Lietuva in brief - 2005-10-26

  • 2005-10-26
Police have developed a special unit to combat the country's growing human trafficking problem. As of January next year, the police department will launch a special unit tasked with organizing and coordinating investigations into the illegal trade. Police Commissioner General Vytautas Grigaravicius said the division would cooperate with foreign agencies. "Human trafficking is one of the most profitable sources of criminal activity that is pursued," Grigaravicius said, adding that nearly every criminal group in the country deals with trafficking. On Oct. 23, the Lietuvos Rytas daily published a thorough investigation into the issue. The paper reported that thousands of girls, age 18 and under, have been drawn into human trafficking. Most are mislead by "model agency" offers.

According to Eurostat 2004 data, Lithuania has the fastest decreasing population in the EU. There were 6 less people per 1,000 in 2004 than the year before - a total loss of 20,500 people. Latvia follows close behind. Last year, there were 5.5 less people per 1,000 in Latvia than in 2003. Estonia took third place with 3 less people, followed by Hungary (-1.9), Germany (-0.4), and Poland (-0.4). In terms of the EU25, the average population has increased by 5 people per 1,000.

President Valdas Adamkus congratulated Lech Kaczynski, who was elected Poland's new president, and stressed that Poland would remain a strategic partner with the Baltic state. During a telephone conversation with the new president, Adamkus also emphasized that there was still a lot of work to be done in the area of economics. Kaczynski said that, in the field of cooperation, Lithuania and Poland had achieved enormous progress and assured Adamkus that such relations would continue.

Hungary will draw on Lithuania's experience in Afghanistan before undertaking a mission in the country. The Baltic state has been leading the Ghor Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan since June. Such a possibility was discussed by Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas and his Hungarian counterpart Ferenz Juhasz in Vilnius on Oct. 25. Kirkilas invited Hungary to join in on the NATO-sanctioned Baltic air policing mission. The skies over the Baltic states are currently patrolled by U.S. airmen with five F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters deployed at the Zokniai Aviation Base. It is expected that, should a Hungarian contingent arrive to police the Baltic airspace, the aviators would fly the multi-purpose fighters SAAB JAS 39 Grippen that Hungary procured this year.