Posts filed under ‘Iceland’

Lithuanian Foreign Minister heads off to Iceland to discuss its EU bid

As the BNS informed Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas on 23 July will depart for Iceland, where he will voice Lithuania’s firm support to the country’s bid for EU accession and offer political and technical help for the impending preparations for joining the 27-strong bloc.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Rolandas Kacinskas said the minister will personally deliver a Seimas’ resolution, which was passed to express support to Iceland’s bid, and discuss how Lithuania can help Iceland amid its preparations.

“The meetings will focus on Iceland’s EU prospect amid the upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers; Iceland’s application for EU membership will also be addressed. Lithuania is ready to provide political and technical support to Iceland,” Kacinskas on 23 July told BNS.

Usackas will depart for Reykjavik on 23 July evening, with core meetings scheduled on 24 July, including those with the Icelandic foreign minister and influential Members of Parliament.

The Seimas on Thursday adopted a resolution calling on parliaments and governments of EU member states to back Iceland’s EU bid by requesting that the European Commission (EC) by the end of 2009 offers its opinion on Iceland’s readiness for accession talks.

Usackas had earlier said that Lithuania will offer unconditional support to Iceland’s quest.

Political analysts say Iceland could join the bloc in three-four years time. The Nordic country’s EU prospects will be discussed early next week in the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) session.

Source BNS


July 24, 2009 at 12:11 pm 3 comments

Lithuanian Parliament urges EU nations to support Iceland’s membership bid

As the BNS informed the Lithuanian parliament has urged European Union nations to support Iceland’s aspiration of joining the organization.

Some 106 parliamentarians voted in support, two were against and four more abstained in the Thursday’s ballot on the resolution, which “calls upon national parliaments and governments of all EU countries to support Iceland’s objective of joining the European Union, asking the European Commission (EC) to state its opinion by the end of 2009 on Iceland’s readiness to open membership negotiations.” The majority of those against were Euro-sceptical MPs.

The resolution also recalls and appreciates Iceland’s support to the Lithuanian nation and country when Iceland was the first Western democracy to recognize Lithuania’s restored independence in 1990.

The parliament also expressed “hope that Iceland would be ready to start the talks in early 2010,” declaring determination to share experience of its EU accession talks.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas is flying to Reykjavik later on Friday in sign of support to Iceland.

The Baltic state’s diplomats say that EU nations have not yet reached common grounds on the Icelandic EU membership application: Nordic countries have advocated urgent accession, while some Southern European nations do not want Iceland to be an exception and suggest it should be admitted according to regular procedures. In this case, Iceland would be in the same group of EU aspirants with Albania.

Last week, Iceland submitted an official application to the EU’s presidency Sweden on accession to the organization.

Source BNS

July 23, 2009 at 11:38 am Leave a comment

Happy First Millennium – Lithuania!

1000In 1009 Lithuania’s name (Lituae) was first mentioned in the chronicles of ancient German town Kvedlinburg in reference to the death of missionary St. Bruno.

Lithuania on July 6 is marking its millennial Statehood Day.  This small nation, sandwiched between great Germanic and Slavic giants managed to survive against all odds in the world.  It experienced its glory days for few centuries with it medieval empire which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.  Some historian argue that if there was not such an empire there would not have been Belarusian and Ukrainian nations today.

It was carved up, occupied and slaughtered for few centuries to revive again and again.  It is a story of a small and great nation which held on to this piece of land next to the Baltic Sea and managed to survive.  This is why it is amazing.  Lithuania, together with its Baltic sisters managed to survive.  Despite of all difficulties at the moment we will rise like phoenix out of ashes.  Crisis are coming and going, but such nations are here to stay and prosper.

Celebratory events taking place throughout the day will be attended by Queen of Denmark Margarethe II, King Harald V of Norway, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.

Other distinguished guests will include President Olafur Ragnar of Iceland, President Valdis Zatlers of Latvia, President Lech Kaczynski of Poland, President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, President Tarja Halonen of Finland, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Legate of Pope Benedict XVI and Dean of the College of Cardinals, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip of Estonia, and Russia’s Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeyev among others.

Lithuania’s millennial celebration kicked off at noon with a Flag Hoisting Ceremony in Daukanto Square, next to the Office of President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus, with a Holy Mass at the Vilnius Cathedral to follow, the president’s press service said in a statement.

