Archive for October, 2007

Lithuania ranking among countries with highest potential

GrowthAs the BNS reported the European human resources index report, the Lisbon council has ranked Lithuania, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Estonia among the countries that possess the highest potential and are still able to catch up with the Western countries in the next two decades.

The authors of the study say that Slovakia, Bulgaria and Poland, which possess the lowest index, might remain stuck in relative poverty for a long time if the continue to pay too little attention to human resources and innovations, the government’s press service has reported.

The Lisbon council is a European centre for economical and social policy studies of some authority. Among the highest threats for the long-term economical development of central and middle European countries, the report specifies the dropping birth rates, the leak of intellect, the high unemployment rate, the too-low investments into education and training skills. A particular emphasis is placed on the insufficient attention being paid to raising competences in people above 35.

To catch up with the West, it is recommended that the countries should increase funding of education and teaching, reform the secondary and tertiary education systems, pay more attention to honing skills and raising competences in senior workers. Analysts are also encouraging making higher investments into research and development, promoting integration of universities and colleges, research companies and institutions into European and global research networks.

Another suggestion is to make beforehand preparations for the negative economical and social effects of aging population. The report predicts that by 2035, the number of people of employable age in central and middle Europe will drop by 15 percent.

October 30, 2007 at 6:35 pm Leave a comment

British politician says comment “one-legged Lithuanian lesbians” was not intended to offend

David CameronAs the BNS announced the Great Britain‘s opposition leader David Cameron says that he did not intend to offend anybody by jokes about “one-legged Lithuanian lesbians.”

“By things that I said last week during private dinner with the British Art Council, I did not intend to offend anybody from Lithuania,” Cameron said in a written reply to Lithuanian Ambassador to Great Britain Vygaudas Usackas.

Cameron said that he held Lithuania and its people in the highest regard. “This country is a staunch ally of the United Kingdom both in NATO and the EU. He had long admired the vigour with which Lithuania has stood up for its independence and its freedom. The Lithuanian community studying and working in his country make a great contribution to the ties between two countries,” he said in the letter.

October 30, 2007 at 6:28 pm 1 comment

Lithuanian ambassador to UK delivers lecture on the “one-legged Lithuanian lesbians” to D. Cameron

David CameronAs the Lithuanian National radio and the BNS reported Lithuania‘s Ambassador to Great Britain Vygaudas Ušackas has delivered a lecture to British opposition leader David Cameron regarding this joke about “one-legged Lithuanian lesbians“.

The Lithuanian diplomat called for Cameron’s immediate response to explain his recent statement for the sake of Lithuanians living, working and studying abroad, as well as the strong and further developing friendship between Lithuania and the United Kingdom.

Ušackas reminded Cameron that more than 100, 000 Lithuanians work and study in Great Britain contributing to strengthening of economic, cultural and political relations between the United Kingdom and Lithuania.

The Lithuanian ambassador stressed that such irony of British politician caused a big wave of dissatisfaction in Lithuania. In his words, the answer of opposition leader could give an opportunity to inform Lithuanians living in the United Kingdom or in their own country about the reasons behind the joke.

David Cameron, the leader of Great Britain’s Conservative Party, recently made a joke about “one-legged Lithuanian lesbians”.

October 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm 3 comments

British opposition leader’s joke about “Lithuanian lesbians” causes indignation

David CameronAs the Lithuanian press reported today a joke made by David Cameron, the leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, about “one-legged Lithuanian lesbian” offended Lithuanians and left his company dumbfounded.

The BNS reported that a metaphor that seemed strange even to the British was employed by the British politician in order to express his ironic viewpoint.

According to the sources of newspaper The Mail on Sunday, Cameron, when conversing with the representatives of the British Art Council, ironically commented: “I hope you won’t be giving grants to too many one-legged Lithuanian lesbians”.

His comment was probably meant to express disapproval with regards to projects of questionable artistic value.

However, it remains unclear as to why the politician chose the “one-legged Lithuanian lesbian” image to describe such projects. Labour, were quick to attack D. Cameron by stating that the comment was insensitive and tactless.

The conservative seemingly understood that he might have offended lesbians, and, possibly without the intention of doing so, offended Lithuanians another time.“I was speaking not of the one-legged Lithuanian lesbians, but of the one-legged Lithuanian dance troupes,” explained Cameron.

Representatives of the Conservatives added that the party leader’s statement was in fact meant to say that the Arts Council had given the chance to mock them for strange financing decisions made in the past.It is a rather interesting compartment, especially in a such PC country as Britain.  In one phrase the opposition leader managed to upset to minorities in Britain, and all Lithuania.  At least the politian knows that the Lithuanians are phantastic dancers!

October 29, 2007 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

‘Druzhba’ is not a technical but a political problem

Brodi - PolockThe Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus vioced it openly what was known form a very beginning.  The Russians terminated oil flow to Mažeikių Nafta via Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline, after the Lithuanians sold it to the Poles in Summer of 2006.  He admitted that this is not a technical problem this is a political problem.

