Posts filed under ‘Northern Europe’

Grybauskaite and the Social Democrats remain most popular in Lithuania

Lithuania’s daily Lietuvos rytas on 30 January published latest opinion polls.  According to the polls the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite remained the most popular politician in Lithuania and the Social Democrats the most popular political party.

According to the poll some 40.4 pct of Lithuania’s residents convinced that the President represent their interests ’s the best.  Even though it is by far the best result, Grybauskaite has lost some popularity, since in December with 42 pct of Lithuanians support.

Opinion poll indicates that the Parliament’s Speaker Irena Degutiene is gaining popularity and firmly remains in the second position of the most popular politicians.  This month same 15.1 pct favoured Degutiene, up from 13.6 pct from December.

Rolandas Paksas, currently Member of the European Parliament, impeached president and the Chairperson of the Order and Justice remained the third most popular with 6.4 pct, up from 5.1 pct.  Another MEP Viktor Uspaskich, the Chairperson of the Labour Party held his forth place with 5.2 pct, but down from 6.8 pct in December.

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January 31, 2010 at 8:32 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania’s President appointed new Minister of Foreign Affairs

The President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė has on 29 January signed a decree appointing Audronius Ažubalis as a new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.  Mr Azubalis, the Conservative Member of Parliament is currently Parliament’s Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  The meeting was scheduled for 45 minutes but lasted double that.

After the meeting Ažubalis told journalists that the Lithuania’s foreign policy priorities are the same, ‘Real and deep integration into NATO and the European Union, good relation with our neighbours.  It sounds banal; there is a lot of talk and writings about it.  On the other hand, it is a different matter how we implement that.  But I don’t want to comment on that at the moment.  However, I have an impression that our conversation with the President was open, very clear, benevolent and to be precise, I am in a good mood from it.’

Asked to give his opinion about a Parliamentary probe on the secret CIA prisons in Lithuania he answered, ‘The probe helped Lithuania to clear out another jammed pipe in its circulation of democracy.’  He also added that in his opinion the probe will not effect Lithuania’s relationship with the USA in any negative way.

Some politicians and commentators see Mr Ažubalis as too anti Russian and not able to fit with a new, so called a pragmatic policy towards Russia, which began when Grybauskaite took the office half year ago.

“I think that Russia is a complicated neighbour and some of its actions can be named as threatening. Let us just look at the example of closure of Druzhba gas pipeline, the act that was threatening to Lithuania economically.  We cannot deny that.” said Ažubalis.

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January 30, 2010 at 12:46 am 1 comment

Good news – Lithuania’s GDP in 2009 fell ‘only’ by 15 pct

Lithuania’s Statistics Department finally released data showing Lithuania’s GDP performance in 2009.  According to the report Lithuania’s GDP in 2009 contracted by 15 pct compared with 2008.

In the last quarter of 2009 on year-on-year calculation Lithuania’s GDP shrank by 13 pct.  However, according to the quarterly calculation in the forth quarter Lithuania’s GDP grew by 0,1 pct.

Opinions on Lithuania’s GDP performance in 2010 are split.  However, the main message coming from this Baltic country is that Lithuania’s economy is stabilising and it stopped falling. 

If one puts things in prospective in the beginning of 2009 many predicted that Lithuania’s GDP will fall back to the levels of 2004, when Lithuania entered the European Union.  However, statistics show that Lithuania’s GDP returned to the levels of 2007.  Hence, the crises, in terms of GDP threw Lithuania back by two years.  It is bad, but could have been much worse.

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January 29, 2010 at 1:50 am 1 comment

A new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania has been chosen

The Conservative party’s presidium has chosen Audronius Ažubalis for the Minister of Foreign Affairs post and approved request for resignation from the post of Vygaudas Ušackas.  The Party decided to delegate their colleague unanimously since it was the only one candidate.  The Conservative party is holding the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs according to the agreement in the coalition.

Audronius Ažubalis is 52, a journalist by trade, worked as a press person for the Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis the Chairman of Seimas twenty years ago.  He was Member of Parliament in 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 onwards.

Mr Ažubalis took part in many positions related to foreign affairs, currently is the Chairperson of Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs.  Andrius Kubilius, the Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the Conservative party commented on the party’s decision to appoint Ažubalis by highlighting his experience in this field.  Mr Kubilius said after the party’s presidium meeting to the journalist, “He is experienced, heads the Foreign Affairs Committee and has been working with foreign policy affairs for a good decade.”

Mr Ažubalis was moved by the party’s decision and stated to the journalists, “I’m deeply touched that my party colleagues showed their trust in me and that they said so many beautiful words in my address.  I really didn’t expect this. I will now look forward to hearing the president’s decision.”

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January 26, 2010 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

What did V. Ušackas not understand? By Gintaras Aleknonis

 would think that every minister should feel the political situation so well as never to receive an official suggestion from the head of state to leave his post. „I am not clinging to my chair, so if my resignation would solve the problems, I will immediately sign an application to resign,” -this standard sentence is repeated by everybody. Also we all see how much the words differ from the deeds. A phrase “I would like to check how much confidence is placed on me” is still absent in Lithuanian political vocabulary.

A Minister of Foreign Affairs who did not manage to check how much confidence he enjoys, did a mistake that makes us to entertain doubts about his diplomatic wit. Even though this might be only a coincidence, however, this kind of mistakes are not justifiable for a former negotiator for EU membership, Lithuanian ambassador in Washington and London, one of the most professional our diplomats.

It is also hard to understand how Vygaudas Ušackas understood one of the most important problems that are rooted in Lithuanian diplomatic service that is under his leadership. While having a look from aside, it is hard to get a rid from an impression that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was too much close with the State Security Department, and this impression was even more sustained by a free migration between these two services. Links between these two institutions are natural as well as cooperation between them.

However, these links have to be based not on a subjection of one of these services to another but on healthy competition between them. As we can see from a tragic story of Col.Vytautas Pociūnas or from a shameful story of the adviser of the minister Dainius Dabašinskas, there was no balance between the Ministry and the Department. After choosing the side of the faction and not the state interests in the case of CIA prisons, Vygaudas Ušackas showed that he will not manage to regulate the relationships with the State Security Department.

The publicly announced President’s idea to invite the President of the Federation of Russia to the celebration of March the 11th was the last proof for the Minister. Vygaudas Ušackas who is skilfully griping in the channels of mass media showed that he is not inclined to use these skills as well as the cultivation made by the Ministry in the public sphere for the sake of the state.

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January 22, 2010 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs will resign

Prime Minsiter Kubilius said this morning that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Vygaudas Usackas should submit his letter of resignation in the nearest future.  He also stated that he is sorry for Mr Usackas to go, since he is one of the best diplomats Lithuania has.  President Grybauskaite expressed her non-confidence towards the Minister on 20 January.

On 21 January, the Prime Minister said Ziniu radijas, “I will discuss the minister’s resignation, which he will turn in to me shortly, with the party’s leadership, which delegated him, and they will have to decide on what to do next”.  However, he added that he regrets that Usackas has to leave the Cabinet, “The situation at hand is quite regretful, because, in my opinion, Usackas is a professional, so it’s really sad to see that the president can no longer work with the minister”.

The ultimate like request for Usackas to resign came on 20 January, after Mr Kubilius paid a planned visit to Grybauskaite.  After the visit the President’s office issued a statement that clearly indicated Grybauskaite’s firm stance on the issue.  The statement said, ‘According to the President, she has lost confidence in the Foreign Minister, and foreign policy therefore may not be implemented efficiently. The President urged the Prime Minister to take procedural actions and to come up with a proposal to dismiss Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas from office.’

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January 21, 2010 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

Council of Europe expecting explanations on Lithuania’s CIA prison allegations

Baltic News Service informed that the Council of Europe secretary general asked Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs if Vilnius could give all available information to the Council of Europe regarding the allegation of possible secret CIA prisons, or so called ‘black sites’ in Lithuania.

According to BNS the letter was sent to Lithuania a month ago and signed by Thorbjørn Jagland.  Mr Jagland said that his predecessor had already asked for information on any involvement of public figures, by action or omission, in the deprivation of liberty of transport of detainees.  The secretary also informed that this information relevant to an inquiry on CIA detention centres in Europe launched back in November 2005.

BNS quoted the letter in which Mr Jagland addresses to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, “I should be grateful if you could provide me with any information available at this stage which could be useful for the purposes of the inquiry”.

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January 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

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