Lietuva in brief - 2008-05-22

  • 2008-05-22
Ten explosives have been neutralized and two sunken ships marked on sea maps as part of a mine-clearing operation carried out in Lithuania's waters and exceptional economic zone. According to the Ministry of Defense, two torpedoes, six mines, one missile and one depth-bomb have been discovered and destroyed in the 420 square meter area explored by the operation. The operation, which is represented by nine states, included 13 warships and two diving teams. MCOPLIT-2008, the international mine-clearing operation began at the end of April and finished last Friday. A total of 85,000 mines were dropped into the Baltic Sea from WWI and WWII. To date 130 explosives have been found and neutralized in Lithuanian waters.

Parliament Speaker Ceslovas Jurenas has been handed a petition with approximately 20,000 signatures, urging the parliament to accelerate a solution to the dual citizenship matter and to implement the necessary amendments. A resolution adopted by the joint commission of the parliament and the World Lithuanian Community suggested that the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Law will not give the results that are being sought. Attempts to alter the law have been greeted with a sea of indignation from the 40,000 Lithuanians currently living abroad. One of the amendments suggests that dual citizenship will not be granted to Lithuanians who live in the United States, Canada, Norway or other non-members of the EU. A decision in 2006 by the Constitutional Court also found dual citizenship to be allowed only in extreme exceptions.

Over 100 observers from Lithuania head to Georgia this week to follow the country's parliamentary elections on May 21. Nearly 20 parliamentarians will accompany the delegation, organized by Vilnius-based Eastern European Studies. The aim of the delegation is to evaluate Georgia's readiness for parliamentary elections and also the procedure adhered to on ballot day. They will also observe the counting of votes at the polling stations in Tbilisi and others cities. A similar group traveled to Georgia last January to observe the country's presidential elections which were deemed to be democratic.

A conservative Member of Parliament, Kazys Starkevicius, has asked the country's Competition Council to investigate the profit margins dairy producers and large retail chain stores earn. Agricultural Minister Kazimira Prunskiene could give no answer to the Homeland Union party as to why milk purchase prices are falling when global dairy product prices are on the rise. Despite a decline in milk purchase prices, milk product prices have remained high with some increasing again in May. Starkevicius points out that this is not only bad for farmers but bad for the consumer. Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has directed the Agricultural Minister and the Company Council to analyze the situation and to take appropriate measures to stabilize it.