Viewing cable 06VILNIUS204
Title: LITHUANIANS LIKE USA BUT GWOT SUPPORT IS TEPID; POLL HELPS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VILNIUS2042006-02-28 12:50:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED 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 03 VILNIUS 000204 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/PPD and EUR/NB 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO CVIS PREL LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIANS LIKE USA BUT GWOT SUPPORT IS TEPID; POLL HELPS 
REFINE STRATEGIC OUTREACH OBJECTIVES 
 
¶1.  SUMMARY: An Embassy-commissioned poll funded by EUR/PPD showed 
that a strong majority of Lithuanians continue to view the United 
States favorably.  The survey also showed a positive correlation 
between knowing an American and having a positive image of the 
United States.  Not all the news was good -- 82 percent of 
Lithuanians are opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which 
feature the participation of Lithuanian troops.  Our findings are 
leading us to focus on targeted outreach to non-elites while 
continuing to emphasize policy outreach to elites.  END SUMMARY. 
 
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THE GOOD NEWS: TO KNOW US IS TO LIKE US 
--------------------------------------- 
 
¶2. The survey, done for us by the Gallup agency, had some 
interesting highlights: 
 
--  A solid majority of Lithuanians (71 percent) holds a positive 
opinion of the United States.  Among all age groups, youth (aged 
15-29) view us most favorably (78 percent positive), compared to 65 
percent of the oldest demographic (age 50-74).  Urban respondents 
(77 percent) were more likely than rural residents to view us 
favorably. 
 
--  Respondents who had met an American personally were more likely 
to hold a positive opinion of the United States and its importance 
as Lithuania's partner. 
 
-- Over two-thirds of Lithuanians expressed a desire to visit the 
United States, and well over half of the respondents reported that 
they were interested in additional information about the United 
States. 
 
--  Over 57 percent have never met an American. Among rural 
residents (68 percent) and  respondents with the lowest income (73 
percent), contact with Americans is particularly limited. 
 
¶3.  USA: A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY 
 
--  Lithuanians most often associate the United States with 
prosperity and economic opportunity.  When asked what comes to mind 
when considering the United States, over 41 percent of respondents 
replied with a variation of "rich" or "opportunity."  By contrast, 
only 8 percent cited "democracy."  Other popular associations 
included Hollywood, basketball, and the dollar. 
 
--  While a large majority of Lithuanians want to visit the United 
States, the number was even larger among youth: 88 percent of 
respondents aged 15-29 would like to visit the United States. 
 
¶4.  STRONG SUPPORT FOR NATO AND THE EU 
 
--  The policy-related survey questions revealed a steady western 
orientation of Lithuanian public opinion.  Further, the findings 
indicate an enduring recognition of the importance of NATO and the 
United States as reliable protectors of Lithuanian security.   The 
majority of respondents support Lithuanian membership in NATO (67 
percent) and the EU (76 percent).  Support for both institutions 
tends to be strongest among Lithuanians who are urban, young, or who 
have met an American. 
 
-- Overall, Lithuanians approve of the role the United States plays 
in promoting democracy, peace, and economic growth throughout the 
world.  Clear majorities voiced their approval of U.S. leadership in 
all three spheres. 
 
------------------- 
OUR VULNERABILITIES 
------------------- 
 
¶5. Thirty-nine percent of respondents view the EU as Lithuania's 
most important partner, compared to only 11 percent who think the 
United States should be the country's key partner.  This Eurocentric 
view  could become even more pronounced as EU membership becomes 
more a part of daily life (i.e., adoption of the Euro currency). 
 
--  Our high approval rating is lowest among older males, 
particularly those living in rural areas, with a below-average 
income, or identifying with a minority ethnic group (Polish or 
Russian). 
 
--  Almost 18 percent of respondents associate America with 
"aggression" or "war."  Respondents also mentioned materialism, visa 
restrictions, and Iraq when asked for negative associations. 
 
--  Equally large majorities of Lithuanians (82 percent) oppose the 
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Despite those strong views, over half 
of the respondents expressed satisfaction with the efforts of their 
own troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 50 percent support the 
U.S.-led war on terror. 
 
---------------------------- 
HONING OUR OUTREACH CAMPAIGN 
---------------------------- 
 
¶6. The survey gives us a benchmark by which we can measure our MPP 
strategic goal of having American values respected in Lithuania. 
The findings highlight the importance of personal outreach and 
suggest a two-pronged approach to our outreach plan to target three 
different constituents.  To use campaign terminology, we want to 
fortify our base, win over the undecided, and reduce our negatives. 
 
