Viewing cable 05VILNIUS888
Title: MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION WILLING TO TAKE HARD

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS8882005-08-29 11:21:00 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 000888 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2015 
TAGS: PREL PGOV LH BO
SUBJECT: MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION WILLING TO TAKE HARD 
LINE AGAINST LUKASHENKO -- IF OTHERS WILL, TOO 
 
 
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Alexander Titolo for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1.  (C) Minister of Transportation and Communication Petras 
Cesna, meeting with the Ambassador on August 25, emphasized 
his eagerness to see increased US investment in Lithuania, 
thanked the Ambassador for the close cooperation between his 
Ministry and the USG, and showed a willingness to consider 
radio broadcasts into Belarus, recognizing there could be 
political or economic consequences.  The Ambassador 
highlighted areas of cooperation in the transportation 
sector, including the ongoing TDA study of security the Port 
of Klaipeda.  Cesna offered a tentative prediction that 
future airport upgrades in Kaunas or Vilnius are more likely 
than the construction of a new airport.  Cesna has not yet 
mastered his new portfolio, nor entirely hung up his hat as 
Minister of Economy.  The apparent willingness of this 
accomplished and experienced politician to challenge 
Lukashenko to promote democracy in Belarus is encouraging. 
End Summary. 
 
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COOPERATION WITH USG 
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¶2.  (U) The Ambassador called on Petras Cesna, who took 
office in June after his predecessor became Minister of the 
Economy.  Cesna himself had been Minister of the Economy in 
Lithuania's previous government.  The Ambassador briefed 
Cesna on several important projects the USG has supported 
that began during the tenure of the prior Minister.  Chief 
among these is the security assessment of the Port of 
Klaipeda that the U.S. company SAIC is conducting under a 
USD415,000 grant from the U.S. Trade Development Agency.  The 
Ambassador also highlighted past cooperation which in 2004 
led to the U.S. Department of Energy installing radiation 
detection devices at Vilnius airport.  Cesna thanked the 
Ambassador for these projects and for the Voluntary Visitors 
program the USG arranged in May for Lithuanian transportation 
experts. 
 
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ALL AGREE - U.S. INVESTMENT IN LITHUANIA NOT HIGH ENOUGH 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
¶3.  (U) Cesna agreed with the Ambassador that increasing U.S. 
investment in Lithuania will help deepen the already close 
ties between the nations.  The Minister pointed out that 
United States currently ranks seventh as a source of foreign 
investment in Lithuania, "even behind Estonia." The 
Ambassador said that informing U.S. businesses and potential 
investors about opportunities in Lithuania was one of his 
highest priorities and he reviewed the Embassy's recent 
efforts, which included trade and investment conferences in 
London and Washington.  Cesna offered that Lithuania could do 
a better job of promoting itself as an attractive investment 
location.  The Ambassador pressed Cesna to ensure that U.S. 
companies are equally considered in future tenders emanating 
for his Ministry, specifically noting that he expects there 
will be significant interest in anticipated airport upgrade 
projects. 
 
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NO NEW AIRPORT LIKELY 
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¶4.  (SBU) The Ambassador asked Cesna for his outlook on the 
GOL's plans for airport upgrades and the rumored possibility 
of constructing a new airport between Vilnius and Kaunas. 
Cesna, noting that he personally hoped for expansion of the 
Vilnius airport, but thought that development of the airport 
in Lithuania's second city of Kaunas was more strategically 
advantageous and more likely.  Cesna doubted that rumors of 
an entirely new airport somewhere between the two cities 
would come to fruition. 
 
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CALLING LUKASHENKO'S BLUFF 
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¶5.  (C) Cesna told the Ambassador that, during his time as 
Minister of Economy, the Minsk regime had threatened to 
redirect exports away from Klaipeda in response if Lithuania 
did not guarantee energy sales to Belarus.  He said that, 
while it is important to be sensitive to business interests, 
especially since Belarusian cargo comprises approximately 23 
to 25 percent of exports from Klaipeda, the GOL was not and 
will not be intimidated into changing its policy.  The 
Ambassador acknowledged the difficult diplomatic job the GOL 
faces on this issue, and said that Lithuania had 
distinguished itself through its efforts to promote 
democracy.  Cesna said that he believes that trade and 
business between Lithuania and Belarus will continue 
unabated, regardless of the political situation. 
 
¶6.  (C) The Ambassador asked Cesna how he gauged support 
might be within the GOL for an external broadcasting program 
that would deliver independent news into Belarus.  Cesna said 
a decision to support such a project would come from the 
President and Foreign Minister.  He stressed that the GOL 
would not likely take such a step alone, but that he thought 
Lithuania could undertake such a project jointly with 
Belarus's other neighbors. 
 
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COMMENT 
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¶7.  (C) Cesna is a seasoned political player and maintains a 
Minister of Economy's outlook.  Cesna's comments on Belarus 
were surprisingly forward leaning for a Minister who has the 
responsibility for promoting Klaipeda as an export terminal. 
If the GOL endorses Lithuanian-based Belarus-aimed radio or 
TV, it will help to have Cesna, with his business and 
government ties, defending the course of action and 
justifying the political and economic risk. 
Mull