Viewing cable 05VILNIUS88

05VILNIUS882005-01-26 14:32:00 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 000088 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2015 
     ¶B. 2004 VILNIUS 1523 
     ¶C. 2004 VILNIUS 1505 
     ¶D. 2004 VILNIUS 1315 
     ¶E. 2004 VILNIUS 739 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Christian Yarnell 
for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Agricultural Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene, 
meeting with Ambassador Mull on January 25, painted a picture 
of an EU branded agricultural policy for Lithuania and 
pledged to focus her efforts on rural development.  She 
praised U.S.-Lithuanian cooperation on agricultural and rural 
development issues, and highlighted these areas and 
development of agro-tourism as investment targets.  In her 
capacity as MP and former head of a nuclear energy task 
force, Prunskiene advocated a continuation of Lithuania's 
nuclear power capability, assuring that the GOL would not 
exclude American companies from negotiations with investors, 
now set to begin in earnest.  The former leader of the 
Women's Party also pledged to help our efforts to open a 
local shelter for victims of trafficking-in-persons.  While 
Prunskiene will be a strong proponent of EU policies in her 
Ministerial position, we anticipate healthy collaboration 
with her on some matters of mutual interest.  END SUMMARY. 
¶2. (SBU) Ambassador Mull met with Kazimiera Prunskiene, 
Peasant Party leader and recently-confirmed Minister of 
Agriculture, January 25 as part of his tour of Lithuania's 
new Cabinet (ref A).  Prunskiene spoke of her attempts to 
energize the Agricultural Ministry.  The Ambassador also 
engaged her, as an important player in the Government 
coalition, on other items of particular interest outside the 
scope of her Ministry.  Prunskiene, who has often called for 
Lithuania to adopt "more European" policies (ref E), spoke 
highly of cooperation with the United States, but outlined a 
Lithuanian agricultural policy lockstep with the EU vision. 
A European Agricultural Policy 
¶3. (U) Prunskiene presented her strategic plan for the 
Ministry, which she said would focus on developing a modern, 
competitive, and secure agricultural sector in Lithuania. 
She highlighted development of rural tourism, biofuels 
production, and traditional crops as important agricultural 
initiatives.  Ambassador Mull noted that agricultural policy 
will remain an important element of U.S. foreign policy and 
described biotech as a unique opportunity for agricultural 
development and a global imperative.  Prunskiene responded 
hesitantly, emphasizing the importance of food security, and 
echoing the European "precautionary principle" on introducing 
GMOs into the environment and the food chain. 
Focus on Rural Development 
¶4. (U) Prunskiene spotlighted rural development as a critical 
element of the Ministry's activities.  Developing capacity to 
absorb effectively EU agricultural support, she said, would 
be a ministry priority.  Prunskiene said she hoped to 
increase investment into Lithuania's rural areas 
dramatically, noting that the Ministry might attempt to move 
its division for rural development from the capital to a 
location closer to agricultural lands, in an attempt to raise 
the issue's profile.  The Ambassador said that he had 
witnessed first-hand the country's large disparity between 
urban and rural development and praised Prunskiene's 
attention to the problem. 
Cooperation with United States 
¶5. (U) Ambassador Mull expressed his desire to advance 
U.S.-Lithuanian cooperation on agricultural issues, noting 
that our dialogue will significantly expand as a result of 
Lithuania's EU membership.  He said that U.S. business would 
welcome solid agricultural investment opportunities. 
Prunskiene thanked the Ambassador for past collaboration, 
highlighting ongoing contact with Ohio's agrarian community 
as especially useful.  The Ambassador cited the Cochran 
Fellowship Program's history of valuable informational 
exchanges and exposure to U.S. practices and research, and he 
encouraged the Ministry to help identify the candidates to 
visit the United States.  The Ambassador also encouraged 
Prunskiene to travel to the United States, promising to help 
work-up an extensive program for her. 
Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant 
¶6. (SBU) The Ambassador queried Prunskiene, the driving force 
behind Lithuanian efforts to retain its nuclear energy 
capacity, about the future of the Ignalina plant.  Following 
EU mandates, Ignalina's first reactor went offline in 
December 2004, and decommissioning of the final reactor 
should follow in 2009 (refs C and D).  Prunskiene argued that 
Lithuania, already possessing the necessary nuclear 
infrastructure and technical expertise, should not give it 
up.  Noting that the GOL has already established as its a 
goal the continuation of nuclear power generation 
capabilities, Prunskiene said that the process has moved into 
the "second phase," namely negotiations with possible 
investors.  Ambassador Mull noted that American companies 
would likely be interested in a project to build a new 
reactor, and Prunskiene assured him that the GOL would 
consider working with "a company from outside the EU." 
Trafficking-in-Persons Shelter 
¶7. (SBU) Ambassador Mull briefed Prunskiene on a situation 
involving a shelter and rehabilitation center for victims of 
trafficking-in-persons in the town of Sirvintos.  EUCOM has 
awarded a substantial contract to a local NGO to open the 
shelter, already approved by the GOL, but the local 
municipality has refused to grant the necessary building 
permit for the project.  Prunskiene, a longtime champion of 
women's rights, promised to raise the issue with the 
Sirvintos mayor, the local leader of her Peasant Party, and 
with the Peasant Party-dominated city council.  She praised 
the Ambassador for his work on TIP issues, and expressed hope 
that they would be able to work out the situation in 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
Comment: A Europeanist, But Willing to Work with the USG 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
¶8. (C) We have long recognized Prunskiene's penchant for 
"Europeanism" (meaning less U.S. influence), and expect that 
her policies as Minister of Agriculture will undoubtedly 
mirror those of the European Union.  That said, Prunskiene 
continues to appreciate cooperative efforts with the United 
States, and has now gone on the record in saying that the 
contract to build a new Lithuanian nuclear facility remains 
open to U.S. companies.  Prunskiene also appeared sincere in 
her pledge to help us in our local anti-TIP activities. 
While there is no hope in enlisting Prunskiene as an ally in 
any U.S.-EU agricultural disputes, we see her as a powerful 
and popular (if not entirely populist) political force with 
whom we believe we can work on some matters of mutual