Posts filed under ‘Georgia’
See an article from Lithuanian daily Lietuvos zinios about possible links between investigation into death of the Lithuanian State Security Colonel Vytautas Pociunas and the current investigations of alleged secret CIA prisons in Lithuania.
Article by Jurga Tvaskiene: “State in Swamp of Double Lies”, November 26
The habit to lie to the Seimas’ ad hoc commissions, which was introduced by senior state officials, has become a norm. MPs try to fight against this with proposals to introduce prison sentences for those who give false testimonies. If such measures were applied earlier, perhaps now we would know whose interests killed Colonel Vytautas Pociunas and how those who obstructed the investigation into his death are tied to the new scandal related to CIA prisons in Lithuania.
Politicians do not lie – they just do not tell the whole truth. Such a joke can be found on Lithuanian Internet portals. Yet, MPs, who form ad hoc probe commissions in the Seimas in order to find answers to questions that often are unsolvable even to law enforcement officers, are not laughing. Especially, when after testifying before the Seimas’ investigators senior officials admit they have been talking gibberish. And do not get punished.
The increasingly deeper swamp of lies is especially worrisome now, when the Seimas is conducting a probe into the possible existence of a CIA prison in Lithuania. People, who three years ago lied and practically destroyed the probe into the death of Pociunas, a colonel of the State Security Department (VSD), and into the real motives of the VSD activities, will probably be invited to testify in this probe. [passage omitted on the fact that former senior officials of Lithuania denied having any knowledge about the alleged CIA prison].
In April 2004, Rolandas Paksas, who had been president for a mere year and a half, was impeached from his post. Soon after that, Valdas Adamkus returned to this post and transferred actual control of the country to other persons. Including VSD leaders, who during Paksas’ impeachment process, together with other persons desiring influence, got used to doing whatever they liked in Lithuania.
Assistance to Russian special services representatives in developing their businesses in Lithuania, manipulations with classified reports, pandering to the interests of a small group of people, and, on the other hand, attempts to cover their moves with Western partners’ demands. These were daily activities of the VSD leadership.
In addition, one should not forget that the CIA, which after the events of 11 September 2001 declared a war on international terrorism, was spending huge amounts of money on this. Only now in the US scandals are starting that money allocated for antiterrorism activities were spend on unclear things, but the declared goal has not been achieved.
In the spring of 2004, a group of persons who understand each other very well assembled at the VSD. Thanks to lies, Gintaras Bagdonas was not allowed to become VSD director (Bagdonas, who had been proposed to this post by Paksas, was not suitable for Lithuania, but was greatly evaluated by NATO leadership). After that, KGB reserve officer Arvydas Pocius became VSD director. He was met by Dainius Dabasinskas, who had been a VSD deputy director since 2001 and who had been sent there by the Foreign Ministry. Soon after, Darius Jurgelevicius was also appointed [a VSD deputy director] with the same type recommendations.
By the way, the year 2005 became the year of financial prosperity for these men. The representatives of Lithuania’s poor law enforcement sector started driving luxury cars. For example, Dabasinskas started driving a brand new US-made Chrysler. Was it a gift from CIA colleagues? That same year Dabasinskas, who until then had been renting an apartment in Turniskes, purchased it for more than a half a million litas. This information surfaced only a few years later, when it turned out the apartment had cost less than the market price at the time, and the circumstances of the sale resembled a bribe.
Dabasinskas, just as the other fate brothers, was merely reprimanded, but retained his post. [passage omitted on an overview of the parliamentary probe into the death of VSD officer Pociunas].
On 8 August, Jurgelevicius requested to be discharged from his service at the VSD due to “personal reasons,” without even waiting until VSD Director Povilas Malakauskas returned to work from his unexpected sick leave. Until that moment MPs, who conducted a probe, and civic groups, who were demanding adherence to the principles of justice in Lithuania, were unable to oust Jurgelevicius from his post. After President Dalia Grybauskaite granted his request, the official immediately went as far from Lithuania as possible – it was said he became the Georgian interior minister’s adviser. Considering the fact that Georgia is actively trying to gain greater patronage from the US and therefore may be ready to make various concessions, Jurgelevicius’ desire to work in the institution, which oversees law enforcement and security structures of that country, in the current context may raise various thoughts.
