In the last two months Lithuanian political scene have witnessed birth of two new political parties. Even though the Lithuanian People’s Party claims to represent the centre left, and the Lithuania’s Christian Party planning to be a voice of the centre right, they have more similarities than differences.
Let us start with differences, since there are only few of them. One of them was mentioned above. Another is that the People’s Party declared that it will be openly pro Russian party. The Christians declared that they would aspire to the Scandinavian values.
Other fundamental difference between the parties is that the People’s party is not a Parliamentary party but Christians Party is. The Christian Party already have twelve MPs in their political faction already. How is it possible when a newly elected party, which is not officially registered yet have a rather significant number of MPs?
The answer is a very simple one. The United (One) Lithuania political faction had twelve MPs in the Parliament, but they did not have a party structure to represent them in Lithuania. This happened after the Show Stars party calling itself Lithuania’s Insurrection Party has swept into the parliament during the last elections. The party not only had almost twenty MPs, but the newly formed party joined the ruling coalition, and their leader Arunas Valinskas managed to get the second most important post in Lithuania, that of Seimas’ Speaker. However, soon the group of friends gradually realised that to work together in the parliament is different than party together.
It took them even a half of year to come to a conclusion that they cannot be together any longer and the political Insurrection faction split. Seven MPs, loyal to Mr Valinskas, the leader of the party has left the faction and formed an Oak Faction hopping that the majority of the former partying mates will join them. However, this did not happen, and those who staid in the Insurrection faction decided to name themselves the United Lithuania Faction. Before that, the Insurrection party presidium expelled from the party few of their colleagues who rebelled against Mr Valinskas.
The Lithuania’s Ministry of Finance announced that Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Services has revised its outlook on Lithuania by increasing it from negative to stable. The agency also declared that Lithuania’s Long Term local and foreign currency sovereign credit rating is at BBB and is Short Term rating is at A-3.This increase of ratings is due to the Cabinet’s successful budget cuts and Lithuania’s strong political will to keep its currency stable.
In the press release issued by the S&P its analyst Frank Gill said “The ratings on Lithuania reflect clear commitment across all political parties to support and implement budgetary and structural policies which anchor the currency board regime and enhance the economy’s flexible labor and goods markets”. He also added by saying, “While the resulting unemployment and deflation of nominal income are weighing on tax collection, the process should ultimately result in a stabilization of national income as net exports stimulate growth”.
This fantastic news to Lithuania, which has experienced an unprecedented drop of its GDP in 2009. According to the latest report from the Statistics Department Lithuania’s GDP in 2009 contracted by 15 pct. However, the Lithuanian GDP grew in the last two consequent quarters even though only by 0,1 pct in the last quarter of 2009.
Continuing his working visit to the U.S., Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius visited Silicon Valley, San Francisco, where he met with one of the most powerful groups in the IT sector, i.e. members of major Venture Capital Association Accel Partners and other IT investors. Accel Partners and associated investors hold many well-known IT companies, including MySpace, Walmart.com, Macromedia, etc. Henri Mossinac, who had invested in Facebook at its rudimentary stage, was also present.
Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius invited investors to turn an eye to Lithuania, a country that boasts highly skilled multilingual workforce and one of the best IT infrastructures in Europe and the world. According to the Prime Minister, Lithuania is an ideal place for venture capital to invest, as this is about the “investment in courage, and the Lithuanian IT sector is full of bold ideas”.
Investors got interested in the list of promising Lithuanian IT companies, drawn by the Lithuanian government.
The participants of the meeting included Ilja Laurs, founder and CEO of GetJar, the only Lithuanian capital company with the head office in the Silicon Valley. GetJar has grown into a world`s largest independent mobile apps store following the investment by Rich Wong from Accel Partners.
“Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius’s visit is very important in terms of Lithuania`s image building. The information American companies have about our country is scarce. Therefore, every opportunity must be seized to increase investor awareness about investment opportunities in Lithuania, and to offer an individual and flexible approach in each investment case. I am certain that the Prime Minister’s visit will yield tangible results”, – said Ilja Laurs.
Lithuania’s Public Television announced that Latvia agreed to host the Guantanamo detainee, who is originally from one of the Central Asian Republics. Lithuania, who promised to host a several detainees from Guantanamo, has changed its mind.
The Public Television informed that the President Grybauskaite has already decided not to host the detainees already back in October of 2009.
The Lithuanian media announced that the Polish PKN Orlen is considering selling Orlen Lietuva refinery (former Mazeikiu Nafta) if it will fail to secure control over Klaipedos Nafta oil terminal.
