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Saturday, 07.12.2013, 21:32
Lithuania halts ratification of ACTA
"It was agreed that ACTA will not be put for ratification in the short run. There will be consultations," Justice Minister Remigijus Simasius told reporters after a government meeting, informs LETA/ELTA, referring to AFP.
"After the escalation of debate, a need to discuss this issue seriously among institutions and the public became evident," he added.
Earlier in his personal blog, Simasius had said that some provisions of the treaty "raise serious questions" and he "did not like it that the treaty was signed while skillfully avoiding discussions in the EU and Lithuania."
Lithuania was among the 22 European countries that last month signed the accord at a ceremony in Japan.
But fears that ACTA may curtail online freedoms in the guise of attacking illegal downloading and file-sharing have sparked angry protests from Internet users across Europe.
Six hundred Lithuanians, braving temperatures of minus 16 Celsius (three degrees Fahrenheit), on Saturday rallied in front of the government building in Vilnius to protest against ACTA.
The agreement was negotiated by the European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.
Signatories Poland and the Czech Republic have put their parliamentary ratification process on ice.
Germany and Slovakia, which were not among the individual EU members to have inked ACTA, have meanwhile frozen moves to sign.
ACTA aims to beef up international standards for intellectual property protection. Governments have come under fire for signing after discussing the deal with industry players but not Internet users' groups.
Lithuania's foreign ministry, which had earlier defended ACTA, now acknowledges the need for discussion.
"We will arrange discussion with concerned organizations and public representatives," Deputy Foreign Minister Egidijus Meilunas said Wednesday.
"There are different interpretations and some say it can limit rights. In order to clear this up, discussion is necessary," he added.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should play the major role in the debates on ACTA, yet, the justice minister says it will be the issue of all Cabinet.
"I cannot specify now what concrete form these debates will take but since I myself have expressed some doubts about ACTA, I will make sure that these debates are as broad and open as possible, making it a real discussion with all society," the minister Simasius said.