Lithuania Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Lithuania Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

Official name of the country: Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublika, Lietuva; Republic of Lithuania)

Head of State: President Gitanas Nausėda (since July 2019, first term)

According to the constitution of 25 October 1992, Lithuania is an “independent democratic republic”. From a constitutional point of view, Lithuania is a state with a semi-presidential political system. The constitution allows the president’s direct influence on the formation of the government. Final decisions regarding the formation and functioning of the government belong to the Seimas, as an institution to which the government is directly responsible. The president can appoint a candidate for the post of prime minister, entrust him with the formation of the government and approve its composition. However, the Seimas can reject the president’s candidate for the post of prime minister, and it can also reject the program statement of the government. The president has the right to dismiss the prime minister, but only with the approval of the Seimas. He appoints or dismisses ministers at the Prime Minister’s proposal, and is entitled to reject the Prime Minister’s candidate. Check computerminus to learn more about Lithuania political system.

After the presidential elections, the mandate of the government continues, the government only entrusts the newly elected president with credentials as an expression of respect for his person. The President is obliged to re-appoint the current Prime Minister as the “new” Prime Minister automatically. In the process of forming the government, the president must take into account the composition of the Seimas, most of his decrees in the field of foreign policy, defense and national security are subject to countersignature by the prime minister or the relevant minister. The largest space is left to the president in the exercise of powers in the legislative process – legislative initiative and suspensive veto.

On 11/12/2020, the Seimas approved the program statement of the new coalition government, which consists of the conservative National Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), the liberal Freedom Party (LP) and the Liberal Movement (LRLS). The government program is a mixture of conservative, liberal, social democratic and “green” elements. The main program directions of the new government are education reform, reforms in the health sector, by 2024 to ensure that the production of high-tech makes up at least 7 percent of Lithuanian industry, by 2050 to achieve carbon neutrality and a complete circular economy. In matters of foreign policy, the government does not intend to fundamentally deviate from Lithuania’s current direction, it explicitly undertakes to support those in the world who are fighting for their freedom.

Composition of the government:

Prime Minister I. Šimonytė (no party affiliation, but led the TS-LKD candidate)

  • Minister of the Environment S. Gentvilas (LRLS)
  • Minister of Energy D. Kreivys (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of Economy and Innovation A. Armonaitė (LP)
  • Minister of Finance G. Skaistė (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of National Defense A. Anušauskas (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of Social Security and Labor M. Navickienė (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of Transport M. Skuodis (LP)
  • Minister of Health A. Dulkys (non-partisan, nominated TS-LKD)
  • Minister of Education, Science and Sports J. Šiugždinienė (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of Justice E. Dobrovolska (LP)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs G. Landsbergis (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of the Interior A. Bilotaitė (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of Agriculture K. Navickas (TS-LKD)
  • Minister of Culture S. Kairys (LRLS)

Foreign policy of the country

Lithuania’s main foreign policy goal is functional and mutually beneficial membership in NATO and the EU and good relations with its neighbors and other states of the Baltic and Scandinavian regions. In 2018, Lithuania became a member of the OECD, in 2022 it celebrated the 18th anniversary of NATO and EU membership.

From a security-political and geographical point of view (the Kaliningrad enclave of Russia on the southwestern border), Lithuania is located in the area of ​​direct conflict between the influence of Russia and NATO/EU. In 2018, Lithuanian parliamentary parties signed an agreement to gradually increase defense spending up to 2.5% of GDP, which already happened in 2022 to 2.52% of GDP. Lithuania seeks the permanent deployment of US troops in the Baltics/Lithuania and the strengthening of NATO’s military presence in the region. Check relationshipsplus for Lithuania defense and foreign policy.