“I have no doubt about this. Let’s be honest, there is no need any more to cover up with nice diplomatic phrases,” the President said to Mark Mardell, the BBC corresponet.

“At the very beginning it was definitely a very reasonable technical issue. We offered assistance from our specialists to repair it. No response. Formal letters came from the presidents, even came from the EU president Barroso, no response, total ignorance.

“Finally they have admitted that they don’t intend to deliver any more to Lithuania. I don’t believe that this is really fair dealing with their neighbours.”

Read more about the issue on the BBC’s Mark Mardell’s blog.

October 27, 2007 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment

Eastern hackers attacking Lithuanian institutions, citizens

The Presidential PalaceAs the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas announced on October 24, the Internet hackers attempted to verify the vigilance of Lithuanian specialists – the series of attacks from Russia that shook Estonia a while ago may become reality in Lithuania.

As the BNS reported the President’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and Lithuanian embassies abroad have come under hacker attacks, however, specialists of these institutions noticed and avoided the attempts in time.

According to the daily, if the attempts were not successful, the software virus contained in an e-mail from the President’s Office as an alleged sender would have spread to all diplomatic missions via the Foreign Ministry. The daily described the attack as of political character – a reverberation of the Vilnius Energy Security Conference, which the official Kremlin dismissed as “anti-Russian.”

Immediately after closure of the energy forum in late hours of October 11, the Foreign Ministry received a letter allegedly sent from the President’s Office. The communication was intended for all Lithuanian embassies abroad.In the conclusions of the conference attached to the electronic letter, there was another electronic file with a virus.

The ministry’s security systems immediately identified the threat and blocked the infected file. Information technologies specialists determined that the letter did not come from the server of the President’s Office but, most probably, from Germany.

Officials of the President’s Office refrained from comments on the attack, explaining that it caused no serious danger and had not yet been investigated.

Nevertheless, the incident had triggered anxiety at the President’s Office, according to information available to the daily.

The President’s Office suspects that it could have been an ironic – allegedly amateur – step by Internet hackers from the East who attempted to demonstrate Lithuania’s vulnerability to their attacks.

Lithuanian historian Gediminas Kulikauskas whose specialization is Lithuania’s resistance to Soviet forces and occupational administration also came under an attack of anti-Russian hackers in the past days. His personal Internet website was recently supplemented with a photograph of Lithuanian guerilla with an insulting Russian-language text: “A good bandit is a dead bandit.”

Next day the BNS announce that the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas is not associating the attempts to send viruses to computers of Lithuanian institutions with the virtual attacks that took place in Estonia this spring.

“The Foreign Ministry’s IT department stopped the virus on time, no damage was done to our information system. We do not think that this event is in any way related with other events that took place in the Baltic States or someplace else earlier,” Vaitiekunas told the media on October 24.

As the BNS reported in minister’s words, the attempts to send a computer virus in a purported electronic letter from the President’s Office to the Foreign Ministry and Lithuania’s embassies abroad is currently being investigated by special services that must identify the source of the hazardous letter. “Special services are doing their job and they are investigating (where the virus was sent from). We only ensure the safety of our systems,” Vaitiekunas said.

October 26, 2007 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

Lithuanian trade unions stage picket in Vilnius to express solidarity with their Latvian counterparts

Picket in the front of the Latvian EmbassyA rather interesting could be seen in the front of the Latvian Embassy in Vilnius today.  As the BNS reported some ten representatives of Lithuanian trade unions staged a picket to express support for their Latvian counterparts today.

Trade union representative Kristina Rozenbergaite told BNS on 24 October that the pickets delivered a letter to Latvia’s Ambassador Hardis Baumanis underlining solidarity with their Latvian counterparts and stating the social dialogue in Latvia deviates from the principle of information and consultation, and the freedoms of trade unions are being violated.

They also pointed that aims of the Latvian parliament and government to restrict the national budget by cutting funds allocated for the people, i.e. turning down the increase in salaries for teachers, healthcare specialists and police officers were socially intolerable.

The Lithuanian Trade Unions who are very week do not stage many pickets to fight for the rights of the Lithuanian workers.  This time they decided to go international.  Well, if you cannot achieve much at home then the other venues are looked after.  Which embassy is going to be targeted next?

October 24, 2007 at 10:25 pm Leave a comment

The Economist is wrong, I hope (III)

The Economist Intelligence Unit
Edward Lucas caused a huge discussion in Lithuania after publishing an article in the Economist calling the Baltic States’ economy ‘the
eastern Europe’s Achilles heel’.  The Economist is also arguing that Latvia might devaluate its currency. 

The Lithuanian financial experts have warned that if Latvia did devalue its national currency tha would deal a heavy blow to the other two Baltic States.  However, as the BNS stated they advised to take with a pinch of salt predictions by Western analysts about a possible devaluation of the lat and the negative outlook for all three Baltic economies.

