Lietuva in brief - 2006-11-22

  • 2006-11-22
Lithuania backed Poland in its row with Moscow, which is currently stalling talks between the EU and Russia. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitekunas, in a telephone conversation with his Polish counterpart Anna Fotyga, "expressed his solidarity with Poland," according to a ministry statement. Fotyga told Vaitekunas she expected other EU members to follow this position. "The ministers agreed that unity is needed within the EU, as any EU member state could find itself in a situation similar to Poland," the statement read.

The government does not support plans to almost double the EU visa price, Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas told Ziniu Radijas radio. "We believe that there is no need to build new walls after EU enlargement. We should enhance cooperation between the EU and so-called new neighbors instead," he said. EU interior ministers had already agreed to raise the price of EU visas from 35 to 60 euros as of Jan. 1, 2007. Lithuania is particularly interested in a lower EU visa price, as travelers from Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad exclave make up a considerable share of all tourism.

Police are to replace their old Soviet-made Makarov handguns with new Austrian Glock 17 and Glock 19 pistols. Chief of Police Vytautas Grigaravicius said the new guns would first be distributed to policemen in rural areas, followed by city police. The Makarov pistols, used by Lithuanian police for some 50 years now, will be given to the nation's Weaponry Fund. The new Austrian guns will replace about one-fourth of the Makarovs, said Grigaravicius, refusing to reveal the total quantity and the price of the purchase.

The town of Taurage, located in western Lithuania, is hoping to welcome Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, whose parents and grandparents lived in the city before World War II, this summer. Taurage will celebrate its 500-year anniversary in June 2007, and the city has invited a number of famous residents, including Abramovich, to attend. The billionaire's representatives have already visited Taurage, yet it remains to be clear whether the oligarch will come himself. Abramovich is considered the richest person in Central and Eastern Europe.