will help to take make determined decisions at the NATO Madrid summit, needed to ensure the Alliance is ready for future challenges.

"We welcome Germany's decision to boost its presence in Lithuania as it's a very welcome and right decision. It will strengthen Lithuania, it will strengthen Latvia and it will strengthen Estonia", the Latvian prime minister said.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades. The aim is also to strengthen air defense.

Germany is now leading the forward presence battalion in Lithuania, and the other two in Latvia and Estonia are being led by Canada and the UK respectively.

The battalions are expected to be expanded to brigades on the basis of the armies of these countries.

A battalion consists of about 1,000 soldiers, and a brigade has about 5,000 troops.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 8, 2022

VILNIUS, Jun 08, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 8, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with visiting Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at 1 p.m., followed by a joint press conference at 2.30 p.m.

SPEAKER THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen  to attend gala dinner in honor of visiting Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at 7.30 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to chair the Cabinet's regular meeting at 1 p.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to meet with Marius Vescega, head of the European Commission Representation in Lithuania, at 9 a.m.

The 10th anniversary of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence to be marked at 11 a.m.

CULTURE MINISTER Simonas Kairus to meet a delegation of Saltsburg's Landtag at 10 a.m.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska to attend a meeting on the Norwegian project at 3.30 p.m.

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite to welcome Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at Vilnius Airport at noon; to visit Antakalnis Cemetary with Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou to attend a ceremony for laying wreaths at the memorial for those killed for Lithuana's independence at 3 p.m.

OTHER EVENTS

A picket to be held outside the Belarusian Embassy at noon to express solidarity with Belarusian democratic (independent) trade unions amid continuous persecution of these activists.

 

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Jun 08 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, May 26, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Lithuania's InterMin to propose lifting movement restrictions for migrants – minister
  2. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, May 26, 2022
  3. World must continue to pressure, isolate Russia – Lithuanian parlt speaker 
  4. Lithuanian PM warns Western politicians not to make same mistakes in ties with Russia
  5. Lithuanian border guards turn 11 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus
  6. Bills on civil union, close relationship on Lithuanian parliament's Thursday agenda
  7. Lithuania reports 158 new COVID-19 cases, one death
  8. Almost 4 pct of Lithuanian population live below absolute poverty line
  9. Vilnius plans to renovate Great Synagogue site by 2026 
  10. US rotational battalion with combat equipment arrives in Lithuania 
  11. Lithuanian MPs to debate bills on civil union, close relationship (expands)
  12. Nauseda remains strongest contender in upcoming presidential election in Lithuania (media)
  13. Proposals to cede part of Ukraine to Russia dangerous for Lithuania – Landsbergis
  14. Lithuania's FRD sends 2,800 rescue tools to Ukraine
  15. EU cannot procrastinate 6th sanction package for Russia – Lithuanian president
  16. Lithuanian parlt debate on non-married couples' relations: 10 quotes
  17. Chinese policy brought us closer to Lithuania – Taiwanese vicemin
  18. Lower VAT rate on food in Lithuania wouldn’t benefit people – minister
  19. Slepavicius assumes position of Lithuania's ambassador to South Korea
  20. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, May 27, 2022

Lithuania's InterMin to propose lifting movement restrictions for migrants – minister

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuania's Interior Ministry will propose lifting the existing movement restrictions for irregular migrants who arrived in Lithuania via Belarus last year, Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite says.

"Our decision is that we will not propose extending the existing movement restrictions. That's the plan. The algorithm of the process is currently being worked out," the minister told reporters on Thursday.

Under the existing procedure, the movement of migrants could be restricted for up to 18 months, with decisions taken every six months. The 12-month deadline is now approaching, and the ministry will propose not to extend the restriction for another six months, the minister said, adding that if the decision is approved, the majority of irregular migrants would leave Lithuania.

"Those people will probably leave for the countries they originally planned to go to as soon as they are free to leave their accommodation laces. This will probably result in a situation where we will no longer have most of these people in Lithuania," Bilotaite said.

And Lithuania will seek to send remaining migrants without granted asylum back to their countries of origin within five years, she said, adding, however, it could be problematic with some countries.

