Viewing cable 05VILNIUS1161

05VILNIUS11612005-10-29 07:40:00 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 001161 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2015 
REF: A. SECSTATE 188900 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 1076 
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Alexander Titolo for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (C) Summary: The GOL is refocusing its efforts to promote 
democracy in Belarus after fielding criticism from the USG 
and EU for overstepping the bounds of the agreed 
non-engagement policy.  GOL foreign policy decision-makers 
admit that the Prime Minister's October 4 meeting with 
Belarusian PM Sergey Sidorski was ill advised.  Insisting on 
the utility of maintaining a line of communication with 
Lukashenko, MFA Undersecretary Albinas Januska told the 
Ambassador that neither Lithuania nor any other EU member is 
positioned to do so.  Januska pointed to Ukrainian President 
Yushchenko as best suited to be the West's messenger to 
Lukashenko.  The GOL believes that signs of increasing 
paranoia from the Minsk regime argue in favor of engaging 
Belarusian Minister-level officials who may be able to play a 
role in pushing Lukashenko from power.  End Summary. 
¶2.  (C) The Ambassador delivered ref A points on USG policy 
on Belarus to MFA Undersecretary Albinas Januska, October 26. 
 Januska, the MFA's leading voice and likely author of the 
GOL's Belarus policy, agreed with the outlines of the 
U.S.-proposed strategy.  Januska said that he expects the EU 
to approve the idea of a one-time outreach to Lukashenko, 
provided the right interlocutor delivers the message.  He 
suggested Yushchenko as an appropriate messenger, remarking 
that a Yushchenko-Lukashenko meeting would not violate the EU 
policy barring high-level contacts. 
¶3.  (C) Januska pushed for the USG to consider approaching 
high-level Belarusian officials in a "quiet, well controlled 
manner that had the approval of allies."  Januska said that 
the GOL sees signs of increasing paranoia in the Minsk 
regime, pointing as an example to Lukashenko's refusal to 
allow Belarusian officials to meet in Vilnius with EU 
representatives.  He suggested that this paranoia reflects 
Lukashenko's weakening control, or at least indicates an 
opportunity to further isolate him by influencing those 
closest to him.  Januska conceded that PM Brazauskas's 
meeting with Belarusian PM Sidorski (ref B) was not an 
example of a best practice, and might put Sidorski, whom some 
here think a viable alternative to Lukashenko, at risk.  As 
in previous conversations with us (ref B), Januska cited 
Belarusian Foreign Minister Martynov as someone the 
Lithuanians might reasonably approach. 
¶4. (C) The Ambassador asked Januska about the utility of 
military-to-military contacts.  Januska said that Lithuania 
had avoided mil-mil cooperation while Vladimir Uschopcik was 
the Belarusian Vice Minister of Defense.  (Uschopcik is under 
indictment in Lithuania for his role in the 1991 Soviet 
crackdown on independence advocates.)  With Uschopcik out of 
government, mil-mil cooperation now seems a very good idea. 
He suggested, however, that Poland may be better positioned 
to carry out this type of cooperation.  Januska also noted 
that Lithuania's embassy in Minsk has received few requests 
for information in its role as NATO Contact Embassy. 
¶5.  (C) Januska asked that the USG consider including in the 
message to the GOR (ref A) a statement to the effect that 
Russian interference in Belarus is unacceptable.  He also 
raised Lithuanian concerns that the long-discussed potential 
merger of Belarus with Russia is moving forward, asserting 
that the joint commission established to prepare for this was 
close to finalizing several agreements.  Januska stated that 
the GOL would view such a merger as a Russian annexation of 
Belarus, coming as it would by fiat rather than as a result 
of a democratic process. 
¶6. (C) Januska told the Ambassador that the GOL will support 
daily TV broadcasts on the Lithuanian state satellite channel 
of 30-minutes of news programming focused on Belarus (in 
Russian with Belarusian subtitles).  He raised the need to 
identify approximately five journalists to contribute 
material, and said the GOL may need some technical support in 
implementing this project.  He asked the Ambassador to 
consider possible USG assistance for this project. 
¶7.  (C) Comment: Chastened GOL policymakers indicate they 
will cease to propose their own meetings with Lukashenko or 
his PM.  They will, nonetheless, still actively seek 
opportunities to promote democracy in Belarus.  Some among 
Lithuania's leaders hope that Adamkus or Brazauskas will 
someday mediate a potential crisis in Belarus, the way 
Adamkus played a role during Ukraine's Orange Revolution, if 
elections or other events shake Lukashenko's hold.  While 
they entertain many dire scenarios, including the realization 
of the seemingly unlikely merger of Belarus and Russia, we 
expect the Lithuanians will be better team players in the 
future.  They will urge the USG and EU to push the limits on 
engagement with Belarus, but likely not stray (too far) over 
the line on their own.