A week after Jurgelevicius’ resignation there was the second news – without commenting on the reasons for his decision, Dabasinskas, Jurgelevicius’ colleague, left his post, too. After receiving a recommendation from the VSD in a record time, he was sent by the Foreign Ministry to work at the embassy in Ukraine.
Exactly two weeks later, American TV station ABC News announced the first information about the CIA prison in Lithuania. One can have various assessments of the Lithuanian VSD inside the country, but it would hard to reject the well-developed ties with foreign partners (especially with the US partners). Thus, it is possible that Jurgelevicius and Dabasinskas, who held high posts inside the VSD, much earlier that the public received information that US media started digging and would soon reveal the information, which had been kept secret for a few years.
It was also only a matter of time before similar news from this or that VSD officer tied to the CIA activities in our country was going reach the public in Lithuania. It was said that even VSD leaders once in a while among themselves were wondering about their subordinates’ silence, which they could not understand.
One can think that VSD heads, who had gained the backing of previous Lithuanian leadership one way or another, realized that to get away this time would not be as easy as during the probe into the death of Pociunas and into the VSD activities related to his death. The countries, which are seen as Lithuania’s friends and which do not belong to the EU (with all of its strict rules), are an excellent shelter in the increasingly difficult situation.
Moreover, if Lithuania this time decides to defend the truth and law, the characters who damaged the country’s reputation probably will not avoid responsibility. [passage omitted on international law Professor Dainius Zalimas's opinion that the state and its officials would be responsible for alleged human rights violations at the CIA prison and on proposals to introduce accountability for false testimony before parliamentary committees].
Translated by the BBC Monitoring
In 1009 Lithuania’s name (Lituae) was first mentioned in the chronicles of ancient German town Kvedlinburg in reference to the death of missionary St. Bruno.
Lithuania on July 6 is marking its millennial Statehood Day. This small nation, sandwiched between great Germanic and Slavic giants managed to survive against all odds in the world. It experienced its glory days for few centuries with it medieval empire which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Some historian argue that if there was not such an empire there would not have been Belarusian and Ukrainian nations today.
It was carved up, occupied and slaughtered for few centuries to revive again and again. It is a story of a small and great nation which held on to this piece of land next to the Baltic Sea and managed to survive. This is why it is amazing. Lithuania, together with its Baltic sisters managed to survive. Despite of all difficulties at the moment we will rise like phoenix out of ashes. Crisis are coming and going, but such nations are here to stay and prosper.
Celebratory events taking place throughout the day will be attended by Queen of Denmark Margarethe II, King Harald V of Norway, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.
Other distinguished guests will include President Olafur Ragnar of Iceland, President Valdis Zatlers of Latvia, President Lech Kaczynski of Poland, President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, President Tarja Halonen of Finland, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Legate of Pope Benedict XVI and Dean of the College of Cardinals, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip of Estonia, and Russia’s Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeyev among others.
Lithuania’s millennial celebration kicked off at noon with a Flag Hoisting Ceremony in Daukanto Square, next to the Office of President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus, with a Holy Mass at the Vilnius Cathedral to follow, the president’s press service said in a statement.
The Holy Mass will be followed by a symbolic ceremony marking the opening of a reconstructed Royal Palace of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and a farewell to participants of the Millennium Song Festival “Song of the Centuries”, the statement says.
Later in the day the action will move over to the Museum of Applied Arts, where the honorable guests will visit millennial exhibitions on display, namely “Lithuania in Ancient Historical Sources”, “Wawel in Vilnius. From the Jagiellonian Dynasty to the end of the Republic, and “The Art of Balts”, and will attend lunch hosted by President Adamkus.
In the evening, guests will deliver addresses in Lithuania’s Millennial Song Contest, and later attend dinner hosted by Adamkus in the President’s Office.
During his last visit to Georgia Lithuania’s president Adamkus’ about a failure to implement the Western liberal style democracy in Georgia.
‘I have to admit the fact that we failed to achieve such a result after which we could tell to ourselves that yes, we have one more state which shares with us the Western liberal values. But this question will be resolved in future,’ Delfi.lt cites the President. However, Adamkus admitted that Georgia’s democracy is in one or another level; it is still a democratic state.
