Viewing cable 06VILNIUS53

06VILNIUS532006-01-20 14:56:00 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 03 VILNIUS 000053 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/19/2021 
Classified By: DCM Tom Kelly for reasons (b), (d). 
¶1.  (C) SUMMARY:  One year ago, we laid out a plan to 
strategically engage the newly elected coalition government 
headed by veteran politician Algirdas Brazauskas (reftel). 
Despite political tumult within the coalition, we succeeded 
in enlisting the new government to support key U.S. 
objectives, especially in mobilizing the government to 
support the Global War on Terror and to promote democracy in 
the former Soviet Union.  In this message, we revisit our 
engagement strategy with the GOL; examine our progress; and 
provide a plan to further advance our bilateral agenda in 
¶2006.  End Summary. 
¶2.  (C) The Brazauskas government took office in December 
¶2004.  A few weeks later, we sent Washington our plan to 
advance the following key objectives: 
1) Support for U.S. Initiatives within Europe and beyond 
2) Support for Democracy at Home and Abroad 
3) Closer U.S.-Lithuanian Economic Ties 
4) Bilateral Law Enforcement Cooperation 
5) Improving Embassy Operating Conditions 
¶3.  (SBU) We engaged quickly and intensively with the new 
government, and on the issues that matter most, we succeeded 
in making Lithuanian support for U.S. objectives even more 
stalwart.  Ambassador Mull has met with every single Cabinet 
member, and frequently consults with key decision makers like 
President Adamkus, PM Brazauskas, Foreign Minister Valionis, 
and Defense Minister Kirkilas.  Mission interactions with 
government leaders are guided by Ministry-specific work plans 
that track progress on the issues that matter to U.S. 
¶4.  (SBU) In areas such as promotion of U.S. investment, 
encouraging transparency and tolerance, and cultivating 
Lithuania's next generation of leaders, however, we think 
that we can do even better in 2006.  Below is our work plan, 
organized by major policy goal, for the engagement of 
government leaders and the pursuit of Mission objectives. 
Active in Global War on Terror 
¶5.  (C) Our preeminent priority in 2005 was to maximize 
Lithuania's contribution to global peace and security.  We 
enlisted the new government to help us on a number of issues 
essential to U.S. foreign policy objectives.  Little more 
than a month after it took office, the GOL agreed to lead a 
Provincial Reconstruction Team in Chagcharan, Afghanistan, a 
forbidding region that larger NATO allies declined to cover. 
121 Lithuanian soldiers have brought security and order to 
this mountainous region.  In Iraq, the new government 
reaffirmed Lithuania's troop commitment to the multinational 
coalition in Iraq, and stated publicly that Lithuanian troops 
will remain on the ground as long as necessary. 
¶6.  (C) We aim to build on these accomplishments in 2006 by 
sustaining and reinforcing public support for Lithuania,s 
participation in these multinational operations.  In 
Afghanistan, we will encourage the GOL to redeploy a Special 
Forces detachment this Fall.  In Iraq, we will encourage 
follow-through on the Lithuanian commitment to participate in 
the coalition's burgeoning training mission with Iraqi 
security forces.  We also intend to push for Lithuania's 
continued development of niche capabilities within NATO, and 
to work with Parliament to encourage adequate defense 
spending to pay for them. 
Building democracy abroad... 
¶7.  (C) The new government also championed freedom closer to 
home in 2005, reaffirming its predecessors' commitment to the 
promotion of democracy and Western values within the former 
Soviet Union.  We worked with the Foreign Ministry to 
organize a meeting in Vilnius between the Secretary, FM 
Valionis, EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Solana, and 
Belarusian opposition groups that was covered by media around 
the world.  We also helped Lithuania plan and carry out a 
Defense Ministers' meeting (with Secretary Rumsfeld's 
participation) to bring NATO members and Ukraine closer 
¶8.  (C) This year, we will continue to encourage and praise 
GOL's active role in promoting democratic institutions and 
human rights in its neighbors in Eastern Europe and the 
Caucasus.  Our current focus is working with the GOL to 
prepare a successful summit meeting of the Communities for 
Democratic Choice in Vilnius this May; we hope for high-level 
USG participation.  At the same time, we will seek to 
restrain impulses in some parts of the government to pursue 
an inappropriate engagement strategy with the Lukashenko 
regime.  At the end of the day, we expect that the GOL will 
play a constructive role in monitoring the March elections in 
Belarus and keeping other governments focused on the 
importance of building democracy there. 
...and at Home 
¶9.  (SBU) We also have a responsibility to help Lithuania 
develop a more mature and resilient political system itself. 
