In the News

Ambassdor Eitvydas Bajarūnas

Diplomats recalled

The Russian Foreign Ministry has expelled two diplomats from the Lithuanian embassy in Moscow, as well as one employee each from the embassies of Latvia and Estonia. According to the ministry, the expulsions are “based on the principle of reciprocity” after the Baltic countries expelled several Russian diplomats last week.

Last Friday, April 23, Lithuania sent away two staff members of the Russian Embassy in Vilnius. According to Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, they were intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover. Latvia and Estonia expelled one Russian diplomat each. The move was a show of solidarity with the Czech Republic which has accused Russian military intelligence agency GRU of involvement in the deadly 2014 explosion at an arms depot.

Lithuanian Ambassador Eitvydas Bajarūnas, who was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, was handed a diplomatic note on the expulsion of two staff members of the Lithuanian representation, a diplomat and a state official, Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry said. “The ambassador was informed that this decision by the Russian Federation comes in response to Vilnius’ recent actions when it expelled two staff members from the Russian Embassy in Vilnius last Friday, declaring them personae non gratae for their activity incompatible with the diplomatic status and ordering them to leave Lithuanian within seven days,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry pointed out that the expelled Lithuanian Embassy staff members had never been involved in any activity incompatible with diplomatic duties.

“The ministry also hopes that Russia will change its aggressive foreign policy course, stop blaming other states for the escalation of the situation and will finally hear the signals sent by Western countries,” the statement reads.

As diplomatic tensions with Western countries continue, Moscow issued a list of countries unfriendly to Russia and it includes nine countries, including the United States, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. Lithuania has not yet received official information on its inclusion in this list, according to the Ministry.

                                                                                                                                                       With news from and EU Observer

The Gender Gap

Lithuania is the only country from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia to feature in the top 10 positions of the Global Gender Gap Index, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The index benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps among four key dimensions (economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment) and tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks 156 countries, providing a tool for cross-country comparison and to prioritize the most effective policies needed to close gender gaps.

The methodology of the index has remained stable since its original conception in 2006, providing a basis for robust cross-country and time-series analysis. The index measures scores on a zero to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance to parity (the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed).

In general, this year’s report finds that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed back gender parity by a global average of 36 years, meaning that another generation of women will have to wait for gender parity. At the current relative pace, in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, gender gaps can potentially be closed in 134.7 years, compared to 52.1 years in Western Europe.

However, some countries outperform the region’s poor average. The region’s best performer, Lithuania, has made significant improvements over last year, with the Baltic country jumping 25 spots on the index to join the ranks of those countries that have closed at least 80 per cent of the gender gap. Serbia also scores well this year, climbing 20 places to 19th position in the world, and second in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Broken down across the four indicators, the region performed best in the educational attainment sub-index, with the gender gap now almost closed at 96.6%. Similarly strong performance can be found in the health and survival sub-index, at 97.7%, making the region the best performing in this category in the world.

Economic participation fares much worse, with a regional average 73.5%. This is still, however, the second highest score in the world, after North America. Belarus is the region’s best performer in this category (84% parity) while Azerbaijan scores worst (57%).

Where the region falters significantly is in the political empowerment dimension, both overall, and in terms of differences between individual countries. The relatively high overall results for the region mask significant disparities in the number of women in politics.

Serbia, Albania, Lithuania, Latvia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina have closed at least 30% of this particular gap, but Azerbaijan has only 6.9%. In half of the countries in the region, at least 20 percent of ministerial positions are held by women – the highest proportion is in Albania with 56.3%, the lowest in Azerbaijan and Armenia where there are no women ministers.

In parliament, women hold at least 20% of seats in 21 out of the 26 countries of the region featured in the index (Kosovo and Turkmenistan were not included), the highest share being in Belarus (40%) and the lowest in Hungary (12.6%).

Prevention of Violence Against Women

May 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). On this occasion, the Violence Against Women Division is launching a dedicated website to share innovative content, up-to-date information and new publications on the contribution the Istanbul Convention is making in advancing the right of women and girls to live free from violence.

Among the new material is the release of a short documentary on the Istanbul Convention, featuring interviews with professionals working in the area of violence against women and showcasing its added value of the Istanbul Convention. It will also give space to the voices of civil society, advocates, professionals and intergovernmental organisations in a “quote-of-the-day” section, also featured on Twitter.

Information on the key event taking place on the day of the anniversary, 11 May 2021, is already available. This virtual conference can be followed live without registration. For more on the Istanbul Convention, see

With news from Emerging Europe and