Archive for May, 2009
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has assured Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and the Estonian President Thoomas Ilves that the media had distorted his words about the allegedly different importance of Russia and Lithuania.
In a letter to Lithuania’s president, Klaus maintains that he did not tell the Lidove Noviny daily that Russia needed more attention than Lithuania and Estonia. The Czech president said he, in fact, stressed the need to be more watchful of Russia than of Lithuania.
“I do not see Russia as a threat, I see Russia as a big, strong, ambitious country, which is certainly necessary to be watchful of more than – to give an example – small Estonia or Lithuania,” the Czech president cited his statement at the summit of European Union (EU) and Russia in Siberia.
Meanwhile, media publications appeared after Klaus’ interview, suggesting that Russia needed more attention than other EU members, such as Lithuania and Russia.
“I never said that it is necessary to pay more attention to Russia than to the EU member states. To pay attention and to be watchful are not entirely different statements. As you know from our talks, I do not demonize Russia. There is no doubt that the Czech Republic should “be watchful of Russia” more that of your country, for example, which we consider close and very friendly. I am also convinced that also for Lithuania Russia is a country you are more watchful of than, for example, the Czech Republic,” reads the letter.
Klaus stressed he viewed Lithuania as an important partner, assuring that he attached major importance to good relations between the Czech Republic and Lithuania.
Shortage of flights to Vilnius may put dent in Dweezil Zappa family’s plans to attend Lithuania concert
As the BNS announced the legendary musician Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil Zappa, scheduled next week for a concert in Lithuania, may have to come without his family, which, despite of wanting to see the concert and Frank Zappa’s monument in Vilnius, may not get to see their plans through because of shortage of flights to Lithuania.
Frank Zappa’s widow Gail Zappa is an active supporter of Lithuania’s idea to dispatch a twin of the monument erected for American musician Frank Zappa in Vilnius to his native Baltimore, Dweezil Zappa’s visit organizers said, noting that Gail would like to see the original monument in Vilnius together with her daughter.
However, Gail Zappa’s plan may be foiled by the high prices of the flight from the United States to Lithuania and two transfers.
Two key events in connection with Dweezil Zappa’s visit are scheduled in Vilnius next Thursday, namely, his concert titled Zappa Plays Zappa where his band will perform his father’s songs and unveiling of a bronze copy of the Zappa sculpture that will later be shipped to the US.
Organizers say that the events will contribute to the promotion of Lithuanian name on the international arena – thousands of Zappa fans following news about Zappa’s monument in Lithuania and the trip of its copy to Baltimore will come across names of Lithuania and Vilnius.
Dweezil Zappa agreed to hold the only concert in the Baltic states in Vilnius after long negotiations only, organizers maintain. The performer will arrive in the Lithuanian capital on a tour bus from Poland and will proceed to Finland afterwards.
The monument in honour of rock pioneer Frank Zappa was uncovered in Vilnius in 1996.
EU shouldn’t leave members in solitary scramble with Russia for energy supply –Gybauskaite, Lithuania’s president-elect
As the BNS writes Lithuania’s president-elect Dalia Grybauskaite feels the European Union (EU) shouldn’t leave it up to solitary states to struggle with Russia for energy supply.
“We would like the EU to speak in one voice on energy supplies and not leave separate states alone in their battle with Russia,” Grybauskaite on Thursday told Latvian public radio.
Asked about the most critical issues in relations with Russia, the Lithuanian president-elect said at the EU level relations between all member states and Russia had grown more complicated due to disagreements on energy supplies, developments in Georgia last August and in Ukraine last winter.
While agreeing that Vilnius and Moscow share many a disagreement, Grybauskaite noted that both countries must pursue constructive dialogue and avoid previously eminent irritating rhetoric.
“If our neighbours, especially Russia, are ready to cooperate, I will be highly interested in responding with the same. I will seek respectful, balanced cooperation, but without selling out Lithuanian values, and avoiding offensive rhetoric,” Lithuania’s president-elect spoke.
Her first foreign visits will have “no symbolic significance”, said Grybauskaite, noting she will put Lithuania’s interests above everything else.
The Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has sent an official letter on 27 May in which he wished her the best of luck.
“I hope your activity while in office will contribute to developing Lithuania-Russia relations in the spirit of good neighbourhood and interpersonal understanding, also to the well-being of both of our nations and the continued guest for enhancing security and stability in Europe and around the globe,” Medvedev wrote.
Lithuania’s president-elect Dalia Grybauskaite today will pick up her Presidential ID card and her inauguration is scheduled for July 12.
