Lithuania. During the year, Lithuania was given a clearance for membership in both NATO and the EU. At the NATO Summit in Prague in November, all three Baltic States were invited as new members of the military alliance from 2004. After the Prague Summit, US President George W. Bush visited Lithuania and declared to an enthusiastic crowd in Vilnius that Lithuania to the enemy will also get the United States as the enemy.
In the final negotiations with the EU, the Ignalina nuclear power plant was a difficult matter of dispute. According to Countryaah website, national day of Lithuania is every February 16. Lgnalina’s two reactors are of the same type as the accident-hit reactor in Chernobyl and the EU stipulated as a condition for membership that Lithuania would close the last reactor by 2009. Previously, Lithuania had agreed to take the first reactor out of operation until 2005. In June Lithuania agreed to the EU’s requirements, while the EU promised to contribute “adequate” funding to the settlement process. Ignalina produces about three quarters of Lithuania’s electricity.
At the EU summit in Copenhagen in December, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and seven other countries were accepted as new members of the Union as of 2004. But first, EU membership must be approved in a referendum, which for L’s part will be held in 2003.
During the year, tough negotiations were held between the EU and Russia on the Russian requirement for visa-free travel through Lithuania to the Russian Kaliningrad area, when Lithuania becomes an EU member. In October, a compromise was reached to introduce a lighter form of transit document in 2003. The conflicting privatization of the Mažeikiu Nafta oil refinery took a new turn during the year. In a controversial deal, the Russian oil company became Yuko’s majority owner in Mažeikiu, which is L’s largest company and accounts for about a tenth of the country’s GDP.
Ahead of the December presidential election, Valdas Adamkus was running for re-election, while his strongest political rival, Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, abstained. Assessors felt that it was good for the country’s stability, especially ahead of NATO and EU entry, if the two continued in their respective offices. The election then became a deal mainly between Adamkus and former Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas. Adamkus received just over 35% of the vote, compared to just over 19% for Paksas. They both went on to a decisive election round in January 2003.
The right is the final winner in the parliamentary elections
The right-wing party Fosterlandsförbundet also wins the second round of parliamentary elections and gets a total of 50 seats in parliament. The alliance of Lithuanian farmers and greens, which has ruled Lithuania since 2016, comes second and occupies 32 seats. The Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Movement receive 13 seats each, closely followed by the new Liberal Freedom Party, which wins 11 seats. The day after the election, Fosterlandsförbundet’s Prime Ministerial candidate Ingrida Šimonytė begins negotiations on government cooperation with the Liberal movement and the Freedom Party, both of which are led by women. Šimonytė was finance minister during the financial crisis in 2009 and has received widespread criticism for the harsh austerity measures that were introduced, but her supporters claim that it was thanks to her that the negative development reversed.
Moderate economic decline is forecast
Lithuania’s economy appears to have managed the effects of the pandemic relatively mildly so far. During the second quarter of 2020, the economy shrank by 4 percent, which was the second lowest figure in the EU, writes the news agency Reuters. According to the central bank’s forecasts, the economy will shrink by two percent during the year, which is a much more optimistic forecast than the one issued by the bank in June when the decline was forecast to be almost 10 percent. According to the central bank, the fact that the decline will not be greater is partly due to the fact that Lithuania applied a short but effective shutdown of society in combination with generous state support for those affected by the crisis. However, the debt burden has increased as the state has borrowed billions to be able to implement the support measures. The Ministry of Finance announces that central government debt is expected to land at the equivalent of 48 percent of GDPin the end of the year. Before the pandemic broke out, the government calculated a debt equivalent to 35 percent of GDP.
EU funds for Belarus are blocked
Lithuania announces that it is temporarily freezing payments to Belarus from an EU program aimed at developing the border regions between Belarus and EU members Lithuania and Latvia. According to Lithuania, there is a risk that the Belarusian government will misuse the funds. Among other things, the Belarusian government is said to have used EU money to procure a number of drones which could be used to monitor the regime-critical demonstrations that are taking place in the country.
The right wing wins the first round of parliamentary elections
The right-wing party Fosterlandsförbundet wins the first round of the parliamentary elections, while the alliance of the ruling Lithuanian peasants and greens comes second. The Left Populist Workers’ Party comes in third place, close before the Social Democratic Party and the new liberal Freedom Party. 71 percent of the votes are filled through proportional elections and 70 seats through majority elections in one-man constituencies. In the majority election, only three candidates succeed in winning the first round. The other 68 seats will be filled in a new round of voting between the top two candidates in each constituency on October 25.
The diplomatic relationship with Belarus is sour
Belarus is recalling its ambassadors from Lithuania and Poland in dissatisfaction with having been the subject of sanctions, especially from neighboring countries and other EU countries. Lithuania’s actions in particular have irritated President Lukashenko, as Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has been given refuge there. Lithuania and Poland, in turn, call home their ambassadors from Minsk for consultations. One week later, Lithuania calls home five more Minsk diplomats.