Viewing cable 05VILNIUS1076

05VILNIUS10762005-10-07 15:20:00 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 001076 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2015 
Classified By: CDA Tom Kelly for reasons (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (C)  Summary:  Lithuanian Foreign Minister Valionis 
accepted U.S. and EU Presidency criticism of recent 
Lithuanian machinations regarding Belarus October 7.  His top 
policy deputy acknowledged that Lithuania was "damaged" by 
the meeting earlier this week between the Lithuanian and 
Belarusian Prime Ministers.  At the same time, Valionis and 
his team expressed dissatisfaction with current restrictions 
against top-level contacts with the GOB.  The MFA shared a 
paper on its Belarusian policy that is part apologia, part 
self-justification.  End Summary. 
¶2.  (C)  CDA presented reftel points in a joint demarche of 
the Foreign Minister with the UK Ambassador and EU presidency 
representative Colin Roberts.  Valionis was accompanied by 
Under Secretary Albinas Januska, the MFA's top policy 
architect, and MFA Political Director and EU Policy chief 
Zygimantas Paviolinis.  CDA also complained about the MFA's 
apparent misrepresentation of USG policy on Belarus, telling 
third parties that the USG surreptitiously approved of its 
interest in dialogue with the Lukashenko regime. 
¶3.  (C)  Roberts, speaking on the EU's behalf, noted that the 
October 4 dinner between Prime Ministers Brazauskas and 
Sidorski violated the EU ban on ministerial contacts with the 
GOB.  He chided the GOL for its failure to consult EU 
governments before proceeding with the meeting.  He added 
that other EU governments, including his own, may be 
receptive to a discussion of the need to adjust tactics in 
dealing with Belarus. 
¶4.  (C)  Valionis and his colleagues accepted the reprimands, 
albeit grudgingly.  The FM expressed "regret for any 
misunderstanding."  Januska urged CDA and Roberts not to 
raise the issue with Brazauskas, insisting that "we hear the 
message."  He accepted Roberts's advice that the GOL lay low 
in the EU on Belarusian issues for a decent interval, 
observing that "after this, we are damaged." 
¶5.  (C)  At the same time, it was clear that the Foreign 
Ministry still wants to engage the GOB at the highest level. 
Noting the approach of next year's elections in Belarus, 
Valionis said the GOL wanted to flood Belarus with foreign 
observers.  The Brazauskas-Sidorski dinner, he said, should 
be seen in the context of Lithuania's attempt to prevent 
Lukashenko from having a pretext to keep Western observers 
out.  Valionis also claimed that Sidorski himself was a 
possible source of intra-regime opposition to Lukashenko. 
¶6.  (C)  Valionis noted that GOB FM Martynov is occasionally 
in Vilnius to visit his resident son.  Valionis said that he 
anticipated that his Belarusian counterpart will seek an 
"informal" meeting.  Both Roberts and CDA responded that this 
would be a bad idea and another violation of the common 
U.S.-EU approach to Belarus. 
¶7.  (C) Valionis provided a "secret" MFA paper providing the 
GOL's explanation for the Brazauskas-Sidorski encounter. 
While the paper's authors express regret that "there was not 
enough time to properly inform partners," they portray the 
event as a spur-of-the-moment decision by PM Brazauskas, 
which compelled the MFA to join in. (Vice Minister Petrauskas 
and Januska attended the dinner for the MFA.)  The authors 
argue that contact with Lukashenko is imperative because "all 
decisions are taken by Lukashenko himself" and that GOL-GOB 
contacts will intensify the likelihood of information sharing 
and defections by key GOB officials.  The full text of the 
paper follows at the end of this cable. 
¶8.  (C)  Comment: Business and ideological considerations 
motivate the Prime Minister and his fellow Social Democrats 
to pursue detente with Lukashenko.  The MFA, once a redoubt 
of opposition to that approach, is at risk of becoming 
Brazauskas's enabler.  We hope that the unpleasantness of the 
joint USG/UK message will make the GOL think twice about 
further high-level contacts with the GOB.  Regrettably, the 
MFA paper's defiant tone suggests that our message needs 
reinforcing at every U.S. meeting with GOL interlocutors, 
especially at the MFA and with Brazauskas himself. 
