Posts filed under ‘Azerbaijan’

Grybauskaite won Presidential seat, will Lithuania’s foreign policy change its direction?

According to the latest official results Ms Dalia Grybauskaite has won the elections for the Lithuania’s presidential post.  Some  69.08% voted for the EU Commissioner, the biggest ever support for a presidential candidate.  51.71% of all voters executed their constitutional right.  Those are preliminary results announced at 1200.  The final announcement should come on Sunday.

Butkevicius got 11.83%, Mazuronis 6.16%, Tomasevski 4.74%, Prunskiene 3.91%, Grauziniene 3.61%, Jezerskas 0.67% .

President Adamkus, the Speaker of the Parliament Valinskas and the PM Kubilius all congratulated the President in waiting.  It is still unclear who is going to work in Grybauskaite’s team.  A lecture of the Vilnius University Institute  of International Affairs and Political Science Mr V. Dumbliauskas stated to the Lietuvos Rytas paper that the members of her team are going to be fresh and young people without any political baggage.  He mentioned that four of his former students are invited in the team.

Another lecture from the same university Mr Janeliunas mentioned to the BNS that Grybauskaite’s entry into office would undoubtedly bring changes in terms of foreign policy.  Janeliunas told to the BNS that some attention from Eastern European countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova will be shifted to European Union’s (EU) heavyweights, which in his words will be one of the pivotal changes.  “She would look to Western European capitals for backing and then assess the feasibility of European integration among other quests. (…) Directions would shift in line with long-term priorities,” he said to the BNS on early Monday morning.

The BNS agency also quoted Director at the Centre for Eastern Geopolitical Studies Kasciunas who maintained a similar opinion.  “There are signs that point to Lithuania’s increased attention to deeper EU integration rather than full-fledged EU expansion to the East,” Kasciunas told BNS.

The BNS wrote that the political expert felt that Lithuania’s shift in this particular direction could result in the country adopting a more agreeable stance on Russia in line with the popularity of this trend in Western Europe. It is impossible to provision the benefits or lack thereof implicit in this change, said Kasciunas, noting that more thorough EU integration would undoubtedly be beneficial to the country in terms of energy, however cautioning that integration to EU’s military structures could be more detrimental.

However, these are only predictions and assumptions based on Grybauskaites statements.  However, these questions were not really answered during the election campaign.  Hence, the predictions above remain only such.

May 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm 4 comments

Inflation risk in the Baltics

GrowthI would like to present you with an article writen by Mr Vadimas Titarenko on the status of the Baltic economies.  Mr Titarenko works for the NROD/DnB bank.Most of Lithuania’s statistical indicators for 2007 seem in pretty good shape. Annual GDP growth accounted for 9 percent in the first three quarters of 2007, leaving year-end growth at a forecast 8.3 percent. Average earnings rose by almost 20 percent in the same period. Unemployment is very low at 4 percent and the fiscal indicators are looking good. Which leaves inflation…

International financial experts all too often see the three Baltic countries as a unified region. A lot of criticism has been directed at Latvia – justifiably, since the macro indicators there are quite poor – but unfortunately what happens in Latvia also reflects badly on Lithuania where the indicators are in fact quite healthy. What the experts tend to criticize is that the bulk of the growth so far seen in the Baltic countries is based on household consumption.

Household expenditure is indeed growing very fast – the gap between consumption growth and GDP growth is getting wider. There is an even bigger disproportion between the pace of expansion in the domestic trade sector and the income growth of the population, which means that today households are living on future consumption.

It looks as though consumers here want to rapidly catch up on those in Western Europe – at the cost of living on loans.The dynamics on loan portfolio growth do indeed show that consumers are still taking loans. In the last nine months, Lithuania has been the leader in the Baltic states in terms of consumer loan growth.

The fast growth in consumption has inevitably had an impact on the economy. Over the last couple of months alone inflation has accelerated very much. In 2005, annual CPI growth was 2.7 percent. By June 2007, it had risen to 4.8 percent. In November 2007, it was 7.8 percent – inflation’s highest level since 1997.

The worrisome part is that inflationary expectations are created. To diminish them is a difficult process, especially since a great deal of the inflationary pressures are caused by external factors.On a global scale, poor crop yields and increasing biofuel production have led to 15.4 percent annual growth in the price of food products in Lithuania.

