Government seeing double on booze

  • 2007-11-15
  • By Mike Collier

VILNIUS -- Lithuania's strange relationship with the bottle has resurfaced again withcalls from MPs to simultaneously ban alcohol from parliament and ensure thatthe wine keeps flowing at official diplomatic functions.

Member ofParliament Antanas Matulas has asked the parliamentaryboard to ban sales of strong liquor at the Seimas from Dec. 1.

Matulas, Conservative chairman of the parliamentary HealthAffairs Committee, suggested that the restaurant and the cafe in the parliamentbuilding should only sell beer and unfortified wines.

Matulas had originally tried to get all members of theparliamentary Health Affairs Committee to sign his suggestion, but he failed toattract a single co-signatory.

Then on Nov. 14 the government approved aForeign Ministry proposal to inventorise the stocks of alcoholic beverages heldby diplomatic agencies, to ensure that the booze doesn't stop flowing atofficial events and cause a nasty diplomatic incident.

Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas said that following Lithuania's accession to NATOand the European Union, the number of official receptions hosted for foreignofficials and delegations has increased considerably.

The minister warned that failing to provide the"customary glass of wine" could have negative consequences on Lithuanian foreign policy.

On Sep. 1, Lithuania introduced a one-day ban on alcohol sales throughout the country to mark thereturn to school. It was widely flouted and adjudged to be a complete failure.