Lithuania is a parliamentary democratic republic, with a parliament elected on a direct election every 4 years. Parliament forms up government. Chairmen of parliament is a second most important person in Lithuania. First is a president who is also elected on a direct elections every five years. Third person in a country is a prime minister who is in charge for the government.
The Government consists of the Prime Minister and ministers. The Government represents theexecutive power in Lithuania. The Government has the right of a legislative initiative at the Seimas. The Government adopts resolutions on Seimas draft laws and other proposals submittal to the Seimas. The Prime Minister or a dulauthorized minister attends the proposal deliberation procedure. The Government: Runs public affairs, protect the inviolability of the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, guarantees State security and public order; Executes laws and resolutions of the Seimas concerning the implementation of laws as well as the decrees of the President; Coordinates ministries and other governmental agencies; Drafts a public budget and submits it to the Seimas; executes the public budget, reports to the Seimas on its execution; Drafts and submits legislative proposals for Seimas’s consideration; Establishes diplomatic relations, maintains relations with foreign states and international organizations; Carries out other functions due under the Constitution or other legislation.
The President of the Republic appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister upon the assent of the Seimas. Within 15 days of his appointment, the Prime Minister presents to the Seimas the Cab- 64 Getting Acquainted With Lithuania inet, which he has formed and which has been approved by the President of the Republic, and presents the Government Program to the Seimas for consideration.
Prime Minister’s powers
The Prime Minister represents the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and heads its activities. The Head of Government has a right, in accordance with the procedure set forth by the Statute of the Seimas, to attend sittings of the Seimas, its committees, commissions, and parliamentary groups, and to speak on the matters under consideration.
The Prime Minister
Forms the Cabinet and submits its composition for the approval of the President of the Republic; Submits proposals to the President of the Republic on the appointment and dismissal of ministers; Submits the Government Program to the Seimas for its consideration; Calls Cabinet sittings and presides over (chairs) them, approves the agenda of the Cabinet sitting; Mandates authority to negotiate and sign international agreements of the Republic of Lithuania; Forms governmental delegations for official visits abroad, participation in international congresses, conferences, sessions, or other international events; Performs other duties as assigned to the Prime Minister by the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Lithuania.
The ministers shall be dismissed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania through Prime Minister’s recommendation. Acting within their jurisdiction, the ministers shall be accountable to the Seimas and the President of the Republic and directly subordinate to the Prime Minister. Ministers are entitled under the Statute of the Seimas to participate in the meetings of Seimas committees, commissions and political groups and to express their views on issues under the deliberation. A minister runs the Ministry, deals with issues falling within the competence of the Ministry, and is directly responsible for the implementation of the Program of the Government, annual Government priorities and operational achievable within the areas of competence.
Lithuania joined OSCE in 1991, WTO in 2001, NATO in 2004, EU in 2004, Schengen in 200 and OECD in 2018. On 1 January 2015, the euro became the national currency replacing Litas at the rate of EUR 1.00 = LTL 3.45280
Lithuania and the EU
Lithuania became a full-fledged member of the European Union on 1 May 2004. We are part of a unique economic and political family, which consists of 27 member countries. The EU acts in a variety of policy areas, from consumer protection to security and Defence. Human dignity,
freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are the core values of the EU. The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the EU for its contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. Lithuania’s presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013 was one of the country’s most important contributions to EU policy making and implementation.
Lithuania’s integration into the EU
is a never-ending process, which provides opportunities to become a strong and modern state, to continually develop, to be economically viable and to ensure social welfare. Furthermore, as a member, we ought to cherish European values. The EU membership also encourages us to implement structural reforms that are beneficial for Lithuania.
Benefits of EU membership
Strong and growing economy. Lithuanian businesses have now access to a market of 500 million consumers. Lithuania gained more than 10 billion euros in financial aid, which has boosted economic growth and created jobs. Before the country joined the EU, Lithuania’s GDP per capita stood at just 42 percent of the EU average, 81 percent in 2019.
The increasing level of foreign direct investment. About 80 percent of foreign direct investment flowed to Lithuania from the EU member states. It is estimated that in the first three years of Lithuania’s membership its GDP was 2 percent (2 billion litas) bigger thanks to the single market. Nevertheless, the EU’s financial aid has increased annual economic growth by 1 percent. The public survey showed every second Lithuanian felt the EU’s aid personally.
Energy independence. It would be difficult to achieve energy independence all by ourselves. In 2009, the European Commission approved the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP), which aimed to further integrate the Baltic States’ energy market, bringing them closer to the light – quite literally. The EU provides funding for important regional energy projects: the Visaginas NPP, projects, such as NordBalt linking Sweden and Lithuania, and LitPol linking Poland and Lithuania, regional LNG terminals, underground gas storage and a gas interconnector between Poland and Lithuania.
Freedom of movement in the EU. Since 2004, Lithuania is a member of Customs Union that removed restrictions for import and export by opening borders with Latvia and Poland. In 2007 we joined the Schengen zone since then Lithuanian citizens can freely travel all over Europe.
Thanks to the EU Commission’s efforts, cell phone chargers were standardized in all 28 member states.
