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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, March 25, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events for Friday, March 25, 2022 in Lithuania
  2. China's issue in Ukraine war remains relevant – Lithuania's Nauseda
  3. Not all countries are ready to stop imports of Russian resources – Lithuanian president
  4. Lithuanian intermin to meet with Interpol chief in Vilnius
  5. Lithuania's Food Bank to collect products for the needy, war refugees
  6. Lithuania turns 58 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus
  7. Lithuania reports 3,938 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths
  8. Lithuania registers 32,000 war refugees from Ukraine
  9. Vilnius railway station opens photo exhibition to attract Russian attention to war
  10. Vilnius railway station opens photo exhibition to attract Russian attention to war (expands)
  11. School-leavers from Ukraine to be able to take graduation exams in Lithuania
  12. Lithuanian PM congratulates people of Belarus on Freedom Day
  13. Orlen Lithuania plans to refine Saudi oil only – minister
  14. Lithuanian minister calls for Russia, Belarus to be expelled from Interpol
  15. Vilnius court closes MG Group reputation cases as parties reach amicable settlements - BNS SPECIAL
  16. Lithuanian leaders congratulate people of Belarus on Freedom Day (updates)
  17. Lithuanian president calls for immediate diversification of EU energy import sources
  18. Upcoming events for Monday, March 28, 2022 in Lithuania

Upcoming events for Friday, March 25, 2022 in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – The following events are scheduled for Friday, March 25, 2022 in Lithuania:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to attend a European Council's meeting in Brussels.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to meet with leaders of the parliamentary political groups at 10 a.m.; to meet with representatives of regional media outlets at 11.30 a.m.; to attend a meeting of the special commission supervising the construction of a physical barrier at the EU's external border with Belarus in Lithuania's territory at 1 p.m.

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite to meet with Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock at 10 a.m.

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China's issue in Ukraine war remains relevant – Lithuania's Nauseda

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS - European leaders have agreed to do everything possible to give China a chance to make up its mind on the war in Ukraine - to support Russia or to stand in solidarity with the West, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a video comment on Friday night after the European Council meeting in Brussels.

"The issue of China remains relevant and we agreed that we will certainly do our utmost to give China a chance to think carefully about its behavior, to assess all possible consequences and then to decide whether it is really ready to support Russia in this very unjust fight against Ukraine," Nauseda said. "Or will it join the rest of the world in solidarity with it."

The European Union's approach to Russia's war in Ukraine will be presented at the upcoming EU-China summit which will also be an opportunity to actively encourage China to contribute to stopping this war, the Lithuanian president said.

Nauseda also hopes this EU-China summit will be an opportunity to urge China to stop applying economic pressure against EU member states and to return to economic cooperation based on international agreements.

The global community's reaction Russia's war in Ukraine was also discussed with US President Joe Biden at the European Council meeting.

Nauseda pointed out it was a "rare case" that a US leader attended a meeting of European leaders, but it was also a "great opportunity" to underline the West's unity and attitude towards Russia's war in Ukraine.

"Much of the conversation revolved around Russia's responsibility for this bloody war and the international community's reaction," the Lithuanian president.

US officials have accused China of showing "willingness" to provide military and economic aid to Russia and say they will "watch very closely" whether Beijing will supply arms to Moscow.

China is yet to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday accused China of providing political support to Russia by spreading "blatant lies and misinformation" and warned against providing material support to Russia.

Beijing denies these accusations and calls it disinformation.

UN data shows that more than 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine in the space of one month since the war started, with more than 970 civilian casualties reported.

At the same time, Russia has been hit by a raft of international sanctions that have crippled its economy.

By Ramūnas Jakubauskas

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Not all countries are ready to stop imports of Russian resources – Lithuanian president

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS - European leaders have agreed to tighten the existing sanctions against Russia after it started the war in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says, adding, however, that some EU member states are not yet ready to stop imports of Russian resources.

"The aggressor must be treated as an aggressor. And such a brutal aggressor must be treated accordingly. So, sanctions must be tightened and we have agreed on that", the Lithuanian president said in a video comment on Friday night after a European Council meeting in Brussels.

"Yes, we have to admit that some countries are not yet ready to disconnect from the Russian energy taps in the very near future," he added.

In his words, European leaders discussed what can be done about both coal and oil imports.

"We can only be glad that Lithuania has done a lot here and could be a role model for other countries," the president said.

He suggests including into the EU's 5th package extensive sanctions on Russia's energy and transport sectors, blocking Russian and Belarusian banks not yet on the sanctions list, and banning Russian ships from EU ports.

The importance of sanctions was also stressed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he addressed EU leaders on Thursday, Nauseda said.

"President Zelensky appealed for our unity, he appealed from the Ukrainian side. The fact that we support and back him wholeheartedly, his wish is that this should be reflected in our decisions, that those decisions should be decisive and help Ukraine not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, but today," Nauseda said.

"First of all, it's military aid (...) He also talked about sanctions, about the fact that sanctions against Russia are necessary simply because the resources we are acquiring are becoming a resource to finance the war, which is unacceptable, and people are dying as a result of it", he added.

UN data shows that more than 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine in the space of one month since the war started, with more than 970 civilian casualties reported.

