Viewing cable 05VILNIUS138
Title: Minister of Environment Setting New Priorities in

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS1382005-02-10 11:40:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000138 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SECSTATE EUR/PGI FOR BPOMAINVILLE, EUR/NB FOR MGERMANO, AND 
OES/ENV 
 
COPENHAGEN FOR LDANDO 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV PGOV ECON EPET TBIO TSPL LH RS
SUBJECT: Minister of Environment Setting New Priorities in 
Wake of EU Membership 
 
REF: VILNIUS 93 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - NOT FOR INTERNET 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
¶1. (SBU) Ambassador Mull met with Minister of Environment 
Arunas Kundrotas on February 8 as part of his tour of the 
GoL's new cabinet (refs A and previous).  The Ambassador 
recalled the extensive bilateral environmental protection 
cooperation that has taken place, noted ongoing cooperation 
in areas such as environmental science education through 
the GLOBE program, and urged support for expanding research 
cooperation through the signing of a new science and 
technology agreement.  Kundrotas confirmed the formative 
role U.S. assistance played in shaping the Ministry of 
Environment, training ministry staff, and building lasting 
bilateral contacts on environmental issues.  The Minister 
also sees opportunities for partnership on U.S.-EU issues 
such as mercury, and hopes for additional technical 
assistance/cooperation on GMOs, monitoring, and other 
issues.  End Summary. 
 
Dust from EU Membership Settling 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶2. (SBU) Minister Kundrotas accepted the Ambassador's 
observation about the fast pace of environmental reform in 
Lithuania, but noted that he hopes that to get back to work 
now that EU Membership is a fait accompli.   The Minister 
said that implementing EU directives over the past few 
years had tapped resources that could have been used for 
solving local problems.  He stated that Lithuania needed to 
refocus on domestic priorities again, in part to ensure the 
most efficient use of EU structural funds in the 
environmental sector.  The Ministry is targeting 
approximately 100 million Euros per year during 2004-2006 
to improve drinking/waste water treatment.(This could be an 
investment possibility for U.S. business.)  While cities 
will start seeing improvements by the end of 2006, smaller 
towns will not be reached until 2010. 
 
¶3. (SBU) The Minister does not foresee any fundamental 
changes in the GOL's environmental policy, but was 
uncertain whether the parliament would undertake any 
initiatives.  Kundrotas told us his party (Social 
Democrats) is small and there is a "diverse" level of 
competence about environmental protection within the 
parliament.  The Minister noted that meeting new EU 
obligations would be a challenge requiring his active role 
in moving legislation through the system.  He also 
questioned the qualifications of his new vice-minister 
Rytis Satkauskas to effectively serve in the position. 
(Satkauskas, director of the business consulting firm 
"Sabelija" is a founding member of the Labor Party, the 
upstart group formed by Russian-born businessman Viktor 
Uspaskich which controls the most parliamentary seats 
within the governing coalition.) 
 
D-6 Oil Drilling, Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶4. (SBU) Kundrotas was optimistic about the "D-6" Russian 
oil drilling operation off the Lithuanian coast and pointed 
out several areas of progress with the Russians.  He noted 
that two of four key objectives of establishing an 
independent monitoring and post-impact assessment of D-6 
had been essentially concluded.  The Minister further hopes 
to develop a risk assessment and rescue plan in the event 
of a disaster and to agree on the terms of financial 
compensation should a problem occur. 
 
¶5. (SBU) On discussions to build a new nuclear power plant 
(NPP), the Minister cautioned against making a decision 
absent all the facts.  (The President, Prime Minister, and 
other cabinet members have embraced the construction of a 
new NPP in anticipation of Ignalina's Reactor 2 closure in 
2009). Kundrotas noted that the construction of a new NPP 
is not a "yes" or "no" question, but a question of "how", 
"what technologies," etc.  While the construction project 
would certainly seem good for the local communities, the 
overall benefits to Lithuania might be less clear, he 
mused. 
 
Avenues of Cooperation 
---------------------- 
 
¶6. (U) Ambassador Mull emphasized that while many of the 
assistance programs that provided funding to EPA and other 
agencies have concluded, he hoped bilateral cooperation 
might continue in a few new areas such as research related 
to environmental problem solving.  The Minster applauded 
the Embassy's effort to re-establish the U.S.-Lithuania 
Science and Technology Agreement and mentioned Lithuanian 
research strengths in the environmental sector.  He offered 
his support in moving the agreement through the Ministry of 
Finance.  The Ambassador also stated his hope to keep the 
Cochran Fellowship Program open to Lithuanians and find new 
opportunities for U.S. investment.  The Minister noted the 
importance of training programs such as Cochran, and 
indicated his desire that some modes of cooperation and 
technical assistance would remain open in the future. 
 
Comment 
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¶7.  (SBU) A holdover from the last government, Kundrotas 
strikes us as one of the cabinet's most capable members. 
We will continue to look for ways to work with him and his 
Ministry. 
 
MULL