Lietuva in brief - 2008-07-30

  • 2008-07-30
Lithuania is undertaking preparations necessary for joining the European Space Agency (ESA). The country's Science and Education Minister Algirdas Monkevicius will mail a letter to the ESA office informing them of the country's determination for membership and actions undertaken in view of joining the agency. Monkevicius said he has already communicated Lithuania's decision to ministers of European countries responsible for space affairs. Prior to full-fledged participation in the ESA, Lithuania will still have to undertake over ten years worth of preparatory work and prove its ability to profit from applying scientific research results in practice and thus retrieving paid membership costs. The annual fee for Lithuania is estimated to reach about 10 million litas (2.9 million euros) by 2019, by when it would be a participating member of the ESA. Monkevicius said that 37 science institutes and 24 industry and business institutions foresee possibilities for partaking in these programs.

Lithuania supports the idea of stricter punishments to employers for hiring illegal migrants, however, does not think the punishments should be equal in all countries of the European Union (EU). Interior Minister Regimantas Ciupaila said that it was impossible to start a common list of punishments for all Europe, because criminal codes vary. EU interior ministers discussed the European Commission's (EC) proposal to determine the minimum rules for the entire Community about sanctions against employers who hire immigrants from outside Europe with proper documents. According to EC, the direction should stipulate criminal sanctions against employers who illegally hire emigrants of third countries. While, the Criminal Code of Lithuania does not provide for a possibility to implement the EC proposal that repeated violation should be treated as a crime. Lithuania also holds a similar stance on the proposal to set a number of mandatory inspections.

President Valdas Adamkus has decided not to go to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The Lithuanian head of state will not take part in the opening of the Olympic Games, however plans to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) during autumn. Adamkus will, however support Lithuanian athletes. As the president decided against going to Beijing, Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas will be the highest-ranking Lithuanian official present at the Olympics. Worldwide prompts for boycotting the Beijing Olympic Games spread following actions taken by the Chinese government to suppress unrest that broke out this spring in Tibet. Lithuania and other members of the European Union (EU) have stated concern over the unrest in Tibet.

Most after-effects from the pollution spill in Klaipeda's seaport have been cleared up. Director General of the Klaipeda Passenger and Cargo Terminal Benediktas Petrauskas said that 90 per cent of the 20-30 liters of moderate pollution in the Curonian lagoon has been cleared up. He noted that a larger spill was evaded because of equipment installed in the terminal. The incident took place in the territory of the Klaipeda Passenger and Cargo Terminal, owned by the Achema Group concern, when the Fjordtank tanker's hosepipe burst in the midst of loading waste oil onto the ship.