Lithuania’s outgoing President Valdas Adamkus on 23 June had a phone conversation with US President Barack Obama as the BNS informed.
The two presidents discussed President Barack Obama’s upcoming July 6 visit to the Russian Federation and addressed the situation in Georgia, the Lithuanian president’s press service said in a statement.
Obama noted Lithuania as being an important partner to the US in the region and thanked President Adamkus for his contribution to developing bipartite relations.
Adamkus, in turn, said he was hopeful that Lithuania and US maintain successful cooperation in promoting democracy and transatlantic integration. Adamkus also added he feels the US and the European Union (EU) should spare more attention to Europe’s Eastern neighbours and thus help stabilize the region.
Speaking on the situation in Georgia, Adamkus underlined the need for the country’s ruling and opposition political forces to steer clear of further confrontations and adhere to principles of democracy BNS wrote.
Lithuania is among the top five enemies of Russia. This was revealed by a recent public opinion poll in Russia. One can say that the notion of Lithuania as an enemy was inculcated into the heads of common Russians by the Kremlin’s propaganda. This is true, but it does not change the essence of the issue. Unlike in 1990-1991, today Lithuania would not be able to count on moral support from Russians, which was one of the reasons why we were successful in our quest for independence. Later, when we were negotiating over the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania, favourable opinion about us among common Russians was also a very important factor.
Even ten years later, when we were trying to join NATO, one of the arguments our politicians and diplomats used in the talks with the Western partners was a poll that showed the majority of Russians did not object to our membership in the alliance. The poll also said that our membership in the alliance would not harm Russia’s relations with NATO, something Moscow’s politicians were trying to claim. Therefore, Russian politicians drew certain conclusions and started fixing the mistake of their propaganda, which at that time still counter-positioned the “good” Lithuania against the “bad” Latvia and Estonia.
Thanks to the efforts by the Kremlin’s propaganda masters, in 2004-2005 Vilnius got involved in a fierce verbal war against Moscow. The war lasted till 2008 and did not produce anything good for Lithuania: The Druzhba [friendship] oil pipeline was not reopened, the talks over compensation for the occupation damages did not commence, the Medininkai murderers were not extradited. The only thing we achieved was the loss of allies in the EU.
Russia, meanwhile, gained a strong argument in the discussions with the EU and NATO. From dawn till dusk the EU and NATO were told: “Did we not tell you that by accepting those intrigue-loving Baltic states, you would gain a source of constant disagreements with Russia?”
In 2004-2005, Russians’ opinion about the Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia has started to get worse. This showed that harming the ties with the closest neighbours in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union was a deliberate and pre-planned policy of Moscow.
A fruit of this policy could be observed in May 2007, when during rioting by Russian-speakers in Tallinn hundreds of thousands of Russians, without having been urged by anyone, got involved in cyber attacks against Estonian websites. A year later, we witnessed another result of this policy in Georgia. That time, as the Russian tanks were rolling towards the neighbouring country, not only Vladimir Putin, but also millions of Russians, overcome by chauvinistic orgasm, were demanding to hang Mikhail Saakashvili “by his balls.”
If the Kremlin started some sort of a political or economic pressure campaign against Lithuania, the support from Russian citizens would be just as enthusiastic.
Source BBC Monitoring
An online Global Museum on Communism is being launched on Tuesday in view of shedding a light on the history of the Soviet regime and the inherent crimes against humanity, and commemorating victims of the regime writes BNS.
The Lithuanian government was among donors that contributed to the project in question, earmarking 15,000 litas (EUR 4,300). The website launch will be webcast on Tuesday evening from the US capital Washington.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas says that such projects help the humanity retain the historic memory, loss of which makes “reconciliation impossible.”
“We cannot forget the crimes against the humanity committed by the two largest totalitarian regimes of the 20th century – Fascism and Stalinism. Symbolically, the project is being launched this year, which does not only mark 20 years since the fall of the Berlin wall but also 70 years since the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact,” Usackas told BNS on Tuesday in comment of the project.
