Viewing cable 07VILNIUS379
Title: SNIPISKES CEMETERY UPDATE: EXPERTS' GROUP MEETINGS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07VILNIUS3792007-05-25 15:11:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0038
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #0379 1451511
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 251511Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1302
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000379 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2017 
TAGS: PREL SCUL LH
SUBJECT: SNIPISKES CEMETERY UPDATE: EXPERTS' GROUP MEETINGS 
AND AFTERMATH 
 
REF: VILNIUS 167 AND PREVIOUS 
 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Rebecca Dunham for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d 
). 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY.  International and Lithuanian experts issued 
a unanimous statement on May 17 warning that current 
construction almost certainly falls within the confines of 
the old Jewish cemetery in the Snipiskes neighborhood of 
Vilnius.  They called for more study and a halt of 
construction until that study is completed.  So far, however, 
the government has not acted to stop the construction.  End 
Summary. 
 
International Experts Meet and Reach Consensus 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶2. (U) Ten experts (five Lithuanian and five foreign) visited 
Vilnius May 16-17 at the invitation of the Prime Minister's 
Working Group on the Snipiskes cemetery with the goal of 
reaching a consensus on the boundaries and location of the 
Jewish cemetery at Snipiskes.  The group included Rabbis, 
archaeologists, historians, cultural historians, and a 
geotechnical engineer.  An emboff attended the experts' 
meetings as an observer. 
 
¶3. (C) The experts managed to reach a unanimous consensus 
despite the poor management of the process by Vice Minister 
of Culture Gintaras Sodeika.  Among other problems, Sodeika, 
though the nominal host, participated only intermittently in 
meetings, and never delivered on promised access to the 
construction site.  The experts issued a statement declaring 
that the current construction "is almost certainly in part 
within the boundaries of the cemetery" and calling for "a 
complete freeze and cessation of all construction work, 
digging, (and) removal of earth and rubble."  They also 
called for a thorough physical study of the site, including 
the use of ground radar, to determine the locations of 
graves.  To reach their conclusions, the experts were forced 
to meet on their own, outside the official meetings, in order 
to avoid discouragement by their Ministry of Culture hosts. 
 
¶4. (C) The Prime Minister's Working Group met on May 21 to 
discuss the experts' conclusions.  Rather than give an 
endorsement of the conclusions and submit them to the 
Government with a request for action, as Working Group member 
and Prime Minister's Adviser Vilius Kavaliauskas suggested, 
the Working Group decided to ask the Ministry of Justice if 
there is any legal basis for halting the construction.  The 
Ministry of Justice has a maximum of two weeks to respond. 
Embassy staff met with MOJ State Secretary Paulius Koverovas 
on May 23 to discuss the legal options.  He told us that the 
Ministry of Justice had still not received the request from 
the Ministry of Culture. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶5. (C) The experts' conclusions are unambiguous, but the 
Ministry of Culture still seems to be struggling to do the 
right thing.  With senior advisors to the Prime Minister and 
President, and with the Ministries of Justice, Foreign 
Affairs, and Culture, we continue to raise the experts' 
conclusions and to urge a halt to construction until the 
cemetery's true boundaries can be established. 
CLOUD