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Lithuania

Yearbook 2013

Lithuania. According to Countryaah, the political conflict around the Polish minority continued during the year. The election campaign for Poles threatened to leave the government unless the school law was changed so that Polish-speaking and other minority schools received simpler tests in the Lithuanian language. The party also demanded legalization of bilingual street signs in areas dominated by national minorities, and spelling of non-Lithuanian names in original languages in official documents.

2013 Lithuania

The new Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius ran a more conciliatory line against Poland than his representative, and he apologized for the Lithuanian parliament voting against the legalization of spelling in Polish language in 2010. In Lithuania he received criticism from several directions for the apology, including from the country's president. Former Labor Party leader Viktor Uspaskich was sentenced in July to four years in prison for accounting and tax violations committed by the party. Other party representatives were also sentenced to prison, and the party leader and Vice President Vytautas Gapšys were fined.

The Labor Party's support fell sharply in public opinion, but the party remained in government. The demand for resignation grew against the Vice President, who left his post in October. Then also Parliament's first President resigned in solidarity with his colleague.

The head of the industry association warned that Lithuania had not taken seriously the dramatic reduction in population through emigration. As mainly young people left the country and the shrinking population was aging faster, economists referred to emigration as a national disaster. In a survey, about 56% of young people aged 15-19 stated that they would like to emigrate.

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius received much criticism for not giving the government clear information on whether a new nuclear power plant would replace the closed Ignalina. The country's president felt that Lithuania's indecision seemed pathetic in the outside world, and Latvia and Estonia, which would participate in the project, expressed frustration over the lack of Lithuanian message.

At the turn of the year, Lithuania took over the EU Presidency. It was the first time a former Soviet Union republic led the work of the European Union. Lithuania's goal was for the EU to conclude association and free trade agreements with four other former Soviet republics in November, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. But the Russian Federation acted in the background with economic and political pressure, and both Armenia and Ukraine fell away for the EU.

Lithuania was also subject to Russian pressure because of its agenda with the EU's Eastern Partnership, and probably also its intention to reduce dependence on Russian energy. In September, the Russian Federation suspended some imports of Lithuanian dairy products and introduced extensive checks at the border between Lithuania and Kaliningrad. In October, the Russian Federation stopped all imports of Lithuanian milk products. This meant a major breakdown for Lithuania, as about 85% of dairy exports went to the Russian Federation.

At the same time, Lithuania sought to negotiate with Russian Gazprom on lower gas prices, as the country has so far paid 15-20% more for the Russian gas than among other things. Latvia and Estonia.

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