As the BNS announced today Lithuania’s GDP contracted by 13.6 percent, year-on-year, to 20.653 billion litas (EUR 5.98 b) in the first three months of this year, the country’s Statistics Department reported on 28 May citing the results of the second GDP estimate.
Previously the department said that the country’s economy shrank by 12.6 percent in January-March.
Contraction was registered in all categories of business activities in the first quarter, the department said. The decline in added value was the most pronounced in the construction (37.3 pct), trade, transport and communication services (20.9 pct), industry and energy (13.5 pct) sectors.
Lower decrease was registered in financial mediation, real estate and other business services sector (7.5 pct), agriculture and fishery (1.3 pct).
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus has responded to statement made by the President of Estonia Mr Ilves’ statement to his interview to the Czech paper Lidove Noviny. In this interview Mr Klaus mentioned Russia and the Baltic States and was misinterpreted as saying that the focus should be made on Russia rather than European Union (EU) member-states, such as Lithuania or Estonia. I do not know how Mr Ilves responded but the President of Lithuania Mr Adamkus was disappointed with his Czech counterpart statement.
However, the Czech President Klaus have written a letter of explanation to the Estonian President regarding this misunderstanding. Read the letter bellow. However,I am not sure if Mr Klaus after this letter will not be obliged to write apologetic letter to the Latvian President Zetlers…
Esteemed Mr President,
I am writing in response to your remarks that were reported by the AFP news agency and were to comment on my interview for Lidove Noviny of 16 May 2009. I know that the media frequently distort and misinterpret statements by both of us. However, it is very important to me that we should know each other’s authentic views and that we find the maximum possible degree of mutual understanding.
In the aforementioned interview for the Czech daily Lidove Noviny, I replied as follows to a question concerning Russia as a threat to Central Europe: “I do not view Russia as a threat, I view Russia as a big, strong, ambitious state and one definitely needs to be more on guard vis-à-vis such a big, strong, and ambitious state than vis-à-vis the small Estonia or Lithuania, to make a random comparison.”
I have never divided countries into “important and less important” ones and I did not do so in the aforementioned citation, either. I find it therefore difficult to believe that you actually read my statement before reacting to it in the media.
I am not demonizing Russia. There is no doubt that it is a big, strong, and ambitious state. And there should not be any doubt either about the fact that the Czech Republic ought to be “more on guard” vis-à-vis that country than, for instance, vis-à-vis Estonia, which we consider a close and very friendly country. I am convinced that for Estonia, too, Russia is a country, vis-à-vis which it is “on guard” to a greater extent than, for instance, vis-à-vis the neighbouring Latvia or vis-à-vis the Czech Republic.
I would like to stress that I consider Estonia the Czech Republic’s important partner. I am confident that we both will have an opportunity to contribute to a further reinforcement of relations between our countries and I want to assure you that I care very much about good Czech-Estonian relations. It is also for this reason that I decided to write this personal letter to you.
With friendly greetings,
As the BNS writes the Lithuanian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee suggests tightening the conditions for granting dual citizenship.
After discussing the proposed new version of the Citizenship Law, the committee objected introduction of the so-called Lithuanian Charter, which is not regulated in the new edition of the law. The committee’s proposals are still to be considered by the Committee on Law that plans to hold discussions on the proposed changes to the legislation.
The Foreign Affairs Committee suggest an amendment so that a person who automatically acquires foreign citizenship should decide on which passport he wants to keep. Under the current language of the law, children born abroad who are automatically granted the country’s citizenship are allowed to keep Lithuanian citizenship, as well. Meanwhile, the committee proposes that persons between ages of 18 and 21 should choose the citizenship he wants to retain. The parliamentary panel also suggests setting a period for decisions of persons who automatically acquire foreign citizenship by way of marriage.
Under a draft legislation proposed by a task force set up by the president, dual citizenship can be extended to persons and progeny of those who left Lithuania from Jan. 9 of 1919 to March 11 of 1990, thus extending the period and the number of descendants eligible for dual citizenship. Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Committee wants the same legal regulation, which provisioned dual citizenship only for three generations – children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of those who held Lithuanian citizenship before June 15 1940.
The new version envisages dual citizenship for those who left Lithuania before the independence period and their descendants, while persons who emigrated after 1990 are not eligible for dual citizenship, which would only be granted to their children born abroad, as the procedure is now.
The draft bill also provides that dual citizenship would be granted to all descendants of deported Lithuanian citizens, while the Foreign Affairs Committee suggests trimming down the provision to three generations.