There are also increases in energy prices to contend with. Energy prices in Lithuania are still lower than they are in Germany and other Western European countries, but that is about to change.Gazprom is raising natural gas prices from January 1, 2008, and the Lithuanian authorities have already announced that prices for households are going to increase by 70 percent. 

Read rest of the article on www.alfa.lt 

January 2, 2008 at 10:07 pm Leave a comment

Agreements on oil pipeline between Caspian, Black and Baltic Seas signed in Vilnius

Brodi - PolockAs the BNS reported five-country cooperation agreements on implementation of the project of the pipeline Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk were signed in Vilnius on evening October 10.

The agreement on energetic cooperation and one more energy document were signed by representatives of ministries and companies of Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

“The signing of this agreement is just the beginning of a long road. I hope that we will continue working together to prevent insignificant technical disagreements from causing a slow-down of the project. The oil pipeline unites and will continue to unite our regions, creates added value and strengthens energy security in the whole of the region,” Lithuania’s President Valdas Adamkus said on Octover 10.

As the BNS remained the signing is expected to be the last step for launching the alternative project to Russia’s oil supply. Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk is planned to be the first pipeline to link the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea regions with countries of the Baltic Sea region and become the new way of oil transit to Europe.

October 12, 2007 at 10:52 am 2 comments

Vilnius Energy Summit Live by Internet

Responsible Energy for Responsible PartnersAs the President’s press office announced the Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: Responsible Energy for Responsible Partners held on 10-11 October 2007 is broadcasted live by Internet via Windows Media and RealMedia

October 10, 2007 at 11:50 am 1 comment

Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007 to start in Vilnius tomorrow

Responsible Energy for Responsible PartnersAs the BNS informed seven presidents, 12 ministers, top-ranking officials of the United States and the European Union (EU), as well as experts and representatives of energy companies will gather in Vilnius later this week to discuss global energy security and search for the framework for EU external energy policy.

Presidents of Lithuania, Poland, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Latvia, Romania and Ukraine, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, US Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell, representatives of governments of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and Bayrammyrat Myradov, executive director of Turkmenistan’s presidential state agency for management and use of hydrocarbon resources, will participate in the conference – the Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: Responsible Energy for Responsible Partners - in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday and Thursday.

French President Nicolas Sarcozy will not attend the event because he will be visiting Russia on these days. Russia delegated Ambassador Boris Tsepov despite the fact that the invitation was sent to President Vladimir Putin.

Agenda of the two-day conference organized by Lithuanian and Polish presidents, Valdas Adamkus and Lech Kaczynski, includes signing of two five-country agreements concerning cooperation among companies and ministries of Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia implementing the project of the pipeline Odessa-Brody-Plotsk-Gdansk.

It is expected to be the last step for launching the alternative project to Russia’s oil supply. Odessa-Brody-Plotsk-Gdansk is planned to be the first pipeline to link the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea regions with countries of the Baltic Sea region and become the new way of oil transit to Europe.

October 9, 2007 at 12:31 pm 4 comments

Five countries to sign in Vilnius agreements on alternative oil pipeline

Odesa BrodnyLithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia plan to sign an agreement on joint work to implement an Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk oil pipeline project in Vilnius during the Vilnius Energy Security Conference on Oct. 10-11.  The Pipeline should would provide an alternative to Russian oil supplies for the countries concerned. As Neringa Pazusiene, a department director at the Lithuanian Economy Ministry, told BNS “This will be the last step to be taken in order to get the project started. The ministerial meeting in Tbilisi served as a catalyst for reaching agreement,” she said.

Sarmatia was founded by Poland‘s PERN and Ukraine’s Ukrtransnafta.

As the BNS writes Sarmatia’s shareholders gave the go-ahead for increasing the company’s authorized share capital to 12 million zlotys (3.2 mln) from 2 million zlotys to bring in Azerbaijan’s Socar, Georgia’s GOGC and Lithuania’s Klaipedos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil) in the mid of July of 2007.

The state-run oil product terminal operator, Klaipedos Nafta, expects to have 1 percent of the shares in Sarmatia.The Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk pipeline is planned to be the first oil pipeline to link the Caspian and Black Sea regions to the.

Baltic Sea region and to become a new oil transit route to Europe.

