Viewing cable 06VILNIUS233

06VILNIUS2332006-03-06 10:41:00 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.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF:  A) Vilnius 49 B) 05 Vilnius 996 
¶1.  SUMMARY:  Ambassador Mull traveled to Kaunas, 
Lithuania's second largest city, on February 28 to discuss 
regional development, promote student travel to the United 
States, and pay a courtesy call on Lithuania's new Air 
Force Commander.  The Ambassador highlighted our strong 
bilateral relationship and thanked Lithuania for its 
staunch support and valued contributions to the global war 
on terror.  The Ambassador also praised Lithuania's efforts 
to spread democracy throughout the former Soviet Union. 
¶2.  The visit to Kaunas was the latest in a series 
(reftels) of Ambassadorial trips to regional cities. 
Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city with nearly 400,000 
inhabitants, served as Lithuania's interwar capital. 
The Ambassador's Message 
¶3.  The Ambassador conveyed a consistent message to 
interlocutors praising Lithuania's support and involvement 
in the Global War on Terror, including leading a Provincial 
Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the difficult region of 
Chagcharan, Afghanistan.  The Ambassador highlighted 
Lithuania's efforts to spread democracy to Belarus, Moldova 
and the Caucasus, and for its activist foreign policy 
through NATO in hosting the Baltic air-policing mission and 
contributing humanitarian assistance to Asia and Pakistan 
following recent natural disasters. 
Kaunas's Future 
¶4.  At a meeting with the county governor and regional 
mayors, interlocutors highlighted Kaunas's economic 
successes, from attracting foreign investment, developing a 
Free Economic Zone, and expanding the region's airport. 
County Governor Zigmantas Kazakevicius detailed the youth 
and vibrancy of the region, noting that the region's 
population included some 50,000 students, and is home to 
some of Lithuania's most accomplished athletes, including 
former NBA star Arvydas Sabonis. Interlocutors told the 
Ambassador that the region had not yet benefited 
significantly from EU structural funds. 
¶5.  Ambassador Mull stopped by a local high school to reach 
out to young Lithuanians.  Speaking before more than 100 
twelfth-grade students at the Jonas Jablonskis Gymnasium, 
which includes President Valdas Adamkus among its former 
students, the Ambassador discussed American culture and 
urged students to consider studying in America.  Following 
choral and theatrical presentations by students, the 
Ambassador presented an Embassy-produced DVD that 
encouraged Lithuanians to visit America and outlined 
opportunities available at American institutions of higher 
education.  Students queried the Ambassador on his favorite 
aspects of Lithuania and the differences between the U.S. 
and Lithuanian university education system. 
¶6.  Ambassador Mull discussed the Lithuanian-American 
bilateral relationship and American foreign policy with 
students at Vytautas Magnus University.  The students, part 
of the Lithuania's most prestigious Master's level program 
for diplomacy and international relations, questioned the 
Ambassador on America's policies toward Iran, North Korea, 
and the Kyoto Treaty. 
Lithuania's New Air Force Commander 
¶7.  The Ambassador paid a courtesy call to Colonel Arturas 
Leita, who was appointed Air Force Commander on January 20. 
The Ambassador praised Lithuania's participation in the 
Global War on Terror, highlighting Lithuania's leadership 
of the PRT in Afghanistan. The Ambassador stressed the 
value that the USG places on its partnership with 
Lithuania's armed forces, and said that he hoped a 
counterpart visit for Colonel Leita could be arranged in 
the near future.  He also expressed his commitment to 
continuing to send Lithuanian Air Force personnel for 
training in the United States. (NOTE:  Lithuania currently 
has three cadets studying at the U.S. Air Force Academy). 
Leita noted that Lithuania's Air Force, though only 1,300- 
strong, faces recruitment and retention problems. 
¶8.  Colonel Leita detailed the GOL decision to purchase 
three C-27 medium logistic cargo airframes, the first of 
which is scheduled for delivery later in 2006.  Cost and 
the lengthy procurement process, said Leita, precluded the 
Air Force from addressing additional procurement and repair 
needs.  Ambassador Mull encouraged Leita to work within the 
Ministry of Defense to bring the GOL's defense 
expenditures, currently 1.27 percent of GDP, in line with 
the NATO-mandated two percent threshold.  The Ambassador 
also encouraged Leita to work more closely with his 
regional counterparts to assuage concerns within the 
Alliance that cooperation is lacking among the Baltic 
States, particularly regarding the stationing of air 
policing assets. 
Lithuanian Lebanese Society 
¶9.  The Ambassador met with members of the Lithuanian 
Lebanese Society in order to heighten the profile of civil 
society and minority organizations in Lithuania.  This 
interfaith organization represents the 200-plus Lebanese 
citizens resident in Lithuania.  The group told the 
Ambassador that most of their members are medical and 
pharmacy students at Kaunas Medical University (KMU). Basem 
Ayachn, a fourth-year medical student who serves as 
President of KMU's International Students Association, told 
the Ambassador that the Association includes significant 
numbers of Lebanese, Israeli, and Pakistani students. 
Media Coverage 
¶10.  The visit attracted significant local media interest. 
The Ambassador provided an exclusive interview to Kauno 
Diena (Kaunas Daily), the region's largest newspaper.  The 
Ambassador also conducted interviews with local television 
and smaller print outlets following his meeting with the 
region's political leaders. 
¶11.  A frequent visitor to Lithuania's second largest city, 
Ambassador Mull used the visit to promote our bilateral 
relationship and to meet individuals who will continue to 
matter, both politically and military, for some time to 
come in the region.