Under article 12.2 of the Constitution, no one can hold citizenship of Lithuania and another country at the same time, with a few exceptions. The constitutional provision can only be revised via a referendum.
Lithuanians who emigrated after the reestablishment of independence will be granted dual citizenship only by way of exception, for example by marrying a foreign citizen whose country has legitimized dual citizenship and thus acquiring it. On the other hand, their children, born abroad, will be eligible for dual citizenship as is currently stipulated in the country’s legislation.
Discussions on dual citizenship roused after the Constitutional Court in the fall of 2006 found that the country’s main law provides for dual citizenship as rare exceptions, declaring laws allowing dual citizenship as running counter the Constitution.
The Citizenship Law approved by the Seimas last summer provisioned granting dual citizenship to children of Lithuanian emigrants born abroad and Lithuanian nationals who are acquiring citizenship of countries that have an agreement with Lithuania on double citizenship. Lithuania so far hasn’t signed any such agreements with another country.
As the BNS announced a bronze sculpture of rock legend Frank Zappa will be officially presented in 1st floor the foyer of the Vilnius Municipality before being shipped to the United States.
The presentation ceremony scheduled for June 4 should be attended by Zappa’s son Dweezil Zappa, also a musician.
The monument will be exhibited for two weeks, the Vilnius City Municipality said.
Later this summer, the copy of the Zappa sculpture will be delivered to the United States and should be erected in Baltimore city centre.
Built in Vilnius in 1996, the monument to the legendary rock musician remains the only sculpture in the world dedicated to the modern music genius.
The sculpture to be granted to the US is a copy of the monument in the Kalinausko Square in central Vilnius.
The Lithuanian authorities began voicing some optimism in their assessment of the Lithuania’s economy. On of them is dropping unemployment figures. Even though another 6,000 people were registered as unemployed in Lithuania last week, down 6 percent from 6,400 people registered a week earlier, the country’s Labour Exchange said on Monday.
The total number of people with the status of unemployed persons reached 191,000 as of May 22 (up from 189,600 a week earlier), which accounted for 8.9 percent of the working age population, by BNS calculations.
As the BNS informed some 1,488 job vacancies were registered in May 15 through May 22, almost unchanged from 1,481 vacancies a week earlier. Some 2,800 people got employed, unchanged from the previous week.
There were around 1,300 vacancies in the Labour Exchange database on May 22.
As the BNS informed the seismic system operating in Lithuania’s Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) registered North Korea’s nuclear test carried out on 25 May.
“The signal is weak and is similar to that of a faraway earthquake,” the Lithuanian Geological Survey said in a press statement.
As the Statement reminds the INPP Seismic Monitoring and Seismic Alarm System, consisting of four stations located within a 30 km radius from the plant, was launched in 1999.
The system in question monthly registers a few local incidents – mostly explosions – and over a hundred heftier earthquakes, receiving their signals from seismically active regions around the globe.
As the BNS reported Lithuania’s government may buy out the stake in Leo LT from privately-owned NDX Energija, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has said.
According to him, this is one of the options for the breakup of Lithuania’s national energy company.
“We are discussing various possible solutions, and there are several options. Yet, the general approach is the same as I said before – I do not see any chance for Leo to continue in its present form. We may simply agree with the private shareholder and buy out those shares,” Kubilius said in an interview to the public radio station Lietuvos Radijas (Lithuanian Radio) on 26 May.
Earlier this week Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas mentioned a possibility that the national energy company might be nationalised.
Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta expressed hope that partial nationalization of Leo LT would not entail additional burden for the state. Any decisions should be well-founded, he said.
As the BNS reminds analysts doubt whether the budget, which has been running below revenue target this year, would be capable of paying back 607.7 million litas (EUR 176.14 mln), i.e. the amount of dividends paid to Leo LT by its subsidiary VST last year.
Media reports say that the task group led by Sekmokas has put forward several options for Leo LT reorganisation, including the liquidation of the company, its reorganization as agreed by both shareholders or taking a decision on Leo LT’s fate despite the opposition of NDX Energija.
Under the first option, if both parties agree to restore the actual situation before the establishment of Leo LT, NDX Energija should get back the shares in VST it owned before the deal, while the state should recover its holdings in Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy) and RST.
Moreover, the amount paid by VST to Leo LT in dividends should be reimbursed to NDX Energija in full or in part.
The government owns 61.7 percent of Leo LT and NDX Energija holds the remaining 38.3 percent stake. Leo LT controls 97.91 percent of VST.