Posts filed under ‘France’
The marginal politician Ozolas on a radio interview claimed that at the end of December the Swedish banks have transferred some 2 bln Litas (1 EURO – 3,45LTL) back to Sweden. There are other rumours about the Swedish capital’s return to Sweden also. However, the Chairman of the Central Bank of Lithuania Mr Sarkinas is trying to do his best to calm down the situation. The Government is also doing its share.
As the BNS reports the Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said on Feb 10 that he would call on Scandinavian banks, which control 85 percent of Lithuanian commercial banks’ capital, to be more active in providing loans to the country’s businesses and private individuals.
“I will call on those Scandinavian banks to be more active in lending money to Lithuanian businesses and people. Now we can see certain crediting restrictions, which are perhaps too strict. Even a well performing business with export markets and well-developed production capacities experiences big problems in borrowing money from banks to finance its operations,” Kubilius said in an interview with Lithuanian Radio.
The BNS reported also that the prime minister said that the government was also planning economic stimulus measures. “This plan is highly ambitious: to raise up to 4 billion litas (EUR 1.16 b) in additional money and allocate around half of that money for business crediting. Borrowing possibilities both for the state and to businesses were much better if the Lithuanian state finance system had clear stability prospects,” he said.
Kubilius next week is leaving for Sweden to meet with the heads of the Swedish government and financial institutions. He plans to invite Scandinavian banks to contribute to a stabilization fund that is being set up in Lithuania.
At the same time the daily Lietuvos Rytas informed on Feb 9 that Lithuania’s government, which would not disclose its borrowing terms to the public, borrowed from foreign banks in euros at the interest of almost 10 percent in December and January.
The same paper stated that late in December, the government raised 75 million euros via the offering of 13-year government securities, which were all acquired by France’s Natixis. The bonds were sold 10 percent below their face value at the floating rate of almost 10 percent.
A couple of weeks ago the government raised 142 million euros through the placement of another issue of government securities at the interest of 9.95 percent, i.e. about 1 point more compared with the current interest on Lithuania’s Eurobonds maturing in 2016.
According to the same paper the Credit Suisse International acquired that issue. The bonds will be redeemed starting from the end of 2011 till December 2015.
France’s interests to support the recovery of European nuclear energy sector, which has the sole reactor producer – France’s Areva, might have been one of the obstacles to Lithuania’s intentions to extend the lifespan of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP), which is considered unsafe by the West, by at least several years, Lithuanian government’s nuclear negotiator Aleksandras Abišala admits to the BNS.
“Areva or not Areva… But there are actually no other nuclear reactor producers in the European Union,” Abisala, who was in charge of talks with the European Commission (EC) on the extension of INPP operations, Abišala said to BNS.
The team representing Lithuania failed to immediately understand one of the main reasons behind the EC opposition to the extension of INPP lifespan, which was one of the reasons of Vilnius’ failure in those talks, he noted.
As Abišala noted to the BNS “I think it is one of my biggest mistakes…I failed to understand immediately what are the main reasons of opposition, that the French are actually the main source. We always hoped and it seemed that with France holding the rotating presidency we could find an agreement since it is a nuclear state. The main reason was reluctance to harm the reputation of reviving nuclear energy”.
Areva is one of the potential suppliers of reactors to the nuclear facility, which Lithuania plans to build in Visaginas.
The Lithuanian Energy giant Leo LT had announced the long-term strategy for its activities. The Leo LT was created in order to build a new nuclear plant, and to connect Lithuanian energy network with power grids with Poland and Sweden.
As the national investor company Leo LT believes reactors for new Lithuania’s nuclear power plant may be supplied by one of four global producers, including US Westinghouse and General Electric, Canada’s Candu and France’s Areva.
As Saulius Specius, Leo LT board member said during the press conference and BNS reported, “They all are working with us. Which one is chosen will depend on the quality of proposal – the best price and conditions”.
“We think that discussions should only be continued with these companies, which have relevant technical parameters and meet national security criteria,” he added.
The financial model of Leo LT, as set forth in the long-term operating strategy, included two reactors with a combined capacity of 2,200 MW, yet it should not be seen as a firm decision to reduce the capacity of new facility to 2,200 MW, from the maximum permissible level of 3,400 MW, Rymantas Juozaitis, Leo LT chairman, pointed out.
Mr Juozaitis further noted that “Output shares in MW to be assigned or chosen by the partners will be decided in future. We know two things – Lithuania will have the share of 1,300 MW and at least 34 percent of new facility Management Company. The maximum capacity of the plant remains at 3,400, the statements that its capacity has been reduced to 2,200 MW are not true”.
“Leo LT has reserved the share of 1,300 MW irrespective of how much it makes percent-wise. It will depend on the size of nuclear power plant, which will be known only after the tender, when we know the producer of reactors,” Specius said to the BNS. ‘In line with the main scenario for new facility’s funding, initial investments would be made as early as 2009-2010, he added. “We have envisaged certain investments into early orders next year. We will try to speed up the construction of the plant so that the first unit is ready in 2016.”