October 1, 2007 at 3:50 pm 1 comment

The Lithuanian, Swedish and Azeri Foreign Minister in New York discussed perspectives of regional cooperation

UNAs the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry portal informed the Foreign Ministers of Lithuania Petras Vaitiekūnas, Sweden Carl Bildt and Azerbaijan Marat Tazhin had a meeting in New York, during the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs discussed the importance of Kazakhstan’s role in Central Asia and perspectives of regional cooperation. The Ministers also discussed the idea of Lithuania to promote regional cooperation between the Baltic, Nordic and Central Asian countries.

The Ministers also discussed Kazakhstan’s participation in the upcoming Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007 on 10-11 October. Considering Kazakhstan’s growing role as a global energy actor, the European Union is especially interested in mutually beneficial cooperation in the area of energy.

September 25, 2007 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

New centre of gravity within the Euro – Atlantic organisation is evolving

NATO and EU flagsThe blog would like to represent you with analysis from Mr Vladimir Socor, from the Jamestown Foundation, on the latest meeting of the The New Friends of Georgia group in Lithuania.

The New Friends of Georgia group of countries conferred in an enlarged and upgraded format on September 13-14 in Vilnius. This meeting shows that a strong nucleus of eight countries has developed within the European Union and NATO (alongside the United States in the latter case), supporting an active policy by the two organizations in Europe’s East generally and toward Georgia in particular.

Initiated in 2005 in Tbilisi by the three Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria, the New Friends’ group has matured this year. Georgia’s Black Sea neighbours Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, while the Czech Republic and Sweden have joined the New Friends of Georgia group.  The meeting in Vilnius was the first held at the level of ministers of foreign affairs in full format. The EU’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, participated as an observer, while his Swedish compatriot, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, brought Sweden to the table for the first time.

Reviewing proposals prepared by Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the New Friends group of countries agreed to work jointly as well as in their national capacities to promote the following Euro-Atlantic and Georgian goals: 

Regional Security and Stability
Noting that Georgia’s security, democratic stability, and integrity constitute major European and Transatlantic interests, the group called for policies to be premised on that fact. Georgia’s internal reforms, “a successful example in the region and beyond,” substantiate Georgia’s aspirations to closer Euro-Atlantic ties.

Strengthening Georgia’s ties with NATO and the EU would contribute to regional security and also help stabilize Russia-Georgia relations, the group noted. NATO AgendaThe New Friends (except Sweden, which is not a NATO member) support Georgia’s goal to advance to a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at NATO’s summit in Romania in the spring of 2008.

Based on Georgia’s performance on military reforms and its troop contributions to allied missions, the group concluded that Georgia already forms a significant element in Euro-Atlantic security and is prepared for the MAP. The Abkhaz and South Ossetian secessionist conflicts must not be turned into “an inhibiting factor or an excuse” for temporizing on Georgia’s integration into NATO. No country outside NATO [read: Russia] has a right to veto the alliance’s decisions, the group noted, as an indirect reminder to several West European governments in the context of the MAP debate.

EU Neighbourhood Policy
The meeting called for adjusting the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) more closely to Georgia’s internal reform performance and to the EU’s own interests in the region. Facilitation of travel visas and access of Georgian exports to the EU are priority goals. The EU’s current visa policy toward Georgia offers easier access to Russian passport holders (from Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well as from Russia), as compared with Georgian passport holders.

This policy is “unfair and counterproductive, it undermines Georgia’s territorial integrity and European security interests,” the group observed. It called on the EU countries to give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate trade and visa facilitation agreements with Georgia. 

Unresolved Conflicts
In his intervention, Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adrian Cioroianu noted the parallels between the unresolved conflicts in Georgia and Moldova. He underscored the common interests of Romania and Georgia in resolving those conflicts on the basis of Georgia’s and Moldova’s territorial integrity and, as part of that process, ensuring Russia’s compliance with the 1999 Istanbul agreements to fully withdraw Russian forces from Georgia and Moldova.

However, “Russia wants a new treaty [on conventional forces in Europe] that would consign Russia’s commitments to oblivion. Romania wants no foreign troops unlawfully stationed in its neighborhood, and we have a common interest with Georgia in this regard,” Cioroianu declared (Mediafax, September 14).

The Romanian minister announced his country’s full support for Georgia to advance to MAP at NATO’s Bucharest summit. Such support is procedurally important, as the summit’s host country significantly influences the event’s agenda.

