Lithania’s President and the PM addressed to the nation – day and night

April 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm 1 comment

President delivers the address to the nationIt could be argued that this week’s two most important events were the President’s address to the nation on April 15 and the Prime Minister’s evaluation of the government’s activity in last year in the form of the annual report, presented to the Seimas April 17.

It could be argued that the both address were extremely different in the evaluation of the Lithuanian situation.  The President’s address by the many commentators appeared too negative and the PM’s address sounded too positive in evaluation of the Lithuania’s situation.

There is a logical explanation to it: the President Adamkus still have a year before another presidential election, the PM Kirkilas, on the other hand is facing election on October 12.  The President’s executive powers are rather restricted by the constitution, unlike those of the Prime Minister’s.  The President is regarded as the number one in Lithuania, followed by the Chairman of Seimas, which leaves the PM only number three.  However, in practice the PM has the tools to ‘move and shake’ the most important aspects of the day-to-day life in Lithuania.

Another explanation in such differing views of Lithuania is that Adamkus more likely will not participate in the Presidential election and Kirkilas inevitably will face a Parliamentary election in this Autumn, further more, he is a chairman of the Social Democratic party, which has lost a substation number of its voters.  There is also a talk in the town that Mr Kirkilas has his eyes set on the Presidential palace.

The President’s view
In his speech the President stated that ‘we could say that never before has Lithuania and its people been so secure and successful and enjoyed so many opportunities for self-realization and participation in a wide range of fields.’  However “Regrettably, in the nineteenth year of our independence, instead of discussing the challenges or problems that we face, we have to acknowledge that there is a crisis of confidence in the state. We came to this crisis slowly but steadily, ignoring all cautions and warnings to work together for common interest.”

Here are some reactions to the speech by the Lithuanian media and some commentators

Daily Respublika
The MPs reacted in a usual manner – we know all the problems already, there is nothing new in the address.  The MPs listened to the address without any emotions – no clapping or other noises.

The speech was addressed not to the present parliamentarians but to the next ones.

The main message is that Lithuania is moving towards stagnation.

President criticised all spheres in politics apart from the Foreign and Defence policy, which according to the constitution are run by Him.

Daily Lietuvos Zinios
Zuokas, chairman of the Liberal centrist party was the main critic and expressed his disappointment towards the address.  The address so pessimistic that it encourages not to act but to emigrate from Lithuania.  ‘The President identified the right problems but rather than talking about them there should be more actions to resolve them.’  According to Zuokas, the President should also take a blame for many problems he raised.

Siauliene, the elder of the Social Democratic faction in Seimas – there is a lot of criticism but no proposed solutions how to solve the problems.

Commentator Grinius – ‘The President could not decide on what emphasis the address should be concentrated: overview the situation, set the road map for the future or just criticize the Government.  It could appear that address was read not by the head of Lithuania but by a foreign commentator’.

Daily Vilniaus Diena
Landsbergis MEP – the President should avoid to present all political parties in the same light.  The Conservatives should not be placed in the same basket with the other scandalous populists.  By doing so, the President is planting even stronger mistrust of the political parties amongst the Lithuanian society.

The opposition Liberal Movement’s leader Eligijus Masiulis says that the president highlighted all problems in an accurate manner, however, looked like “an experienced wolf standing aside of all political processes.

Rasa Jukneviciene Conservatives “If I were the Prime Minister, after such address to the nation I would either resign or come to the Seimas to check the trust in a secret ballot. This should be the practice in a democratic country because, obviously, the President was very critical of the situation in Lithuania – not only of the past year but also of the past period. The Communists (…) have been in power for eight years. This is the consequence of their rule.”

The Prime Minister’s view
The Prime Minister on the other hand highlighted Lithuania’s achievements.  According to his address the year 2007 entered the country’s history as a year that Lithuania decided to remain a nuclear state, and the greatest victory in foreign policy became the accession to the Schengen free-travel zone.

As the BNS reported according to the report, not all of sore issues were solved and some transferred onto year 2008, such as ensuring of safe traffic and putting a halt to arbitrary constructions.

Among the “meaningful tasks” implemented, the report mentions the decision to remain a nuclear state, which is consolidated it the Seimas-approved National Energy Strategy as well as in the Nuclear Power Plant Law prepared by the government and approved by the Seimas.

The government sees Lithuania’s accession to Schengen – a step that required considerable effort – as the most meaningful victory in foreign policy. Together with eight other European Union (EU) newcomers, Lithuania lifted border controls at inner EU borders. Considerable preparation procedures with regards to transport and accommodation of border infrastructure for Schengen needs were implemented prior to accession.

As the BNS noted the document also states that the country’s accession to the EU had a basically good impact on local economy, naming acceleration of constructions, better prospects for the transport sector and a stronger agriculture industry.

Development of Lithuanian agriculture in 2007 was among those, which experienced fastest growth in the EU. In response to increased domestic consumption, all branches of agriculture experienced growth, average wages went up and unemployment dropped.

The continually increasing level of employment of inhabitants reached 64.9 % last year and was highest over the past few years. According to preliminary data, the average level of unemployment dropped from 5.6 % in 2006 to 4.3 % in 2007, thus dropping below the average EU unemployment level (6.9 %).

Even though declared migration hasn’t decreased, the document notes an increase in the re-immigration of Lithuanian citizens. Almost 70 % of citizens returning to Lithuania are under 35 years old.

In the report, the government promises that Lithuania will continue sticking to the strictly fixed rate of the litas with respect to the euro and will seek to join the euro zone as soon as it satisfies criteria for convergence.

As the BNS writes according to the report among tasks awaiting the government this year, the document mentions efficient utilization of EU support, which will reach 23.4 m litas (EUR 6.8 m) over the 2007-2015 period; preparation for commemoration of a millennium since the first mention of Lithuania in written sources as well as successful implementation of the Vilnius European Capital of Culture 2009 program.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle, even though Kirkilas has became infamous in giving promises without keeping them.


Entry filed under: Baltic States, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Politics.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. bieksia  |  April 20, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    I continue to be captivated by the subjects that you present on your pages. This post is another fine example professionalism at it’s best. The content is most informative. I have an appreciation for the amount of time and thought that has been dedicated. Presenting the opinions or commentarys of various officials offers the reader an oportunity to better understand the ‘atmosphere’ surrounding the political scene. Most refreshing is the fact that your accounts of ths very important topic are not injected with personal bias.


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