At the same time, Russia has been hit by a raft of international sanctions that have crippled its economy.

By Ramūnas Jakubauskas

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Lithuanian intermin to meet with Interpol chief in Vilnius

VILNIUs, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite is meeting with Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock in Vilnius on Friday.

"Three main topics will be discussed during the meeting, including the risk of abuse of Interpol channels, the situation in Ukraine and security challenges," Mindaugas Bajarunas, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told BNS.

The minister will present Lithuania's proposals that could contribute to achieving the main objective of Interpol cooperation, which is maintaining law and order, he said.

The meeting participants will also visit one of the six registration centers for Ukrainian war refugees in Lithuania, located in Vilnius.

Several weeks ago, Interpol announced its decision restrict Russia's ability to enter information directly into the global police organization's vast network as it was decided that reports must first be verified by the general secretariat based in Lyon, France.

Amid the ongoing war between its two members, Interpol issued a statement underlying the organization's commitment to neutrality.

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Lithuania's Food Bank to collect products for the needy, war refugees

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS - On Friday and Saturday, volunteers from Lithuania's NGO Food Bank will collect food products for Ukrainian war refugees and the needy in Lithuania in major supermarkets.

"Food donations during this campaign are desperately needed. We are asking people to do what they can to help, as NGOs have run out of long shelf-life food and the number of those in need is still growing and it could even double", Simonas Gurevicius, head of the Food Bank, said.

As food prices are rising rapidly, the number of people asking for food aid is increasing, he said.

"It is also likely that the 143,000 Lithuanian residents who get regular food aid might soon be joined by Ukrainian war refugees who, for various reasons, will not be able to work, including disabled people, seniors, and families with large families. Therefore, food donated by the public during the Food Bank campaign on March 25 and 26 will be vital for tens of thousands of people," Gurevicius said, adding that people will be able to donate food in 69 cities and towns across Lithuania.

This year, 330 organizations are helping the Food Bank by collecting donations for people in their care, such as low-income families, the unemployed, the disabled or the elderly.

The Food Bank has already distributed more than 26,000 food packages to Ukrainians in Lithuania, and sent 17 vans with water, flour, canned food, porridge, sweets, baby food and animal feed to Ukraine.

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Lithuania turns 58 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned 58 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Friday morning, pointing out it was the highest number of push-backs this year.

SBGS officers have prevented a total of 860 irregular migrants from entering Lithuania so far this year. This number is much higher in Latvia and Poland.

Lithuanian border guards sent more than 8,100 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.  Western countries accuse the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".

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Lithuania reports 3,938 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 3,938 new coronavirus infections and 13 deaths, including one child under 9, from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Friday morning.

Some 3,314 of the new cases were primary, 619 were secondary and five were tertiary.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals remains fairly unchanged at 1,282, including 66 ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate now stands at 1,901 per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 42.1 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.

Some 69.7 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

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Lithuania registers 32,000 war refugees from Ukraine

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuania has so far registered 32,000 war refugees from Ukraine, including 13,800 minors, official statistics showed on Friday.

The largest number of refugees, 10,551, has been registered by the registration center in Vilnius, followed by Alytus with 3,158, Kaunas with 3,158, Klaipeda with 3,021, Siauliai with 1,629, and Marijampole with 1,535 people.

Out of the Migration Department's ten territorial units, the largest number of refugees has been registered by the Vilnius unit, 1,837, followed by the Klaipeda unit with 1,403, and the Siauliai and Kaunas units have registered 1,098 and 1,096 with people respectively.

Some 1,700 refugees, including 787 minors, have been registered in the past 24 hours alone.

Of the total number of war refugees registered so far, 3,733 are children under the age of six.

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Vilnius railway station opens photo exhibition to attract Russian attention to war

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – A photo exhibition was opened on a platform at Vilnius railway station on Friday, aimed to attract Russian citizens' attention to their country's ongoing war in Ukraine.

The exhibition of war photographs was set up on the platform where transit trains from Moscow to the Kaliningrad region stop, Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), the country's state-owned railway company, said.

The Lithuanian Press Photographers' Club helped to select photos for the exhibition.

The photos, which show people injured during the war, mourning people, as well as buildings destroyed, also bear inscriptions in Russian: "Today, Putin is killing the peaceful population of Ukraine. Do you approve of this?"

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Vilnius railway station opens photo exhibition to attract Russian attention to war (expands)

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – A photo exhibition was opened on a platform at Vilnius railway station on Friday, aimed to attract Russian citizens' attention to their country's ongoing war in Ukraine.

The exhibition of 24 war photographs was set up on the platform where transit trains from Moscow to the Kaliningrad region stop, Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), the country's state-owned railway company, said.

The photographs are displayed at a height where they can be seen by the passengers of transit trains from Moscow to Kaliningrad and back.

"We see a great sense in using the LTG space to host an exhibition that reflects the images of the Russian government's war against Ukraine. We would like to thank our partners, the press photographers who willingly and gratuitously contributed to this initiative. Ukraine's ongoing struggle for freedom at a heavy price needs the support of all of us, and this exhibition is a symbolic part of that support," Egidijus Lazauskas, CEO of LTG, said.

The Lithuanian Press Photographers' Club helped to select the photos for the exhibition.

"With this exhibition, we aim to spread the message about the war waged by the Russian government. We have selected images that emotionally convey the harsh reality that the people of Ukraine are currently facing," Jonas Staselis, president of the Lithuanian Press Photographers' Club, was quoted as saying in the LTG statement. "With this exhibition, we want to spread the message as widely as possible that it is impossible to escape from reality in a free country."

He thanked photographers Maxim Dondyuk and Evgeniy Maloletka who sent photos from Kyiv and Mariupol.

The photos, which show people injured during the war, mourning people, as well as buildings destroyed, also bear inscriptions in Russian: "Today, Putin is killing the peaceful population of Ukraine. Do you approve of this?"

Transit trains from Moscow to Kaliningrad and back run every day. There are also transit trains from Adler and Saint Petersburg to Kaliningrad and back.

Vilnius railway station plans to slow these trains every now and then to allow passengers to see the photo exhibition.

The average number of transit trains to and from Kaliningrad stands at 100 on average.

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School-leavers from Ukraine to be able to take graduation exams in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – School-leavers from Ukraine who have been granted asylum in Lithuania will be able to take their graduation exams and acquire secondary education in Lithuania, Lithuania's National Education Agency said on Friday.

The latest date for students from Ukraine to lodge in their requests to take graduation exams is May 24.

"We wish that the Lithuanian secondary education certificate will not only become an important personal document or a biographical fact, but will also send them off to an independent life in Lithuania or, hopefully, in Ukraine after it becomes peaceful and free again," said Asta Ranonyte, deputy director of the National Education Agency.

If the application is submitted by April 1, school-leavers will then be able to take part in the main graduation exam session. If the application is submitted after April 1, students will take part in the re-sit of the graduation exams.

Ukrainian students may be exempted from the Lithuanian language and literature exam by school authorities. They will not have to take the Lithuanian language and literature exam, just as it's not required from all school-leavers who have lived in Lithuania for less than two years.

Based on official statistics, some, 32,000 war refugees from Ukraine, including 13,800 minors, have already registered in Lithuania.

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Lithuanian PM congratulates people of Belarus on Freedom Day

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has congratulated the people of Belarus s they celebrate the Freedom Day on March 25.

In her message of congratulation, the prime minister wished freedom, harmony and peace in Belarus.

Simonyte conveyed her greetings to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the democratic society in Belarus, and expressed her hope that this day is celebrated in the future not only in the hearts and minds of free Belarusians but also in the towns and on the streets of a free and democratic Belarus.

"Unfortunately, today we witness an ultimate betrayal of the Belarusian nation by Lukashenko, who provides the territory of your beautiful and peaceful country as a bridgehead for Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine. I commend the free people and the leaders of the free Belarus who did not hesitate to stand clearly and publicly in support of Ukraine and chose the side of good over evil. I am glad that today the hearts of our nations—Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and free Belarusians—are beating together, that we share Ukrainians’ grief, and celebrate their victories as our own," the Lithuanian prime minister's letter reads.

Simonyte urged Belarusians not to lose patience and faith in the victory of a free Belarus, and reassures them that Lithuania sees and supports the continuous fight of Belarusians for freedom, adding that the rightful demands to stop repressions, release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and arbitrarily detained persons in Belarus, and to organize free and fair elections in Belarus as soon as possible are voiced by Lithuanian officials at every opportunity and within all international forums.

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Orlen Lithuania plans to refine Saudi oil only – minister

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS - Polish oil group Orlen, which owns Lithuania's Mazeikiai-based oil refinery Orlen Lietuva (Orlen Lithuania), plans to use only oil supplied by Saudi Arabian oil company Saudi Aramco, Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys says.

"Orlen is renouncing Russian oil and plans to produce products only from Aramco's (Saudi Aramco - BNS) Saudi Arabian oil," Kreivys told reporters on Friday.

Up until now, most of Orlen Lietuva's refined oil has been Russian.

Earlier this week, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte also said Orlen planned to completely renounce Russian crude in the near future. 

Audrius Daugnora, deputy CEO at Orlen Lietuva, said earlier the company has been diversifying its crude sources since 2014 and refining not only Russian oil, adding that it would not be difficult for the company to give up Russian oil.

In his words, the refinery has normally processed about two-thirds of Russian oil in recent years, but now "the numbers are turning the other way". 

In early March, Orlen said it was taking steps to increase oil supplies from alternative sources, and also announced it had agreed with Saudi Aramco to buy five additional North Sea oil tankers, some of which will be used by the Mazeikiai refinery.

Poland's Orlen announced last year it was buying 57 percent of crude for its refineries from Russia under long-term supply contracts, and also acquiring around 8 percent from Saudi Arabia, and the rest coming from the spot market.

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Lithuanian minister calls for Russia, Belarus to be expelled from Interpol

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite on Friday called for Russia and Belarus to be expelled from the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).  

"We respect Interpol's neutrality and appreciate its efforts to introduce stricter control over the National Central Bureau in Moscow," Bilotaite said after meeting with Juergen Stock, the organization's secretary general, in Vilnius.

"It is understood that Interpol's constitution does not contain any provision for suspension or expulsion of a member country. But I am sure that a legal solution can be found if the international community agrees," the minister said.