I would like to remind you that Poland earlier demanded a 1,000-1,200 MW share of new plant’s output. Latvia and Estonia reportedly mentioned the share of 400-500 MW each.
However, soon after the plan’s announcement Leo LT came into troubles when some 50 MPs decided to ask the Constitutional court to explain is the process of the Leo LT creation did not violate country’s constitution. Read more about it here or here.
Just to illustrate my point I would like to suggest you to have a look at a survey published in the FT, which was conducted in the Western Countries, our NATO allies in arms, so to speak. There were few questions, but the most interesting was this; ‘Will you support or oppose troops from your country defending the Baltic states if Russia were to take a military action against them’.
According to the FT in Germany, Italy and Spain, more people say they would oppose the notion of their national troops rushing to defend the Baltic states than would support the idea.
In Germany, as many as 50 per cent of people say they would oppose national troops going to the defence of the three states, compared with only 26 per cent who say they would support it. Only in Britain and France do more people support the idea of their armies defending the Baltic states than oppose it.
Have a look at the survey. Needless to say more…
The BNS reported that, as Lithuanian diplomats spoke up about attempts launched by some countries to revise agreements reached by four foreign ministers in Vilnius over the negotiations mandate on the European Union (EU) – Russia Strategic Partnership Agreement, Foreign Minister Vaitiekunas repeated that Lithuania is not going to back down on fundamental issues.
Lithuania blocked the commencement of talks with Russia, proposing to include four declarations in the negotiations mandate, i.e. the issue of cut-off oil supply via the Druzhba pipeline, the necessity to deal with frozen conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, cooperation in solving occurrences of Jan. 13th and the Medininkai massacre as well as support for exiled persons, who are returning to the Baltic States.
Foreign ministers of Lithuania, Sweden, Poland and current EU presidency holder Slovenia, decided in a meeting in Vilnius on May 11 to include issues brought up by Lithuania to be included in talks with Russia, however this agreement was not endorsed by ambassadors of EU member states in a meeting Tuesday. Ambassadors plan to continue discussions next week.
A Lithuanian diplomat announced this information to BNS May 14 that;”We eliminate such attempts. If they will continue, the mandate might not be approved by May 26 (GAERC)”.
Following a meeting with Lithuanian President Adamkus on 14 May, Vaitiekunas told the press of having informed the Head-of-State of receiving a few proposals by various countries with regards to the negotiations mandate, and they are currently being considered.
“A wide arsenal of different versions of what shape our answers might take is available, and they are currently being coordinated through diplomatic channels, however, when it comes to the main, primary, fundamental issues of Lithuania’s interests, we are not going to back down. (…) We are risking European solidarity”, the foreign minister asserted.
According to the BNS he also noted that the new proposals are most concerned with the issue of frozen conflicts and added that he can reveal neither who is making the proposals, nor what matter they concern.
“In general terms, I am telling you that yes, the main question under revision, is that of frozen conflicts, a declaration on frozen conflicts. Countries stand on different grounds when it comes to geographical and geopolitical positions. Take the United Kingdom, Spain, France – their interests are different and we are simply defending our interests by assuming this position here and now. The EU will have to go a long way in order to learn how to reflect interests unanimously and speak with one voice”, Vaitiekunas explained, noting that an acceptable compromise will be sought out on the issue.
The BNS writes that the minister also noted that he cannot yet reveal what form Lithuania’s demands should take on in the mandate, and in what phrasing should it appear. The minister said that this would mean having to reveal stances on the negotiations mandate and would therefore make them less efficient.
Lithuania was the sole of 27 EU member states, represented in the European Union’s (EU) General Affairs and External Relations Council’s (GAERC) session in Luxembourg last week to dissent to the proposal to begin talks with Russia over the new partnership agreement.
The countries decided that EU-presidency holder Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Dimitri Rupel arrived to Vilnius to further harmonize stances on the issue. Amongst those who arrived to Vilnius were the Swedish and Polish Ministers of Foreign affairs. However, another issue for the Lithuanians was of another importance, expression of support to Georgia. The plan was that all ministers should visit Tbilisi on Monday and show their support to Georgia.
However, the Lithuanian diplomats had have heard a warning from Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitri Rupel that he would accompany his Lithuanian, Polish and Swedish colleagues to Georgia only if Lithuania abandoned its proposals to the mandate of strategic talks between the European Union and Russia. An anonymous Lithuanian diplomat expressed his disappointment by saying “How can one propose such exchange? It is incomprehensible whether the proposal from the European Union’s presiding country Slovenia indicates the entire EU’s stance on Georgia or is it a lame Slovenian proposal aimed at forcing Lithuania to give up its legitimate requirements in the discussion of the negotiating position of the EU-Russian strategic partnership agreement”.
However, after discussion in the Stikliai hotel the Lithuanians claimed that the EU had agreed with all Lithuanian propositions with some amendments. The Lithuanian FM stated that the EU solidarity exists not only in declarations but also in reality. Still he remained that the positions will have to be agreed with the other 23 Member States. The Slovenian MF noted in the press conference that: ‘All Europeans States and the EU Members understand Lithuanian position. And I can easy tell that I understand the Lithuanian concerns’. So, what are those demands?
