Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1523

04VILNIUS15232004-12-16 13:26:00 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 001523 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2014 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 1496 
     ¶C. VILNIUS 1455 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Christian Yarnell 
for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The 13th Government of Lithuania took power 
on December 14, when Parliament approved the Cabinet and 
program of Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas.  Negotiations 
over two Ministerial posts proved difficult, with the 
President forcing substitute nominees and ultimately 
accepting as Interior Minister a controversial figure with 
alleged ties to a well-known criminal.  The Government's 
program, while lacking many specifics, calls for construction 
of a new nuclear power plant and for a heavy social/economic 
agenda highlighting greater redistribution of wealth.  The 
program also calls for continuity in foreign and security 
policy, emphasizing the importance of the transatlantic 
relationship and Lithuania's role as a regional leader in 
promoting democracy.  With eight new ministers taking office, 
the broad policy goals of the new government remain unclear. 
We will immediately engage with members of the new government 
to encourage continued pursuit of political, economic, and 
trade objectives favorable to U.S. interests and foreign 
policy goals.  END SUMMARY. 
¶2. (U) The Lithuanian Parliament approved the Cabinet and 
program of Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas on December 14 
by a vote of 68 to 44, with three abstentions.  Brazauskas 
and his 13 Cabinet Ministers officially took office after a 
swearing-in ceremony the same day.  Lithuania's 13th 
government is the broadest coalition government in the 
country's post-Soviet history, and comprises the following 
four parties: Social Democratic Party (led by Brazauskas), 
New Union (led by Parliamentary Speaker Arturas Paulauskas), 
Labor Party (led by business magnate Viktor Uspaskich), and 
Peasant Party (led by former PM Kazimiera Prunskiene).  The 
Conservatives (led by MP Andrius Kubilius), the Liberal 
Center Union (currently led by Vilnius mayor Arturas Zuokas), 
and the Liberal Democratic Party (led by impeached former 
President Rolandas Paksas) all officially declared themselves 
to be in opposition. 
The Cabinet 
¶3. (SBU) The December 14 vote marked the end to difficult 
negotiations over the composition of the Cabinet, with 
President Adamkus forcing two successive substitutions for 
the Minister of Science and Education nomination and one 
substitution for the Minister of Interior slot.  Adamkus 
challenged but ultimately accepted the final candidate for 
MOI, Gintaras Furmanavicius.  Lithuania's investigative 
services cleared Furmanavicius, but he remains a 
controversial figure because of allegations of previous 
business association with an accused embezzler  (ref B), and 
Adamkus cautioned that he will ask Furmanavicius to resign 
should evidence of wrongdoing come to light.  Juozas 
Antanavicius, the first replacement for Education Minister, 
withdrew his candidacy when information emerged revealing 
past collaboration with the KGB.  Remigijus Motuzas, who 
subsequently assumed the job of Minister of Education, has a 
solid track record in government service and is known for his 
loyalty to Brazauskas. 
¶4. (U) The final Cabinet line-up is as follows: 
-- Prime Minister:      Algirdas Brazauskas (Social Democrat) 
-- Agriculture:         Kazimiera Prunskiene (Peasant Party) 
-- Culture:             Vladimiras Prudnikovas (Labor) 
-- Defense:             Gediminas Kirkilas (Social Democrat) 
-- Economy:             Viktor Uspaskich (Labor) 
-- Education:           Remigijus Motuzas (Social Democrat) 
-- Environment:         Arunas Kundrotas (Social Democrat) 
-- Finance:             Algirdas Butkevicius (Social Democrat) 
-- Foreign Affairs:     Antanas Valionis (New Union) 
-- Health:              Zilvinas Padaiga (Labor) 
-- Interior:            Gintaras Jonas Furmanavicius (Labor) 
-- Justice:             Gintautas Buzinskas (Labor) 
-- Labor:               Vilija Blinkeviciute (New Union) 
-- Transportation:      Zigmantas Balcytis (Social Democrat) 
The Program 
Social Agenda 
¶5. (SBU) The Parliament-approved program outlined the broad 
goals of the new government, while shedding some of the more 
unrealistic campaign promises made by coalition partners. 