"There is no sense in Russia, which has no respect for any rules of international law and order, being a member of Interpol. The same applies to Belarus," she added.

A couple of weeks ago, Interpol said it was restricting Russia's ability to enter information directly into the organization's vast network, deciding that communications must first be checked by the general secretariat in Lyon, France.

Interpol stressed in a statement that it was maintaining its pledge of neutrality amid the war between two of its members, triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

However, the organization said that "heightened supervision and monitoring measures" of Moscow's National Central Bureau were needed “to prevent any potential misuse of Interpol's channels", such as targeting individuals in or outside Ukraine.

Stock said Interpol must remain neutral, otherwise it could become a political tool.

It is in the international police organization's interests to keep certain channels with Russia and Belarus open so as to be able to prevent or detect serious international crimes, according to the secretary general.

Stock said further action would be taken if new violations were found on the part of Russia or Belarus.

He noted that individual member states may take political decisions not to cooperate with Russia or Belarus and not to exchange data with them.

At the meeting in Vilnius, the Lithuanian minister expressed concern that Interpol channels could be used by Russia and Belarus to persecute opponents of the political regimes.

In response, Stock called on Interpol's member countries to step up their efforts to provide information directly to the organization, especially in such sensitive cases.

Interpol, the world's largest international police organization with 195 member countries, will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. 

 

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Vilnius court closes MG Group reputation cases as parties reach amicable settlements - BNS SPECIAL

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Vilnius City District Court has this week closed two business reputation disputes involving MG Group, one of Lithuania's biggest business groups, after the parties reached amicable settlements. 

The group's litigation against the state and MP Vytautas Bakas had been going on for several years, dating back to a 2018 parliamentary investigation into suspected unlawful influence by businesses on political processes.

In the dispute against the state, MG Group and others tried to prove, among other things, that the State Security Department had provided false information to the parliamentary inquiry and violated the presumption of innocence, and that the Seimas had unlawfully made public the intelligence agency's reports.

Following the investigation, the parliament concluded that the group, then named MG Baltic, posed a threat to Lithuania's national security. The business group called the probe "a political farce".

In the other dispute, MG Group contested statements by Bakas, who then headed the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, that the company's activities bore signs of an organized criminal group and that it had caused around 500 million euros in damage to the state.

Vilnius City District Court approved the amicable settlement agreements on Thursday and Friday, thus closing both cases, Aurimas Zukauskas, the court's spokesman, told BNS. 

The court's rulings can be appealed within seven days. 

Earlier this year, Vilnius Regional Court finished hearings in MG Group's political corruption case, with the verdict to be handed down on April 4.

 

By Saulius Jakučionis

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Lithuanian leaders congratulate people of Belarus on Freedom Day (updates)

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuanian leaders on Friday congratulated Belarusian people on Freedom Day, March 25, wishing them strength to continue their struggle.

"Our neighbor Belarus today is facing an increasingly serious risk of losing its last vestiges of independence. Moreover, it is being dragged into a senseless and bloody war against Ukraine. For the peaceful nation with close historical and cultural ties with Ukraine and Ukrainians, this would be a real disaster," President Gitanas Nauseda wrote on Facebook. 

In such a situation, the national consciousness of Belarusians becomes more important than ever, according to the president. 

"No matter how hard hostile forces try to crush the dignity of the Belarusian people, they retain the will to fight for freedom," he wrote. "We saw this a year and a half ago, when Belarusian civil society stood united in defense of its rights, and it was only the brutal actions of the power structures that prevented the country's peaceful return to democracy."

Nauseda wished Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, and "all the free people of Belarus" determination, patience and strength to continue "their difficult but extremely important struggle".

In her message of congratulation, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte expressed her hope that in the future, March 25 will be celebrated "not only in the hearts and minds of free Belarusians, but also in the towns and on the streets of a free and democratic Belarus".

"Unfortunately, today we witness an ultimate betrayal of the Belarusian nation by Lukashenko, who provides the territory of your beautiful and peaceful country as a bridgehead for Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine," the prime minister's letter reads.

"I commend the free people and the leaders of the free Belarus who did not hesitate to stand clearly and publicly in support of Ukraine and chose the side of good over evil. I am glad that today the hearts of our nations—Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and free Belarusians—are beating together, that we share Ukrainians’ grief, and celebrate their victories as our own."

Simonyte called on Belarusians "not to lose patience and faith in the victory of a free Belarus" and reassures them that "Lithuania sees and supports the continuous fight of Belarusians for freedom", her office said in a press release.   

She added that "the rightful demands to stop repressions, release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and arbitrarily detained persons in Belarus, and to organize free and fair elections in Belarus as soon as possible are voiced by Lithuanian officials at every opportunity and in all international fora".

Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, the speaker of the parliament, used the occasion to express her support for Belarusians. 

"I stand in solidarity with Belarusians who mark their Freedom Day today," she tweeted.

Freedom Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated on March 25 to commemorate the 1918 declaration of independence by the Belarusian Democratic Republic, which existed briefly until the Bolsheviks took power in early 1919.

The regime of Alexander Lukashenko forbids the celebration of Freedom Day in Belarus and does not recognize it. The country's official Independence Day is marked on July 3, the day in 1944 when Nazi German troops left Minsk and Soviet troops took the city.

