Prime minister resigns
Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas announced his resignation 21 June following a deep crisis in the coalition of Social Liberals and his own Liberal party. His decision was motivated by the wish to form a stable government and stable majority in the parliament since after him new coalition negotiations have to start. Paksas' move followed a meeting between the partner parties in which Arturas Paulauskas, Social Liberal and Seimas chairman, explicitly demanded that Paksas leave the job. Paulaskas said the Prime Minister had not kept his commitments and pointed to the large differences between the two parties' programmes.
The fate of the ruling coalition is unclear. Liberals and their leader, Paksas, said they would try to preserve the present arrangement and started new negotiations with Social Liberals. The conditions demanded by the Liberals—that the government programme remain unchanged, that Paulauskas resign and that there be no talks with other parties—have already been widely disputed by the Social Liberals. In the meantime, they said they would negotiate with all Seimas parties about forming a new government. This primarily opens the way for the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, to come to the power.
Market Minister Eugenijus Gentvilas was appointed to lead the interim cabinet. Reports say he is the most likely Liberal candidate for the new cabinet in the case that Liberals and Social Liberals strike a new coalition deal. The Conservative leader, Andrius Kubilius, put his finger in the fight, saying that Conservatives would support Gentvilas in the possibility of a leftist government.
Paksas mentioned the possibility that he might stand as a presidential candidate in the coming elections.
The government crisis meant that an important decision about the contract between Mazeikiu Nafta and the Russian oil consortium Jukos concerning the delivery of oil from other than monopolist Lukoil sources in Russia has been postponed. The privatisation of Lithuanian Gas also is left open.
Second operation for President
President Valdas Adamkus, 74, has undergone a second operation this month. He is recovering from an appendectomy, and two weeks ago, Adamkus had eye surgery. He is expected to remain in hospital for a few days.
Aid for farmers in doubt
Although the Seimas ratified the contract with the European Commission on a special programme for agriculture (SAPARD), it is unclear when the first aid will reach the country. According to the programme, Lithuania should receive LTL (Lithuanian litas) 105 million (USD 26.3 million) annually in the years 2000 to 2006. But whether the money reaches its recipients depends on whether the national payment agency will be accredited by the European Commission. The Finance Ministry plans to send the official accreditation request in July, but it can take up to a year for the Commission to reach a decision.
Air show to commemorate pilot
Three planes from the British Royal Air Force (RAF) have made a big show over the skies of Vilnius to commemorate Lithuanian Romualdas Marcinkus, former RAF member. Marcinkus, who fought against the Nazis in the Second World War, was taken into a prison and concentration camp and killed later for trying to escape.
Former PM entitled to his money
A Vilnius district court ruled that former Prime Minister Adolfas Šlezevicius is entitled to recover his LTL 135,000 (USD 33,750) from a now bankrupt Lithuanian bank. Šlezevicius had to resign from his post in 1996 because of the scandal directly related to this money. Days before the bank went bankrupt, he authorised his aide to take half of the money from his account. The aide, however, took the whole sum. A scandal erupted when the story was made public after the bank's collapse.
Šustauskas causes another scandal
Police will look into the statements made on TV by radical right-winger MP Vytautas Šustauskas when he claimed he could put the country in order by shooting off an automatic gun in the Seimas. According to Šustauskas, the Armenian Parliament started working more efficiently after a shooting in 1999. Šustauskas said he had enough guns to take a hold in the Seimas.
Agreement with IMF approved
In a special meeting this week, the cabinet has approved an agreement with the IMF on economic policy effective from July until the end of 2002. By ratifying the agreement, the country will secure the financial aid needed to prepare for EU membership. It would also allow the ability to borrow about 86 million special drawing rights or LTL 440 million (USD 110 million) on favourable terms, if needed.
The agreement envisages Lithuania will keep the currency board, a small fiscal deficit and low inflation, as well as try to strengthen financial discipline in its local governments. The government pledged to advance pension reform and privatise the energy sector. The government also promised to tie the lita, now tied to the dollar, to the euro in the beginning of 2002.
And in other news...
- Lithuanians marked Joninés, the longest night and shortest day, and the biggest celebration of the summer. On 23 June , International Olympic Day will be celebrated in Vilnius' Vingius' park.
- A suspect was taken into custody in the serial murder cases that shook the country. Five young women have disappeared over a year while hitchhiking on the Vilnius-Klaipéda motorway.
- Effective in July, gas company Lietuvos Dujos will buy natural gas for LTL 12 cheaper per 1000 cubic metres.
- A huge children's festival took place in Klaipéda where about 6000 kids participated in a chorus competition, "We Are The Children of Lithuania."
- A string concert in Vilnius has drawn the biggest crowds the capital has ever seen. when around 20,000 people came to see a British singer.
- An international women's forum in Vilnius examined the growing female sex trade across Europe.
Inga Pavlovaitė, 22 June 2001
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