Brazauskas's program aims for "a socially-oriented market 
economy," promising a greater redistribution of wealth, lower 
unemployment, and a significant increase in the average and 
minimum wage by 2006.  Increased subsidies to farmers, 
government intervention to control market prices, and pension 
reform, all election campaign proposals of various coalition 
parties, are conspicuously absent from the Brazauskas 
program.  The program does, however, pledge to pursue the 
construction of a new nuclear reactor to replace the 
Soviet-era facility in Ignalina (ref A).  Brazauskas has 
given a green light, and Prunskiene, the primary champion of 
the NPP construction initiative, already announced her 
support for French-controlled Framatome ANP, which is 
currently conducting a feasibility study for a new facility. 
Foreign Policy Continuity 
¶6. (U) The government program pledged continuity in its 
foreign and national security policy, emphasizing a need to 
bolster trans-Atlantic ties and to maintain good relations 
with neighboring countries.  FM Valionis stressed that 
Lithuania would seek to become a "regional leader," promising 
to raise the profile of economic and social development in 
Kaliningrad.  He also noted that a "new field of activity" 
has emerged in Ukraine, and that Lithuania will champion its 
eastern neighbor's bid for EU membership.  Defense Minister 
Kirkilas, formerly chair of the Seimas foreign affairs 
committee, underscored that the government program obliged 
Lithuania to "continue successful work with NATO Alliance 
partners in the hot spots of the world." 
¶7. (U) Opposition figures hailed the government's foreign and 
security policy as the best element of the program.  Some MPs 
voiced concern, however, that the program did not go far 
enough in supporting democracy in Russia and Belarus.  Vaclav 
Stankevic, influential member of the Foreign Affairs 
Committee, bluntly stated, "Our duty is to help Belarus' 
opposition create democracy."  The opposition disparaged the 
social program as nothing more than a "collection of slogans 
and generalities," with the Liberal Center voicing its 
concern that the government's agenda will lead to a 
substantial increase in taxation, and criticized the 
government for failing to specify a target date for the 
introduction of the euro.  (NOTE: The Chairman of the 
Lithuanian Central Bank has said that Lithuania is on track 
to join the euro zone in 2007.) 
Comment: Cabinet a Mixed Bag 
¶8. (C) Holdover FM Valionis is a true Atlanticist with a 
commitment to the major policy goals of the United States. 
Yet while Valionis will strive to ensure continuity in 
Lithuania's foreign policy, the broader policy goals of 
Lithuania's 13th government remain to be seen.  One prominent 
wild card is Uspaskich and his ideologically ambiguous Labor 
Party, which controls the most votes in Parliament despite 
its junior status within the Government.  We are beginning to 
build a relationship with Uspaskich to promote implementation 
of economic policies favorable to U.S. investment and 
commerce.  We will cultivate the interest he has shown in 
foreign investment, while working to ensure a level playing 
field for American businesses. 
¶9. (C) Ag Minister Prunskiene, who has consistently called 
for Lithuania to follow more "European" policies, is also of 
concern.  Although charged with agricultural affairs, 
Prunskiene is a political heavyweight capable of influencing 
policy in other spheres, including Lithuania's bid to retain 
a nuclear-energy production capacity and to construct a new 
¶10. (C) Since independence, the shelf life of Lithuanian 
governments has been relatively brief.  We have therefore 
been in the position of dealing with an unfamiliar cast 
before.  Because of the congruence of Lithuanian and American 
interests, our bilateral relationship has flourished anyway. 
We intend to emulate our past successes, introducing 
ourselves to the eight Ministers new to their roles and 
enlisting them in our effort to promote policies favorable to 
U.S. foreign policy goals.