 

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Lithuanian president calls for immediate diversification of EU energy import sources

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has called on EU leaders to immediately diversify energy import sources amid Russia's continued military invasion of Ukraine, his office said on Friday.

At the European Council's meeting, Nauseda said that "the EU's disconnection from Russia's energy supply should take place without delay by diversifying energy import sources, ensuring sufficient gas reserves in the EU and enabling mechanisms for price control and the security of energy sources", it said in a press release.

"We are financing the Kremlin's war against Ukraine by buying Russian gas and oil," the Lithuanian leader said. "Reducing our energy dependence on Russia is a step that the EU had to take a long time ago." 

"Today we have a great opportunity to diversify energy sources, to ensure their reliability and security as well as to have more leverage to control energy prices," he added.

On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed that the EU jointly purchase natural gas and ensure that its storage facilities are filled.

It is believed that the EU, as a large buyer, could negotiate lower prices.

The bloc's leaders discussed the issue on Friday as well.

On Lithuania's initiative, they decided to create conditions for three associated Eastern Partnership countries to participate in the EU's joint oil and gas purchases, according to the press release, 

In early March, the Commission outlined a plan to reduce the EU's dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of 2022 and to make the bloc fully independent from Russian gas, oil and coal by 2030.

 

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Upcoming events for Monday, March 28, 2022 in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Mar 25, BNS – The following events are scheduled for Monday, March 28, 2022 in Lithuania:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas and CHIEF OF DEFENSE Valdemaras Rupsys at 1:30 p.m.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to arrive in Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport at 1 p.m., to attend the opening session of the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliaments at 2 p.m., to attend the first session of a conference on parliaments' role  in emergency politics at 2:30 p.m., to meet with Irene Kalin, president of the Swiss National Council, at 3:30 p.m., and to  attend an official dinner hosted by Igor Zorcic, speaker of Slovenia's National Assembly, and Alojz Kovsca, president of the National Council, at 8 p.m. 

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to visit NATO's enhanced forward presence battalion in Pabrade at 11 a.m. and to provide comments to the media at 12:40 p.m.

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite to take part in an extraordinary meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council.

 

 

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Mar 28 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, March 22, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events for Tuesday, March 22, 2022 in Lithuania
  2. Lithuanian president expects Russia to be suspended from UN Human Rights Council 
  3. Lithuanian MPs to vote on resolution on embargo on oil, gas from war-supporting countries
  4. Taiwan delegation continues visit to Lithuania
  5. Lithuania registers almost 27,000 war refugees from Ukraine
  6. Lithuania reports 4,299 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths
  7. Lithuania calls for Russia, Belarus to be suspended from UNESCO activities
  8. Lithuania in talks with neighbors to close ports to Russian ships, PM says
  9. Freeze on Russian assets requires amending Lithuanian legislation, PM says  
  10. Orlen Lithuania plans to stop refining Russian oil, PM says   
  11. Lithuanian MPs give initial backing to payouts to highly-qualified professionals
  12. Lithuania's NDC to discuss Ukraine support, defense of NATO's eastern flank
  13. Taiwan vows strategic proposals for Lithuania's semiconductor industry
  14. Lithuania's Nauseda meets with CIA director, stresses importance of US intelligence info
  15. Lithuanian parlt calls on govt to cut Russian oil, gas imports faster
  16. Wizz Air to fly from Lithuania to Barcelona, Athens, Eindhoven
  17. Lithuania facilitates worker transfers from Russia and Belarus
  18. Lithuania's Nauseda calls for more sanctions for Russia during EC pre-session
  19. Upcoming events for Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Lithuania

Upcoming events for Tuesday, March 22, 2022 in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – The following events are scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, 2022 in Lithuania:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to take part in the EU Council's preparatory video conference at 3 p.m. 

THE SEIMAS to hold plenary sittings at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to participate in the so-called "government hour" at the Seimas at 2 p.m. 

DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to take part in EU defense ministers’ formal meeting. 

 

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Lithuanian president expects Russia to be suspended from UN Human Rights Council 

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Russia's membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council must be suspended, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said after a phone call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"Putin is ruthlessly destroying cities in Ukraine, shedding civilian blood and completely ignoring humanitarian law. These brutal war crimes must be documented and judged accordingly. I strongly expect Russia's membership in the UN Human Rights Council to be suspended in the near future," he said in a press release on Monday evening.

Nauseda "underlined that the UN's principled stance on Russia's brutal war crimes was of utmost importance as it carried great moral weight and countered the Kremlin's propaganda".

Established by the UN General Assembly in 2006, the Human Rights Council has 47 member states.

Lithuania became the council's full member for three years on January 1, 2022. 

 

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Lithuanian MPs to vote on resolution on embargo on oil, gas from war-supporting countries

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament is to debate and vote on Tuesday on a resolution calling for an embargo on energy resource imports from countries that are carrying out or supporting military aggression against Ukraine. 

The draft resolution, signed by 50 MPs from across the political spectrum, calls on the government to take immediate and decisive action to enforce the embargo on Russian energy resources, completely abandon Russian oil, gas and electricity, and decide on alternatives.

