Posts filed under ‘Grybauskaite’
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite announced on 5 February that she is going to meet the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Finland next week.
According to her, the initiative for the meeting came from Kremlin. Grybauskaite said to the reporters today, “At Putin’s request, we agreed to such meeting.” The Lithuanian president and the Russian Prime Minister will participate on the meeting of the leaders of the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.
Grybauskaite was asked if during the meeting she will raise a question to Putin about a statement made in 29 January by the Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson in which he declared that Independent Lithuania did not exist in January 13 1991, when the Soviet military killed 14 civilians and injured hundreds injured. Grybauskaite answered, ‘I think that this statement is a misunderstanding.’ She added, ‘Why should I raise this question. I know that Lithuania did exist then. I don’t have any questions about this question.’
The President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė has on 29 January signed a decree appointing Audronius Ažubalis as a new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. Mr Azubalis, the Conservative Member of Parliament is currently Parliament’s Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The meeting was scheduled for 45 minutes but lasted double that.
After the meeting Ažubalis told journalists that the Lithuania’s foreign policy priorities are the same, ‘Real and deep integration into NATO and the European Union, good relation with our neighbours. It sounds banal; there is a lot of talk and writings about it. On the other hand, it is a different matter how we implement that. But I don’t want to comment on that at the moment. However, I have an impression that our conversation with the President was open, very clear, benevolent and to be precise, I am in a good mood from it.’
Asked to give his opinion about a Parliamentary probe on the secret CIA prisons in Lithuania he answered, ‘The probe helped Lithuania to clear out another jammed pipe in its circulation of democracy.’ He also added that in his opinion the probe will not effect Lithuania’s relationship with the USA in any negative way.
Some politicians and commentators see Mr Ažubalis as too anti Russian and not able to fit with a new, so called a pragmatic policy towards Russia, which began when Grybauskaite took the office half year ago.
“I think that Russia is a complicated neighbour and some of its actions can be named as threatening. Let us just look at the example of closure of Druzhba gas pipeline, the act that was threatening to Lithuania economically. We cannot deny that.” said Ažubalis.
would think that every minister should feel the political situation so well as never to receive an official suggestion from the head of state to leave his post. „I am not clinging to my chair, so if my resignation would solve the problems, I will immediately sign an application to resign,” -this standard sentence is repeated by everybody. Also we all see how much the words differ from the deeds. A phrase “I would like to check how much confidence is placed on me” is still absent in Lithuanian political vocabulary.
A Minister of Foreign Affairs who did not manage to check how much confidence he enjoys, did a mistake that makes us to entertain doubts about his diplomatic wit. Even though this might be only a coincidence, however, this kind of mistakes are not justifiable for a former negotiator for EU membership, Lithuanian ambassador in Washington and London, one of the most professional our diplomats.
It is also hard to understand how Vygaudas Ušackas understood one of the most important problems that are rooted in Lithuanian diplomatic service that is under his leadership. While having a look from aside, it is hard to get a rid from an impression that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was too much close with the State Security Department, and this impression was even more sustained by a free migration between these two services. Links between these two institutions are natural as well as cooperation between them.
However, these links have to be based not on a subjection of one of these services to another but on healthy competition between them. As we can see from a tragic story of Col.Vytautas Pociūnas or from a shameful story of the adviser of the minister Dainius Dabašinskas, there was no balance between the Ministry and the Department. After choosing the side of the faction and not the state interests in the case of CIA prisons, Vygaudas Ušackas showed that he will not manage to regulate the relationships with the State Security Department.
The publicly announced President’s idea to invite the President of the Federation of Russia to the celebration of March the 11th was the last proof for the Minister. Vygaudas Ušackas who is skilfully griping in the channels of mass media showed that he is not inclined to use these skills as well as the cultivation made by the Ministry in the public sphere for the sake of the state.
Lithuanian web site Delfi on 12 January published an interview with Albinas Januška, a former state secretary of the Foreign Ministry, former adviser to President Valdas Adamkus and Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, and signatory to the Lithuanian Independence Act.
Some commentators call him Lithuania’s grey cardinal and a mastermind behind so called group called the ‘Statesmen’ (Valstybininkai). This very rear interview with a man who is known for being the main Lithuania’s foreign policy strategist, but his influence in Lithuanian politics was also huge.
The interview is omitted. Commentator Vladimiras Laučius conducted it.
Foreign Policy Is Too Personal
(Delfi.lt) About a year ago, current Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas announced his plans to “open new page in relations with Russia.” Have you noticed any changes?
(Januška) Usačkas is talented and brave. Visions and innovations are necessary. There indeed are some new initiatives. But it is important not to make a mistake and not to imagine oneself as the forerunner of a new historical period.
It seemed that the country was mature enough, that it had opened a sufficient number of “new pages,” and that we had the right to expect to have a predictable, stable, but also sharp and expansive foreign policy.
The biggest mistake is that we again chose to have relations with the Kremlin based on the tête-à-tête principle. This is why we are a member of a modern empire – the EU, to speak with Russia as an equal. A powerful rival against an equally powerful rival. The Kremlin’s foreign policy is based on the principle that one has to divide and rule, because when Russia deals with everyone separately, it is stronger. Our current policy helps Russia strengthen its interests.
I would like to remind you that when Adamkus and [former Minister of Foreign Affairs] Petras Vaitiekūnas were in power, they had added to the EU-Russia negotiation mandate some issues that were important to us and other EU countries: Russia’s commitment to observe the requirements defined in the Energy Charter, the possibility to renew the delivery of oil via the Friendship [Druzhba] pipeline.
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The Lithuanian Foreign Minister, a career diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas will loose his post sooner than anticipated. According to the Lietuvos rytas daily sources, the Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has run out of options of defending the Minister.
This becomes apparent after President Dalia Grybauskaitė has publicly stated that on 13 January that she has never backed Mr Ušackas. When asked if the President could continue her work with the Minister Grybauskaitė said, “I have never publicly said he had my support”.
Previously, Grybauskaitė accused the minister of failing to respond to her signals. According to the Lietuvos rytas’ sources the straw that broke the camel’s back was after Ušackas publicly doubted if it was sensible to invite Belarusian President to Vilnius to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lithuania’s Independence on 11 March this year. Grybauskaitė, on the other hand, on 13 January publicly stated that she is planning to “invite all presidents of Europe and presidents of neighbouring states” assuming that amongst those is the Belarusian President.
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
As the Lithuanian President Grybauskaite admitted the NATO has no plan a defence plan for the Baltic States. A custom NATO defence plan for the Baltic States could be expected no earlier than in two years time.
As the BNS writes, a small state has to consider a mixed model for its armed forces, not excluding a certain extent of conscription, Grybauskaite on 28 July told the press after receiving the oath of office of Lithuania’s new Army Chief Major General Arvydas Pocius.
“A little country can think and consider mixed options. Especially as NATO, as you are aware, doesn’t have a defence plan for this region, and won’t have one for another two years at the least,” Grybauskaite said.
The shape Lithuania’s army reserve could take on, i.e. whether this would require reinstating mandatory military training for Lithuania’s youth, is still the object of discussions, Grybauskaite said.
“I haven’t heard any specific proposals, meaning at this time I have nothing to discuss in this respect,” the president spoke.
The North Atlantic Alliance’s developments on a specific defence plan for the Baltic State are yet to be clearly formulated and communicated.