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Lithuania

Yearbook 2002

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.

2002 Lithuania

In the final negotiations with the EU, the Ignalina nuclear power plant was a difficult matter of dispute. According to Countryaah website, Ignalina'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.

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