President Valdas Adamkus said in Brussels last week that the declaration passed by EU leaders on Ukraine does not reflect the expectations of the country. Presidential spokeswoman Rita Grumadaite cited Adamkus as telling EU leaders that the declaration was a "compromise document" that "does not fully reflect the expectations of people who stood in the cold on Kiev streets to demonstrate their resolution and democratic values." In the president's words, "The Ukrainian people deserve more than an EU action plan on Ukraine. I hope that at the next meeting we will not restrict ourselves to the plan and propose specific ways to revitalize the relations with Ukraine."
The impeachment scandal and searches of political parties' headquarters by special services have pulled down Lithuania's rating on the annual Freedom in the World 2005 survery. The U.S.-based non-governmental organization, Freedom House, ranked Lithuania among free countries but noted a decrease in the rating year-on-year. On the scale of political rights and civil liberties, where "1" denotes the highest level of freedom and "7" stands for the lowest, Lithuania is among countries with a 2 rating - together with Argentina, Botswana, Israel and Mongolia.
The Balzek Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago nominated Ambassador to the United States and Mexico Vygaudas Usackas as the person of the year. The diplomat received the award during a dinner attended by U.S. Senator Richard Durbin and Congressman John Shimkus. Receiving the award, Usackas noted it was a sign of appreciation to the entire diplomatic service and to the young and talented diplomats who helped achieve membership in the EU and NATO. The Lithuanian Embassy said Usackas was given the title for his contribution to integration in the European Union and NATO and the popularization of Lithuania in the United States.
More than a third of young Lithuanians are apolitical, a poll conducted Nov. 4 - 7 showed. According to the survey, 38.3 percent of youth have not voted in any of the recent elections. The survey suggests that young people were most active in the October parliamentary elections (47 percent of respondents said they went to polling stations) and the presidential elections in June (45.7 percent).
A delegation headed by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Sarunas Adomavicius was in Poland to discuss protection and commemoration of cultural heritage with Polish experts. The meeting in Bialystok will be a continuation of an analogous meeting of experts held in Vilnius in November. The meeting is designed to discuss cooperation in cultural heritage protection, the management of Lithuanian soldiers' and civilians' graves in Poland and other urgent issues of cultural and historical heritage.
Mine-clearing units failed to find any explosives in the Vilnius municipality building on Dec. 20 after someone called in claiming a bomb was planted in the building. Viktoras Grabauskas, head of the anti-terrorist operations unit, Aras, said that the search for the explosive took about two hours. He added that several staff members who had come to work early were evacuated. Local authorities have started an investigation into the incident.