Week in Lithuania: Turkey gifts Lithuania Bayraktar drone to give it to Ukraine, Baltic Pride festival starts in Vilnius

Last week, the top news stories in Lithuania were 5.9 million euros donated for buying a Bayraktar combat drone for Ukraine, Lithuania’s plans to invest 500 million euros in military mobility projects and the start of the Baltic Pride festival in Vilnius.
19 migrants turned away
Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 19 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Friday, June 3. The SBGS reported no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus for Wednesday, following between several and several dozen daily attempts earlier this week. A total of 1,867 people have been prevented from crossing from Belarus into Lithuania at non-designated places so far this year.
Vinted’s expansion caused loss of 105 million euros
Lithuania’s Vinted, Europe’s largest online C2C platform for second-hand clothes, posted a net loss of 105 million euros last year, up five times from 21 million euros a year ago, and its revenue rose 63 percent to 245 million euros. The company’s active expansions was the reason behind the loss, Vinted said. Vinted’s marketing investment levels grew 2.7 times last year to 192 million euros as the company entered two new markets, Portugal and Canada, increased investment in Italy, the UK, Spain and Poland, and upgraded its platform, the statement reads.
Lithuania eyes collective defence
Lithuania will seek agreement at the forthcoming NATO summit in Madrid on collective defence in the region from the start of possible military aggression and on turning the existing multinational allied battalions in the Baltic states into brigade-sized units, the country’s State Defence Council agreed on Thursday, June 2, presidential Adviser Kęstutis Budrys said after its meeting. Lithuania’s main objectives are increasing the allied battalion to a brigade and introducing air defence systems, Budrys said.
Turkey gifts Lithuania Bayraktar drone
Turkey has gifted a Bayraktar combat drone to Lithuania to be handed over to Ukraine, Lithuanian journalist and public figure Andrius Tapinas said on Thursday, June 2. His Freedom TV television channel had raised money to buy such a drone. In his words, the 1.5 million euros donated by people will be transferred to the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence and the money will be used to fully equip the drone. Turkey requested that the remaining 4.4 million euros should be earmarked for humanitarian, defence logistical or reconstruction aid to Ukraine, Tapinas said.
Lithuania launched Rūdninkai military training area
The Rūdninkai military training area in the Lithuanian southeastern district of Šalčininkai was formally opened on Thursday, June 2, with the symbolic unveiling of a sign with its name.  The training area, which had existed there in the Soviet times, is being redeveloped to provide suitable conditions for training and maintaining high combat readiness of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and NATO allies, the military said in a press release. Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas notes that the opening is symbolic, as the training area still needs to be marked and its infrastructure has to be put in place in stages. The Rūdninkai military training ground covers almost 17,000 hectares and can accommodate 3,000 troops.
Klaipėda port complains shipping Ukrainian grain via Poland is inefficient
After the first train with Ukrainian grain has reached Klaipėda’s stevedoring company Bega, the Lithuanian seaport says that shipments through Poland are too small for it to use its full potential, noting that efficient logistics are only possible via Belarus. The port could handle around 10 million tons of grain if it were transported through Belarus, compared to just about 1 million tons via Poland.  Algis Latakas, CEO of the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority, said on Thursday, June 2, the route still needs to be improved considerably, adding that a massive flow is only possible via Belarus.
Lithuania’s inflation likely to stay high throughout summer
High inflation is likely to persist in Lithuania throughout the summer, Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė said on Thursday, June 2, after the country’s annual inflation rate hit a preliminary 18.5% in May. While inflation is at record highs across the European Union and the euro area, it is the most acute in countries with the strongest links to the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian economies, according to Skaistė. New social assistance payments were put in place on June 1 to cushion the effects of inflation, but the minister does not rule out that new measures may be needed in the fall if the war drags on, the sanctions packages are larger and the impact on inflation increases.
CHD suggests moving Soviet monuments to Grūtas Park
Monuments to Soviet soldiers Lithuanian municipalities have recently removed should be handed over to Grūtas Park, a museum of Soviet sculptures in southern Lithuania, the country’s Cultural Heritage Department (CHD) said on Wednesday, June 1. The CHD has recently issued such a recommendation, the Culture Ministry said. The document suggests that before removing local Soviet army-related monuments, local municipal administrations should first assess whether they could be accepted for storage or display by municipal museums or other dedicated spaces.
Read also: BNN ANALYSES: Competition for stranded Ukrainian grain – Lithuania seeks wants precious cargo deliveries from Belarus, not from Poland
Lithuania drops in FDI attractiveness
Lithuania ranked 21st in terms of the country’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe last year, having dropped from the 19th position a year ago.  However, in terms of jobs created by investment per 1 million inhabitants, Lithuania ranked sixth. Lithuania attracted 41 investment projects last year, from 53 in 2020, according to EY’s annual European Attractiveness Survey.
Baltic Pride festival in Vilnius kicked off
The Baltic Pride 2022 festival kicked off in Vilnius on Tuesday, May 31, as a Rainbow Bus decorated with colourful balloons and LGBTQ symbols rolled into the Lithuanian capital’s streets. The bus with several dozen LGBTQ community members onboard visited what they called the sponsors and friends of Baltic Pride 2022, and passed by the embassies of European countries and the Vilnius City Hall, inviting everyone to Saturday’s March for Equality and Peace.
US unicorn DriveWealth opens unit in Vilnius
DriveWealth, a US fintech unicorn, opened in Vilnius on Tuesday, May 31, its first international unit to serve the European market, Invest Lithuania said. Most recently, DriveWealth created access to affordable fractional investing in underserved markets in Africa (Kenya, Uganda), Europe (Georgia), and Asia Pacific (South Korea). Lithuania’s 147 licensed fintech businesses make up the largest fintech hub across the EU.
Lithuania expects to invest 500 million euros in military mobility projects
Lithuania is planning to spend around 500 million euros on military mobility projects over five years. According to Transport Minister Marius Skuodis, half of the money is expected to come from the European Commission and the other half from Lithuania’s national budget. Skuodis and Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas agreed on priority projects on Tuesday, May 31. The investments will not only allow Lithuanian troops and allies stationed in the country to move comfortably in all directions, but will also benefit the general population, according to the ministers.