Viewing cable 05VILNIUS718
Title: VISA WAIVER PROGRAM: INAUGURAL MEETING OF CONSULAR

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS7182005-07-11 10:40:00 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 000718 
 
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. (SBU) 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 
------------------------ 
 
¶4. (SBU) 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. 
 
¶5. (SBU) 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 
-------------------- 
 
¶6. (SBU) 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. 
 
------------------------------------- 
PD Efforts and Voluntary Visitor Trip 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶7. 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. 
 
¶8. 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 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶9. (SBU) 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 are committed to 
continuing the cooperation that has marked our bilateral 
consular relationship for many years. 
 
KELLY