Lithuania: corporate spying a threat to national security

  • 2008-08-27
  • By staff and wire reports
VILNIUS - The Lithuanian Ministry of Economy has released a national economic security improvement program that names corporate espionage as one of the leading threats to the nation.
The Ministry of Economy said that the state does not commit enough resources to ensuring the security of strategically important companies.

"This threat arises from insufficient physical and informational protection of economic sectors of strategic importance to national security," the Ministry of Economy said in its program proposal.
The program also said that strategically important companies were threatened by "the contentious activity of foreign special services, influence of business groups not in conformance with state interests, incompetent management of such companies and economic policy of other countries."
The program, which is aimed at minimizing the impact of economic threats, claimed that undue influence from foreign companies on the economy could lead to a financial crisis. It even went so far as to list some of the possible consequences of such a crisis 's listing among them the devaluation of the lita. 

"The impact of a financial crisis to the insurance market would be rather significant 's devaluation of the currency, surging inflation, rising interest rates, an economic recession, a crisis in the stock market," the document said.
The lita has been pegged to the euro since the country joined ERM II in 2004. According to the Maastricht criteria, Lithuania would have to keep a tight peg to the euro for at least two years in order to join the Eurozone.

In addition to postponing entrance into the Eurozone, a devaluation of the lita would have a disastrous effect on direct foreign investment as investors would quickly lose confidence in the country's economic stability.
The report was being presented to the government for approval as The Baltic Times went to press Aug. 27.

The program mentioned two specific economic threats centered on two different economic areas.
The first is in the realm of energy. Lithuania is heavily dependent on Russia to satisfy its energy needs, and following the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, pegged for 2009, that dependence is expected to deepen even further.
Almost all of Lithuania's imported energy comes from Russia. Lithuania imports 100 percent of its natural gas, 99.3 percent of its coal, 90 percent of its oil and 100 percent of its nuclear materials from Russia.
The program said that unnamed eastern state energy monopolies have been trying to increase their influence in the Lithuanian market by taking control of key companies.

The second threatened area mentioned in the program was the banking sector. The document said that the sector was almost completely controlled by Scandinavian interests and that the entire industry was becoming "unstable."
"Investors from Scandinavia constitute 68.7 percent of the market via secondary banks, therefore problems arising in the market of Northern countries could influence the stability of the activity of Lithuanian banks," the program said.

At the moment its still just fears and speculation that this scenario could become a possibility. In a radio interview in May, Prime Minister Gedeminas Kirkilas proclaimed that Lithuania is not experiencing any economic crisis.
He said that opposition politicians who are talking about an economic crisis must be experiencing "a crisis in their heads."
"Our economy is currently growing at a rather fast rate. Inflation is a problem not only for Lithuania and the European Union, it is a global problem."

According to PM Kirkilas: "There will be no economic recession in Lithuania. Our industry and our businesses operate really efficiently. There are certain challenges, but I would not call that a crisis. The opposition always sees a crisis. Most probably, there is a crisis in their heads."