On the eve of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Day (23 November), Rasa Jukneviciene, Lithuanian Defence Minister and deputy chair of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, said that if Lithuania does not increase its defense funding, the country may be unable to perform the duties of a NATO country, Veidas weekly magazine wrote on 22 November.
Veidas – Was the statement an exaggeration? Are the 870 million Litas planned for 2011 not enough to maintain our defense system? These were the first questions we asked the defense minister.
Jukneviciene – The numbers and the real situation speak for themselves. Latvia, Poland, and Estonia can allocate more to defense than Lithuania can right now. This is why my warnings that Lithuania may be unable to perform duties of a NATO country are justified. I would like to remind you that when Lithuania was in the process of joining NATO, it promised that it would be a perfect member of NATO. However, after Lithuania joined NATO, all the promises and efforts vanished for some reason. There is an article in the NATO Treaty, according to which each country, together with the other NATO members, is responsible for the defense of its territory. After Lithuania joined NATO, the people were lulled into believing that Lithuania was safe and that it did not need to do anything, that all we needed to do was to participate in missions, and that we did not need to pay any serious attention to our own defense. NATO’s work is based on certain principles; its strength actually depends on the strength of its members.
Leader of the third most popular political party of Lithuania, currently is in opposition, announced that Lithuania should be the first country in the world abolishing the representative democracy and introducing direct democracy instead. Rolandas Paksas, Lithuania’s impeached President, currently a Member of the European Parliament and the leader of the Order and Justice Party suggested this today, during his party’s convention, where he was reelected as the party leader.
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The opposition managed to start the interpellation against the Minister of Energy Arvydas Sekmokas. The initiator of the interpellation, the elder of the opposition Order and Justice party Valentinas Mazuronis said that the text of interpellation contains questions ‘about the gas sector, the situation in the energy sector, there are also questions about the ministry’s financial and economic matters, as well as possible employment of relatives and party fellows.
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Some 15 protesters staged a demonstration in the front of the embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Vilnius today. They held placards ‘Freedom for Tibet political prisoners’, ‘Freedom for Liu Xiaobo’. The protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the Human Rights situation in China and expressed support for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
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This morning the Lithuanian media reported that one more minister might submit a resignation letter to the Prime Minister Kubilius. The Minister concerned is Algis Caplikas, from the Centre and Liberal Party, who is heading the Ministry of Health. However, the Minister will stay, at least for the time being.
The reason for his resignation was a ‘political responsibility’ after former Vice Minister of Health Mr Arturas Skikas. The former Vice Minister was sentenced for two years of conditional sentence postponing its enactment for a two-year period on 5 February for taking a bribe. Mr Skikas, then the Vice Minster, demanded a 20.000 to 30.000 LTL bribe from the National Blood Centre Director.
The Lithuania’s protocol is in touch with the Estonian protocol to pick their brains on organising the Presidential funeral, the editor of magazine Kelias, Mr Rytas Staselis wrote in his blog on 7 February. It appears that the Lithuanian protocol is getting ready for death of one of the most prominent Lithuania’s politicians Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas, who has been in intensive care for almost a month.
According to the editor he learned about this news from a businessman. Mr Staselis also called to his friends in Estonia to confirm this and got a positive response. According to Mr Staselis Tallinn received an official request from Vilnius and is still undecided how to react in the case of need. The editor makes an assumption that the Estonian protocol would send a team to help organise the funeral in Lithuania. Estonia’s President Lennart Meri is the first Baltic President, who passed away in 14 March 2006.
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite announced on 5 February that she is going to meet the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Finland next week.
According to her, the initiative for the meeting came from Kremlin. Grybauskaite said to the reporters today, “At Putin’s request, we agreed to such meeting.” The Lithuanian president and the Russian Prime Minister will participate on the meeting of the leaders of the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.
Grybauskaite was asked if during the meeting she will raise a question to Putin about a statement made in 29 January by the Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson in which he declared that Independent Lithuania did not exist in January 13 1991, when the Soviet military killed 14 civilians and injured hundreds injured. Grybauskaite answered, ‘I think that this statement is a misunderstanding.’ She added, ‘Why should I raise this question. I know that Lithuania did exist then. I don’t have any questions about this question.’