Victims of the Communist regime and their families will be invited to register in the website and share their experience. The museum will also feature papers by historians, also film recordings from key historic events.
The project was initiated by a Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, established in December of 1993 by the US Congress in view of immortalizing the memory of those fallen victim to communism and those who fought to resist it.
Project donors include governments of other Eastern European states as well as private foundations and individual contributors.
The Lithuanian government previously allocated funds to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation back in 2007 for an underway memorial in Washington erected to pay homage to victims of the regime.
According to the latest official results Ms Dalia Grybauskaite has won the elections for the Lithuania’s presidential post. Some 69.08% voted for the EU Commissioner, the biggest ever support for a presidential candidate. 51.71% of all voters executed their constitutional right. Those are preliminary results announced at 1200. The final announcement should come on Sunday.
Butkevicius got 11.83%, Mazuronis 6.16%, Tomasevski 4.74%, Prunskiene 3.91%, Grauziniene 3.61%, Jezerskas 0.67% .
President Adamkus, the Speaker of the Parliament Valinskas and the PM Kubilius all congratulated the President in waiting. It is still unclear who is going to work in Grybauskaite’s team. A lecture of the Vilnius University Institute of International Affairs and Political Science Mr V. Dumbliauskas stated to the Lietuvos Rytas paper that the members of her team are going to be fresh and young people without any political baggage. He mentioned that four of his former students are invited in the team.
Another lecture from the same university Mr Janeliunas mentioned to the BNS that Grybauskaite’s entry into office would undoubtedly bring changes in terms of foreign policy. Janeliunas told to the BNS that some attention from Eastern European countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova will be shifted to European Union’s (EU) heavyweights, which in his words will be one of the pivotal changes. “She would look to Western European capitals for backing and then assess the feasibility of European integration among other quests. (…) Directions would shift in line with long-term priorities,” he said to the BNS on early Monday morning.
The BNS agency also quoted Director at the Centre for Eastern Geopolitical Studies Kasciunas who maintained a similar opinion. “There are signs that point to Lithuania’s increased attention to deeper EU integration rather than full-fledged EU expansion to the East,” Kasciunas told BNS.
The BNS wrote that the political expert felt that Lithuania’s shift in this particular direction could result in the country adopting a more agreeable stance on Russia in line with the popularity of this trend in Western Europe. It is impossible to provision the benefits or lack thereof implicit in this change, said Kasciunas, noting that more thorough EU integration would undoubtedly be beneficial to the country in terms of energy, however cautioning that integration to EU’s military structures could be more detrimental.
However, these are only predictions and assumptions based on Grybauskaites statements. However, these questions were not really answered during the election campaign. Hence, the predictions above remain only such.
As the BNS writes the Lithuanian President Adamkus was critical of US President Obama’s speech delivered in Prague for its lack of novelty. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Usackas, on the other hand, said the speech was substantial, even if Obama didn’t specifically address the security of Lithuania and the Baltic States.
According to the BNS speaking to members of the press following the European Union (EU) – US summit the Lithuanian president said he’d heard various feedback on the speech, but felt openly critical himself.
“I expected more from the president’s speech as it was advertised and presented as one of America’s prime foreign policy speeches in Europe. I heard nothing in that speech of any new benchmarks or a complete makeover in America’s policy. (…) So in that sense, I feel differently than those who were blindly in awe, almost dizzy with the novelty of the information. I can appreciate the president’s speech, points were made, but personally, as one who follows foreign policy, I heard nothing new,” Adamkus spoke.
Obama did state the necessary, i.e. that the Americans will not succumb to principles, that it is necessary to hold talks with Russia and continue dialogue – one that is reciprocal, said Adamkus, however noting that the US president’s other statements had already been voiced.
Meanwhile, BNS continues Usackas found Obama’s speech consequential, even if it contained no specific provisions on the security of Lithuania and the Baltic countries. The US Head of State in his Prague’s speech reiterated Europe as being US’ closest partner, noted Usackas.
“Obama’s speech was general in nature, it contained key provisions on disarming and EU and NATO solidarity. I believe this speech to be an important step towards disarming and maintaining the EU-US partnership,” said the Lithuanian foreign minister.