It urges the government to come up with a plan to compensate Lithuanian households and businesses for the economic consequences of Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, along with the necessary legislation and decisions.

According to the document, Lithuania buys more than 3 billion euros' worth of energy resources (oil, gas and electricity) from Russia annually. 

MP Rima Baskiene of the Political Group of Democrats "For Lithuania" says Lithuania should seek to completely stop using energy resources from countries hostile to it, and Liberal MP Eugenijus Gentvilas believes that the embargo should cover not only Russia or Belarus, but also countries that support the aggressors.

 

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Taiwan delegation continues visit to Lithuania

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – A delegation of Taiwanese officials, businesspeople and scientists is to visit the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC), Vilnius University and the parliament on Tuesday, the second day of their visit to Lithuania.   

The Taiwanese are scheduled to participate in a seminar on talent and technology, and a seminar on supply chains and markets at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and to meet with the parliamentary group for relations with Taiwan.

The meeting will focus on high-tech investment opportunities in Lithuania and on broader high-tech cooperation between Lithuania and Taiwan. 

On Monday, the delegation met with Economy and Innovation Minister Ausrine Armonaite, and visited the factory of the IoT device manufacturer Teltonika, the FTMC laser technology cluster, and the laser manufacturing companies Ekspla, Light Conversion and Eksma.

In February, Taiwan opened a joint research center on semiconductors and their materials in Vilnius to help implement precision machinery and semiconductor projects.

 

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Lithuania registers almost 27,000 war refugees from Ukraine

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuania has so far registered over 26,900 war refugees from Ukraine, including almost 11,700 minors, official statistics showed on Tuesday.

Vilnius' registration center has registered the largest number of refugees, at 9,347, followed by Alytus with 2,903, Klaipeda with 1,968, Kaunas with 1,934, Marijampole with 1,366, and Siauliai with 1,026 people.

Out of the Migration Department's ten territorial units, the largest number of refugees has been registered by the Vilnius unit, at 1,805, followed by the Klaipeda unit with 1,391, the Siauliai unit with 1,026, and the Kaunas unit with 973 people. 

Some 1,980 refugees have been registered in the past 24 hours alone, including 816 minors.

Of the total number of war refugees registered so far, 3,216 are children under the age of six.

Most of the war refugees have applied for a temporary residence permit on humanitarian grounds.

According to the United Nations, more than 3.5 million people have left Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24. A total of over 10 million people are thought to have fled their homes.

  

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Lithuania reports 4,299 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 4,299 new coronavirus infections and 11 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning.

Some 3,620 of the new cases were primary, 676 were secondary and three were tertiary.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has declined by several dozen to 1,325, including 64 ICU cases.

Around 997,700 people in Lithuania have tested positive with the coronavirus at least once since the start of the pandemic, and the death toll has reached over 8,700.

The 14-day infection rate now stands at 2,095.1 per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 45.1 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.

A total of 515 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday, including 74 with their first dose and 372 with a booster shot.

Some 69.7 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one jab so far. 

All of the latest fatalities were aged over 70 years, and four of them were fully vaccinated.

 

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Lithuania calls for Russia, Belarus to be suspended from UNESCO activities

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament adopted on Tuesday a resolution calling for the suspension of Russia and Belarus from UNESCO activities.

The document, which passed with 113 votes in favor, none against and no abstentions, calls for the suspension of Russian and Belarusian participation in UNESCO committees, intergovernmental councils and programs in the fields of culture, education, science and information policy.

"Perhaps no one needs to be told what damage the aggressor is doing in Ukraine today by destroying civilian objects and what damage it is doing to cultural heritage," Vytautas Juozapaitis, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Culture, said when presenting the draft resolution to the Seimas.

The MP noted that it is not possible to exclude Russia from UNESCO because it is a founding member of the organization.

"Kazan, a subject of the Russian Federation, is scheduled to host the UNESCO [World Heritage Committee] session this summer, and the issue of UNESCO protection for Kaunas modernist architecture is to be decided there," Juozapaitis said. 

"It is probably the highest form of cynicism when an aggressor that literary destroys cultural heritage, people, cultural objects and all scientific achievements, organizes such a high-level conference in its den," he added.   

The resolution notes that the destruction of cultural heritage and education, science and cultural institutions is a war crime, adding that the destruction of Ukraine's cultural heritage means damage to the cultural heritage of the humanity as a whole.

 

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Lithuania in talks with neighbors to close ports to Russian ships, PM says

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuania is ready to close its seaport of Klaipeda to Russian ships. but it is still coordinating the move with neighboring countries, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday.

"Such a draft has been prepared, but the process of coordination with our neighbors is still underway," she told reporters. "It would be better if it were a regional project, a regional decision, but there is no agreement with other countries yet."  

Ideally, it should be an EU-wide decision that would eliminate "all possibilities of arbitration", the prime minister noted.

"But those arbitration possibilities are probably limited: ports in Lithuania and elsewhere in Western Europe are perhaps not directly complimentary," she said. "So, it's important for us to come to an agreement in our neighborhood, but I think we will manage to do so." 

Transport ministers from Lithuania and other neighboring countries are planning to turn to the European Commission over the issue, according to Simonyte.