¶9.  (SBU)  Begin text of MFA non-paper: 
1)  Contacts with Lukashenko 
We thought that under certain circumstances there might be a 
necessity to make contact with Lukashenko.  After consulting 
US and UK Presidency we came to the conclusion that at this 
moment such contact would not be advisable and productive. 
However, we do not preclude that such necessity could arise 
in the future.  It is necessary to underline the specificity 
of the situation where all decisions are taken by Lukashenko 
himself.  Therefore contacts with other officials cannot 
replace the contact with Lukashenko. 
2)  Visit by Belarus Prime Minister 
Belarusian exhibition BELEXPO was planned well before. 
Openings of similar exhibitions during previous years was 
attended by Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus.  During the 
unscheduled visit of the Prime Minister of Belarus Lithuanian 
Prime Minister decided to invite him for a private dinner. 
Lithuanian MFA decided to be present at the dinner. 
3)  Isolation vs. engagement 
We need to be more engaged in the developments in Belarus. 
This is becoming even more obvious in the light of 
forthcoming election.  It is to be expected that Lukashenko 
may deliberately seek to escalate the conflict with the West 
in order to be freer to deliver expected results of the 
elections (and referendum) and prevent observers from coming. 
 By meeting Belarusian Prime Minister we intended to not to 
give any pretext for further escalation of the alleged 
hostility by Lithuania and ipso facto by the West towards 
Belarus.  We regret that there was not enough time to 
properly inform the partners. 
4)  Specific location 
Due to geographical proximity between Minsk and Vilnius 
(170km), an increasing number of Belarus nationals, in 
particular those related to the opposition, visit Vilnius. 
They come for meetings, training, seminars and other events. 
At the same time, these people show more and more interest to 
settle in Vilnius on a permanent basis.  Belarus nationals 
often acquire real estate, look for jobs, and move their 
families to Lithuania.  Lithuania never intended to create 
barriers for this. 
Members of Belarus authorities are also increasingly part to 
the same phenomenon.  Few examples: 1) Head of National 
Security Council G. Nevyglas spends a bigger part of his 
weekend time in Vilnius meeting different people and hanging 
around in clubs and restaurants; being President of Belarus 
Football Federation he is particularly active in football 
related circles; 2) Belarus Minister for Foreign Affairs 
confidently approached Lithuanian authorities asking job 
authorization for his son.  Similar requests have been 
received from a number of other high-ranking officials, 
including from MFA.  Lukashenko's son once indicated his 
intention to visit Vilnius as well. 
Those Belarusians wish to keep everything on the private 
business level and remain in disguise.  In these 
circumstances we cannot avoid contact with these people. 
This is a very specific situation which creates particular 
difficulties for Lithuania.  We think that the recent visit 
by Belarus Prime Minister could be related to all these 
issues.  We do not know whether this phenomenon is known to 
Lukashenko.  We know that some cases of "veiled" resettlement 
to Vilnius is recorded by Belarus KGB. 
5)  Search for refuge 
In addition, Lithuanian authorities have been approached by 
some Belarus officials who are in position to disclose the 
crimes committed by the present regime.  These officials are 
high-ranking, therefore the information might be credible and 
substantial.  Their only condition is a guarantee of physical 
and material security for them and their families which 
should be provided by Western countries.  Lithuania cannot 
guarantee that.  Therefore she has made contact with several 
EU and NATO members on this matter, however, has not received 
any response.  Of course, we cannot exclude that some of the 
approaches were provocations. 
All in all, Vilnius is becoming a specific place of different 
type of activity for a big number of Belarus nationals.  A 
similar situation might be in Latvia and Poland. 
¶10.  (U)  End text of MFA paper.