Lietuva in brief - 2007-04-04

  • 2007-04-04
Viktoras Muntianas, the speaker of the parliament, is now facing his second no confidence vote in less than a year. The opposition faction of the Liberal Movement announced on April 2 that it had collected 30 lawmakers' signatures, one more than the 29 needed to start the procedure. Members of the faction started collecting signatures following the March 29 meeting of Parliament, during which MPs could not agree on the meeting's agenda and Parliament's leadership was forced to call for an extraordinary meeting as the speech of visiting EU president Jose Manuel Barroso was scheduled for the same day. To remove the speaker of the parliament, at least 71 of 141-member parliament would have to support the initiative.

France took over NATO patrols of the air space of the three Baltic countries on March 30, replacing the Belgian military. Four French Mirage 2000 fighters will patrol the air space of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from the Zokniai air base in the north of Lithuania.  Older NATO members have taken turns patrolling Baltic air space since March 2004, when the three countries joined the military alliance. As part of the air patrols, 120 French servicemen 's more than double the 52 Belgian soldiers who had patrolled the Baltic skies since December 's will be stationed at Zokniai for four months. In August, the French will hand over the patrols to the Romanian air force.

Two Lithuanian officers will take part in the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia, UNOMIG, which is to watch the situation on Georgia's border with the separation-minded region of Abkhazia. It is the first time Lithuanian troops will take part in the UN mission, the Defense Ministry said. UNOMIG was established in 1993 to observe the truce between Georgia and Abkhazia, a region indirectly supported by Russia in its aim to break away from the Caucasian country. Lithuanian officials publicly support Georgia's territorial integrity. Nine officers participated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's mission to watch the Russian-Georgian border in 2001 - 2005. One officer currently serves in an OSCE program to assist in training Georgian border guards.

The government is set to offer the European Commission to continue using daylight-saving time. The government in its April 2 statement said that the decision was made based on a survey conducted with business structures, state institutions, education institutions, companies and a poll of the population. The results of the survey showed that the current daylight-saving time system has no negative impact on economic sectors. The EU directive regulating daylight-saving time was passed in 2000 and aims at having the same daylight-saving time practice in all the member countries. Before the adoption of the directive member countries set different rules for summer time.