Parliament ratified the United Nations convention against corruption on Dec. 5. The document was signed by Lithuanian officials in Mexico three years ago. Under the convention, Lithuania commits itself to extradition cooperation with other signatories. However, the Baltic state will not consider the document as legal grounds for the extradition of citizens, as provided by the Constitution. In addition to Lithuania, the convention has been signed by 140 countries and ratified by 40. The convention went into force in December 2005.
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski will visit Lithuania this week to meet with his Baltic counterparts and sign an agreement on building a power bridge between Lithuania and Poland. Kaczynski's spokeswoman, Nemira Pumprickaite, said that the PM would attend a meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers in Vilnius on Dec.8. Later in the day, Kaczynski will meet with Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, followed by the official signing.
A Kaunas court issued a caution to two females for violating the law on public gatherings by protesting animal rights during Queen Elizabeth II's recent visit. The two residents of Kaunas, ages 16 and 21, as well as members of the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, were detained in Vilnius in mid-October. Dressed in a bear costume, the 16-year-old urged the British monarch to stop manufacturing Welsh Guard caps from Canadian bearskins. The law on public gatherings prohibits protestors from concealing their faces, so the females were detained.
Energy security is a key part of national security, Kirkilas said at an international conference in Vilnius on Dec. 5. He applauded the increasing attention given to energy supplies and security, not only by Lithuania's neighbors but also the European community, which aims to develop an inner energy market and develop a common external energy policy for the European Union. In the prime minister's words, Lithuania supports EU attempts to speak in one voice with energy suppliers.
Nordic and Baltic parliamentary committee leaders in charge of foreign affairs met in Vilnius last week to discuss the European Neighborhood Policy, democratic processes in the EU's Eastern neighbor countries and the Baltic Sea region's energy strategy. The parliamentary chairmen also signed a joint communique on the Nordic European gas pipeline, set to run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, and discussed the complex truck-line situation on the Lithuanian-Latvian border. The Nordic-Baltic meeting is a traditional session held twice a year.
French customs officers detained a crew of Lithuanian sailors with six tons of hashish - valued at an estimated 60 - 200 million litas (17.4 million euros) on the black market - in the port of Boulogne. The Lietuvos Rytas daily said this was the largest shipment of drugs smuggled abroad by Lithuanians in seven years. The current record belongs to sailors on the Lithuanian ship Kvedarna, which was apprehended by Danish customs officers with 12 tons of hashish in 1999.