Investment in science and education. Lithuanian schools, universities, laboratories, research facilities and other infrastructure were renovated with EU funding. Moreover, teachers, pupils, students and researchers are offered a wider range of opportunities for internship and cooperation with other EU countries. Since 2004, almost half of Lithuanian secondary schools have participated in European exchange programs (Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates/Erasmus).
Social guarantees in the EU. Lithuanians who work, visit or study in other EU countries enjoy more social guarantees. Those who travel abroad keep their social guarantees. Moreover, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles EU citizens to free emergency care in the EU. Finally, when moving to another EU country, EU citizens continue to get their previously granted pensions and other allowances.
Global consular assistance.
Every person holding the nationality of Lithuania is a citizen of the EU and has access to EU missions and consular assistance, even in countries, where Lithuania has no diplomatic or consular representation, such as Chile, Saudi Arabia or Nepal.
Lithuania’s security policy
Security policy is primarily one of the constituents of Lithuanian foreign policy. However, the security policy is a special part of the foreign policy – it is a condition and basis for other policies. Security is a fundamental value in every individual’s life, as well as that of the country. Only being secure in a broad sense can a country develop itself successfully within the European Union, develop relations with separate countries and their groups, and undertake active economic diplomacy. It is usually said that the Lithuanian security policy is Euro-Atlantic, based on the membership of our country in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This is the main guarantee of our security; however, the foreign security policy is much broader.
Lithuania is also an active member of the European Security and Defence Policy and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; we are participants in many agreements and conventions promoting security and stability. Lithuania has become a member of NATO and the European Union during the time when the security system is changing fundamentally. This allows for active participation together with other allies in the process of defining and shaping the new European security and Defence policy. On the other hand, membership in the European and transatlantic organizations provides Lithuanian security policy leverage and opportunities that we never had before. Proper and effective use of them is an everyday work and responsibility of diplomats working in the field of security policy.
Lithuania’s aims and objectives in international organizations:
• To ensure the security of the state from any external threats by actively participating in the activities of international organizations,
• to support the development of democracy in Lithuania’s geopolitical environment,
• to foster democratic values and the rule of law in the area of international relations,
• to create favorable external conditions for the country’s safety and security.
• By participating in the activities of international organizations, Lithuania contributes to:
• peacekeeping efforts around the world and the region,
• the promotion of security and stability,
• the strengthening of human rights and democracy,
• the solutions for global and regional problems,
• the reduction of poverty and illiteracy,
• the sustainable development around the world and the region,
• the environmental protection,
• the promotion of the dialogue among civilizations and to the solutions for other global problems.
Lithuania participates in the activities of approximately 50 international intergovernmental organizations. Lithuania and its representative’s numerous times were elected to the governing bodies of various international organizations, as well as were chairing them. In 2007 the representative of Lithuania chaired one of the most important UN bodies – the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). On the 17th October 2013, Lithuania was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the year 2014-2015. In November 2015 Lithuania was elected to serve on UNESCO’s Executive Board for the 2015- 2019 period and also was elected as a Vice-Chair of this governing body for the 2015-2017 period. Lithuania also actively participates in regional organizations and builds its regional identity through active participation in these organizations In 2001-2002 Lithuania chaired the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In 2009-2010 Lithuania chaired the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), and in 2012 Lithuania chaired and coordinated the work of the Baltic Sea regional formats, such as the Baltic Council of Ministers and the Nordic-Baltic 8 (NB8). In 2011 Lithuania successfully chaired the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Lithuania’s policy in international organizations (IOs), interests and achievements
Lithuania actively participates in the activities of the United Nations (UN) and its agencies as well as other IOs, in this way contributing to international peace and security, through international law and co-operation. The world is increasingly facing global problems (such as terrorism, organized crime, a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change, social and economic differentiation, energy and nuclear safety), solutions to which require concerted efforts of many states. Lithuania is paying constant attention to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, especially to the reduction of illiteracy and fighting against communicable diseases. After the Lisbon Treaty entered into force a lot of attention is being paid to the European Union’s (EU) policy towards effective multilateralism and EU’s activities in the IOs. For Lithuania, participation in the IOs has an important human rights value dimension. Human rights and the protection of fundamental freedoms are one of the main EU priorities in working with IOs and third parties. Participating in IOs Lithuania contributes to both the establishment of human rights standards and their implementation. A lot of attention is being given to the protection of children and women’s rights, the fight against human trafficking, the freedom of press, speech and the internet, and the safety of journalists. For more information: Human rights. Participating in the activities of the IOs, Lithuania implements the international development cooperation policy. Lithuania has acquired its expertise in the areas of the state-building and reform, successful integration to the EU and NATO, and regional problematic of the Eastern European states. For more information: Development cooperation and democracy promotion. Most of the IOs help to find solutions for domestic problems as well because some of them are of a global nature (corruption, human trafficking, organized crime, drug abuse, etc.). The decision to solve old and newly emerging domestic issues by applying the expertise, reports, programs and standards of the IOs, highly paid off. Lithuania is joining the international cooperation conventions and is being monitored how the assumed commitments are being implemented. The recommendations of the IOs are being used for the legislative base of the Republic of Lithuania and the improvement of the practice of their implementation.