Bilotaite says the decision to lift the existing movement restrictions for migrants was made because Lithuania cannot keep them locked up permanently.

"We cannot keep these people indefinitely," she said.

Last year, almost 4,200 people entered Lithuania illegally from Belarus, and currently some 2,700 people remain in Lithuania, most of them at centers in Kybartai, Medininkai and Pabrade.

Some of them have been voluntarily returned to their countries of origin and some have fled.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, May 26, 2022

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, May 26, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to take part in the EU Council's preparatory video conference at 10 a.m.; to meet with candidates for judges at 1:30 p.m.; to present credentials to Ricardas Slepavicius, Lithuania's ambassador to the Republic of Korea, at 3 p.m. 

THE SEIMAS to hold a plenary sitting at 10 a.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to participate in the so-called "government hour" at the Seimas at 12:30 p.m. 

HEALTH MINISTER Arunas Dulkys attending the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska to meet with her Armenian counterpart at 8:30 a.m. 

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with a delegation from the US Congress at 2:30 p.m. 

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite and Police Commissioner General Renatas Pozela to give a news conference at 2:30 p.m. to present the results of a sociological survey on public security.

 

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World must continue to pressure, isolate Russia – Lithuanian parlt speaker 

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The world must continue its policy of isolation and pressure on Russia, Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, said at a meeting with a delegation of US Congress members on Wednesday.

Cmilyte-Nielsen said that the European and global security architecture remains under serious threat, which is exacerbated by talk of concessions to Russia or proposals to resolve the war at Ukraine's expense, adding that it is important to keep arming Ukraine.

"The world cannot allow this approach to prevail. If we want to stop Russian aggression, we must continue the policy of isolation and pressure through sanctions, which are only now starting to have an effect," the speaker said in a press release. 

"It is also important to arm Ukraine and to do everything we can to help it win, because today it is defending democracy, Western values and European security," she added. 

Cmilyte-Nielsen and the US Congress members also discussed the bolstering of NATO's eastern flank, including the creation of the Alliance's brigades, the transformation of the US battalion into a permanent military unit, and the strengthening of air defense in the Baltic region, according to the press release.

The speaker of the Lithuanian parliament expects the US to back these proposals at NATO's Madrid summit in late June. 

 

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Lithuanian PM warns Western politicians not to make same mistakes in ties with Russia

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has warned Western politicians not to keep making the same mistakes in relations with Russia and not to relax the sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Simonyte was commenting on the EU's stalled talks on a fresh round of sanctions against Moscow and on a suggestion by Henry Kissinger, a former US secretary of state, that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to make peace with Russia.

"If the West steps on the same rake again, that rake will smack it in the face again and that will definitely not be the end of this story," she said in an interview with the Delfi online news site on Wednesday. 

The prime minister noted that some politicians believe that the situation in Ukraine can be resolved outside the battlefield.

"These things are worrying, but I see this, at least for now, as wishful thinking on the part of individual European politicians," she said. 

The EU is currently discussing a sixth package of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The new package includes a ban on Russian oil imports, but the talks are stalling due to opposition from Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy resources. 

 

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

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Lithuanian border guards turn 11 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 11 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday morning.

This follows 15 illegal crossing attempts recorded on Tuesday, 42 on Monday, seven on Sunday and Saturday each, 22 on Friday and 13 on Thursday.  

A total of 1,766 people have been prevented from crossing from Belarus into Lithuania at non-designated places so far this year. Some 2,633 such attempts have been reported by Latvia and 4,984 by Poland.   

Lithuanian border guards sent 8,106 people back to Belarus between last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants, and December. 

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

 

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Bills on civil union, close relationship on Lithuanian parliament's Thursday agenda

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – A bill authorizing "civil unions" for unmarried couples and an alternative amendment suggesting a "close relationship agreement" are on the Lithuanian parliament's agenda on Thursday.  

The draft Law on Civil Union, registered by the leaders of the ruling bloc's political groups in the Seimas, and draft amendments to the Civil Code on "close relationship", tabled by opponents, are expected to be introduced before the parliament during the morning plenary session. 

The ruling bloc's bill provides for scrapping the definition of partnership in the "Family Book" of the Civil Code and replacing it with a civil union, a new institution defined as a voluntary agreement between two individuals to legally protect their personal relationship.

The bill was tabled as a compromise after a draft law on partnerships was rejected by the parliament a year ago.

Politicians opposed to the partnership bill have criticized the new version as well, and registered the draft amendments to the Civil Code as an alternative.

The proposed amendments, tabled by over 20 MPs, define a close relationship as 
"a person's relationship with another person arising from a stable and trusting personal social bond".  

The authors of the amendments say such a relationship would cover not only family members and close relatives, but also persons who have entered into a cohabitation agreement and those who have a guardianship, custodial or maintenance arrangement.

In the spring of 2021, the Seimas voted down the previous bill that would have legally recognized "gender-neutral" partnership. 

The rejected draft Law on Partnership would have allowed both opposite-sex and same-sex couples to enter into civil partnership, which was defined as the officially registered fact of cohabitation between two individuals for the purpose of establishing, developing and protecting their relationship.

Currently, Lithuanian laws do not recognize either opposite-sex or same-sex civil partnerships. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to legalize civil partnerships fell through at an early stage of the parliamentary process. 

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Lithuania reports 158 new COVID-19 cases, one death

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 158 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Thursday morning.

Some 136 of the new cases were primary and 22 were secondary.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals currently stands at 76, including nine ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 63.2 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 10.2 percent.

The daily count of new infections had been rising at a rapid pace since late 2021, but took a downward turn in early February after hitting a new high of over 14,000 cases

The daily count of new infections had been rising at a rapid pace since late 2021, but took a downward turn in early February after hitting a new high of over 14,000 cases

More than 1 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once. 

Some 69.8 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

 

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Almost 4 pct of Lithuanian population live below absolute poverty line

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Around 110,000 people in Lithuania, or 3.9 percent of the population, lived below the absolute poverty line last year, the country's statistics office said on Thursday. 

This is down from 140,000 people, or 5.1 percent of the population, in 2020.  

Last year, the absolute poverty threshold stood at 260 euros per month per capita and 546 euros for a family of two adults and two children under 14 years.

The at-risk-of-poverty rate edged down to 20 percent in 2021, from 20.9 percent in 2020. About 560,000 people lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold last year, down 4 percent from 585,000 a year ago.  

The threshold stood at 483 euros per capita and 1,015 euros for a family.

 

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Vilnius plans to renovate Great Synagogue site by 2026 

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Vilnius Municipality plans to renovate the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in the Lithuanian capital's Old Town by 2026, with a memorial garden square and a Jewish community center to be set up there.

On Thursday, the municipality and the Goodwill Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to commemorate the place that is sacred for Lithuanian Jews.

"Many Vilnius residents know why Vilnius was called Jerusalem of the North," Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius said in a press release. "Today, faded Hebrew inscriptions on the buildings of the former Vilna Ghetto, memorial plaques and monuments bear witness to the history of Jewish spirituality and science." 

"We agreed on how we will create a new center of attraction for Lithuanians and foreign visitors on the site of the Soviet-destroyed Great Synagogue," he added. 

Archaeological research on the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, which was destroyed during World War II and the Soviet era, started in 2011. 

Archaeologists have unearthed, among other things, the bases of two pillars of the Bimah, the raised platform from which the Torah was read, and the sites of two mikvahs (ritual baths), as well as the huge outer back wall and part of the floor of the Great Synagogue.

The exact date when the Great Synagogue of Vilna was built is not known. Historians believe that it was built after King Wladyslaw IV Vasa in 1633 granted a privilege to set up a Jewish quarter in Vilnius. The architect of the synagogue is unknown.

The Great Synagogue was one of the largest Jewish religious institutions in Eastern Europe. It was known as an important Jewish spiritual and educational center that gave Vilnius the name of Jerusalem of the North.

The synagogue was 25 meters long and just over 22 meters wide and 12 meters high. Since it was forbidden for a synagogue to be higher than churches, the structure was dug two meters into the ground.  

The size and splendor of this Jewish house of worship is said to have surpassed all the synagogues built in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Some historical sources say that it accommodated up to 5,000 people. 

