Last week, the Prime Minister said her faith in the Agriculture Minister was unwavering; the prime minister, party leaders, businessmen and trade unions discussed defense funding
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Johansson visits Lithuania
On Friday, February 2, European Union (EU) Commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson visited Lithuania. The Commissioner met with Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and discussed the security situation and the EU’s solidarity with Ukraine, the representative office of the European Commission in Lithuania informed. Johansson also spoke at an international conference on women in law enforcement. The conference focused on the role of women and gender equality in law enforcement, with a particular focus on the low number of women in leadership positions.
The first German soldiers who will arrive in Lithuania will rent housing
The first soldiers of the German brigade who will arrive in Lithuania this year will rent housing from private landlords, but the Ministry of Defense is planning long-term solutions for the accommodation of German soldiers and their families, the ministry announced on Thursday, February 1. Several thousand German soldiers with their families and children of various ages are expected to arrive in Lithuania, the ministry reports. These issues were discussed on Thursday, February 1, by an inter-institutional working group, which includes representatives of all ministries. It was created to deal with issues related to the civilian infrastructure and services needed to accommodate the planned German brigade.
The State Security Service is silent on the case of the former Belarusian police major
Lithuania’s Department of State Security refrains from commenting on how former Belarusian police major Aleksandrs Macievich, who took part in the suppression of protesters in his homeland, obtained a temporary residence permit in Lithuania. However, the intelligence service warns that the rapid rise of Belarusian immigrants creates additional threats and risks. “The State Security Department does not comment on individual cases, but notes that it has repeatedly warned about the risks and threats posed by the rapidly increasing immigration of persons from Belarus,” the service announced on Thursday, February 1. It says that it is possible that some people who provide information to public authorities try to hide information about their service or employment relationships. Last year, the department carried out a threat assessment for a total of 121,577 foreign citizens and in 1,415 cases informed the Migration Department that the stay of these persons in Lithuania posed a threat to national security.
Lithuania opens an innovation center in the US, Silicon Valley
Lithuania has opened an innovation center “InnoHub Lithuania” in Silicon Valley, USA. Aušrinė Armonaitė, the Minister of Economy and Innovation, announced on Wednesday, January 31, that the new center will help Lithuanian advanced technology developers to establish and make contacts with partners in the US and help exporters establish themselves in the US market. “”InnoHub Lithuania” will become an important link between Lithuanian and US start-ups and innovators, will help establish specific contacts and will provide assistance for the export of high-value Lithuanian products and services to the US,” the statement quoted the minister. InnoHub Lithuania will provide assistance to Lithuanian high-tech companies and attract US mentors to advise Lithuanian innovation companies. It will also organize conferences and exhibitions.
The President and the head of the EU Commission discuss the farmers’ demands
On Wednesday, January 31, the President Gitanas Nausėda met with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels to discuss the demands of Lithuanian farmers. “The agricultural sector affects a very wide range of people, including consumers, industrial and environmental communities. I emphasized that the issue of restoration of long-term grasslands is particularly topical in Lithuania,” Nausėda wrote on Facebook after the meeting. Lithuanian farmers organized a large-scale protest in Vilnius, in which, among other things, they demanded the cancellation of the EU’s requirement to restore long-term grasslands – land that has not been cultivated for more than five years. If grasslands occupy less than 5% of the total arable land area, farmers are obliged to restore them. Farmers argue that this is a huge burden because grasslands need to be maintained and do not bring any benefit to agriculture, resulting in reduced production and competitiveness.
The court requires FNNT to remove “Vydmantai Wind Park” from the list of sanctioned companies
The Lithuanian company “Vydmantai Wind Park”, which belongs to the Russian electricity supplier “Inter RAO Lietuva”, must be removed from the list of companies to which sanctions are applied, drawn up by the Financial Crimes Investigation Service (FNNT), on Wednesday, January 31, court representative Sigita Gamuleniene announced (Sigita Gamulenienė). FNNT announced in May 2022 that the funds of “Vydmantai Wind Park” have been frozen in connection with relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Electricity supplier “Elektrum Lietuva” later broke the contract concluded with “Vydmantai Wind Park” in September 2020, and the Court of Appeal of Lithuania decided in December that “Elektrum Lietuva” had done so legally.
The ethics watchdog finds that the president and the ambassador to the UK have a conflict of interest
State President Gitans Nausėdas and Lithuanian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Eitvydas Bajarūns have found themselves in a conflict of interest situation when the embassy paid for their tickets to a musical in London, the Main Ethics Commission for Officials (VTEK) decided on Tuesday, January 30. The commission found that the visit to the Nausea and Bayarún institution was of a private nature and that the expenses were covered by the embassy. After an investigation, the supervisor concluded that Nausėda “used his status and position for personal gain” and that the tickets purchased for him and his wife were an “illegal gift” prohibited by the Law on the Reconciliation of Public and Private Interests. VTEK stated that Bajarun has violated the provisions of the law, which imposes on him the responsibility to perform his official duties objectively, honestly and properly. These regulations also prohibit the use of official position and official status for personal gain, as well as the use and authorization of other persons to use state or municipal property for activities unrelated to official duties.
The Prime Minister says she trusts the Minister of Agriculture
On Tuesday, January 30, Prime Minister Ingrīda Šimonītė announced that she trusts the Minister of Agriculture Kestutis Navickas after last week’s farmers’ protest against the government’s agricultural policy. “Right now, I definitely don’t see any reason to express no confidence in the minister,” she told “LRT Radio”. Šimonīte pointed out that the questions raised by the farmers were about the European Green Deal policy and not about the competence of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Prime Minister states that the current problems are partly due to the fact that for years support and assistance was directed to the crop growing industry, which, according to the Prime Minister, has a significant impact on the environment. The protesting farmers demanded that the government cancel the increase in excise duty on liquefied petroleum gas, which has been in effect since January 1, and return the reduced excise duty rate on diesel fuel for their trucks. They also raised other issues, including the restoration of perennial grasslands, the expansion of protected areas and the crisis in the dairy industry.
Lithuania has not yet made a decision on financing the UN Palestine Refugee Agency
Lithuania will not yet make a decision on financing the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, taking into account the investigation related to Israel’s accusations that some of its employees were involved in the “Hamas” attack on Israel on October 7. The minister made the comments on Monday, January 29, after several donor countries suspended funding to UNRWA over the allegations. According to Landsbergis, if Lithuania has to make a decision before the end of the investigation, it will stop funding. The Minister of Foreign Affairs claims that Lithuania coordinates its position on this issue with the rest of the Baltic states. Lithuania usually allocates around 100,000 euros to the refugee agency, the minister said.
The Prime Minister, party leaders, businessmen and trade unions discuss funding for the defense industry
On Monday, January 29, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrīda Šimonīte met with political party leaders, businessmen and trade union representatives to discuss defense funding. The need for defense funding is increasing due to Lithuania’s plans to create a light infantry division by 2030 and conscript more soldiers. The prime minister said plans to expand the armed forces would require additional funding of around 0.4-0.5% of GDP on top of the 2.52% of GDP currently agreed by political parties. One option being considered is a protection tax. President Gitan Nausėda and some parties oppose the increase in VAT to increase funding for the defense industry. The president argues that such a defense financing model would increase the tax burden on citizens and could only be considered if VAT exemptions and reductions were introduced at the same time.
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