Viewing cable 06VILNIUS367

06VILNIUS3672006-04-14 15:06:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius

DE RUEHVL #0367/01 1041506
O 141506Z APR 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000367 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/13/2016 
     ¶B. 05 VILNIUS 1320 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Nancy Cohen 
for reasons 1.4 (d). 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Leaders of Lithuania's Social Democrat, 
Labor, and Farmers parties signed an agreement April 12 to 
govern as a coalition following Parliament's removal of 
parliamentary chairman Paulauskas and the withdrawal of his 
New Union party from the government.  Under the agreement, 
Prime Minister Brazauskas will remain in power.  The 
Parliament on April 13 elected Labor Party nominee Viktor 
Muntianas -- up until now deputy Parliamentary chairman --- 
as its new chairman.  Machinations continue over filling the 
Foreign and Social Welfare ministries that Paulauskas's party 
had filled, with both President Adamkus and Brazauskas 
publicly urging retention of the incumbents.  Brazauskas has 
deferred all action to fill these Cabinet seats until after 
the Easter holidays, while the three governing parties look 
for potential small-party partners to increase their tiny 
majority in the parliament.  Despite the internal 
shenanigans, Lithuanian foreign policy remains so far 
unshaken.  End Summary. 
One Down, Three Remain: Coalition Continues to Rule 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
¶2. (U) Social Democratic leader Prime Minister Algirdas 
Brazauskas, Labor Party's Viktor Uspaskich, and Farmers' 
Party head Agriculture Minister Kazimieras Prunskiene signed 
an agreement April 12 to reconstitute a coalition of the 
three parties.  The reconstituted coalition recognizes the 
withdrawal of the New Union from the Government in the 
aftermath of the removal of NU Speaker Arturas Paulauskas in 
a secret ballot no-confidence vote on April 10 (ref A). 
Despite Uspaskich's earlier announcement that he would seek 
the post of prime minister, Brazauskas will retain the 
position.  The coalition partners also agreed to support the 
election of Labor candidate Viktoras Muntianas, which the 
Parliament carried out in a vote of 75 to 56 on April 13. 
New Union Ministers Fates on Hold 
¶3. (U) The coalition has been slower, however, in filling the 
two positions in Government that NU members FM Antanas 
Valionis and Social and Labor Minister Vilija Blinkeviciute 
currently fill.  The New Union officially recalled its 
ministers upon withdrawing from the Government, but 
Brazauskas said he will defer taking action until after 
Easter, while both Adamkus and Brazauskas have urged efforts 
to retain the two popular ministers in government. 
Brazauskas told the media that he intended to ask 
Blinkeviciute to suspend her New Union membership to enable 
her to retain her Cabinet position.  The PM had "nothing 
concrete" to say about the future of foreign minister slot, 
but Adamkus on April 14 urged that Valionis remain on at 
least until after the summit meeting of new democracies in 
Vilnius on May 4.  Brazauskas ruled out press speculation 
that Minister of Agriculture Prunskiene would gain the 
foreign ministry.  According to "diplomatic sources," 
Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, Vygaudas Usackas, 
was up for the post, but Labor Party leader Uspaskich denied 
Usackas was under consideration. Labor Party MP Jadvyga 
Zinkeviciute told us, however, that her party is not out of 
the picture.  April 19, she said, the party fraction will 
convene to discuss the matter of replacing the two ministers. 
 She said the Labor may accept Blinkeviciute or put forward 
another name for coalition consideration at that time. 
Parliamentary Musical Chairs? 
¶4. (U) The New Union, upon withdrawing from the ruling 
coalition, also relinquished the chairs of three key 
parliamentary bodies -- the national security and defense 
committee, audit committee, and the NATO commission. 
Muntianas announced that negotiations to name new heads of 
these groups would begin April 14.  Commenting on suggestions 
that the ruling coalition might accept new members, Muntianas 
remarked that he could imagine various possible combinations, 
to the exclusion of the Conservatives joining the Government. 
Party Politics and Betrayals 
¶5. (C) Conservative Party leader Andrius Kubilius told us he 
had not expected his call for a vote of no confidence to 
carry the day.  He added that if the NU's partners had voted 
against the motion or abstained, the four-party coalition 
would still be intact.  Kubilius said initiated the 
no-confidence motion in order to take a moral stand, but that 
coalition leaders released their members' votes for other 
¶6. (C) New Union member Vaclov Stankevic opined that 
Paulauskas lost the support of the Social Democrats because 
he and various NU parliamentary committee chairs failed to 
support Brazauskas on high-profile issues and on matters that 
were of personal interest to the prime minister.  According 
to Stankevic, Brazuaskas never forgave Paulauskas for failing 
to defend the prime minister against the opposition's charges 
of unethical conduct and investigations into his family's 
business transactions.  Stankevic went on to say that NU's 
Sadeckas, as head of the National Security and Defense 
Committee, pushed too hard to increase defense spending 
(against the PM's wishes) and was personally too close to 
Police Commissioner Gregoravicius, nemesis of Juozas 
Bernatonas, now the PM's advisor on domestic affairs. 
Additionally, Stankevic said that Skardzius, the NU head of 
the audit committee worked "as if in the opposition, and was 
too critical" of Government operations. 
¶7. (C) Claims that the speaker's fall may be closely tied to 
his personal relationships with his coalition partners are 
not surprising.  Paulauskas kicked up controversy when he 
publicly questioned Lithuania's role in Iraq despite the 
GOL's public support for involvement (ref B).  In private 
conversations with the Ambassador, Paulauskas complained 
about his coalition partner Uspaskich. 
Summit on Course 
¶7. (C) Simonas Satunas, an advisor to the President, told us 
April 13 that the Presidency remains focused on the upcoming 
Summit rather than on the changes in the government.  Satunas 
said there was significant concern within the president's 
office about how the international community will perceive 
this current political turn of events and commented that he 
did not expect the Brazauskas or Adamkus to agree to changes 
that would alter significantly the course of foreign policy. 
He noted that even through the 2004 presidential impeachment 
Lithuania had maintained its course. 
Comment: Stirred Not Shaken 
¶8. (C) Although Paulauskas ran for reelection in 2004 in 
tandem with Brazauskas, he did little to take care of 
Brazauskas and other people who could protect him 
politically.  Pauluaskas' complaints about Uspaskich put him 
in Labor's sights, and his relationship with the Social 
Democrats united the two parties in a common cause.  When 
Labor made its latest move to expand its power in the Seimas, 
Pauluaskas was an easy target. 
¶9. (C) Nonetheless, the New Union's loss of power seems to 
have jiggled rather than shaken the Government.  For now, 
NU's ministers remain in place and the major programs on 
course and public leaders seem intent that this latest 
political episode not take on the appearance of high drama. 
Lithuanian foreign policy so far remains unaffected.