The Great Synagogue and other buildings in the complex were badly damaged during World War II.  

The remains of the buildings were razed to the ground in 1955-1957 and a kindergarten, which is now closed, was built on top of them in 1964. 

 

By Ignas Jačauskas

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US rotational battalion with combat equipment arrives in Lithuania 

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – A battalion of US rotational forces with combat equipment has arrived in Lithuania's second-biggest city of Kaunas, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Thursday. 

The minister noted that Kaunas Intermodal Terminal was used for the first time to deploy the battalion's combat equipment.

"M1A2 Abrams tanks, Bradley IFVs, armored personnel carriers and other equipment have arrived by rail from the Greek port of Akexandroupolis across Europe to Kaunas," he posted on Facebook. 

The 1st battalion of the US 66th Armor Regiment will replace the 3rd battalion deployed to Lithuania since last fall.

US troops are currently stationed in Lithuania on a rotational basis and the country's politicians are seeking a permanent American presence.

In response to increased threats in the region following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the US has deployed several hundred additional troops and equipment to Lithuania.

 

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Lithuanian MPs to debate bills on civil union, close relationship (expands)

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday agreed to debate two alternative bills aimed at legally regulating the relationship between unmarried people living together.

The draft Law on Civil Union, registered by the ruling bloc's MPs as a compromise to their previous bill on civil partnerships, passed the first reading in the parliament with 70 votes in favor, 49 against and six abstentions.

Draft amendments to the Civil Code on "close relationship", tabled by a group of MPs opposing partnerships, passed the first reading with 70 votes in favor, 23 against and 30 abstentions.

Both bills will now go to parliamentary committees and should return to the full parliament for a plenary debate on June 21.    

Differences between bills

MP Jurgita Sejoniene of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats said while presenting the civil union bill that the draft is basic, setting out only the minimum provisions for "a morally and socially just life together without marriage”.

"The bill is different from what the previously tabled [Partnership Law] and I am asking you to look favorably on this consensus. This draft regulates the common principles: monogamy, voluntariness, equality, legitimate expectations. It will only concern those people for whom it is relevant, and will not affect the rest of our fellow citizens in any way," she said. 

The MP also noted that the proposal to recognize civil unions is relevant for same-sex and opposite-sex couple alike.

"The majority of people in Lithuania do not need such a legal regulation, but there are about half a million unmarried young people in Lithuania," she said. 

MP Paulius Saudargas of the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats presented the alternative draft on "close relationship", stressing that, unlike the other bill, it draws a clear distinction between unmarried couples and family relations.

"We recognize that personal relationships, not just property relationships, between people living together must be protected, which is why we propose to legally recognize close relationships," said Saudargas, who is opposed to authorizing same-sex partnership.

"The bill on close relationship does not create a family relationship, while a civil union gives an impression of creating a family relationship," he said. 

Partnership not allowed for any couples 

The draft Law on Civil Union bill provides for scrapping the definition of partnership in the "Family Book" of the Civil Code and replacing it with a civil union, a new institution defined as a voluntary agreement between two individuals to legally protect their personal relationship.

The bill was tabled by the leaders of the ruling bloc's political groups in the Seimas as a compromise after a draft law on partnerships was rejected by the parliament a year ago.

Politicians opposed to the partnership bill have criticized the new version as well, and registered the draft amendments to the Civil Code as an alternative.

The proposed amendments, tabled by over 20 MPs, define a close relationship as "a person's relationship with another person arising from a stable and trusting personal social bond".  

The authors of the amendments say such a relationship would cover not only family members and close relatives, but also persons who have entered into a cohabitation agreement and those who have a guardianship, custodial or maintenance arrangement.

In the spring of 2021, the Seimas voted down the previous bill that would have legally recognized "gender-neutral" partnership. 

The rejected draft Law on Partnership would have allowed both opposite-sex and same-sex couples to enter into civil partnership, which was defined as the officially registered fact of cohabitation between two individuals for the purpose of establishing, developing and protecting their relationship.

Currently, Lithuanian laws do not recognize either opposite-sex or same-sex civil partnerships. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to legalize civil partnerships fell through at an early stage of the parliamentary process. 

