Year 2007 for Lithuania

December 30, 2007 at 2:08 pm Leave a comment

Lithuanian flag iiiYear 2007 is drawing to the close.  What did it bring to Lithuania?  I would like to mention few events that were important for Lithuania in 2007.

In the internal politics no major revolutions.  The municipality elections took place, no surprises there.  However, the biggest shock to the Lithuanian political establishment was a fantastic performance by the populist Liberal Democrats in Vilnius.

The Lithuanian Liberal Democrats, who are now, would like to be called ‘Law and Order’ Party are lead by the impeached president Rolandas Paksas.  The party managed to get more than the others and had a chance to collect a coalition, which is still ruling Vilnius.  Snobbish Vilnius dwellers until then maintained that the populists would never succeed in the Capital.  Well, they were wrong.

In the national politics the biggest surprise is that the minority centre – left government is still running and it looks that it will survive until the next general elections in autumn 2008.

The Parliament, on the other hand, remains the weakest spot of the Lithuanian political establishment and by many commentators denominated as the worst Parliament since the restoration of independence. The internal political fighting resulted in dismissal of the head of the VSD (States Security Department, equivalent of the CIA or MI6).  The other head was choisen and appointed however, the situation did not change much.  The VSD is still strongly influenced by the same political group.

Another interesting moment in the Lithuanian politics was resignation of a Minister of the Interior and the Police Commissar.  For once a Minister took responsibility and resigned.  The resignation followed after the tragic traffic incident in Skuodas region, Aleksandrija village, when a drunken policeman’s car mortally wounded three boys walking home from School.  The policeman left the dying children on the road only to give himself up next day.

Even though the policeman was off duty during the incident the Minister and the Commissar found courage to resign.  This incident only strengthens the resolve to fight the so-called ‘war on the roads’.  Lithuanian Parliament passed amendments to the Driving Code and toughened penalties for the offenders.

The private and the public capital will be the main partners in the project of the century in Lithuania.  The Vilniaus Prekyba group and the Lithuanian Government agreed to establish the LEO LT company which will be responsible in representing Lithuania in the Pan Baltic + Poland project of building a new Nuclear plant in Ignalina.  The company will also build the electricity links to Sweden and Poland.  Even though the LEO LT is started on controversial foundations it should keep Lithuania as the Nuclear Country.  The Parliament should amend a law on the LEO LT establishment in January.

The economic growth continued and reached about 10% GDP this year.  Hence, the overheating of the economy is another hot topic in Lithuania.  The first result of it is the biggest inflation since 1997.  This year it reached 7,5%.  The banks, which mostly all are Scandinavian owned, are tightening up the terms for the loans and the economy is expected to slow down.  The property prises might fall down to 15% this year.

The majority of the Lithuanian economists agree that Lithuania will have a ‘soft’ landing, even though some of the foreign experts predict it to be a ‘hard’.  Some speculations on the devaluation of Litas come from the western media.  However, all economists convinced that the devaluation will not happen.  The reason is simple; there is no need for it.

However, Lithuania experiences its first EU disappointment when it missed the EURO adoption criteria.  On the other hand Lithuania has become a member of Schengen. On the International front Lithuania traditionally was active in the Eastern Europe.  Still, President Adamkus was awarded a prestigious ‘European of the Year’ award for mediating between Poland and the EU during the talks for the amended constitution.

The Energy conference organised in Vilnius started a Sarmatia project, even though it was ignored by some of the European leaders.

Lithuanians thoroughly observed the Bronze Solder events in Estonia and supported our Northern cousins full heartedly.  The commentators admirably followed the actions of the Estonians.

The events in the brotherly Latvia were also followed and commented upon.

Since the Lithuania invested a lot of political capital in Ukraine and Georgia it also followed the event there.  Some commentators were disappointed with Saakashvili reaction but the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs constantly maintained that ‘we understand and the we support’.

Over all 2007 was a good year for Lithuania, even though the optimism was lesser than in 2006.  2008 will bring the new parliamentary elections and it looks that the populists are returning to the top positions in the opinion polls.  The inflation will be a problem, hopefully a ‘soft’ landing will materialise.

Hopefully the negotiations with the Balts and the Poles regarding the new Nuclear Plant in Ignalina will be smooth and the electricity grid at least with Sweden will start show the concrete results. Lets hope that all best Lithuanian basketball players will gather to the National team for once, and the Lithuanians will get in Olympic medals again.

Happy New Year to everyone and thank you for reading this blog!                   

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Entry filed under: Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Politics.

A Lithuanian politician’s blog in English LEO LT’s set to become a giant of the Baltics (II)

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