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Lithuanian report
by Euro Reporter
2013-08-24 10:13:10
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Lithuania’s FM offers to recall ambassadors to Azerbaijan and Hungary

The Foreign Relations Committee of the Lithuanian Seimas discussed the scandal over ambassadors Renatas Juška and Artūras Žurauskas. The proposals of Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius regarding the scandal over the uploading of phone conversations of Lithuanian ambassadors to Hungary and Azerbaijan to Renatas Juška and Artūras Žurauskas have today been heard at the Foreign Relations Committee of the Seimas.

Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Benediktas Juodka told APA that minister Linkevičius offered to officially recall the ambassadors: “But we have not discussed this issue yet, the results will be considered at the next meeting of the Committee. Following the Committee’s decision, the issue will be considered by the government. Later, the president must issue a relevant order. But the authorities doubt the activities of those ambassadors; we can not be indifferent to this issue. The Committee will solve the issue through voting, final decision will be passed by the government and president.”

Asked about the possibility of deprival of the diplomatic status, Juodka said that such a proposal was not put forward: “The minister only offered to recall them and it doesn’t mean that they will be excluded from the diplomatic service.”


Lithuania vows to earn trust of post-Soviet states as EU president

It's a small Baltic country with a population of only 3 million. But when Lithuania took the reigns for its six-month presidency of the European Union in July, it came to the job with ambitions to punch far above its weight in Brussels. At the top of its agenda are energy security and improved economic ties with the "eastern partners," former Soviet states looking to strike a balance between their growing partnerships with the EU and their longstanding relationships with Russia. As the first former Soviet republic to hold the EU presidency, Lithuania is especially well suited to deal with the EU's relationship to these eastern European nations. And Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite is seen as a formidable politician with the right background to earn widespread respect in Brussels. 

“She’s a strong leader, a bit of an iron lady,” says Andres Kasekamp, a professor of Baltic politics at the University of Tartu in Estonia.  “Grybauskaite was an EU budget commissioner for five years, so she’s very familiar with how Brussels works. She speaks her mind and is very popular in Lithuania.” Ms. Grybauskaite's leadership will be put to the test in November, when former Soviet states gather for a summit in Vilnius – the most high stakes event of Lithuania's EU presidency. The goal is the signing of a broad-ranging free trade area agreement with Ukraine and the initialling of this agreement with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius stated recently in Brussels that the summit is a potentially momentous milestone. “These agreements do have a huge transformative potential. They will bring concrete results for the people, but also will serve as the instruments to reform, to modernize, and to get as close to the EU as partner countries wish themselves," he said.

However, there is one major stumbling block to the signing of the agreement: Russia has recently launched a drive of its own to expand a customs union of post-Soviet states, which currently counts Belarus and Kazakhstan as its only members.  A Ukrainian agreement with the EU is incompatible with membership in the Russian-sponsored customs union, which Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has expressed tepid interest in joining. “Ukraine enjoys its role of playing off both sides,” says Professor Kasekamp. “But the benefits of an EU agreement are vastly greater. Still, Ukraine may opt not to make a choice. The status quo suits them. I give the summit no greater than a 50-50 chance of success.” Another stumbling block is the prosecution and conviction of former Ukrainian President Yulia Tymoshenko on corruption charges, which is widely viewed as selective and politically motivated in the West. Ukraine’s lack of commitment to the rule of law is a problem, especially for “old Europe” states like France, Germany, and the Netherlands, which wish to see action on human rights issues before the EU makes closer ties. Grybauskaite, on the other hand, takes a pragmatic view, calling for these concerns to be put aside for a greater good. “For the new eastern states in the EU, this is in a sense their doorstep," Kasekamp says of the former Soviet states. "These countries believe strongly that greater cooperation and economic integration suits their interests and are a buffer to harmful influences.... But old Europe is more ambivalent. They see the costs. To them it’s a risk and an expense.”


Lithuania's citizens to have more opportunities to get medical treatment abroad

On Wednesday, the Government agreed with the proposal to relocate the European Union directives' provisions which were to increase the opportunities for people to get medical treatment in the European Union and in the European Economic Area (EEA).

At the same time, the citizens of foreign countries were to get the medical treatment in our country.

Such changes should come into force on October 25. As soon as they are effective, Lithuania's citizens could get the medical treatment in the European Union and in the European Economic Area (EEA) and all the expenses will be compensated by the Mandatory Health Insurance Fund.



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