According to the Polish daily Parket the most logical buyer of Orlen Lietuva would be a company from Russia. The paper quoted Pawel Burzinski, an analyst from BZ WBK saying, ‘”The sale of Mazeikiai is a very possible development if it will emerge that PKN Orlen has failed to agree with Lithuania’s Government. The sale of Mazeikiu Nafta may be launched by the decision of the concern’s (PKN Orlen) board.”
Mr Burzinski thinks that the sell off scenario could be such that in the first stage of it some 10-30 pct of Orlen Lietuva could be offered to an investor with an option of increasing its stake to more than 50 pct. In analysts’ opinion, then, the PKN Orlen eventually will withdraw from the shareholders of Orlen Lietuva.
Lithuania’s Government, on the other, regards the Klaipedos Nafta as a strategic object and has not intention of selling it to any other company. According to the TV3 programme Savaites komentarai on 24 January, the Polish PKN Orlen is planning to sell Orlen Lietuva to Russia’s Lukoil. However, the Russians would buy Orlen Lietuva only if the company ‘Klaipedos Nafta’ is included into the ‘package’.
Excellencies, distinguished priests of One God, colleagues parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen!
Let me share with you some words on tragedies in plural, not only that unique we are commemorating.
Haiti disaster caused by the earthquake is an enormous and terrible human tragedy, which does continue until now.
The tsunami, which passed over Aceha and other Indonesian areas, caused tremendously huge and painful human tragedy, as well.
But what about mass murders in Rwanda, Darfur, East Timor, Kambodja, Chechnya etc.? – there we need another, different definition.
Tragedy for the victims, not for the killers.
What then about the Holodomor or death camps of Nazis and Soviet Bolsheviks, indoctrinated and premeditated for extermination day-by-day of millions of innocents? We need again a different, special definition there for the dark creatures – from the system-builders to physical perpetrators, so similar to humans – but we would abuse the beasts when calling those shaped on two legs by this very word. Wild beasts never behave in such a way. Who could kill the elder, women and children – thousands and millions – only because they were Jewish?
Allow me to say, Ladies and Gentlemen, not so many words of sorrow and sympathy to the victims we are commemorating in solidarity and mourning, as they deserve, today and here, near to Auschwitz. Requiem aeternam. This European camp of death is a particular one, as it was used for real industry of killing and only by one totalitarian power only, not by two replacing each other like it was made in Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen or even Macikai in my native Lithuania. But if we stay on it, one may ask: why do you not look into the future?
Allow me to say more words about the mysteries of the degrading human soul. It may become deadfully significant for our common future. Holocaust of the 20th century was a signal about essential failures of culture, even that called the Western one, but same time also about future disasters which are currently and worldwide coming on.
Did we receive that signal?
We already were used that the President of the Republic only formally enjoys the “position of the first” in Lithuanian state power hierarchy. While taking into consideration his real powers and influence to the formation of state policy, he was considered to be only the second or the third highest statesman.
The President Dalia Grybauskaitė is changing this perception. Today it would maybe arise not so much doubts that D.Grybauskaitė is also a real head of state. It is enough to see how unwillingly, frowning, however, keeping his hair on, the Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius is replacing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in whom, without any *prima facie* serious reasons, the President expressed her non-confidence, even though the Prime Minister had confidence in him.
This kind of situation lead us to question if the preconditions for transformation of a parliamentary republic, even though it has certain features of a semi-presidential republic, to presidential republic are not being created? I don’t know how much there’re are citizens, disappointed by the functioning of the political system – in the system, such as it was till now – and longing for order and for a strong hand of a single state master, however, the number of this kind of citizens is for sure not small and these citizens would gladly approve of the aforementioned transformation.
This part of the citizens does not care that almost in all post communist countries these presidential regimes converted into authoritarian regimes or even into dictatorships with bigger or smaller restrictions of democracy, political freedom and human rights. For the people, who find themselves on the edge of misery and poverty, also for a part of the representatives of business democracy, political freedom and human rights are not the most important things and ultimate values.
Still I would think that today there’s no reason to suspect that the President has authoritarian intentions. The President is acting and is strengthening her political powers by using the formed political situation, i.e. by using the fragmentation and fragility of the governing coalition, under the conditions of financial and economic crisis – the growing unpopularity of the politics of the Government as well as the growing unpopularity of the Prime Minister himself, the absence of united opposition and the opposition’s unpreparedness, despite of the latter’s promises to take over the burden of the executive power, as well as by using the opportunities, provided to the President by the Constitution, those opportunities, that were not used by the previous heads of state.