Usackas was elated by thoughts in the US president’s speech, such as that all NATO states must have defense plans for new challenges ahead and that NATO’s security is undivided.
“What was very important, both in Obama’s speech in Prague and the NATO summit, was the notion that all members of the Alliance should share the same level of security,” said Usackas.
Usackas noted to the BNS that the United States in the EU-US summit in Prague voiced support to the EU Eastern Partnership Initiative – a new stage in relations binding the EU and six Eastern European countries from Belarus to Georgia.
Lithuanian Def Min: If Financing for Military Reduced Further, Lithuanian Will Be Incapable of Being NATO member
A Lithuanian weekly magazine Veidas on 23 February has published an interview with a first female Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene in Lithuania’s history. The interview came out on the day after the first hundred days of the 14th Government.
[Veidas] Is it true that you are trying to force Povilas Malakauskas, director of the State Security Department (VSD), to resign?
[Jukneviciene] Ask Lietuvos Rytas. They seem to be better informed about my activities than I am, because I do not know anything about this; I have not spoken to anyone about this. I read about this during my visit in the US, where I had a meeting with Defence Secretary Robert Gates.
On the other hand, there are attempts to link certain persons with the efforts by the Seimas [parliament] National Security and Defence Committee to reform the overseeing of special services and to implement a control mechanism. This, however, will be done, and it does not matter who is heading the VSD – Mr Smith, Mr Doe, or Mr Malakauskas. This is the Seimas’ prerogative – to fix past mistakes and to create a mechanism for controlling special services, which can be found in all NATO countries. By the way, this control mechanism will also affect the Defence Ministry’s Second Operations Department, which is directly subordinate to me.
[Veidas] You were the first NATO defence minister to meet with the new US defence secretary – Mr Gates. Was this a coincidence or a political gesture from the US’ side?
[Jukneviciene] I do not think this was some sort of a gesture. I think this revealed the US’ view towards Lithuania, not towards a certain person. I clearly felt the US viewed its allies as being very important.
[Veidas] Did Mr Gates want to discuss a specific question related to the military cooperation between the US and Lithuania or did you just discuss general questions, for example, whether Lithuania was planning to withdraw from Afghanistan?
[Jukneviciene] We did not discuss the option of withdrawing from Afghanistan. We talked about strengthening capabilities and about the need to look for ways to solve problems in Afghanistan.
[Veidas] For a while now, there has been talk that, considering its financial capabilities, Lithuania is giving Afghanistan more than it can give.
[Jukneviciene] On the contrary, we are giving too little, compared to the amount that is foreseen for international missions. Up to 10 per cent of the defence spending should be allocated for this. Thus, there are reserves.
[Veidas] We are talking about reconstructing the province of Ghowr, which is too difficult for Lithuania.
[Jukneviciene] The Ghowr Provincial Reconstruction Team is working in two directions: The military, security direction (the Defence Ministry is responsible for this direction) and the civilian direction – fixing the province’s life. It is obvious that in the latter viewpoint Lithuania cannot compete with the big and rich NATO countries.
Politicians are still debating whether Lithuania made the right decision, when it accepted responsibility for the entire province and whether it was a calculated move. An unequivocal answer to this question does not exist. The fact that we are in Ghowr, that we can lead the mission is useful to Lithuania, because the troops gain combat experience.
On the other hand, with Mr Gates we talked about the possibility for other countries to join civilian projects implemented in the province of Ghowr. For example, the continued construction of an airport. The US promised to find money for this so that the project would not be implemented solely from Lithuanian funds.
[Veidas] Recently, there have been sharp discussions related to the use of money intended for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. For example, the Defence Ministry’s Second Department is investigating how over one million US dollars that Lithuanian had transferred “evaporated” from one bank in Afghanistan.
[Jukneviciene] We should not get those things mixed up: That $1.2 million that disappeared was not a result of misuse by Lithuanian troops. It was a problem of the Afghanistan bank. On our part, one could only detect some signs of carelessness, when the money deposit agreement was signed in 2007 with that bank, which at the time did not seem to have any problems. Afghanistan’s officials even sent us a letter stating that other countries that were part of the international force for stabilizing Afghanistan were keeping their money in that bank, too. Now it is being investigated whether the letter was forged, because later the bank started having problems with Afghanistan’s law enforcement agencies.