Within the EU, the main priorities for Lithuania are transatlantic relations, the Eastern Partnership, energy security, EU enlargement and the protection of human rights. When negotiating the multiannual financial framework for the years 2021-2027, priority issues for Lithuania were the financing of the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy, especially direct payments to Lithuanian farmers, as well as the financing of the CEF and the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant. Lithuania’s long-term goals include independence from gas supplies from Russia, as well as disconnection from the BRELL energy system and synchronization with continental Europe. Lithuania sharply criticizes the Nord Stream 2 project (a gas pipeline leading from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany), which it considers a tool of Russian state policy with the aim of increasing Europe’s dependence on Russian supplies.

The government declares support for a strategic partnership with the USA, Great Britain and Poland in ensuring Lithuania’s security and strengthening cooperation with Germany and France within the EU.

Lithuania’s most important foreign partner is Poland, with which Lithuania has a strategic partnership. There is agreement between the two countries on issues of security and the role of the US, in terms of the issues of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Eastern Partnership. No less important is cooperation in energy policy and joint Lithuanian-Polish infrastructure projects, such as the GIPL gas pipeline.

Lithuanian-Belarusian relations have been dominated by the active support of Belarusian civil society in the fight for democratic values ​​and human rights since the presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020, which Lithuania described as non-transparent, non-democratic and non-free. Lithuania raises this issue together with the right to free and transparent elections in international forums and supports EU sanctions against representatives of the Belarusian regime.

Lithuanian-Russian relations have long been burdened by the past (Soviet occupation, an attempt to forcefully suppress the restoration of Lithuanian independence), the dialogue currently takes place only on technical matters of bilateral relations. In 2015, the demarcation of 286 km of the state border between Lithuania and the Kaliningrad region was completed. Lithuania has banned the broadcasting of some Russian-language TV channels due to the spread of false information. In April 2022, it became the first EU country to stop buying gas from Russia.

Lithuania is among the most active supporters of Ukraine both in the EU and in NATO. Since the beginning of the conflict with Russia, it has expressed active and consistent support for Ukraine in its efforts to restore control over the country’s territory. Lithuania fully supports the country within the framework of the Eastern Partnership project and at the bilateral level, helping in the field of state administration reforms, courts, in building democratic institutions, in the military and humanitarian fields.

Lithuania has long been cooperating closely with two other Baltic states – Latvia and Estonia – in the political and economic spheres.

Population

In the period from the regaining of Lithuania’s independence in 1990 to 2022, the population decreased by approx. 900,000. people from approx. million to the current approx. million, the population density is 4inhabitants per km². Both the low birth rate and high economic emigration, especially of the young (73% of emigrants are between the ages of 15 and 44) ​​and the well-educated, contribute to the decline in population. The decrease in qualified personnel is manifested mainly in the IT and healthcare sectors. Since 2018, net migration has decreased annually by approx. 11% mainly due to returning citizens of Lithuania, including in connection with Brexit, the rest is represented by foreigners coming to Lithuania for work.

There remains a relatively large disparity between men and women (approx. 46.1% against 53.9%), similar to the distribution of the population between the city (66.9%) and the countryside (33.1%). In terms of the age structure of the population, the share of people under the age of 15 (13.8%) is lower than the number of people of retirement age (16.5%). The birth rate is decreasing year-on-year, now the average number of children born per woman is 1.7.

The ethnic structure of the population of Lithuania is stable. In 2020, Lithuanians made up 86.4%, Poles 5.6%, Russians 4.5%, Belarusians 1.5%, Ukrainians 1% and other foreigners 1%. The capital city of Vilnius has retained its multi-ethnic character, where Lithuanians predominate, and the Polish and Russian minorities are also significant here. Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas, is basically only ethnically Lithuanian.

Over three quarters of the population profess the Roman Catholic religion (77.3%), 4.1% of the population profess Orthodoxy, 0.8% are Orthodox Old Believers (followers of the original Orthodoxy before the religious reform in the 17th century), 0.8% Protestants, others of no religion. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, approximately 50,000 refugees took refuge in Lithuania.