 

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Nauseda remains strongest contender in upcoming presidential election in Lithuania (media)

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Incumbent Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda is predicted to make it into the runoff of the upcoming presidential election in Lithuania, public opinion polls show. While four other politicians are named as his most realistic rivals, according to the results of the Vilmorus and Norstat LT surveys published by the 15min.lt news website on Thursday, two years before the 2024 presidential vote.

The polls present the TOP-5 of the politicians with the most realistic chances of making it into the presidential election runoff and they include Nauseda, Saulius Skvernelis, Lithuania's former prime minister and now leader of the Democrats "For Lithuania", Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen who leads the Liberal Movement, Vilija Blinkeviciute, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, and also Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.

Both surveys show Nauseda is expected to get into the presidential runoff, and Cmilyte-Nielsen is named as having the lowest chances of doing so.

According to the Vilmorus poll, Nauseda leads the list (21.1 percent of respondents would vote for him), followed by Blinkeviciute (11.9 percent), Skvernelis (10.6 percent), Simonyte (8.7 percent) and Cmilyte-Nielsen (4.6 percent).

In the Norstat LT survey, Simonyte would receive 22 percent of respondents' votes, followed by Nauseda with 16 percent, Skvernelis with 7 percent, Blinkeviciute with 6 percent and Cmilyte-Nielsen with 4 percent.

Vilmorus surveyed 1,000 Lithuanian adults during face-to-face and telephone interviews. And Norstat LT carried out an online survey of 18-74 year olds.

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Proposals to cede part of Ukraine to Russia dangerous for Lithuania – Landsbergis

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Suggestions by some Western politicians and experts that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to make peace with Russia are dangerous for Lithuania, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Thursday. 

"They are dangerous for us, Lithuania, because they normalize not only relations with the regime [of Russian President Vladimir Putin], but also normalize what that regime is doing," Landsbergis told reporters.

"This is a very strong signal to all other aggressors, potential criminals, that if you commit a crime and you are not swept away in three months, then everything is fine, everything can stay that way", he said.

According to Lithuania's top diplomat, the proposals to cede part of Ukraine's territory to Russia are aimed at normalizing the current situation. 

"It seems to me that this is a very dangerous trend," Landsbergis said. "On one hand, we say that the Putinist regime that rules Russia today is a genocidal regime that is ready to wipe people out just because they belong to one or another nation."  

"Any normalization with this regime is incomprehensible to me," he said. "Statements by Kissinger and by heads of state in that direction are fundamentally inadequate to the reality we see today," he added. 

The minister stressed that the end of the war must be declared in Kyiv.

"Kyiv will say when and under what conditions the war is over for them. No Western country, no country in the world can speak for them, because Ukrainians are paying for this war in blood," he said.  

Henry Kissinger, a former US secretary of state, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to Russia to end the war, and warned that a humiliating defeat for the Kremlin could result in wider destabilization.

According to Kissinger, a return to the "status quo" before Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine would be ideal.

"Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante," he said.

Russia formally annexed Crimea in 2014 and pro-Moscow separatist groups took control of Ukraine's easternmost regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

 

 

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Lithuania's FRD sends 2,800 rescue tools to Ukraine

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Lithuania's Fire and Rescue Department has sent 2,800 civil aid items to its Ukrainian colleagues.

The shipment included builders and firefighters' helmets, goggles, rubber footwear, work gloves, crowbars, shovels and axes that were handed over to Ukraine in response to the country's request, the FRD said on Thursday.

"The shipment contained a total of 2,800 various tools. It's is now in Ukraine," the FRD said.

Other shipments were sent to Ukraine in March and earlier this month.

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EU cannot procrastinate 6th sanction package for Russia – Lithuanian president

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS - The European Union cannot procrastinate the adoption of the sixth package of sanctions for Russia, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.

This package must be adopted immediately and must include an embargo on Russian oil, he said during a video conference on Thursday, adding that a seventh sanction package must be on the EU table.

The conference was held to prepare for next week's extraordinary European Council meeting in Brussels on May 30-31. The meting will focus on assistance to Ukraine and its reconstruction plan, energy, food security and the European Union's security and defense policy, the presidential press service said.

