Viewing cable 06VILNIUS789

06VILNIUS7892006-08-23 12:37:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
DE RUEHVL #0789/01 2351237
P 231237Z AUG 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 000789 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2016 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 762 
     ¶C. VILNIUS 727 
 ¶1. (U) Classified by Ambassador John A. Cloud for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶2. (C) SUMMARY:  PM Kirkilas and FM Vaitiekunas both told the 
Ambassador in initial courtesy calls that Lithuania's likely 
contribution to UNIFIL would be small, given its commitments 
in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They said that Ukrainian PM 
Yanukovych is still undecided on MAP, but that there is the 
possibility of moving him in a positive direction.  On 
Russia, they admitted problems, especially in the area of 
energy supply, but both men were sanguine about the future of 
the Mazeikiu Nafta refinery.  They agreed with the 
Ambassador's suggestion that Lithuania and other new EU 
members should mobilize the EU to help resolve their energy 
security problems.  The Ambassador told them that he hopes to 
deepen our bilateral economic relationship by working with 
the GOL to remove barriers to investment.  On Belarus, 
Vaitiekunas said that more work needs to be done to reach out 
to Belarusian society.  The Ambassador asked about the status 
of pending issues affecting the Jewish community, but the 
ministers did not seem well-briefed.  End summary. 
NATO, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon 
¶3. (C) The Ambassador praised Lithuania's activism within 
NATO during his August 21 and 22 courtesy calls with Prime 
Minister Gediminas Kirkilas and Foreign Minister Petras 
Vaitiekunas, and said its current contributions to the PRT in 
Afghanistan and in Iraq show that it contributes to security. 
 PM (and ex-defense minister) Kirkilas told the Ambassador 
that the decision to launch the PRT had been difficult but 
was the right choice.  Currently, he commented, the military 
situation for Lithuanian forces in Afghanistan is good, and 
now the civilian side of the PRT mission is the main 
¶4. (C)  Kirkilas and Vaitiekunas noted that a final decision 
had not yet been made about contributing to a mission in 
Lebanon, but both expressed concern about over-extending 
Lithuanian forces.  "We want to remain effective," 
Vaitiekunas said.  The Ambassador said that the United States 
hoped Lithuania could send what they could, but told them 
that there was another role they could play: in pushing 
Lithuania's European partners to contribute more.  The only 
way to prevent further violence between Israel and Hizbollah 
is to put a strong force in Lebanon, and toward this end, the 
discussions in Brussels would be important.  He added that 
the GOL could remind other Europeans, who have closer 
relations with Syria and Iran, that they should send sharp 
messages to those governments. 
Ukraine: What Yanukovych really said 
¶5. (C) Both the PM and FM told the Ambassador that there is 
an opportunity to influence Ukraine's direction, though they 
took a measured stance on the prospects for a MAP for 
Ukraine.  Vaitiekunas said that there was "no clear signal" 
on MAP during Kirkilas's recent meeting with Ukrainian PM 
Yanukovych (refs A and B).  Yanukovych is undecided so far, 
he said, and is waiting for "signals" from NATO about whether 
NATO would accept or deal with him.  Even so, he added, there 
are only "potential opportunities" that are promising, but 
that might not become reality. 
¶6. (C) Kirkilas said that during his visit to Kiev, he had 
been surprised that Yanukovych seemed less "pro-Russian" than 
he had previously thought.  Yanukovych expressed concerns for 
Ukraine's military industry, and said he had to improve 
public opinion (of NATO) to prepare for a referendum.  The 
net result for Kirkilas was that he came away more optimistic 
about Yanukovych than before.  Regarding MAP, Kirkilas told 
the Ambassador that the subject didn't come up. 
¶7. (C) Kirkilas characterized relations with Russia as 
generally  good, but acknowledged that tensions about the 
past remain.  He mentioned the recent dust-up during the 
Lithuania-Belarus-Russia rail tariff negotiations as an 
example.  Russia insists it wants a permanent agreement in 
this area (of tariffs for transit between Russia's "mainland" 
and its Kaliningrad region), but Lithuania does not want a 
final agreement now.  First, Kirkilas said, Lithuania  needs 
to join the Schengen area, and then it will need to consider 
the views of other Schengen members. 
VILNIUS 00000789  002 OF 003 
¶8. (C)  Kirkilas added that he doesn't understand why the 
Russian political establishment is so negative toward 
Lithuania, since, unlike in Latvia or Estonia, there is no 
large Russian minority here.  The Ambassador asked him if the 
Finns, who are hosting an EU summit with Russia this fall, 
are taking on board Lithuania's concerns.  Kirkilas replied 
that there was still no common position in Europe with regard 
to Russia.  There is an energy security problem, he observed, 
but  many of the larger member states are playing the issue 
for their own benefit. 
Mazeikiu Nafta, Energy Security, and the EU 
¶9. (C) Both the PM and FM were resigned about the closing of 
the oil pipeline from Russia that feeds the Mazeikiu Nafta 
refinery (MN), despite a spate of recent alarmist articles in 
the local press.  "In the previous government, we thought 
something like this might happen," Kirkilas said.  Both men 
emphasized the alternate supply routes available to MN 
(Butinge terminal, or via Klaipeda's port and then by rail). 