FORTIFYING OUR BASE 
------------------- 
¶7.  To fortify our base, we plan to: 
 
-- Continue our policy outreach with future leaders.  The urban 
elite like us and are interested in policy.  We should engage them 
directly in explaining our policies so that they can see why we have 
arrived at the decisions we have taken.  This frank approach earns 
some converts, but also develops mutual respect for those who still 
disagree. 
 
-- Face-to-face outreach is essential.  PAS will continue its 
emphasis on generating speaking opportunities for Embassy personnel 
throughout the country. 
 
-- As we compete to attract talented young Lithuanians seeking 
educational and career opportunities, PAS will continue to deploy a 
speech and multimedia presentation specifically designed for high 
school audiences. (See detailed explanation below). 
 
¶8. The 15-29 age category views us more favorably (78 percent) than 
any other age group, but their support could diminish in the future 
if we are not proactive.  Youth will naturally be drawn toward the 
EU as work, study and travel opportunities there are simpler to 
pursue than in the USA.  One troubling indication of this trend has 
been the decline in the participation of young Lithuanians in the 
"Work and Travel" program for university students. 
 
¶9.  To bolster our positives with this critical age group, PAS 
prepared and the Ambassador inaugurated a "High School stump speech" 
addressing youth issues such as what American youth are up to, 
travel and study opportunities in the United States, and 
demystifying the visa process.  Embedded in the speech is a 
five-minute multimedia presentation about U.S. schools using 
modified text from an IIP e-journal on studying in the United 
States.  PAS plans to continue to upgrade the presentation and is 
seeking Washington support to make a video that can be used 
worldwide.  The Ambassador's first two deliveries of this 
presentation were very successful, and 200 students enthusiastically 
welcomed the DCM when he gave the same speech in February. 
 
WOOING THE UNDECIDED 
-------------------- 
 
¶10.  Over half of all respondents felt "not well enough informed" 
about life in the United States.  We need to strengthen our message 
that: 
 
--  The United States is a friend and partner of Lithuania. 
 
--  We encourage business, travel and study in the USA. 
 
--  We admire Lithuania's achievements and appreciate Lithuania's 
commitment to advancing the cause of freedom; 
 
¶11.  We will target those "non-elites" with low-cost cultural 
programming and visits to give them a better understanding of 
America and her people.  For example: 
 
-- Deploying mission speakers to smaller towns for speaking 
engagements and media opportunities; 
 
-- Using the new American Corner, which is located in a mid-sized 
city in the northern part of the country, as a platform to reach out 
to smaller towns in the area. 
 
--  Recruiting Fulbrighters, local and visiting American artists to 
perform in small towns. 
 
REDUCING OUR NEGATIVES 
---------------------- 
 
¶12.  Lithuanians may not support the conflicts in Iraq and 
Afghanistan, but they largely approve of their troops' level of 
support.  Our plan is to highlight the admirable work of Lithuanian 
troops in support of coalition operations to promote greater pride 
in Lithuanian efforts and accomplishments in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
 
 
--  One investment that paid great dividends was sending the head of 
Lithuanian State Television to visit Afghanistan.  He visit so 
intrigued him that he returned for two months to film a documentary 
of about his compatriots in the Lithuanian-led Provincial 
Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Ghor province.  The documentary 
premiered at the largest theater in Vilnius and is being shown on 
national television. 
 
--  PAS also produces and distributes a regular fact sheet on Iraq 
listing some of the successes Iraq has achieved since its 
liberation.  The fact sheet compiles for GOL officials essential 
building blocks to explain how the Lithuanian deployment in Iraq 
contributes to stabilization and democracy. 
 
¶13. Small-town older males (especially from minority groups) for 
whom life has not greatly improved since the breakup of the Soviet 
Union are another group we will target with low-budget outreach 
activities.  In addition to visits and cultural programming 
mentioned above, we will also: 
 
-- Seek more visibility in minority media.  The Ambassador did an 
interview with a Polish Language radio station in February which 
went out to this small-town target audience. 
 
-- Promote civil society and tolerance:  Tolerance programming will 
help us reach out to non-Lithuanian minorities, who are currently 
our weakest demographic in terms of support. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶14.  The high level of pro-U.S. feelings in Lithuania reflects the 
longstanding friendship between our countries.  Preserving our broad 
popular support here, however, will require dedicated effort and 
resources to maintain.  We are grateful for EUR/PPD's support of the 
poll, and hope to repeat the poll annually as a measurement tool of 
our PD outreach and our MPP strategies. 
 
MULL