While Lithuania boasts a strong and active democracy, 
featuring passionate debate, a vibrant media, and a range of 
competing ideas, the year 2005 also cast light on a few 
worrisome trends.  The year witnessed a troubling media 
attack on civil society organizations, and Lithuania's 
enduring struggle with corruption and intolerance remained a 
source of concern. 
¶10.  (SBU) In 2006, we will continue to emphasize these 
issues by speaking out in defense of civil society and 
enhancing our anti-corruption training programs.  We 
confronted intolerance in 2005 with a series of public 
events, and we will intensify our efforts in 2006 by 
featuring the issue as a core theme of our speeches and 
outreach programs.  We also continued to work closely with 
the government to encourage the restitution of former Jewish 
communal property confiscated during the Holocaust.  The 
government is likely to present Parliament with legislation 
to effect restitution in the next few months. 
Developing a Positive Agenda on Visa Policy 
¶11.  (SBU) Keeping Lithuania at the frontlines of the global 
struggle for freedom will require us to remain responsive to 
the issues about which Lithuanians care.  The most prominent 
in that regard remains the GOL's desire for inclusion in the 
Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  In 2005, the GOL and we launched 
a positive, substantively focused VWP "Roadmap" that reminded 
Lithuanians of the VWP's substantive requirements.  With our 
encouragement, the GOL took significant steps forward in 
improving document security and combating fraud.  We worked 
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to publicize the 
Roadmap, and praised the GOL publicly for its tangible steps 
to satisfy VWP criteria ) but also informed the public of 
the enduring problem of document fraud and visa overstays. 
¶12.  (SBU) In 2006, we will continue to highlight these 
issues actively and publicly.  House Judiciary Committee 
Chair Sensenbrenner's visit here last week got us off to a 
good start.  We will also focus on other priority areas, 
including our work to press the GOL for improved residency 
visa procedures for Amcits, and to attract more future 
Lithuanian leaders to participate in the Summer Work and 
Travel Program. 
Support for Law Enforcement 
¶13. (SBU) The year 2005 saw substantial progress in our 
efforts to support Lithuanian law enforcement.  Just months 
after Attorney General Gonzalez signed a new extradition 
treaty with GOL last June, the Brazauskas government 
extradited a Lithuanian citizen to the United States for the 
first time.  In 2006, we plan to expand our training 
initiatives with law enforcement officials and the judiciary 
on intellectual property rights.  We will also continue our 
joint work with the GOL to combat the root causes and 
mitigate the effects of trafficking in persons. 
Promote U.S. Economic Interests 
¶14.  (SBU) Our strategy to enlist the new government in our 
campaign to boost U.S. investment here drew early dividends, 
as Economy Minister Uspaskich traveled to the United States 
to woo potential investors.  Soon afterwards, Uspaskich 
became enmeshed in political troubles, and his Ministry's 
attention to our issues dwindled.  In 2006, we will seek to 
energize his successor and others in the GOL to seek more 
American involvement in this dynamic economy.  Several 
Mission-sponsored initiatives, especially a new S&T agreement 
and pending negotiations with the Interior Ministry to 
streamline Amcit residency requirements, will support this 
objective.  We will participate in trade and investment 
conferences focusing on the region, and will work with our 
partner FCS post in Warsaw to encourage U.S. business 
visitors to Eastern Europe to include Lithuania in their 
itineraries.  We will also team with U.S. businesses to help 
them win their share of the commercially significant deals 
that come up for bid this year. 
Effective Embassy Operating Conditions 
¶15.  (SBU) In 2005, our collaboration with the new government 
substantially improved the work environment for the Mission 
community.  Working intensively with the Ministry of Finance, 
we accomplished a longstanding goal by eliminating GOL 
taxation of U.S. assistance.  We also addressed several 
issues relating to the diplomatic status of Mission 
personnel, such as our work with the Tax Inspectorate to 
establish a more timely system to disburse VAT refunds to 
American staff.  In 2006, we will seek GOL support for 
further improvements to our living conditions here, including 
point-of-sale VAT refunds. 
¶16. (C) The new government's first year in office featured 
considerable political turbulence, but our principal 
interests here were, if anything, enhanced.  Lithuania 
remains one of our nation's most loyal and consistent allies 
on issues that matter to us.  In the world's most dangerous 
places, Lithuania stands shoulder to shoulder with the United 
States.  The above work plan outlines our strategy for 
preserving the strong friendship we enjoy here, for ensuring 
the continued support of GOL on key foreign policy goals, and 
for tackling issues of concern that affect U.S. interests in 
Lithuania.  We are proud as a Mission of the significant 
achievements of 2005, and we remain confident that the 
strategy outlined here will yield an even stronger and more 
durable bilateral relationship in 2006.