¶10. (C) The Prime Minister acknowledged and expressed 
gratitude for recent USG advice to the GOL on a way forward 
(ref C).  Kirkilas noted that approval of the Polish purchase 
of MN was in the hands of EU competition authorities, and 
also noted that he understood that U.S. competition 
authorities may also need to review the deal.  (Our initial 
inquiry with the USFTC has not confirmed this claim.)  Once 
PKN Orlen's purchase of MN was approved, the supply problem 
would fall to the Polish company for resolution.  Vaitiekunas 
admitted that maintaining a "calm" position will be difficult 
for the government once parliament is back in session, but 
said the GOL needed to maintain its composure and keep a 
"five-to-ten-year" perspective. 
¶11. (C) The Ambassador asked Kirkilas and Vaitiekunas for 
their views on the EU's prospects for a unified energy 
security strategy.  Vaitiekunas said that, while he 
understood that each EU member had its own specific interests 
(such as Germany and its Baltic Sea natural gas pipeline), he 
hoped it could find one voice on this important issue.  He 
thought that an EU framework for energy security could focus 
on scientific research for new energy sources and energy 
transport; after all, he said, the EU began as a coal and 
steel community.  The Ambassador noted the G-8s recent 
declaration on energy security. 
Improving Economic Relations 
¶12. (C) The Ambassador told both his interlocutors that 
political and military relations between the U.S. and 
Lithuania were already good, and that he hoped to keep them 
there.  He added that he would like to strengthen and deepen 
economic ties between our countries.  Kirkilas agreed that, 
currently, the economic relationship was "too small."  He 
said that there were many reasons for this, including the 
fact that Lithuania has had to build a market economy from 
scratch following the 50-year Soviet occupation, but 
emphasized that there are good opportunities in Lithuania. 
The Ambassador said he is optimistic that we can improve 
economic relations, especially if we work together to remove 
impediments.  He encouraged Kirkilas to streamline permit 
procedures for gaining foreign residency and support 
establishing the Lithuanian economic development agency's 
presence in the U.S. as good places to start.  Kirkilas took 
note of these, and suggested that the GOL and USG work 
together on greater cooperation on new technologies and 
organizing a conference for potential investors. 
¶13. (C) The Ambassador told Kirkilas and Vaitiekunas that the 
USG appreciates the work Lithuania does in promoting 
democracy in Belarus.  Vaitiekunas (who had been Ambassador 
to Minsk when he was named FM) said he thought more work 
needed to be done to reach ordinary society in Belarus 
through student, pensioners', youth, and cultural programs. 
The people of Belarus need to be reassured that they have not 
been forgotten, he said, and that they are important to us. 
He said that the sanctions that had been imposed against the 
leadership were useful, but that he would like to see the 
list of those affected broadened to include those at all 
levels who were responsible for the fraudulent presidential 
elections.  Kirkilas pledged to continue working with the USG 
to help those "who will come after Lukashenko."  He said that 
total isolation of Belarus played into the hands of the 
dictator. The Ambassador replied that the agreed U.S.-EU 
strategy on Belarus was designed to target the regime 
VILNIUS 00000789  003 OF 003 
leadership, not the Belarusian people. 
Jewish Issues 
¶14. (C) The Ambassador asked the PM about the status of the 
draft law on restitution of Jewish communal property. 
Kirkilas said that his opinions on restitution are close to 
his predecessor's (whose administration wrote the draft law), 
although he had not followed this subject closely as Defense 
Minister.  He said he hopes that the law will be considered 
in the upcoming parliamentary session. 
¶15. (C) Vaitiekunas gave a similarly detached response to the 
Ambassador's question about the future of the old Jewish 
cemetery in the Snipiskes district of Vilnius.  Though the 
MFA's Vice Minister chairs the Prime Minister's Working Group 
charged with resolving concerns over development near and on 
the cemetery site, Vaitiekunas said he was "not deeply 
involved" in the case.  He also would not speculate as to 
when his new Vice Minister would be named, saying only that 
he hoped to have someone in the position soon. 
¶16. (C) The new Prime and Foreign Ministers appear to be in 
much the same place as their predecessors on most issues. 
Both leaders are looking to play a constructive role in 
Lebanon, but view their engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq as 
higher priorities. 
¶17.  (C)  These two meetings clarified the mixed messages we 
had been receiving on Yanukovych's attitude to NATO; our 
subcabinet GOL contacts may have heard what they wanted to 
hear.  In truth, MAP did not come up, but at the same time 
the Lithuanians believe there is an opportunity to influence 
the new Ukrainian Prime Minister in a positive way.  We were 
disappointed that Kirkilas and Vaitiekunas have not focused 
yet on Jewish issues, but don't intend to let them off the 
hook.  We will follow up soon, and often, to press the GOL to 
do the right thing.