The country's population shrank by 15,400 over the first eight months of the year. In all, there were 3,410,000 residents in early September, according to the data from the Statistics Department, while the number of births remains lower than the number of deaths. Data shows that 20,545 babies were born from January to August, or 238 babies fewer year-on-year. Meanwhile, the number of people going abroad continues to go up. Some 111,268 people left Lithuania over the January-August period of this year, 1,544 people more year-on-year.
With NATO's recent overhaul of a landing strip at the Lithuanian Air Forces' Aviation Base in Zokniai, chances are improving that a command center for coordinating the Baltic air policing mission will be installed nearby, Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said this week. "It is a good airport 's no doubt about it. There is no point in developing parallel infrastructure in Latvia and Estonia," Brazauskas said. Over the past few years, the Baltic states have been competing over NATO money for defense infrastructure.
Lithuania, just like the whole European Union, is prepared for a possible pandemic of bird flu, the European Union Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou, said this week. "The EU member states are better prepared than any other region in the world," he said. Kyprianou visited Vilnius last week, where he met with Brazauskas. "That, of course, does not mean that we have reached the highest level of preparation. We are still working very closely with the member states and the European Center for Disease Control in coordination with the World Health Organization." In the commissioner's words, Lithuania is one of the first countries that have a preparedness plan on how to counter a possible outbreak of bird flu. The commissioner assured that the EU had strict legislative acts and experience in combating a bird flu pandemic and urged people not to panic.
New traffic rules will prohibit cars using summer tires beginning in November. Drivers who will not change summer tires to winter tires in 10 days' time will face a fine of 6 's 12 euros. During winter, drivers are also allowed to drive cars with all-season tires. As of Nov. 1, the speed limit on the country's highways will be reduced from 130 km/h to 110 km/h. The fatality rate has increased dramatically in recent months.