Lietuva in brief - 2008-09-24

  • 2008-09-24
Lithuania will join eight other countries in training for the event of massive power cuts in a program developed by the EU. The training will simulate power outage for 80 percent of Lithuanian electricity users, disrupt all companies and institutions like banks, hospitals, shopping centers, heating networks, gas pipelines, communications, water supplies, pump stations, factories, transport companies, gas stations and traffic control systems for almost three days, the Lithuanian Fire and Rescue Department said. The key goal of the exercise is to verify the EU's ability to respond to large-scale extreme situations and crises that simultaneously affect more than a few countries. The exercise will be held simultaneously in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Lithuania is ranked 58 from 180 countries and scored 4.6 out of 10 in the 2008 Corruption Perception Index, calculated annually by Transparency International. Lithuanian prime minister Gediminas Kirkilas said Lithuania's CPI ranking, published Tuesday, proves the need for further counter-corruption efforts, adding that the organization's Lithuanian bureau had always been "hostile" to the Kirkilas administration. Unlike the opinion expressed by the Lithuanian bureau's director, Rytis Juozapavicius, Kirkilas listed the national investor into the new nuclear power plant Leo LT as "the most transparent project." Lithuania and Poland share 3rd place from the end on the list of countries of the European Union and the rest of Western Europe. Bulgaria and Romania take the two last spots.

The executive director of Lithuania's Jewish community, Simonas Gurevicius, said he's happy that speculations on the Jewish cemetery are being replaced by the decision to enshrine the remains, but he said the boundaries of the cemetery needed to be determined before any specific actions could be taken. Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas presented proposals to the government, saying the territory of the former Snipiskes Jewish cemetery in Vilnius should be tidied up, in order to honor the memory of those buried there. He also said the boundaries need clarification.

This week the Seimas approved discussions of an amendment that would state that a person removed from presidency via impeachment could not carry the title of president. Rolandas Paksas, the leader of the Order and Justice party, is the only president who has been ousted from the leading state position in Lithuania by impeachment. Should Parliament approve the changes to the law, Paksas would no longer hold the title of president. Saulius Peceliunas of the opposition Conservatives proposed the amendment.

Gen. Julio Rodriguez of Spain came to Lithuania to discuss the NATO mission in Afghanistan and armed forces' transition to a volunteer army with Defense Minister Juozas Olekas and Lt. Gen. Valdas Tutkus. They discussed Spain's experience in switching to a professional army and about the main challenges brought by the reform. Rodriguez also visited a Lithuanian air force base, where Spanish aviators guarded the Baltic skies in 2006.