The Holy Mass will be followed by a symbolic ceremony marking the opening of a reconstructed Royal Palace of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and a farewell to participants of the Millennium Song Festival “Song of the Centuries”, the statement says.

Later in the day the action will move over to the Museum of Applied Arts, where the honorable guests will visit millennial exhibitions on display, namely “Lithuania in Ancient Historical Sources”, “Wawel in Vilnius. From the Jagiellonian Dynasty to the end of the Republic, and “The Art of Balts”, and will attend lunch hosted by President Adamkus.

In the evening, guests will deliver addresses in Lithuania’s Millennial Song Contest, and later attend dinner hosted by Adamkus in the President’s Office.

July 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm 4 comments

Another 5,700 people join Lithuania’s jobless ranks in a week, Lithuanian unemployed ‘discover’ Scandinavia

As Lithuania’s Labour Exchange said on 22 June another 5,700 people were registered as unemployed in Lithuania last week, down 24% from 7,500 people registered a week earlier

The total number of people with the status of unemployed persons reached 196,400 as of 19 June (up from 194,900 a week earlier), which accounted for 9.2% of the working age population, as calculated by BNS.

As the BNS informs some 1,163 job vacancies were registered in 12-19 June down 19 % from 1,440 vacancies a week earlier. Some 2,600 persons got employed, down 19% from 3,200 the previous week.

There were around 1,300 vacancies in the Labour Exchange database on 19 June.

This morning Lithuania’s Public Radio announced that Lithuanians remains the immigration champions per capita in the EU.  However, destinations for new immigrants are changing.  According to this information Lithuanians starting to discover the neighbouring Scandinavian countries when looking for employment.

June 22, 2009 at 10:21 am Leave a comment

EU Commissioner: ‘Lithuania’s landing is fast, hard and painful’

At the moment many people are asking the same question ‘Which country is next after Iceland?’  The Danske Bank has announced a list of the 15 most financially vulnerable countries in the world.  This analysis suggests that Hungary is ‘en route’.  The three Baltic countries are also amongst the ‘lucky’ 15.  This news coincided with Commissioner’s Grybauskaitė vist to Lithuania.  She has confirmed the news – the Lithuanian economy is in trouble…  But there is also some good news.

Perhaps it should be noted that the announcement of the black list came after a British paper miss interpreted the Head of the International Monetary Fund as saying that the Baltic countries are very close to the ‘Icelandic scenario’.  The local economists jumped in and vigorously denied this prediction.  Yes, the Baltic countries are in trouble but the causes of our troubles are different from the Icelandic.

Eg. Lithuania’s external debt is 13 per cent and the internal debt is about 70 per cent of our GDP.  Further more, Iceland’s budget deficit was 9 per cent, Lithuania’s less than 3 per cent.  More, our currency Litas, is pegged to Euro (with all positive and negative effects).  The Danske Bank senior analyst Lars Christensen also confirmed that even though Lithuanian is well into the hard landing (according to him it started about a year ago) Lithuania is in a better situation than our Baltic brothers.

As it was mentioned Lithuania heard the bad news not only from the Danske Bank.  ‘Lithuania’s landing is fast, hard and painful” Dalia Grybauskaitė, the EU commissioner responsible for financial programming and budget anounced last week during her visit to Lithuania.  This former Finance Minister is one of the most popular public figures in Lihtuania.  For the last two years she harshly critisies Lithuania’s Goverment at every visit to Lithuania.  The PM Kirkilas once complained to the EU Commission’s President about Grybauskaitė’s ‘interferience’ in the Lithuanian politics.

However Mrs Grybauskaitė decided to go open about the Lithuania’s economical situation two years ago, because the Government would not react to her remarks.  She said, “Actual Lithuania’s economic situation shows that nobody has heeded advices in Lithuania. We see that the situation has got worse. Everybody, not just the European Commission (EC), but international organizations, sees it as well. They make very straightforward evaluations, for example, the rating agencies have revised Lithuania’s credit ratings down. Meanwhile, it means more expensive borrowing, lower confidence in the country and more complicated borrowing terms” BNS quoted her.

First of all she suggested the President to veto the new proposed 2009 budget.  “We should speak about the general fiscal deficit, and, as to my knowledge, it (the budget) is getting closer to the critical limit of Maastricht criterion, 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Clearly, if the rate is larger, mistrust will be huge. We have had such experience with this year’s budget. A country has submitted a certain deficit figure to the EC, and now it is getting clear that the actual rate is five times larger than the initial one,” according to the BNS the commissioner said.

