News / Europe

Lithuania President Re-elected on Anti-Russian Platform

Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius (L) and center-left presidential candidate Zigmantas Balcytis (C) congratulate President Dalia Grybauskaite after her winning the presidential election in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 26, 2014.
Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius (L) and center-left presidential candidate Zigmantas Balcytis (C) congratulate President Dalia Grybauskaite after her winning the presidential election in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 26, 2014.
Reuters
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has won the first consecutive presidential term in the country's history, with her anti-Russian platform striking a chord with voters.
 
Grybauskaite, a 58-year-old former European Budget Commissioner and former minister of finance, won 57.9 percent of the votes in the nation of 3 million on Sunday, the electoral commission said.

Zigmantas Balcytis, a social democrat supported by prime minister Algirdas Butkevicius, scored 40.1 percent.
 
Escalating tensions with Russia are likely to define Grybauskaite's second five-year term, just as financial austerity was the hallmark of her first term, which started in 2009, the year Lithuania's economy shrank by 15 percent.
 
Fears are growing that Russia will try to destabilize the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - all members of NATO and the European Union - which have small armed forces and Russian speaking minorities.
 
Grybauskaite wants the government to give more money to the army immediately, even if it needs to relax budget discipline and borrow more.

“We are in a vortex of threats today,” she said during presidential debates last week.
 
“We are always ready to cooperate and trade, but we will never allow ourselves to be pressured, pushed or ordered what to do,” she told a media conference on Monday, referring to the relationship with Russia.
 
“We wish Russia would become more democratic and solve the upcoming economic challenges. It would be good ... if people in the country were not hungry and angry, as they usually are when the economy goes bad,” she said.
 
Deployment of foreign troops

About 150 U.S. troops were sent to each of the Baltic states and Poland this year to reassure them that their NATO ally is taking its security commitments seriously - the first permanent deployment of foreign troops on Lithuanian soil since 1993.
 
“Keeping Lithuanian foreign and defense policy strong and on track will be the big challenge for the president,” said Kestutis Girnius, associate professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science.
 
“The fact that she won so strongly, while the social democrats appeared weak in recent European Parliament elections means that she will have an upper hand in her relationship with the government,” Girnius said.
 
The president holds considerable power in Lithuania, appointing government ministers, judges, and the central bank chief as well as Lithuania's member of the European Commission, needing approval from the prime minister or parliament for most.
 
Grybauskaite's tough stance will be supported by the Independence liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal starting imports next year, breaking Lithuania's total dependence on Russian gas. She has called the dependence on Russian gas an ``existential threat'' to the republic.
 
Lithuania pays one of the highest prices for natural gas in the European Union, and about 20 percent more than its neighbors, which are similarly dependent on Russia.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid