U.S. President George W. Bush on Nov. 12 called Valdas Adamkus in response to his congradulations on being re-elected for a second term. The U.S. president thanked the Baltic country for being a reliable ally, the Lithuanian president's office reported. Lithuania has actively participated in U.S.-led anti-terrorist and peacekeeping missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and has troops serving in both countries. "We love Lithuania," Bush said during the telephone conversation.
Adamkus has urged that the state's new Parliament return its focus to the people and increase sensitivity to social issues. Speaking at the first meeting in the Seimas on Nov. 15, the president encouraged members to serve the interests of the state rather than the political parties they belong to. "Lithuania needs all of its political forces to rally their efforts for constructive work. Even more so now than in earlier years since the country feels the need for politicians to serve society and state instead of parties' short-term interests," said Adamkus.
Adamkus does not think that his adviser, Edminas Bagdonas (photo), who took his daughter along on a flight to Rome with an official state delegation, is vulnerable to a conflict of interest. The official ethics commission, however, is still to assess the situation, which has stirred media interest. "I don't see any conflict of interest. Bagdonas asked for permission for his daughter to travel by plane. I have the right to invite [relations] onto an airplane if the purpose is to solve family problems," the president said Nov. 11. Still, Bagdonas will have to present a written explanation to the commission by Nov. 24.
After a second debate/reading. Parliament did not pass an amendment to Article 56 of the constitution, which could have opened the door for ex-President Rolandas Paksas to return to power in five years' time. The issue was voted 5 against 41, with 20 abstentions. Ceslovas Jursenas, who presided over the parliamentary meeting, said that the amendment could be presented again in a year.
Lithuanian sculptor Mindaugas Navakas has been awarded this year's Baltic Assembly Prize for the arts for creative activity in the past three years. The joint jury of the assembly also decided to award the prize for literature to the Latvian Peter Bruver and the prize for science to the Estonian Arvo Krikmann. The prize and 5,000 euros will be presented during the Baltic Assembly session in the Latvian capital of Riga in mid-December. The Baltic Assembly prizes were established in 1994 in order to facilitate the development of literature, arts and science in the Baltic states and to assess the most distinguished achievements in these fields and disseminate these achievements in other states. The prize is granted to one Latvian, one Lithuanian and one Estonian representative.