Shortly before the Vilnius meeting, Georgia’s New Friends acted effectively as a group already at the EU’s meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Portugal on September 8-9. There, the group’s countries called on the European Commission to begin negotiations with Georgia on travel visas and trade and on the EU to adopt a stronger collective position toward Russia’s ongoing intrusions into Georgia’s air space.

The New Friends are stepping into a role vacated by the old group of “Friends of Georgia.” Formed a decade ago by the United States, Germany, Britain, and France, that group soon lost its effectiveness and ultimately its relevance by admitting Russia into its ranks and reinventing itself as the United Nations Secretary General’s Friends on Georgia.

From that group, only the United States consistently adheres to the original policy priority while the other three Western powers have (in varying degrees) relegated Georgia to lesser priority status in their policies.

The Vilnius meeting amounts to a political signal that a new centre of gravity has evolved within Euro-Atlantic organizations regarding policies in Europe’s eastern neighbourhood.  The United States and the New Friends of Georgia can together form a critical mass for shaping strategy and policy toward Georgia and in Europe’s East.Euro Asia Daily Monitor, September 17, 2007 — Volume 4, Issue 171

September 19, 2007 at 12:40 pm 1 comment

What is the goal of Lithuanian foreign policy?

Lithuanian flag iiiThe largest Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas on the 13 of September published its editorial on the Lithuanian Foreign Policy, which according the daily is loosing direction.  Have a look at one side of the debate taking in the Lithuanian media at the moment. Hence, what is the goal of Lithuanian foreign policy?

This unexpected question has arisen again this week during the annual congress of the Lithuanian diplomats in Vilnius.

The Lithuanian diplomats, President Valdas Adamkus, and other influential politicians were discussing the best possible ways to implement the foreign policy goals.

However, after paying attention to what was going on during the behind-the-scenes meetings, as well as to the official declarations by the state leaders, a blasphemous question arose: Does Lithuania indeed know what these goals are.

Last week, the president in a way outlined certain benchmarks for the changes in the country’s foreign policy.

He declared that it was necessary to continue the so-called Eastern policy. However, he stressed that it was important to pay more attention to the more active relations with the Western European countries.
A single declaration by the president perhaps would not be seen as a shift in the direction of the country’s foreign policy, if not for the fact that it sounded like an echo of the criticism the Lithuanian diplomats have been receiving so far.

There have been talks that Vilnius pays too much attention to such countries as Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova, that it does not communicate enough, and that perhaps it is too cold in its friendship with the most powerful EU countries, such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
Lithuania‘s European Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite has even said that all Lithuania has managed is to have relations only with the “poor.”

This is why we could consider Adamkus’s strategic diplomatic goal as a certain new foreign policy vision: “The selected benchmarks are clear: as much Europe as possible in Lithuania and as much Lithuania as possible in Europe.”

It looks like this formulation will transform the previous idea proposed by the then acting President Arturas Paulauskas. The idea was that Lithuania would seek to become some kind of regional centre.
However, despite the fact that some of Lithuania‘s achievements have been impressive, this idea has been seen, at least in the public domain, as a silly misunderstanding, rather than a thought-out foreign policy goal.

Perhaps this is why the Lithuanian foreign policy goals that have been mentioned this time are much more mundane.

“As much as possible of the strong, open, and democratic Europe beyond our eastern border and in the entire world, which should be built on the stable transatlantic foundation. Our goals are democracy, security, stability, and wellbeing,” the president said.

In other words, one of the main foreign policy goals of Lithuania, even if it is an EU and NATO member, remains the need to ensure a secure environment. And one would find it difficult to argue against that.
However, even when we seek this goal, it looks like the newly formulated Lithuanian foreign policy goals will be more pragmatic.

The goal is that, besides security, the Eastern policy would give Lithuania more tangible benefits.

Lithuania‘s Eastern policy has to give concrete dividends to our businessmen and our people. Looking back at our own road to the EU, whose widest segment was going through the Scandinavian countries, we can see that the Scandinavian investments in Lithuania won the businessmen from these countries considerable tangible benefits that grew several times. Such a model could and should be actively applied in our relations with Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia,” Adamkus explained.

Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas has also confirmed that the attitude of the country’s “wheelmen” with respect to foreign policy, at least on the level of ideas, has indeed changed.

