Week in Lithuania: President calls for new EU migration policy, part of Vilnius Great Synagogue unearthed

Last week, the top news stories in Lithuania were the President calling for reviewed EU migration policy, the unearthing of the Vilnius Great Synagogue and Lithuanian company Civinity signing a 6-million-euro cleaning services contract in Latvia.
Foreign minister urges EU’s strong response to migration crisis
On Monday, August 23, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis asked for the European Union’s strong response to the ongoing migration crisis allegedly fuelled by Belarus. In his letter to High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, Landsbergis urged the block to take action to protect the EU border from the artificially-fuelled influx of undocumented migrants and arising threats to the EU. Over 4,100 migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus without any documentation or without permit so far this year, compared to 81 in all of 2020.
President calls on Baltics, Poland to seek review of EU migration policy
President Gitanas Nausėda called on Monday, August 23, Estonia, Latvia and Poland to jointly seek a review of the EU’s migration policy and to raise the issue of funding for the construction of a physical barrier on the border with Belarus. The countries’ leaders discussed these issues during their visit to Kiev on Monday, according to the Lithuanian president’s office.
Lithuania to give no subsidies to firms related with Belarus
Lithuania’s Economy and Innovation Minister Aušrinė Armonaitė said on Tuesday, August 24, the Lithuanian government will provide no subsidies to Lithuanian businesses that have close ties with Belarus and are at risk because of the political situation in the neighbouring country and Minsk’s strained relations with Vilnius. Some companies with close ties to Belarus lack working capital, so the state is looking at what financial instruments could be used to help them, according to Armonaitė. The central Bank of Lithuania said last week that a cutoff of trade with Belarus or mainland China would have a relatively minor impact on the Lithuanian economy.
Monument to Soviet author to be removed from Vilnius
The Council of Experts for the Protection of Immovable Cultural Heritage on Tuesday, August 24, removed a central Vilnius monument to Petras Cvirka, a prominent Soviet-era author and Soviet political activist, from Lithuania’s Register of Cultural Property. Vidmantas Bezaras, director of the Cultural Heritage Department, says that the experts were still discussing whether to add the square named after Cvirka to the register. The monument is due to removal soon.
Civinity signs 6-million-euro cleaning services contract in Latvia
Civinity Solutions, a subsidiary of Civinity, one of the largest facility management and engineering solutions groups in the Baltics, announced on Wednesday, August 25, it has signed a three-year contract worth 6 million euros on internal cleaning services in buildings belonging to Riga East University Hospital. It’s the biggest public procurement for cleaning services in Latvia, the company underlined. It will start providing services in October, involving more than 200 workers.
Fourteen Afghan families arrive in Lithuania’s Raseiniai
The families of 14 Afghan interpreters who worked with Lithuanian troops in Afghanistan arrived in Lithuania’s western city of Raseiniai on Wednesday, August 25, its Mayor Andrius Bautronis said. The families include 14 minors and one baby. They are all accommodates in the same premises, but the mayor refrained from providing more detail on why type of premises they are. The arrivals have been put into 14-day isolation. Lithuania will take in up to 200 Afghans, the government decided on Wednesday, allocating around 600,000 euros for covering their needs.
Swedbank ups GDP growth estimate for 2021, cuts it for 2022
Swedbank Lithuania increased on Wednesday, August 25, its 2021 growth estimate for Lithuania’s economy to 4.2 percent as the economy expanded faster than expected in the first half of this year, but the bank has also cut its growth estimated for 2022 to 3.5 percent. In April, Swedbank expected Lithuania’s economy to growth 3 percent this year and 4.9 percent next year. The pandemic effect is now weaker than it was during the first waves as many businesses and residents have adapted to the situation, the bank noted.
Archaeologists unearth central part of Great Synagogue of Vilnius
Archaeologists carrying out excavation work at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius announced on Wednesday, August 25, they have unearthed its central part. The Great Synagogue of Vilnius was one of the most important Jewish religious institutions in Eastern Europe, and was known as an important Jewish spiritual and educational centre giving the name of the Jerusalem of the North to the Lithuanian capital. The Great Synagogue of Vilnius was built in 1633 on the foundations of an older 16th-century synagogue. The Nazis burnt the synagogue, and its remains were flattened and a kindergarten was built on top of it in the 1950s.
National municipal budgets get 404 million euros in unplanned revenue
Lithuania’s central government and municipalities collected a total of 7.483 billion euros in budget revenue in January-July, 404.2 million euros (5.7 percent) more than planned and 1.636 billion euros (28 percent) more than during the same period last year, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday, August 26.
Lithuanian troops left Kabul before explosion
Lithuanian troops and the last group of Afghan evacuees left Kabul before an explosion outside the Afghan capital’s airport on Thursday, Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said on Thursday, August 26. Eleven troops of Lithuania’s Special Operations Forces and a number of Afghan evacuees are on their way from Kabul to Lithuania.
Lithuania reports 634 new coronavirus cases, six deaths
Lithuania registered 634 new coronavirus infections and six deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, August 27, the country’s statistics office said. Overall, 296,738 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Lithuania since the start of the pandemic. The number of active cases has edged down to 6,994. A total of 4,20 people have died from COVID-19 in Lithuania so far, including 24 fully-vaccinated people. The overall number of deaths directly or indirectly related to the coronavirus has reached 9,201.