"If there is no decision, no clearer movement, I think we will continue to coordinate this among us," she added. 

 

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Freeze on Russian assets requires amending Lithuanian legislation, PM says  

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – The government is working on special legislation to manage the assets of Russian oligarchs frozen in Lithuania due to EU sanctions, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday. 

"Various solutions are possible, depending on what the assets are. Obviously, we'll need certain legislative amendments, and we're working on these now," she told reporters. "One of the solutions could be temporary administration, something that we don't have in Lithuanian law." 

The Financial Crimes Investigation Service said on Monday that over 13 million euros' worth of funds and other assets had already been frozen in Lithuania because of the sanctions imposed by the EU on Belarus and Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

"Obviously, solutions are needed for various assets that have been frozen because their shareholders are subject to sanctions, and the government will come up with these solutions," Simonyte said.  

 

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Orlen Lithuania plans to stop refining Russian oil, PM says   

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Poland's oil group Orlen, the owner of Lithuania's sole crude refinery, is planning to completely stop buying Russian oil in the near future, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday. 

"As far as I know, the company [Orlen Lietuva] itself intends to abandon [Russian] crude oil in the near future," Simonyte told reporters when asked if it was realistic for Lithuania to stop all of its energy imports from Russia. "It's up to the company to decide, because it is Orlen that is buying [crude], not the state."

"As far as I know, the company is very close to the stage when it will no longer be buying Russian oil and will no longer be using it for refining," she added. 

Orlen Lietuva Deputy CEO Audrius Daugnora has said recently that it would not be difficult for the company to stop refining Russian oil, because it has been diversifying its crude oil sources since 2014.

In recent years, Russian oil accounted for about two-thirds of crude processed by the refinery, but now "the numbers are turning the other way round", according to the official. 

Orlen said in early March that it was intensifying crude oil supplies to its refineries from alternative routes and had agreed with Saudi Aramco on the purchase of five additional North Sea oil tankers, with some of the crude to go the refinery in Mazeikiai, in northwestern Lithuania. 

The Polish group said last year that it that was buying 57 percent of crude for its refineries from Russia under long-term supply contracts, another 8 percent from Saudi Arabia and the rest on the spot market.

 

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian MPs give initial backing to payouts to highly-qualified professionals

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuanian lawmakers on Tuesday gave their initial backing to proposed amendments on one-off payments to highly qualified Ukrainians and other foreigners fleeing the war, as well as to companies that will employ professionals Lithuania lacks.

MPs accepted the proposed amendments to the Law on Employment, expected to help attract more highly-qualified professionals from abroad and help skilled refugees from Ukraine. 

The amendments will be further discussed in May. 

The amendments stipulate the payment of a one-off relocation allowance of around 3,000 euros (4.1 minimum monthly wages) for such workers, and up to 5,256 euros (7.2 minimum monthly wages) to cover companies' costs of recruiting highly-skilled workers abroad. 

Such payments would be made to persons after six months of work and companies 12 months from the start of the contract.

Under the proposal, Ukrainians would be exempt from the list of professions with lacking workers, if they have not resided in Lithuania for at least five years, and a lower salary threshold of around 1,750 (before taxes, 2.4 MMW) would also apply.

The Ministry of Social Security and Labor says the amendments would require 5.1 million euros this year, 7.1 million euros in 2023 and 9.6 million euros in 2024.

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuania's NDC to discuss Ukraine support, defense of NATO's eastern flank

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda is calling a meeting of the country's National Defense Council on Wednesday.

"Military support to Ukraine and the strengthening of Europe's eastern border will be discussed," presidential adviser Tomas Berzinskas told BNS on Tuesday.

The NDC meeting will take place on the eve of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The president-chaired Lithuanian NDC includes the president, the prime minister, the speaker of the Seimas, the minister of national defense and the chief of defense and hold meetings to discuss and coordinate the most important national security and defense issues.

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Taiwan vows strategic proposals for Lithuania's semiconductor industry

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS - Taiwan vows to offer strategic proposals to Lithuania's semiconductor industry, says Eric Huang, head of the Taiwanese representation office in Lithuania.

"So, we are going to talk with a lot of companies, research centers and government institutions and we will (…) form some of the suggestions of strategies for Lithuanian companies and government (…) of the semiconductor industry," he said after meeting with members of the Seimas of Lithuania's Parliamentary Group for Relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Vilnius on Tuesday.

"I think the best way to quickly move on is to combine the technology of Lithuania and Taiwan, making synergy, first. So, now we are looking now at a project to combine laser technology of Lithuania and Taiwan semiconductor technology. So, that will be a project to move into third generation semiconductor industry," he said, hoping that information on the projects will be announced as soon as possible. 

Matas Maldeikis, chairman of the Seimas parliamentary group, says the Taiwanese have already identified specific companies and areas where they see investment opportunities. 

"They are particularly interested in the laser industry. They agree to take their employees for training and then return them to Lithuania, but this would take a longer time. We need faster results. We have already heard the dates and we are talking about the amounts", Maldeikis said.

On Monday, members of the Taiwanese delegations also met Lithuanian Minister of the Economy and Innovation Ausrine Armonaite, visited IoT device manufacturer Teltonika's production facility, the Centre for Physical Sciences and Technology, and laser producers Ekspla, Light Conversion and Eksma.

