Lietuva in brief - 2008-08-20

  • 2008-08-20
The Foreign Ministry has reiterated its travel warning that instructs Lithuanian citizens to avoid Georgia. Lithuanian citizens in Georgia are being asked to register with the Lithuanian embassy so they can be contacted if necessary. Currently, Lithuania's embassy in Tbilisi is not organizing departures of Lithuanian citizens from Georgia. Every Lithuanian citizen wishing to leave Georgia is urged to take advantage of the resumed flights from Tbilisi. A state of war was declared in Georgia on Aug. 9 and although Russia says it is ending military operations in Georgia, its troops are still deployed in several Georgian towns and are controlling part of the country's territory.

FlyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines have resumed flights to the Georgian capital Tbilisi. FlyLAL communications director Gintare Rimkuviene confirmed that the company's airplane flew from Vilnius to Tbilisi on Monday evening and took off from the Georgian capital to Lithuania on Tuesday morning. "The decision to resume our regular flights to Tbilisi were made after our specialists went to the Georgian capital and carried out a series of tests at the Tbilisi airport. The representatives of our airline assessed the security level and the security instruments applied," flyLAL CEO Vytautas Kaikaris said in a press release.

The European Commission's truck titled "For Diversity. Against Discrimination," which promotes gay equality, arrived in Vilnius on Wednesday, but it was not allowed to park in the heart of the city, as the organizers had planned. Mayor of Vilnius Juozas Imbrasas said in July that Lithuania was a Catholic country and therefore a "public gay" event was not pleasant for Lithuanians. In the words of the Vilnius mayor, who is known for his anti-homosexual statements, as long as he's mayor, "there will not be advertising for sexual minorities." Having been denied a permit from the municipality to hold the event at the City Hall Plaza, the organizers opted for a private parking lot of a mall. The truck "For Diversity. Against Discrimination" spreads information on the benefits of diversity.

Lithuanian MPs have asked the Constitutional Court to investigate whether the presence of foreign troops including NATO troops, in Lithuania is a violation of the Constitution. Thirty five MPs have asked to probe whether the 2002 law on international operations, military exercises and other events does not contradict the country's Organic Law. The members of parliament say that the constitution's chapter on foreign policy and national defense is opposed by the provision of the Organic Law that stipulates that military units from other countries, including Lithuania's allies in the North Atlantic Alliance can come to and be deployed on the territory of Lithuania for the purposes of joint defense operations.

Lithuanian and Latvian patrol ships started their Stormex 2008 exercise on the Baltic Sea on Aug. 19. During the four-day bilateral exercise of Lithuanian and Latvian naval patrol ships, crews of ships of both countries improved their naval skills of maneuvering, pursuit and detention, evacuation, combat firing, search and rescue and other actions under NATO procedures. The Lithuanian participants at the maneuvers included Storm-class vessels Selis and Skalvis, as well as the Aukstaitis frigate, while Latvia was represented by Lode and Linga, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said. The Stormex exercise has been held since 2002.