Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1492

04VILNIUS14922004-12-08 11:23:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001492 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2014 
¶1. (C) Summary.  President Valdas Adamkus on December 7 
nominated Gediminas Kirkilas, a leader of the Social Democrat 
Party and former Chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs 
Committee, to become Minster of Defense in Lithuania's new 
government.  Kirkilas, who will replace fellow Social 
Democrat Linas Linkevicius, will likely be confirmed by 
parliament next week.  Kirkilas publicly pledged on December 
6 to continue to reform and improve the professionalism of 
Lithuania's armed forces, to work to extend the parliamentary 
party agreement allocating two percent of GDP for defense 
purposes until 2012, and to increase the amount of defense 
spending directly allocated to the Ministry of Defense.  We 
expect Kirkilas, who has often proven himself sympathetic 
toward USG views, to continue to promote Lithuania's activist 
foreign policy in the Global War on Terror and our strong, 
cooperative MOD-USG relationship.  End Summary. 
New Defense Minister to Stay the Course 
¶2. (U) Gediminas Kirkilas, nominated to replace fellow Social 
Democrat Linas Linkevicius as Minister of Defense in 
Lithuania's new Cabinet, pledged on December 6 to continue to 
reform and improve the professionalism of Lithuania's armed 
forces.  Kirkilas also promised to work with Lithuania's 
political parties to extend their pledge to allocate at least 
two percent of GDP for defense purposes until 2012. (NOTE: 
In March, Lithuania's political parties agreed to extend this 
two percent allocation until 2008). Noting that the two 
percent allocation must be "real" for the Ministry of 
Defense, Kirkilas pledged to work to reduce the amount of 
defense spending allocated to secondary defense 
organizations, such as to border guard and Ministry of 
Interior troops (reftel A). 
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Kirkilas:  An Experienced National Security Hand 
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¶3. (SBU) Kirkilas brings a wealth of national security and 
foreign affairs experience to his new position.  Kirkilas has 
served in parliament since 1992, is a member of parliament's 
National Security Committee, and has served as Deputy 
Chairman of the European Affairs Committee (since July 2001) 
and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (since July 
2001).  Kirkilas has served as Chairman of Lithuania's 
parliamentary delegation to NATO's parliamentary assembly 
since October 2001.  Fluent in English and Russian, Kirkilas 
is a long-serving member of the parliamentary groups for 
relations with the United States and Russia.  In the summer 
of 2002, President Adamkus named Kirkilas special envoy on 
Kaliningrad transit issues.  For his efforts in helping 
secure the EU-Russia agreement on transit issues in November 
2002, and for advancing the border and readmission agreement 
with Russia, Adamkus granted Kirkilas the rank of Ambassador. 
¶4. (SBU) Kirkilas has pledged to remain a Member of 
Parliament, and an active player in the co-ruling Social 
Democratic Party.  President Adamkus is expected to present 
his Cabinet to parliament for confirmation on December 9 
(septel).  A final vote may come as early as December 14. 
There has been no official word on what the future holds for 
outgoing Minster Linkevicius, though there are rumors that he 
may be offered an Ambassadorial position, possibly at the UN. 
¶5. (C) Kirkilas is a respected figure in Lithuanian national 
security circles.  We have worked well with Kirkilas in the 
past, and have developed strong relations with him over a 
broad range of issues.  His principal challenge will be to 
secure a greater portion of the two percent defense 
allocation for "real" defense purposes.  Very influential 
within the ruling coalition and Parliament, and fully versed 
in negotiating the budgetary process, Kirkilas is positioned 
to succeed in areas where Linkavicius did not, especially in 
securing additional funding for the MOD.  Given his 
longstanding pro-American stance, we also expect Kirkilas to 
help maintain Lithuania's activist foreign policy in support 
of multinational operations around the world. 
Biographical Notes 
¶6. (SBU) Gediminas Kirkilas was born on August 30, 1951 in 
Vilnius.  He is the eldest of seven children born to a 
teacher and engineer.  Kirkilas served as a conscript in the 
Soviet Northern Fleet in Severomorsk between 1969-1972.  He 
studied literature at the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute 
between 1972 and 1976.  In 1982, he received a degree from 
the Communist Party Institute (Political School) in Vilnius. 
He received an MA in International Trade from Vilnius 
University's Business School in 2004. 
¶7. (SBU) Between 1972-1982, Kirkilas worked as an 
architectural restorer, and helped restore the interiors of 
several churches in Vilnius and Kaunas.  Kirkilas began a 
career in the Communist Party apparatus in 1982.  In 1986, 
Kirkilas became the First Assistant to the Secretary of the 
Party Central Committee's Culture Department.  He served as 
Assistant Spokesman of the Party's First Secretary and later 
for Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas.  When the 
Lithuanian Communist Party split from the Communist Party of 
the Soviet Union and renamed itself the Labor Party in 1990, 
Kirkilas became a member of its Central Committee and its 
Deputy Chairman.  In 2001, he was elected the Deputy Chairman 
of the newly merged Social Democratic Party.  For several 
years following the merger, Kirkilas served as party whip, 
directing the party's information strategy and its election 
campaigns.  Kirkilas, running as the party's number two 
candidate for the European parliament, failed to win office 
in June.  He was re-elected to parliament from the Social 
Democrat's Party list in October. 
¶8. (SBU) Kirkilas is married to Liudmila Kirkiliene, who 
works for Lithuanian Railways.  They have a daughter and two 
sons (one adopted).  Kirkilas is a pipe smoker, and his 
hobbies include fishing and tennis.  He is a prolific author, 
and has published some 900 articles and a book on politics. 
Kirkilas has received two Lithuanian state decorations, the 
Vytautas Order Officer Cross, and the Vytis Cross, and was 
awarded Poland's Commander Order.