The EU is currently discussing an already sixth package of sanctions for Russia as it is waging war against Ukraine. The new sanctions would include a ban on Russian oil imports, but the talks are being stalled by opposition from Hungary as it says it will not support an embargo because of its over-reliance on the resource.

Speaking on Ukraine, the Lithuanian president said Lithuania was in favor of using frozen Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine. Nauseda also stressed that political support for Ukraine remains important, and he, therefore, calls for granting Ukraine EU candidate status as soon as possible.

Speaking on energy issues, Nauseda said the EU should achieve full energy independence from Russia. This, he said, requires EU member states' political will and appropriate decisions, including those on the diversification of energy sources, investment in renewable energy, and filling gas storage facilities.

Nauseda said export of Ukrainian grain was another issue that required swift decisions.

"Russia is using Ukraine's grain exports as a manipulative tool in its war. Unblocking the port of Odessa should be the primary objective, but Lithuania is ready to provide its railway infrastructure and seaport to ensure that Ukrainian grain exports do not stop going through Poland," he said.

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Lithuanian parlt debate on non-married couples' relations: 10 quotes

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday gave its initial backing to two rival bills regulating the relations of cohabitating non-married couples.

BNS provides 10 quotes from the parliamentary debate:

HU-LCD MP Jurgita Sejoniene: "A very close person of mine, who is not with us today, committed suicide 11 years ago, but I think if he were alive today and wanted to legalize his relationship with someone else, he would be really grateful to me. And there are more than a few people like that, and I do not agree in any way with the idea that in a 21st century democracy, we can speak about, well, letting them be, just letting them be."

LFGU MP Algimantas Dumbrava: "I am not asking you as an MP, but I want to ask you as a Christian. Today, same-sex relationships, be they civil unions, partnerships or families, are considered a sin. Would you agree that we, as Christians, are becoming two-faced, let's say, in your case?

Labor party MP Viktoras Fiodorovas: "I would like to paraphrase a well-known Lithuanian folk saying about the dress and the lady. I have an impression that it's essentially the same bill, the same Tomas Vytautas Raskevicius, only in the person of Mrs. Sejoniene. It’s essentially a smokescreen, a lesson learned from the original mistakes when the bill was first tabled and they lost in the parliament with a few votes."

HU-LCD MP Sejoniene: "I don’t know where you get the idea that I am Raskevicius in disguise, because I supported the previous bill as well, that's obvious and I have never hidden that. I understand the need for a consensus, I think Raskevicius and other people do too, and I am glad that we have found that consensus."

LFGU MP Aurelijus Veryga: "What do we in general want to achieve as a country, as a state? Do we want to survive, do we want to thrive, do we want to grow, or do we just want to move in the direction where everything is slowly moving towards some personal comfort and pleasure, and we are just disappearing? How will this project contribute to our survival as a country, a state and a nation?"

Lithuanian Regions Party MP Valdemaras Valkiunas: "The dictatorship of relativism from the West is sweeping across the world, and a spiritual genocide is the ambition of destructive forces. Law is undergoing mutation without any responsibility, which is what is being done now. There's ongoing visual and audible aggression from the LGBT community and other similar organizations, which is what we also see here in this room. Same-sex marriage demoralizes and destroys civilization".

Social Democrat MP Algirdas Sysas: "I find it very strange that we, in Lithuania, are trying to call normal things something else. You and your colleagues once referred to family violence "violence in a close environment", when it mostly happens within the family. Now, instead of calling a spade a spade, you are introducing a new institute, "a close relationship". So, my question is whether it's possible to have a harem in Lithuania under that close relationship, including your proposal with this bill?"

HU-LCD MP Vilija Aleknaite Abramikiene: "I am calling on you to support this bill as much as possible as, unlike the bill presented by my colleague Sejoniene, it does not run counter the Constitution and the concept of family enshrined in it, and it does not cause a conflict with the majority of our society and does not impose state coercion on it".

HU-LCD MP Gabrielius Landsbergis: "These are people who are in the Seimas hall, here and everywhere around us. It seems to me that it's normal not to be afraid and to call things as they are, but politics is the art of compromise."