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius. Snieguolė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuania's Nauseda meets with CIA director, stresses importance of US intelligence info

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda met with William J. Burns, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, in Vilnius on Tuesday to discuss the latest security situation in the region and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

After the meeting, the president emphasized the importance of information provided by the U.S. intelligence both before and after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the presidential press service said.

"There is war on the eastern border of the EU and NATO, and the unity and cooperation of the West are now more relevant than ever in various formats, including the exchange of up-to-date information between intelligence services," the president said.

As the geopolitical situation in the region is tense, the role of intelligence and the information it provides significantly contribute to national and regional security, Nauseda said.

The CIA director's visit to Vilnius was not pre-announced.

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Lithuanian parlt calls on govt to cut Russian oil, gas imports faster

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – The Lithuanian Seimas on Tuesday adopted a resolution on the embargo on imports of energy resources from Russia and other countries carrying out or supporting the ongoing military aggression against Ukraine with 117 votes in favor of the resolution, no votes against and no abstentions.

The document calls on the government to propose solutions to end the import and use of Russian oil and natural gas as soon as possible.

The Seimas proposes t the Government to accelerate the strategic project to synchronize Lithuania's energy system with continental European networks, and to prepare legislation enabling companies to terminate their contracts on the purchase of Russian resources. The government is also urged to urgently submit proposals on the development of renewable energy sources and to promote home production of electricity.

Moreover, the government is also urged to submit to the Seimas as soon as possible a plan for the compensation of economic consequences and increased energy costs for the Lithuanian population and businesses, including necessary legislation and decisions.

"It is not so much a matter of urging, but of shaping a very clear political will that we need to move away from energy dependence because, based on the latest OECD data, Lithuania remains the most dependent on Russia for energy resources among the OECD countries," Vytautas Bakas said while introducing the draft resolution ahead of the vote. 

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Wizz Air to fly from Lithuania to Barcelona, Athens, Eindhoven

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS - Hungarian airline Wizz Air has launched three new routes from Vilnius and Kaunas and resumed flights to five more destinations.

Flights to Barcelona in Spain are available since Monday as well as to Athens in Greece, and the airline will fly from Kaunas to Eindhoven in southern Netherlands since March 28.

Moreover, flights to Belfast in Northern Ireland, Billund in southern Denmark, Doncaster in northern England, Yerevan in Armenia and Nice on the Mediterranean coast have also been resumed, the company said.

"We are responding to our customers' needs by offering them more flights, resuming popular routes and adding new destinations across Europe," Zsuzsa Trubek, Wizz Air's head of corporate Communications, said in a statement.

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Lithuania facilitates worker transfers from Russia and Belarus

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuania has facilitated conditions for workers from Russia and Belarus and their family members to move to Lithuania, based on a order by Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite, entering in force on Wednesday and applicable during the state of emergency.

According to the order, companies from Russia and Belarus planning to transfer their employees to Lithuanian companies of the same group after February 24 due to the war in Ukraine will be able to do so under a special simplified procedure.

The order foresees that employees and their family members arriving on this basis will be required to apply for a temporary residence permit in Lithuania, and will not need a work permit in Lithuania or a special decision by the Employment Service. 

Last week, Minister of the Economy and Innovation Ausrine Armonaite said that thousands of IT specialists from Belarus and Russia would be coming to Lithuania in the near future.

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Lithuania's Nauseda calls for more sanctions for Russia during EC pre-session

VILNIUS, Mar 22, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Tiesday attend a preparatory European Council session and called for expanding the existing sanctions for Russia, especially in the energy sector.

"Russia is funding its bloody action in Ukraine with the money we pay them for oil and gas. This cannot continue. We cannot fund terrorism with our own money," the Lithuanian president said. "The new sanctions package must include tough sanctions on Russia's energy sector."

This would stop Russia from financing the war against Ukraine, Nauseda said.

The virtual EC meeting was attended by European Council President Charles Michel, as well as representatives of Finland, Greece, the Czech Republic and Croatia.

The Lithuanian leader stressed that the EU must urgently diversify its sources of energy imports and get rid of its energy dependence on Russia.

The upcoming EC session should discuss both the provision of military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and practical steps towards rapprochement with the EU, Nauseda said.

Speaking of the Russian invasion, the president stressed the need to create humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of people from Ukrainian cities surrounded and shelled by Russian troops.

The growing number of war refugees in Europe also made it necessary to provide assistance mechanisms for countries hosting war refugees, Nauseda added.

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Upcoming events for Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Mar 23, BNS – The following events are scheduled for Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Lithuania:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to chair a meeting of the State Defense Council at 10 a.m., followed by a press conference at 11.20 a.m.; to meet with representatives of the country's parliamentary parties to discuss Lithuania's strategic guidelines for the foreign, security and defense policy at 3.10 p.m.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to chair a meeting of the Board of the Seimas at 9 a.m.; to attend a meeting of the State Defense Council meeting at 10 a.m.; to hold a virtual meeting with her Irish counterpart Seán Ó Fearghaíl at 1 p.m.

THE CABINET to hold its regular meeting and sitting at 1.30 p.m.

 

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