Today, the Lithuanian military does not have any dealings with this bank. I hope we will manage to get that money back in one form or another. From that account we will transfer money to local companies for works that have not been completed yet.
[Veidas] Why then was the military’s logistics chief replaced so quickly?
[Jukneviciene] This is another matter – concluding contracts with certain Afghani companies that were obligated to do certain works. Using surveys, companies were selected. Later, however, it turned out those companies were nontransparent, and today our auditors view them as unreliable. I signed a decree that there will be no new contracts with those companies. Because of this, Lieutenant Colonel Giedrius Vasiliauskas lost his job last summer.
The most important thing today is to make sure everything is transparent in the logistics department.
[Veidas] Was the Defence Ministry involved in the Foreign Ministry’s “democracy spreading” projects, which now are investigated by a Seimas committee and the new leadership of the Foreign Ministry?
[Jukneviciene] Well, they denied the reports about the alleged planting of an oak park in the province of Ghowr.
However, it is good that there is control, that things are reviewed. If it is necessary, our ministry will cooperate with the investigators in every way; we will present all documents, including classified documents.
[Veidas] Yet, it is apparent that recently the Defence Ministry has been buying equipment that is not the most important for the country’s defence – minesweeper ships, cargo plane, and armoured trucks.
[Jukneviciene] The previous government made those decisions. The previous Seimas also approved the military capability plans. They thought purchasing minesweepers and cargo planes was a priority.
Our government would not see purchasing minesweepers as a priority and would strengthen other forces. On the other hand, sooner or later Lithuania would have been forced to purchase the minesweepers, because Lithuania is obligated to participate in the joint Baltic Sea mine clearing fleet; those plans have been coordinated with NATO.
[Veidas] All military branches had purchase projects. The navy, however, managed to present its demands clearly and to organize a competition. Meanwhile, projects for purchasing armoured vehicles or helicopters still have not been prepared.
[Jukneviciene] I can only confirm that the issue of priorities is very important. This year, which is a “year of drought” (just as the next year will be), we cannot even dream about any additional purchases. However, it is an excellent opportunity for quiet contemplation and planning; we can set purchasing priorities for the future, when the financing for the Defence Ministry is normal again. Priority will be given to anti-airplane and anti-tank defence.
[Baciulis] The Defence Ministry was already forced to reduce its budget by 150 million litas, but it is estimated the ministry will have to save another 100 million litas.
[Jukneviciene] If the financing is reduced further, Lithuanian will be physically incapable of being a NATO member, because it will be unable to participate in joint missions. Next year, Lithuania will have to participate in NATO’ rapid reaction force. One needs a fully operational, mechanized battalion for this. If we do not have one, the rapid reaction project may stop. Today, it is very important to us, because the rapid reaction force will have to ensure defence of the NATO territory. In Krakow we will talk about this with our colleagues from other NATO countries.
[Veidas] Is it possible that after reducing defence spending we will be unable to finance the new professional military, because six months from now we will give up the draft system?
[Jukneviciene] We are witnessing the results of the hurried switching to the professional army. Additional money is needed to maintain the professional army, while the defence spending had to be reduced. This means that we will hire fewer regular soldiers than we ought to, and the disproportion between the private soldiers and the officers will increase even more
The saddest consequences will be felt by the anti-air defence battalion, which is defending the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, because we will have no one to replace the draftees. We will have to raise the issue whether it is worth defending the airspace above the Ignalina plant, especially considering the fact that since 11 September 2001 there have not been similar incidents in the world. Moreover, today we have the NATO air police mission.
[Veidas] Listening to you, one gets the impression that all the military will be doing in the near future is trying to survive.
[Jukneviciene] This is no secret. This and the next year will be the years of survival for the military. Just as for the entire Lithuania. The most important thing is to retain human resources, although there will be difficult decisions, trying to even out the disproportion between the officers and the privates and sergeants.