Lithuanian Regions Party MP Agne Sirinskienė: "I am really glad that you have managed to come up with such an original solution for recognizing different relationships without, at the same time, transforming them into family-marriage or marriage, or even pseudo-marriage".

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Chinese policy brought us closer to Lithuania – Taiwanese vicemin

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – China's sanctions imposed on Lithuania in response to the opening of Taiwan's representative office in Vilnius last year has boosted Taiwan's economic partnership with Lithuania, Taiwan's economic affairs vice minister said in Vilnius on Thursday.

"Last year, neither Lithuania, nor Taiwan intended to provoke China. Because of a simple name of the Taiwanese Representative Office, China took undeclared sanctions against Lithuania," Chen Chern-chyi said at a round-table discussion on Thursday, organized by the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists and the Taiwanese Representative Office.

Taiwan's representatives at the meeting, also attended by politicians, businessmen and scientists from both countries, presented opportunities for cooperation in the areas of semiconductors, start-ups, biotechnology, electric vehicles and their parts, and lasers.

"We have enough experience how to deal with China. We must stand up, we come to Lithuania to show our solidarity," the Taiwanese vice minister said.

In his words, the Taiwanese delegations, which arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday, is scheduled to meet with the ministers of the economy and innovation and communications and transport, and also visit companies in Kaunas and Klaipeda during the three-day visit.

Beijing downgraded its diplomatic relations with Vilnius after the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius last fall, and also blocked Lithuanian exports and imports.

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lower VAT rate on food in Lithuania wouldn’t benefit people – minister

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – The Lithuanian government has no plans to cut the VAT rate on food as it would not benefit people, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste says amid calls by presidential advisers to introduce a lower VAT rate on food under a different model that would benefit consumers.

"We have repeatedly expressed this position that VAT exemptions in sectors where prices are mostly unregulated do not serve their purpose as they benefit resellers, the big supermarkets and suppliers, and not the end consumers," Skaiste told journalists on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Irena Segaloviciene, the president's chief adviser on economic and social policy, said a lower VAT rate on food could be introduced to fight rising inflation, adding, however, that a model should be found to ensure it benefitted the end consumer.

Skaiste says a better option would be to increase incomes of the most socially vulnerable people.

The current VAT rate in Lithuania stands at 21 percent.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Slepavicius assumes position of Lithuania's ambassador to South Korea

VILNIUS, May 26, BNS – Ricardas Slepavicius on Thursday assumed the position of Lithuania's ambassador to the Republic of Korea after he received credentials from President Gitanas Nauseda.

During the meeting, the ambassador and the president discussed the prospects for strengthening political relations between Lithuania and South Korea, as well as economic and cultural cooperation, the presidential press service said.

South Korea is considered one of the most innovative economies in the world, the president said, stressing the importance of strengthening cooperation in high value-added economic areas and encouraging Korean investments in Lithuania.

The president and the ambassador also discussed cooperation in the areas of science, education and culture.

Slepavicius has long-standing diplomatic experience of working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has previously served as Lithuania's ambassador to Italy, as well as to Malta and San Marino, and as the country's permanent representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Lithuania established its embassy in the Republic of Korea last year. It's currently headed by interim Chargé d'Affaires Vilijus Samuila.

Lithuania and South Korea established diplomatic relations on October 14, 1991. Lithuania was previously represented in South Korea by the country's embassy in China.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, May 27, 2022

VILNIUS, May 27, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Friday, May 27, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to take a train from Vilnius to the Kaunas Intermodal Terminal and hold a press conference at noon.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with the heads of delegations to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly at 4.30 p.m.

Raimundas Lopata, chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas' Group for Inter-Parliamentary Relations with the Republic of Armenia, to meet with Armenia's justice minister at 11 a.m.

A press conference on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's spring session to be held at 1.30 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to meet with Ukrainian Vice Premier for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna at 1 p.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to attend a meeting of Baltic defense ministers in Estonia.

THE FOREIGN MINISTRY

The 8th Vilnius Russia Forum to take place in Trakai District. FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis  to hold a joint press conference with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the Open Russian Foundation, at 1 p.m.

 

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Jun 08 2022

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