“If the Latvians really devalued their national currency, the speculative attack on the other states would be extremely strong. However, everything would depend not only on the economic situation, but also on the determination of the government and the central bank to defend the currency,” Gitanas Nausėda, advisor to the president of SEB Vilniaus Bankas, said in an interview with Lithuanian Radio on October 22.

However, as the specialist noticed “In the past 10 or 12 years, we have overcome much more difficult situations, for example, the Russian crisis of 1998. If this determination to defend the national currency remained strong, then we would be able to withstand that pressure”.

Nausėda said that The Economist’s predictions do not always prove correct. “The Economist Intelligence Unit predicted several years ago that the litas would be devalued by 25 percent, but that did not happen. So, their forecasts should be taken conservatively. But even making such predictions public has a negative effect on all Baltic economies. Unfortunately, it does,” he said.

The analyst said that in the current situation, the currency board arrangement does not help fight inflation as it leaves the central bank with very little room for maneuver. Lithuania recorded an annual inflation rate of 7.1 percent in September. Its current account deficit reached 14.8 percent of GDP at the end of the first half.

Lithuanian PM Kirkilas even expressed an original thought stating that since the Baltic countries are developing so rapidly some hence some commentators and our economical partners ‘not too cheerful about this’.  ‘Even though we should listen to it very seriously, I treat this talk with some degree of skepticism.’

I do not share insights of our PM, and do not believe of Edward Lucas conspiring against the Baltic States I would love to believe that Edward is wrong this time.    

October 24, 2007 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

Lithuanian Parliamentarian elections, a ‘bad guy’ lost

Elections by ELTAWith the general elections rolling across Europe many did not notice that simultaneously an important elections took place in Lithuania.  A new parliamentarian was elected to replace a Conservative Vrubliauskas who turned in his MP’s mandate in spring to become the mayor of the Alytus district. 

However, the elections were not only about a single place in a parliament.  It was about the voice of a corrupt populism with a strong tail lead to Russia, against a voice of a civic society in face of a Human Rights lawyer.

Those who follow the Baltic politics have inevitably heard a name of Mr Viktor Uspaskich. The former minister and ex-leader of the Labour Party, a multi-millionaire Viktor Uspaskich, lost to the lawyer Kęstutis Čilinskas proposed by the Conservative party.  The charismatic maverick multi-millionaire received 42.73% against 55.33% for Čilinskas.

Uspaskich, who is suspect in the case of fraudulent bookkeeping of his Labour Party and declaration of erroneous data of the party’s income and application thereof to the State Tax Authority and the Central Electoral Committee, had been hiding in Russia for about eighteen months.  Since his return few weeks ago Uspaskich was placed under home arrest in his adopted home town of dainiai, where he build his empire, before entering the Lithuanian politics.

The Conservative candidate is also known for representing Mrs Budrevičienė in a court suing one of the Mr Uspaskich factory’s management after she was fired once she went public to disclose illegal payments to the workers.

However, analysing the results from the Alytus county one should be very careful about generalizations on the national scale.  The Alytus County is a conservative party stronghold, this is part of Lithuanian where the serfdom was abolished earliest in Lithuania, and the national rebirth movement was a very strog at the beginning of the 20 Century.  At the beginning of the Soviet occupation the Anti-Soviet Partisan movement was still actively operating in the region well after Stalin’s death.

One should also keep in mind that Uspaskich had disadvantages since he is under the home arrest and was not able physically travel to agitate to the Alytus region.  Still, almost 43% for Uspaskich is a very good result for the candidate considering the factors mentioned above.

On the other hand this is a huge blow to a over confident Uspaskich who was certain over his victory since a prospect of being elected and receiving an immunity after, was one of the most important reason for his return to Lithuania.

Prof Lansbergis, most prominent Lithuanian politician, who few days ago celebrated his 75th noted to the BNS that “Definitely, it is very pleasant because the person was elected, because bad person didn’t win and, finally, because the elections were not won by money”.

However, in his words, the victory of Čilinskas is pleasant but does not indicate any significant changes on Lithuania’s political arena – the changes should emerge after the nearest general elections to the Seimas next Autumn 2008.

October 22, 2007 at 11:27 pm 3 comments

Lithuanians like EU but not too keen on Euro, yet

Lithuanian Euro coinAs the Transport Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said to the BNS on Thursday, high inflation would prevent Lithuania from entering the eurozone in 2010.  “There are no chances of introducing the euro in 2010,” Butkevicius, a former finance minister, said during the so-called government’s hour at the parliament.  Some experts predict that 2012 is more realistic date for the move.

However Lithuanians themselves are not to keen to see Euro yet.  According to an opinion poll commissioned by the European Commission Representation even though 34 % of Lithuania’s population supports the introduction of euro, however, 67 % are against an early introduction of Euro.

Further more, 44 % of the Lithuanians believe that their country is fully capable of competing with other EU Member States.  According to the same poll the Lithuanians also appreciate the country’s membership in the European Union (EU) with about a half of population being certain that membership gives a boost to Lithuania’s democracy.

October 19, 2007 at 7:29 pm 1 comment

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