As Lietuvos Rytas daily wrote last week, Lithuania decided not to approve the mandate for the EU-Russia negotiations until this mandate reflects Lithuania’s interests. This was the first time Lithuania has dared to fight for its interests in the EU with such fervour.
Vilnius demands to add to the energy declaration Russia’s commitment to observe the requirements provided for in the Energy Charter Agreement.
Moreover, Lithuania wanted the EU negotiations mandate to include the point that Russia should cooperate more actively in the field of renewing delivery of crude oil via the Friendship (Druzhba) Pipeline. This pipeline was closed in 2006 for “political repairs.”
As the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign affairs noted “Druzhba was cut off without an explanation. (…) We are worried that Russia is creating a precedent. Energy security and creating a precedent are issues of interest to the EU. This is not a bipartite issue. And we believe that the question of a precedent, and of how far one can go in not cooperating with one EU state is important to the entire EU as well. We have an alternative for Druzhba, but not one for gas”.
Lithuania also noted that Russia’s attitude toward its neighbours is related to the security of Lithuania and the entire EU. This is why Lithuania proposes a declaration on Georgia and Moldova.
Moreover, Lithuania would like to have a declaration on legal cooperation, which should promote constructive cooperation in the investigations of the 13 January 1991 events in Vilnius and the 31 July 1991 massacre in Medininkai, as well as of the disappearance of EU citizens in Russia. There is also an ongoing case of disappearance of Lithuanian businessmen Mr Jucys in Kaliningrad a year ago.
Lithuanian is also seeking to add an additional declaration to the negotiations mandate to compensate for the damages incurred by the persons deported from the occupied Baltic countries. Ensuring such support to the deported persons was one of the international commitments Russia undertook when it joined the Council of Europe.
Lithuania does not impose demands on Russia. It urges the EU to protect Lithuania’s interests, the same way it protects the interests of other EU members. Lithuania is not trying to change Russia, it is impossible, it simply tries to change the EU attitude towards Russia, in sake of the EU.
The another point is that Lithuania is a Member State, the same as Germany, France, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Poland or Ireland who are also defending their interests by blocking decision making. However, Lithuania is standing not only for the ‘meet’ as the Poles did, but for the values of justice.
Lets see how it will go.
Adamkus interview to the Swedish SR. Updated – ’We will try to expand lifespan of the old Ignalina nuclear plant’
The main topic of the interview was a closure of the Iganalina Nuclear pant. However, the president stated that there are signs that the European Union may consider Lithuania’s request to extend operation of the Ignalina N-plant after year 2009, by which time the plant should have been closed.
As the BNS noted the President said that “I’ve heard very encouraging first signals that they (EU – BNS) are considering reviewing some clauses. (…) Probably in the interest of Lithuania’s request, should it be submitted. (…) We can at the least start a dialogue”,.
The Lithuanian President said he sees no reasons why governments of other Baltic Sea region countries wouldn’t back Lithuania’s wish to extend the operation of the Ignalina N-plant. In the opinion of Adamkus, such actions would be egoistic and illogical.
Furthermore, Adamkus emphasized that the period between year 2009 and the time when the new N-plant – still in planning stage – would begin operations, would be of detriment to the development of Lithuania and the entire region and would further digress the country from European economic standards.
After the closing of the Ignalina N-plant, Lithuania would be at a shortage of 1.4 b kilowatt electrical power per year.
However, as the BNS informed the President notes that should Brussels decide against the extended operation of the Ignalina N-plant after all, Lithuania would apply its international undertakings. Lithuania committed to closing the Ignalina N-plant, which contains a Russian RBMK type reactor – deemed unsafe in the West – after its accession to the European Union (EU).
When talking about Lithuania’s joint plans with Latvia, Estonia and Poland to build a new power plant, Adamkus admitted that the process has been delayed; however didn’t agree that these intentions are only talks. The president noted that constructive preparation works are underway.
When asked whether the larger EU countries provide enough support to Lithuania in its relations with Russia pertinent to energy supply, Adamkus said he believes that there is enough support and understanding on Lithuania’s position.
Lithuania, just as its neighbours Latvia and Estonia, is referred to as the European Union (EU) “energy isle”, because it is entirely dependent on resource supply from Russia, and projects of links with the energy systems of Western Europe are still in the stage of discussions and negotiations.
The President also noted that his French colleague Nicolas Sarkozy is planning to visit Lithuania in the period of the next two months.
The French president was invited to visit the Vilnius Conference on Energy Security, which took place last Oct., however Sarkozy went to meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at that time instead. Asked to give his reaction to this Mr. President ironically noted that he could not compete with the Russian President. He asked the journalist ‘If you got an invitation for an interview from Mr Putin and myself at the same time I would not doubt that you would chose to go to Moscow. Lets be practical about it’.