In a letter of congratulations to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the nation's independence day, President Valdas Adamkus said he expects dynamic relations between Lithuania and Russia to develop and intensify in the future. Adamkus noted that 16 years ago both nations chose the path of independence and democracy and supported each other's goals of freedom. During this period, the president wrote, Lithuania and Russia established special ties, which became an excellent basis for bilateral relations. "Today, our countries successfully cooperate in most fields, helping to create the well-being of Europe as a whole. I sincerely hope that the friendly and neighborly relations between our countries will continue to intensify, and develop constructive political, economic and cultural cooperation between our nations," the president wrote.
The foreign ministers of Lithuania and Latvia have recognized the independence of Montenegro, which was supported by a majority of the small Balkan population in a referendum. The joint statement by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis and his Latvian counterpart, Artis Pabriks, was read during a meeting of the European Union's General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels. "This is a step toward new independence," Valionis told the Baltic News Service. "We, having restored our independence not long ago, fully understand the aim of Montenegro's people. We hope that this declaration of independence will be one more step by the Balkan region toward stability and the alleviation of tension," Valionis said. EU foreign ministers passed a resolution recognizing the declaration of independence issued by Montenegro's parliament on June 3. During the May 21 referendum, over 55 percent of the population voted in favor of independence from the Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
Criminal police detained a Lithuanian citizen who tried to smuggle 50 kilograms of gold jewelry into Belarus on June 9. The jewelry, with a market value of 3.5 million litas (1 million euros), was hidden in the back seat of an Audi A6. Three more suspects 's two Lithuanian citizens and a Turkish citizen 's were detained the same day. A Vilnius court sentenced the suspects to three months' arrest. According to police information, an organized criminal group, led by the Turkish citizen, was established in 2004. The group smuggled gold and silver jewelry and precious stones from Turkey to Russia via Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.
In celebration of his 50th birthday, ex-President Rolandas Paksas took off on a flight around the world on June 11. The former president, along with two more pilots from Russia and Austria, plan to cover about 70,000 kilometers in their single-engine plane, the SM-2000 Phoenix. Paksas, a stunt pilot, held the presidency from the beginning of 2003 to April 2004, when he was impeached for violating the Constitution and oath of office.