Lithuania. After several years of unsuccessful negotiations, Lithuania and Poland agreed in February to connect the countries’ electricity networks through the construction of a new power line. It is planned to be completed sometime between 2012 and 2015. At the same time, Lithuania tried during the year to accelerate the plans for an electric link to Sweden under the Baltic Sea. But Lithuania stood without replacement energy before the shutdown of the last reactor at the Ignalina nuclear power plant at the end of 2009. Therefore, a referendum on continued operation in Ignalina was held in October, and nine out of ten voted yes, but the turnout was too low for the result to be valid. The EU insisted that the reactor, which is of the Chernobyl type, should be closed until 2010, as agreed in Lithuania’s membership negotiations.
In March, neo-Nazis held an anti-Jewish march in Vilnius, when the police did not intervene. Lithuanian politicians were late in condemning open anti-Semitism, which drew international criticism. There was also foreign criticism that prosecutors were investigating Jewish survivors of the Holocaust for suspected war crimes during the year, while no Lithuanians had served any punishment for participating in the Jewish extermination in Lithuania.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of LT in general and in geography as Lithuania in particular.
After a political conflict in the state leadership, Lithuania took home his 33 fighting soldiers from Iraq during the summer. The Socialist Minister of Defense had long wanted to end Lithuania’s Iraq operation but faced opposition from the country’s US-loyal President Valdas Adamkus.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekūnas was first in place from the EU in Georgia to rate the country’s support when the war against Russia broke out in August. Thereafter, President Adamkus traveled to Tbilisi together with the leaders of Estonia and Latvia, among others. They also criticized the EU Presidency France’s plan for resolving the conflict, saying it did not show sufficient respect for Georgia’s integrity. Lithuania became the only EU country to oppose resumed EU negotiations with Russia in the autumn on a new strategic partnership agreement.
In Lithuania there was widespread dissatisfaction with the socially democratically led coalition government, and before the October parliamentary polls, the polls were populated by populist parties: Order and justice led by President-elect Rolandas Paksas and the Labor Party led by fraudulent businessman Viktor Uspaskitjj. A few months before the election, a new populist party, the National Resurrection Party, was formed, with a series of TV celebrities and the popular host Arūnas Valinskas in the lead.
However, the winner of the election became the Conservative Confederation, led by Andrius Kubilius. The party received close to 20 percent of the vote. Then the TV celebrity followed Valinska’s party with 15 percent, the Social Democrats with just under 12 percent and in fourth place Uspaskitj’s Labor Party.
Andrius Kubilius was commissioned to form a new government. He formed a coalition with the Confederation of the Fosterlands, the National Resurrection Party and two small liberal parties. The majority of the four-party government was 81 out of 141 seats. The controversial Valinskas, once convicted of a fake bomb threat, was elected the new President of Parliament. His wife, a pop singer, had also been elected as a member.
As in the Baltic neighboring countries, the economy in Lithuania went from overheating to a sharp slowdown, while inflation was expected to reach close to 12 percent during the year. The forecasts of nearly 7 percent growth came as a shame; the economy was expected to stand still or go backwards.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Lithuania in 2008 was 3,123,705, ranking number 135 in the world. The population growth rate was -1.350% yearly, and the population density was 49.8423 people per km2.