Source BBC Monitoring
The German newspaper Die Welt on 24 November published an interview with the Lithuanian new Prime Minister Mr Andrius Kubilius
(Die Welt) Lithuania holds a record in the EU – in emigration. According to estimates, up to 10 per cent of the entire population are working abroad nowadays. Why?
(Kubilius) We have seen a high degree of emigration since the mid-90s. It is difficult to capture it in statistics and to explain why more people are still emigrating from Lithuania than from Estonia or Latvia. I have my own explanation: the Lithuanians are courageous people. They do not seem to mind much packing up and moving to Ireland or Great Britain. We will see what will happen now that the destination countries are suffering from a crisis.
(Die Welt) You have two grown sons. Will they also have to look for work abroad?
(Kubilius) No, they still live with us, in the “Mama Hotel,” as we say. They are working in public relations.
(Die Welt) In Latvia and in Estonia the economy has shrunk by more than 3 per cent recently. Latvia has asked the IMF for a loan. . . .
(Kubilius) We have not been hit quite so hard by the crisis. However, this is probably just a matter of time. We are all on the way into a recession. Our coalition has drawn up an anti-crisis plan. We want to reduce the budget deficit from the predicted 5 per cent to 1 per cent. We want to reduce salary payments by the state by 15 per cent. And we must also deal with social expenditures.
(Die Welt) When it joined the EU in 2004, Lithuania committed itself to closing down the Ignalina nuclear power plant by the end of 2009. Is this realistic?
(Kubilius) If the current financial crisis were joined by an energy crisis, this would be a disaster. There is a very good dialogue with the EU Commission, in which a solution is to be found – above all, an energy bridge to Sweden or Poland. I would also support a Baltic nuclear power plant, which the three states and Poland could build together. All this will become topical in 2012 or 2013 at the most. Let us be honest: at the beginning of 2010 we will have an energy gap. By the way, when we joined the EU, the EU, too, incurred obligations. We need solidarity of deeds, not just of words.
(Die Welt) Russian Prime Minister Putin has indicated that Moscow might withdraw from the project of the German-Russian Baltic Sea pipeline. What does this mean?
(Kubilius) We have been sceptical about this gas pipeline right from the start – for ecological and political reasons as well as for reasons of energy security. The costs of the construction would be very high. And there are forecasts – Russian and foreign ones – that Russia will not be able to supply the promised amounts of gas in the next decade. Russia has not invested enough in new gas fields. When Putin says Russia might withdraw, the country obviously is in a crisis itself and is coming to a more realistic position. I would be pleased about an end to the project.
(Die Welt) The only Baltic oil refinery is in Mažeikiai. Russia has ceased oil deliveries, claiming that the pipeline has been damaged.
(Kubilius) Lithuania has suggested itself to carry out repairs on Russian territory. However, I do not know whether Russia wants to see this pipeline back in operation. The closing down is a punitive political measure, because Lithuania has sold the refinery not to a Russian candidate but to the Polish Orlen Corporation. This is a mixture of politics and business. Russia is losing profits by doing this. However, the refinery is in a good situation. It buys oil on the world market and gets it delivered by tankers.
(Die Welt) Most recently, Lithuania was the only EU state that opposed a new partnership agreement between the EU and Russia – because of Georgia. What will your government do?
(Kubilius) I hope that a clearer strategic thinking will begin in Europe. Europe must understand that it has a responsibility: Russia needs help, help that prevents the country from making the same mistakes again as it made in connection with Georgia or Estonia (when moving a Soviet war memorial caused a crisis – the editor). If Europe says: these mistakes are forgotten, let’s do “business as usual,” this would have harmful effects not only on European interests but also on the development in Russia.
(Die Welt) Could the large Russian minorities in Estonia and Latvia become a problem?
(Kubilius)The rights of these minorities are at the highest European level. However, Russia’s actions in the northern Caucasus and in the Crimea show: there are attempts to use minorities for political goals. In the end, this makes the life of the minorities themselves more difficult, because political tensions develop around them.
(Die Welt) If the United States builds the missile shield in Poland, Russia intends to station new missiles in Kaliningrad. Does this frighten the Lithuanians?
(Kubilius) This would not necessarily promote security in the region. I do not understand at all how anybody can believe that the missile shield is aimed against Russia.
Source BBC Monitoring