As the BNS noted Lithuania risks having its fiscal deficit cross the 3 percent limit in 2009, the European Commission (EC) warns. In 2008, as projected by the Commission, the country’s deficit will reach 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The outlook for Lithuania’s economy is poor with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) seeing the countries GDP growing by meagre 0.7 percent next year, much less than envisaged by the government, she says.

As the BNS further noted the commissioner slammed the government for denying problems and delaying their solutions thus eventually failing to get prepared for the crisis. “Such politicians and governments are drowning their countries. I do not want to specify any names, you know them yourselves,” Grybauskaitė said.

She projected that Lithuania’s fiscal deficit would exceed the 3 percent GDP limit in 2009. “I think it will be well above that limit.’

The hopes of balanced budget were failing, while the inflation spiral was being given an additional impetus instead of being curbed, the commissioner said.

“There are two anti-inflation plans but no actual actions. Moreover, some actions of opposite effect have been taken, such as the indexing of payments. No actual actions have been taken, since the plans were declarative. Structural reforms in the area of education and on the labour market have not taken place, on the contrary, they have been avoided,” she pointed out.

In short there are a lot of bad news in the Lithuanian economy.  However, there is also hope.  The Commissioner noted that this a very good time for the Lithuanian political establishment to get their act together.  The new government should be formed this year already.  There is a lot of speculation in the Lithuanian media about Grybauskaitė’s return to the Lithuania’s politics in order to set the Lithuanian finances straight.

As the BNS agency noted she isn’t shooting for Lithuanian prime minister’s seat. She did, however, note willingness to cooperate with whatever government is formed in result of the general elections.   “I am not at all referring to any posts, as government or post apportionment is of no interest to me, this is not in my life priority list”.

The BNS further noted that any political force or majority to come into power will not be capable of managing forthcoming challenges alone, she forewarned, noting the need for achieving a joint agreement – inclusive of all main parties – on how to conquer these challenges, with the least to come of it being a moratorium on any new financial commitments for at least a one year period.

“When I hear any political force speaking on how to deal with the pending economic crisis in Lithuania, we will then address it. All I hear now is division of power, therefore I cannot provide any answer”, the EU commissioner said asked to comment on hints of her being an example of a suitable PM BNS writes.

However, the EU commissioner brought at least one good news to Lithuania.

As BNS wrote she has praised the management of EU structural funds in Lithuania.

According to the data cited by the commissioner, Lithuania absorbed 91 per cent of EU assistance as of September.  “I am delighted that all my comments have been truly considered in the area of structural funds management as far as the ministry of finance is concerned. The result is truly good. As of September, the rate of structural funds absorption in Lithuania is 91 per cent, and we believe that Lithuania will come very close to full absorption in the remaining two months,” Grybauskaite told the reporters.

The BNS reminded that according to the European Commission’s (EC) data, some 91 per cent (EUR 813 mln) of structural assistance funds envisaged for Lithuania in 2004-2006 were paid to the country as of Sept. 10.

Lithuania was only behind Estonia and Malta (92 percent each) in terms of EU assistance absorption rate.

October 19, 2008 at 11:10 pm 2 comments

How is life in the financial province?

How does it feel to live in the financial province?  One could ask a Lithuanian, Latvian or Estonian.  It depends when you live here.  So far so good, the financial experts agree.  There is not much we can do, Lithuanian financial system almost fully belongs to the Scandinavian banks.  Hence we just have to watch and wait.  We are told, the Scandinavian banks are amongst the most stable and prudent in the world, they are doing well!

The Bank of Lithuania announced that if required it could extend some 1 billion litas (EUR 289 mln) in loans to domestic commercial banks without breaching the norms of litas coverage with foreign currency and gold reserves.

The central bank governor Reinoldijus Sarkinas toled this Tuesday that “Our banks do not need those loans today, that is for sure. There were 3.4 billion litas on banks’ accounts in the morning, they perform all operations”.

He added that Lithuania’s commercial banks had some 40 billion litas in deposits and the aggregate loan portfolio of some 70 billion litas.

Sarkinas would favour the European Union (EU) decision to raise the amount of insurable deposit.

“We would support the proposal of the European Commission – to boost the amount of insurable deposit to 100,000 euros. I think we could agree to that,” he said.