I have stressed that our foreign policy should be more oriented toward solving domestic goals. There is a chance to focus foreign policy on solving domestic problems,” he said after meeting with the president last week.
By saying this, the minister has in a way outlined the main foreign policy goal of any country, obvious to anybody. This goal is the wellbeing of the country’s citizens. And all the rest are certain measures to achieve the goal.

However, in Lithuania, it seems that many persons still find it difficult to understand such a goal.

Our country’s diplomacy has indeed had many achievements, and these have been prominent achievements. Moreover, we have to admit that our foreign policy is far from being that sphere in Lithuania where we could find the most problems.

However, despite all that, it is still difficult to get rid of the thought that the aim of one policy or another is certainly far from seeking the wellbeing of the citizens.

I doubt anybody would challenge the fact that sometimes there are certain attempts to search for a certain niche for the country’s diplomacy. This happened with Lithuania‘s aspiration to become a regional centre.

Sometimes our diplomacy is influenced by the wish to make a spectacle of ourselves. This was what happened when our country’s parliamentarians ratified the EU Constitution, even though the majority of them had not even read it.

Sometimes the strategy is decided perhaps by a too narrow view by some officials. This was what happened in Japan, the giantess of the East, in which, not so long ago, Lithuania had the same number of diplomats as it has, for example, in Georgia.

It could be that the same will happen with the idea that has been declared more and more clearly, that Vilnius has to become a stronger supporter of European integration. And the supporters of these ideas in Lithuania do not even try to reply to the simplest questions asked by experts.

For example, will the Lithuanian people indeed have better lives, if Brussels regulates not only the areas that have been assigned to it so far, but also migration, taxes, or many other spheres?

Will it indeed help to increase, for example, Lithuania‘s competitiveness and its wellbeing?

They should be obliged to answer these and similar questions each and every time. Then the foreign policy goals will become much clearer.

The article is translated by the BBC Monitoring

September 18, 2007 at 12:48 pm 1 comment

Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev in Vilnius

Adamkus and AliyevVilnius is experiencing an ‘Caucasus onslaught’ today and tomorrow.  First off all the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has arrived to Vilnius today to pay a firs official visit in the Lithuanian Azeri relation ever.  Then many high ranking diplomats are attending the Georgia’s Friends’ conference.

According to the BNS after the meeting between the Lithuanian and Azeri leaders Lithuanian President called the Azerbaijan to ‘follow Lithuanian path’ and seek to join the Euro Atlantic structures.  President Adamkus also said that Lithuania has already reached a level when it could join an international energy grid very fast, which grid “is closing in on Europe, particularly from Azerbaijan’s region.”

This statment has mirrored Aliyev’s words: “Your country, just like ours, used to exist in a single state in the past, yet your achievements in NATO and the European Union show that we must follow your example”. As the President’s press office announced the Lithuanian President said that bilateral relations gained a considerable impetus in many areas recently. The two countries maintain contacts not only on the highest level but also develop cooperation in many other fields and consolidate legal base of their cooperation.“These intensive relations have great importance and significance to us, since they help to draw the attention of the international community to the South Caucasus region,” – said President Adamkus.

Mr. Adamkus underlined that Lithuania, looking for alternative energy supply projects, was hoping to develop projects with Azerbaijan in the nearest future which would guarantee greater energy security to the Baltic region.“I hope that oil and gas from Azerbaijan will reach the EU countries. If Azerbaijan’s energy projects reached Lithuania, it would be a considerable breakthrough in this area” said President of Lithuania.

President Aliyev thanked Lithuania for its contribution to the activities of the GUAM states, especially in reorganizing this regional union. According to the President of Azerbaijan, this strengthened the cooperation between the states of this region and enriched them with new experience.The Azeri President also stressed that oil extraction in Azerbaijan allows considering new projects, like building oil pipelines to the Black and the Baltic sea regions. In Aliev’s words, new markets interest Azerbaijan and the possibilities for new projects are good.

Mr. Aliyev should travel to Klaipėda to visit the seaport on 14 September and would return home in the evening. A number of bilateral agreements, particularly on IT technologies and communications, will be signed during the visit.

Turan news agency said that in Klaipėda Aliyev would familiarize himself with the work of oil enterprises and the seaport. The port might be part of a route to transport Azerbaijani oil in case of the implementation of the Odessa-Brody pipeline project.

September 13, 2007 at 3:44 pm 1 comment


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