Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has welcomed the U.S. visa waiver program, saying that the move confirms Lithuania as a reliable and responsible partner. "The introduction of a visa-free regime will further strengthen transatlantic ties and strategic partnership and promote cultural and business contacts between our two countries and their people," Adamkus said. "Yet another artificial division that separated the citizens of Old Europe from the citizens of New Europe [has disappeared]." Adamkus thanked his counterpart, George Bush for his personal effort to make the agreement possible. He added that "this is really pleasing news to all the people of Lithuania. Many of our fellow country people living on both sides of the Atlantic have been long waiting for the possibility to meet unrestrictedly with their family members and friends. Liberalized and simpler travel to the United States has been our goal and expectation that we have been seeking for a long time," said Adamkus. The White House announced on Oct. 17 Lithuania would soon have visa free travel privileges.
The government's negotiator Aleksandras Abisala said the probability of the EU allowing an extension of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is now hanging by a thread. "As Abisala has already said, the extension issue is now hanging by a thread. It has decreased because the statement by [European Commission's President Jose Manuel] Barroso was rather tough," Seimas chairman Justinas Karosas, said . He said postponement of the Ignalina closure is too dangerous for the EU "due to the start of renaissance of nuclear power facilities in the EU." "Our reactor is old-fashioned. If something happened, it would discredit the idea of nuclear power plants in the eyes of the EU, which would be devastating." He said last week's meeting of the European Council saw positive steps. The Panevezys Territorial Customs' Mobile Team busted 1,148 boxes of cigarettes worth about 2.3 million litas (67,000 euros) that were hidden in a truck carrying 20,630 kilograms of wood pellets from the Russian Federation to Lithuania. It is the biggest cigarette bust in Lithuania this year. Customs officers were suspicious about the nervous conduct of the Lithuanian driver and messy customs documentation and decided to examine the cargo.