In line with Lithuania’s legislation, a deposit amount of up to 3,000 euros is compensated 100 percent and the amount of up to 22,000 euros – by 90 percent in the event of bankruptcy of a credit institution. Thus the maximum insurance amount is 20,100 euros.

However, there are few things on the horizon.  As the BNS announced Lithuanians have become increasingly worried about the country’s economic prospects in the past year, a public opinion poll has shown.

The BNS writes that the people continue to see rising prices, the brain drain and the use of Lithuanians as cheap labor by foreign countries as the main disadvantages of the EU membership, according to the poll conducted by Vilmorus for the European Commission’s Representation in Lithuania.

The percentage of respondents expecting Lithuania’s economic situation to improve fell to 35 percent from 40 percent a year ago and the percentage of those anticipating a further decline in unemployment was down to 39 percent from 51 percent.

On the other hand Lithuania’s Finance Minister Rimantas Sadzius expects the national economy to get on the upswing in 2011-2012.

“That slowdown, whether it goes reverse in 2011-2012, it only depends on us. On business in the first place,” Sadzius said at the meeting with industrialists in Vilnius on Tuesday.

Businessmen should face up to credits getting more expensive during at least several years, he added.

Sadzius said, “Economic development is slowing down, we all have problems. We should also include two more things into our expenditure estimates, i.e. growing prices of energy and labour”.

Although the situation was complicated, the government should decide later this week on the application of profit tax break for companies upgrading their technologies, he added.

However, recently one of the Lithuanian central bank analysts said to one of the reporters, most likely off the record, that only a panic could trigger the collapse of the Lithuanian banks.  Having in mind that this Sunday Lithuanian is going to have Parliament elections such happening could have not only precocious to the banking system but also would certainly affect the composition of future Parliament.

Some since of this possible panic are apparent.  The Lithuanian central bank governor acknowledged on Tuesday that panic-spreading rumours and SMS messages had scared some people into withdrawing part of their deposits from banks.

“A part of deposits have been cancelled. I think that it will be those people who panicked and lost interest [on their deposits] who will suffer from this, “the chairman of the Bank of Lithuania’s board, said during a meeting of the Industrialists’ Confederation and the BNS reported.

Sarkinas said that special services were searching for the authors of the panic-spreading messages. “Our services are working to find the sources of these messages. I think it is just a matter of time,” he said.

Despite the withdrawal of deposits by some people, the latest data from the central bank show that on Oct. 1 through 3, the total amount of private individuals’ deposits at the country’s banks increased by 57 million litas (EUR 16.5 mln) and business customers’ deposits rose by 15 million litas.

Sarkinas noted that the banking system’s capital adequacy was 12 percent in early September, compared with the required 8 percent.

Lets hope that the 2002 Presidential election will not repeat itself.  And we all hope that our mother banks in Scandinavia are going to do well.  At least until elections!

October 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania rated as having free press – Freedom House survey

As the BNS informed the Lithuanian press is seen as having one of the highest levels of free press among Eastern European and post-Soviet countries and is even ahead of counterparts in some of European Union’s (EU) old-timer countries.

According to the BNS this finding was revealed by the Global Press Freedom Survey 2008 announced by US-based NGO Freedom House, promoting global development of freedom.

BNS pointed out that as shown in the survey, Lithuania together with the Czech Republic share the second and third places ,both countries were rated 18, among Central and Eastern Europe as well as former Soviet Union countries according to freedom of press. Estonia is a leader when it comes to freedom of press in this group of countries, and received the rating of 16 in the report.

The aforementioned countries, together with slightly lower rated Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland, made it to the ranks of nations, which enjoy free press.

In a table containing global ratings, Lithuania together with the Czech Republic, Canada and Great Britain, all of which share the same rating, placed 25-28.

As the BNS writes according to freedom of press, Lithuania is ahead of EU old-timer France, Spain, Greece and Italy, who have also been attributed to the category of countries having free press.

Data of the survey illustrated that Finland and Iceland, both rated 9, have the highest level of free press, while Turkmenistan 96, Burma 97 and North Korea 98 are on the opposite end of the list. These countries received the last places on the list – 193-195.

Lithuania‘s neighbours notorious for persecution of the press – Russia 78 and Belarus 91, were assigned to a category of countries without freedom of press, and placed 170 and 188, accordingly.


May 5, 2008 at 10:37 am 2 comments

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