Week in Lithuania: State of emergency declared, MP’s oppose EU Poland decision, Vilnius named UNESCO City of Literature

Last week, the top news stories in Lithuania were the declaration of a state of emergency along the border area of the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, the naming of Vilnius as UNESCO City of Literature and 40 legislators calling for the EU to cancel its decisions on judicial issues in Poland.
Lithuanian MPs suggest urging EU to call off its decisions on Poland
A group of Lithuanian lawmakers passed on Monday, November 8, a resolution that shows solidarity with Poland amid its ongoing dispute with the European Union over the supremacy of EU law and the judicial reform. The EU is urged to cancel its adopted decisions on Poland. The resolution was supported by 40 members of the Seimas’ opposition groups, two HU-LCD members and one member of the Liberal Movement. Meanwhile, Žygimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, representing the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, says such a declaration is in fact also aimed against Lithuania’s constitutional provisions.
US Army cyber operations team pays visit to Lithuania
A team from the Defensive Cyber Operations Element of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard (PAARNG) have been visiting Lithuania since the start of November, the Defence Ministry said on Monday, November 8. It said the team had shared their experience in cyber defence and threat assessment with specialists from the Lithuanian National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
Lithuania puts on-duty military units on higher alert
Lithuania placed its on-duty military units on a higher alert status, the Defence Ministry said on Monday, November 8. The response time for extra troops, in addition to those already on duty at the border, to come to the assistance of the State Border Guard Service (VSAT) has been reduced, it said. Due to the tensions on the Lithuania-Belarus and Poland- Belarus border, Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, declared a state of emergency on Monday. Over 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year, but another 6,000 have been turned away after border guards changed tactics in August.
Watchdog to probe if ministry restricts competition in railway market
The Lithuanian Competition Council decided on Tuesday, November 9, to launch an investigation into suspicions that the Transport Ministry’s decisions on the use of the public railway infrastructure restrict competition in the market.  Information provided by Gargždų Geležinkelis, a company controlled by Igor Udovickij, to the Competition Council gives grounds to suspect that the railway capacity allocation rules violate the Law on Competition, the competition authority said on Monday, November 8. It is suspected that LTG Cargo, the freight transportation arm of the state railway group Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), is favoured. A dispute between Gargždų Geležinkelis and the Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration over the latter’s refusal to allocate railway capacity to the former has moved to the EU Court of Justice.
Vilnius named UNESCO City of Literature
Vilnius has been named a Creative City of Literature by UNESCO, Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius announced on Tuesday, November 9. Vilnius was granted the status, which is permanent, along with Gothenburg in Sweden and Jakarta in Indonesia. The Lithuanian capital has joined around 40 cities across the globe designated as Creative Cities of Literature, including Krakow and Wroclaw (Poland), Utrecht (the Netherlands), Lviv (Ukraine), Tartu (Estonia) and Ljubljana (Slovenia).
Read also: BNN ANALYSES | People in Lithuania’s border municipalities keep calm, but some brace for worse
Industrial companies spent 243 million euros on environment protection
Lithuanian industrial companies spent 243.2 million euros on environmental protection in 2020, up 10.4 percent from 2019, the country’s statistics office, Statistics Lithuania, reported on Tuesday, November 9. Expenses on the protection of water resources made the largest share of the total, rising 18.7 percent to 174.6 million euros and accounting for 71.8 percent of the total. Companies’ investment into environmental protection rose 1.5 percent to 107.8 million euros last year, making 44.3 percent of industrial companies’ total environmental protection costs.
Registered unemployment drops to 10.9 percent in October
Lithuania’s registered unemployment stood at 10.9 percent on November 1, down by 0.4 percentage points month-on-month, the country’s Employment Service said on Wednesday, November 10. There were 189,800 registered unemployed people in Lithuania on November 1, down by 67,000 (26.1 percent) from a year ago and down by 5,400 (2.8 percent) from October 1, the service said. It registered 2,200 newly unemployed people in October, down 8.7 percent month-on-month and down 25.9 percent from a year earlier.
Lithuania sends 80,000 medical equipment to Latvia
The Lithuanian government decided on Wednesday, November 10, to send medical equipment worth around 80,000 euros to Latvia to help the neighbouring country fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  The aid shipment includes five Sino-Hero S80 patient monitors worth over 5,000 euros in total, and 50 Infusomat Space volumetric infusion pumps worth more than 75,000 euros in total.
Court rules Belarusian scanners a threat to national security
A Vilnius court upheld on Thursday, November 11, the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service’s decision to reject, over national security concerns, a bid worth almost 14 million euros from Vilnius-based engineering solutions company Fima to supply border guards with Belarusian scanners. In May, the SBGS launched the international tender for a new robotic optoelectronic biometric registration system to be used for registering third-country nationals arriving in Lithuania.
Lithuania wants humanitarian corridor issue raised at UN
Lithuania will try to convince the UN Security Council to decide on a humanitarian corridor for irregular migrants trying to enter the EU via Belarus to return to their countries of origin, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Thursday, November 11.
MPs turn down presidential veto of bill on paid tests for unjabbed workers
Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament on Thursday, November 11, rejected President Gitanas Nausėda’s veto of a bill requiring unvaccinated workers to pay for their compulsory regular COVID-19 testing as of December. Seventy-three MPs voted in favour of the re-adoption of the bill returned by the president to the parliament, 57 voted against and four abstained. At least 71 votes were needed to override the veto.
Lithuania logs in 2,641 new coronavirus cases, 14 deaths
Lithuania registered 2,641 new coronavirus infections and 14 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the country’s statistics office said on Friday, November 12. Ten of the fatalities were either not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated.