Viewing cable 05VILNIUS65
Title: LITHUANIA'S ECONOMY MINISTER SEEKS TO ATTRACT U.S.

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS652005-01-20 06:47:00 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 000065 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB AND INR/B 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/19/2014 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EINV ENRG ECIN LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA'S ECONOMY MINISTER SEEKS TO ATTRACT U.S. 
INVESTMENT, DIVERSIFY OIL SUPPLY 
 
REF: A. VILNIUS 57 
 
     ¶B. 2004 VILNIUS 1099 
 
Classified By: POL/ECON OFFICER TREVOR BOYD 
FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Economy Minister and Labor Party Chairman 
Viktor Uspaskich, meeting with Ambassador Mull on January 18, 
stressed his commitment to attracting U.S. investment, 
improve the competitiveness of Lithuanian companies, and to 
work with the EU to help Lithuania diversify its oil supply 
and achieve a greater degree of energy independence from 
Russia.  The Ambassador offered his assistance to attract 
more U.S. foreign direct investment to Lithuania.  Uspaskich 
confirmed his participation at the March 4 Baltic Trade and 
Investment Conference in Washington.  His interest in 
attracting foreign investment matches USG and U.S. business 
interests, and we will work closely with the Minister to 
improve Lithuania's commercial and investment climate.  End 
Summary. 
 
¶2. (C) Ambassador Mull met with Viktor Uspaskich, recently 
confirmed Economy Minister, January 18 as part of his 
get-acquainted tour of Lithuania's new Cabinet (ref a). 
Uspaskich discussed the electoral success of, and discipline 
within, his Labor Party, efforts to attract U.S. investment, 
and Lithuania's energy sector. 
 
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Labor Party: Down to the Business of Governing 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶3. (C) Uspaskich outlined for the Ambassador the Labor 
Party's initial foray into the business of governing, 
remarking that "despite all the stereotypes," the Labor Party 
is committed to delivering on its campaign promises. 
Uspaskich emphasized the importance of party discipline to 
enable the Labor Party to realize its strategic vision for 
Lithuania.  He added that he had learned the lesson of party 
discipline during a 1998 visit to Republican Party 
headquarters in Washington.  In response to the Ambassador's 
observations of the celerity of the Labor Party's rise to 
power, Uspaskich claimed that his party continues to grow, 
noting the influx of technical specialists to the already 
broad base of support for his party. 
 
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Attracting Investment to Lithuania 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶4. (C) Ambassador Mull underscored his commitment to 
attracting U.S. investment to Lithuania.  He mentioned the 
Baltic Trade and Investment Mission held last month in 
London, attracting over 180 U.S. companies.  Uspaskich 
confirmed his intention to participate in a March 4 follow-up 
conference in Washington, and accepted the Ambassador's 
suggestion to meet with senior USG trade officials. 
Uspaskich said he is dedicated to attracting investment to 
Lithuania. 
 
¶5. (C) Ambassador Mull discussed several barriers to U.S. 
investment in Lithuania, raising in particular the need to 
reform the tax code and expedite residency permits. 
Recognizing that these matters do not fall under the purview 
of the MOE, he asked Uspaskich, in his role as both Economy 
Minister and Chairman of the Labor Party, to engage with his 
colleagues in government on these barriers to economic 
growth.  The Ambassador also highlighted bilateral 
cooperation in innovation policy, science and technology, and 
training assistance.  Uspaskich welcomed the Ambassador's 
offer of assistance, particularly in competition law, noting 
that one of his highest priorities is to improve Lithuania's 
competitiveness in both the European and U.S. markets.  He 
noted, however, that it would take more than improving the 
laws and educating the technocrats to accomplish his goals 
for the economy.  One of the challenges, he said, is to 
educate Lithuania's populace about the benefits of a free 
market economy. 
 
¶6. (C) Noting the relationship between education and 
business, Uspaskich outlined plans to invest some of his 
personal fortune in developing a business school in Kedainai. 
 The Ambassador pointed out the importance of also being able 
to offer educational opportunities to the families of foreign 
investors, and called upon Uspaskich to help resolve the 
Lithuanian's Social Security Agency's tax claims against the 
American International School in Vilnius. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Energy Policy:  Seeking Independence from Russia 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
¶7. (C) The Ambassador acknowledged that ensuring energy 
supplies would be one of the Minister's most difficult 
challenges.  He asked Uspaskich to outline Lithuania's energy 
policy.  Uspaskich said he "cannot be very diplomatic on this 
issue," and that he would act in the best interests of the 
Lithuanian people when dealing with Russian oil suppliers. 
"I have no positive sentiments for Yukos or the government of 
Russia," Uspaskich said.  His priority, he said, is to ensure 
that Lithuania acquires controlling interest in the Mazeikiu 
Nafta refinery, since the company is an important strategic 
asset that contributes substantial tax revenues to the 
national budget.  He added that Lithuanian control of the 
refinery would most efficiently be executed through a private 
company.  Uspaskich foresees no long-term supply difficulties 
should Yukos eventually stop the flow of crude to Mazeikiu 
Nafta.  Though it would likely cost more, Uspaskich said that 
Lithuania could refine oil from other suppliers in Europe or 
Venezuela. 
¶8. (C) Uspaskich said that Lithuania's long-term energy 
stability is tied to Europe, appreciating the irony that 
Lithuania is now more dependent on Russia because of the EU's 
insistence that the GOL close the Ignalina nuclear power 
plant. He outlined the EU's plans to develop electricity 
bridges between Tallinn and Helsinki, Lithuania and Sweden, 
and Poland and Lithuania.  Uspaskich said that though 
Lithuania will strive for cooperative relations with all its 
neighbors, it will increasingly become engaged with the EU on 
energy issues. 
 
¶9. (C) Comment.  Uspaskich's expansive discourse on the 
political situation indicates that, despite his new job, he 
remains focused on consolidating his party's position of 
strength within the governing coalition.  As we have noted in 
previous meetings (ref b), he is also trying very hard to 
tell us what he thinks we want to hear.  His enthusiastic 
acceptance of the invitation to travel to Washington, his 
recounting of his earlier foray to Republican headquarters, 
and his hiring last week of the Embassy's excellent economic 
FSN, who accompanied him to the meeting, suggest to us that 
he wants us to think well of him.  If he follows through on 
his promises to make Lithuania a better place for U.S. 
businesses to invest, we will. 
MULL