Relations with Russia
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Moscow was ready to cooperate with Lithuania based “on principles of mutual respect”, reports LRT.lt. During the accreditation ceremony of new foreign ambassadors to Russia, which included Lithuanian Eitvydas Bajarūnas Putin said “our interaction with Lithuania could be more active and multifaceted”.
According to Laurynas Jonavičius, a professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science (TSPMI) at Vilnius University, these words showed one thing – that Putin is implying Lithuania is to blame for the fact that bilateral relations have faltered. The professor added that there were no indications that the situation could change substantially. Marius Laurinavičius, an analyst at Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis said that if Russia really wanted to improve its relations with Lithuania, it would do so in a different way or such statements would be accompanied by a formal invitation to negotiate.
Over the past few decades, Lithuanian-Russian relations have remained tense, due to the Kremlin’s military aggression in Ukraine and Georgia. Russia has also imposed sanctions on Lithuania, including an embargo on dairy and meat products. Strict rhetoric against the Kremlin by Lithuania’s former president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was a symptom of the deteriorating relations between the two countries. She failed to negotiate favourable conditions and gas prices for Lithuania remained high. Later, she admitted that during a meeting, Putin listed his demands for Lithuania, including the closure of the Visaginas nuclear power plant. Bilateral relations further deteriorated after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Her predecessor Valdas Adamkus was also critical of the aggressive Russian policy and said that Lithuanian-Russian relations could not improve for as long as Putin remained in power. During Gitanas Nausėda’s presidency, Lithuanian-Russian relations have not changed. This summer, the president criticized the Kremlin’s efforts to rewrite the history of the Second World War after the Russian parliament considered a bill to revoke the condemnation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre interpreted Putin’s words last week as merely diplomatic and did not imply any greater ambition to establish closer relations with Lithuania.
Statistics Lithuania reports that 2,339 new coronavirus cases and 22 deaths have been recorded in Lithuania over the past 24 hours, the highest 24-hour number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. A total of 56,095 people have tested positive and the country currently has 41,897 active cases, with 13,514 recoveries. Other sources give slightly different numbers, with 61,325 testing positive according to LRT.lt, 46,378 being ill, and 14,211 having recovered.
The coronavirus death toll has reached 471, and 213 infected people have died of other causes.
After Lithuanian towns and cities unveiled their Christmas lights over the weekend, the country’s epidemiologists are saying that the number of new coronavirus infections are likely to spike by the end of the week. This year, Christmas tree lighting ceremonies were moved online due to the pandemic. However, groups of people did gather around the Christmas lights over the weekend. People are allowed to gather in groups of no larger than five, more only if they are from the same household.
Acting Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga announced that the danger of infection from minks carrying the coronavirus is not yet established as international organizations have made no recommendations to take any additional safety measures at this stage yet. The Lithuanian veterinary service and the National Public Health Center are conducting tests. On November 26, minks were found to have the coronavirus at a mink farm in Lithuania’s Jonava District. The virus was detected after samples of dead animals were tested. Minks in Lithuania underwent preventive tests after coronavirus outbreaks were recorded on mink farms in Denmark initially, and later in Spain, Italy, the US, the Netherlands, Sweden and Greece. Lithuanian mink breeders are required to provide information on dead animals every week. 86 farms in Lithuania currently have over 1.6 million minks, according to figures from the State Food and Veterinary Service.
EU Budget Stalled
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda noted that failure to find a compromise on the EU’s budget, which has vetoed by Poland and Hungary for linking access to funding to respect for the rule of law, would hurt all countries. He said that this has been discussed at the European Council, and Poland shows a willingness to seek solutions. Polish President Andrzej Duda clearly expressed this position during his recent visit to Lithuania, according to Nauseda. Poland and Hungary, criticized by Brussels for veering away from democratic values, last week vetoed the bloc’s 1.8 trillion-euro budget for 2021-2027 and coronavirus recovery package.
With news from LRT.lt, alkas.lt