Viewing cable 05VILNIUS714
Title: VISA WAIVER PROGRAM: INAUGURAL MEETING OF CONSULAR

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS7142005-07-08 14:37:00 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 000714 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, EUR/PPD, CA/VO, FSI/SPAS/CON, FRANKFURT 
FOR RCO - BARBARA ARMSTRONG 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: CVIS PREL KPAO LH
SUBJECT: VISA WAIVER PROGRAM: INAUGURAL MEETING OF CONSULAR 
WORKING GROUP IN LITHUANIA 
 
REFS: A. STATE 98032 
 
      ¶B. STATE 67069 
      ¶C. STATE 26010 
      ¶D. VILNIUS 410 
      ¶E. VILNIUS 276 
      ¶F. VILNIUS 162 
 
¶1. SUMMARY: Embassy and MFA officials discussed next steps 
to accomplish the items listed in Lithuania's roadmap for 
the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) at the inaugural meeting of 
the Consular Working Group (CWG). We discussed Lithuanian 
progress on meeting the requirements for sharing lost/stolen 
passport information and briefed on Lithuania's visa refusal 
and overstay rates, which all agreed was Lithuania's largest 
obstacle to qualifying for VWP.  Lithuanian interlocutors 
offered us training on detecting fraud in Lithuanian 
passports and reiterated their desire to send officials on a 
Voluntary Visitor program to Washington.  We agreed to 
expand public outreach efforts on visa issues, identifying 
several cooperative activities for the near-term.  We expect 
our CWG, as a working level forum, to remain focused on 
addressing Roadmap issues in a collegial, cooperative 
manner.  END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2. Participants: 
 
Embassy Vilnius 
Ruta D. Elvikis, Consul 
Anthony A. Pahigian, Public Affairs Officer 
Christian Yarnell, Vice Consul 
 
Lithuania 
Vaidotas Verba, Director of the Consular Department, 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
Petras Anusas, Deputy Director of the Consular Department 
Rimgaudas Losys, Director of the Visas Division, Consular 
Department 
Marijus Petrusonis, Attache, Consular Department 
 
¶3. The first official meeting of our CWG was held at the 
Lithuanian MFA on June 29, 2005.  The Lithuanian 
interlocutors emphasized their desire to keep CWG meetings 
on an informal level (refs D and F) and immediately got down 
to business. 
 
------------------------ 
Combating Passport Fraud 
------------------------ 
 
¶3. We raised the importance of improving reporting of lost 
and stolen Lithuanian passports to the U.S. Department of 
Homeland Security (DHS), points recently added to 
Lithuania's Roadmap using the language contained in State 
¶111324.  The MFA officials responded that Lithuania is now 
reporting all such cases directly to Interpol, through 
which, they thought, DHS should also receive the 
information.  They promised to confirm this.  Should DHS not 
be receiving the data in a timely manner, Verba said, 
Lithuania would be happy to explore a different method of 
transfer to DHS. 
 
¶4. Verba briefed the group on Lithuania's recent discovery 
of cases of high-quality photo-substitution of their new 
passports.  He noted that the fraud is difficult to detect 
with special training, which is now being provided to 
Lithuanian consular officials.  He offered to help arrange a 
similar training session for our Embassy employees.  We 
gladly accepted the offer, and also expressed our desire to 
help arrange future training by a DHS fraud expert in 
Vilnius for Lithuanian border guard, immigration and 
consular officials.  We also invited MFA officials to 
observe our visa interviews to improve their understanding 
of U.S. immigration law as it is applied and the current 
state of Lithuanian readiness for VWP, as well as provide 
context for the MFA in handling complaints from disgruntled 
visa applicants.  Verba expressed interest in this and 
promised to get back to us to make arrangements. 
-------------------- 
VWP a Long-Term Goal 
-------------------- 
 
¶5. We briefed the group on Lithuania's refusal and overstay 
rates, sharing the Lithuanian adjusted refusal rates 
provided post by the Department.  The CWG agreed that the 
high refusal rate (42.9% in FY 2004) and corollary overstay 
rate are the primary obstacles to Lithuanian VWP accession. 
The Lithuanian interlocutors reiterated their understanding 
that VWP accession would not occur overnight.  We affirmed 
our commitment to conduct a new validation study using post- 
EU accession data and asked for the Lithuanian officials' 
assistance in measuring the current overstay rate.  While 
they were uncertain about their ability to help in measuring 
this rate, they reaffirmed their willingness to publicly 
encourage Lithuanian citizens to use their visas properly. 
(any specifics on offer here?) 
 
------------------------------------- 
PD Efforts and Voluntary Visitor Trip 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶6. The CGW discussed possible public diplomacy efforts and 
agreed on two joint PD projects that that could be 
accomplished in the short term: 
 
-- A joint radio interview to discuss the Visa Waiver, the 
Roadmap, and other visa issues. 
-- A consular "roadshow" with Embassy and MFA officials to 
take the discussion on the Roadmap and other visa issues to 
smaller towns across Lithuania.  The first in a series of 
such visits would be to a city with a history of producing 
economic migrants. 
 
¶7. Verba reiterated his desire to send two or three 
Lithuanian officials on the Voluntary Visitor program being 
planned by Embassy Warsaw as well as for discussions on 
consular training and management practices.  We requested 
biographical information for the proposed VolVis 
participants for submission to the Department. 
 
------------------------------------- 
Comment: A Productive, Informal Forum 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶8. While visa waiver is an important long-term objective for 
the GOL, its interest is tempered by a realistic 
understanding by its consular team of the work still to be 
done to qualify for participation.  As a result, the Roadmap 
process in Lithuania has thus far avoided politicization. As 
long as it is not hijacked by outside political actors, we 
expect the CWG to remain a working-level group focused on 
visas and visa waiver.  GOL officials agree with this 
approach and committed to continuing the cooperation that 
has marked our bilateral consular relationship for many 
years. 
 
KELLY