Viewing cable 08VILNIUS18
Title: YOUTH AND POLITICS IN LITHUANIA: READY AND ABLE,

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08VILNIUS182008-01-08 15:28:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO7024
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVL #0018 0081528
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081528Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1904
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000018 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV LH
SUBJECT: YOUTH AND POLITICS IN LITHUANIA:  READY AND ABLE, 
BUT NOT WILLING 
 
¶1.  Summary.  We discussed politics with 140 university and 
college students in groups of 15 to 25.  Students support 
more liberal economic policies and their views of politics 
are similar to those in many countries: disappointment with 
politics, politicians, and political parties; concern about 
the influence of money; and a desire for change.  Most 
students (75 percent) said they will vote in parliamentary 
elections in October and an overwhelming majority stated that 
there should be more young people in politics.  However, only 
one of the 140 students said he would consider entering 
politics.  End summary. 
 
Economic and educational concerns 
--------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  We visited seven colleges and universities around the 
country and discussed politics and economics with students 
during the last months of 2007.  Regarding economics, 
students were most concerned about increasing salaries, 
liberalizing the business environment and reducing 
impediments to entrepreneurs, particularly difficulties in 
receiving loans.  Students were also concerned about the 
increasing costs of higher education, recognition of 
Lithuanian degrees abroad, support for international exchange 
programs, and the quality of teachers, particularly at the 
high school level. 
 
Concerned about politics, but passive 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶3.  Many students were cynical about politics and 
politicians.  As one respondent said, "economics is politics 
in Lithuania."  Most students felt that corruption was 
widespread and that people enter politics for personal gain. 
Students complained of a lack of "political morality," but 
expressed a willingness to tolerate corruption (which they 
viewed as inevitable) if the politicians at the same time do 
work that benefits the community. 
 
¶4.  Many students complained of the prevalence of former 
Communist party members and the lack of young people in 
politics.  Several students suggested that it will take 
thirty years to cleanse Lithuanian politics of former Soviet 
officials and move to real democracy.  (Note: Students' views 
that true democracy has not yet been achieved are shared by 
others.  A recent poll in the weekly news magazine Veidas, 
showed that only 15 percent of respondents believed that the 
president and parliament govern Lithuania, while 41 percent 
thought that non-transparent clans and groups control 
government rather than democratically elected officials.) 
 
¶5.  Many students were aware of troubling tendencies in 
Lithuanian politics.  Students noted the influence of 
Lithuanian "oligarchs" in politics, the sale and purchase of 
media coverage not marked as advertising, politicians hopping 
from party to party for personal rather than ideological 
reasons, and the cults of personality that often trump party 
platforms.  To illustrate the limits of ideology and party 
platforms, one respondent noted, "in Lithuania, it is often 
the loudest person in the room who is considered right." 
 
¶6.  Many students expressed support for (relatively) young 
politicians, such as the leader of the Liberal and Center 
Union party, Arturas Zuokas, and the mayor of Kaunas, Andrius 
Kupcinskas.  Three-quarters of the students we spoke with 
said they will vote in the October parliamentary elections 
and an even greater majority said that there should be more 
youth in politics.  However, only one out of 140 students 
said that he would consider entering politics himself. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶7.  University students in Lithuania understand many of the 
problems with politics in Lithuania, but are not willing to 
address these problems directly by entering politics.  Many 
feel that corruption and personality-led party politics are 
too entrenched to be beaten in the short term.  As one 
student commented, "new buildings and new infrastructure will 
not solve the problem; we need to build a new attitude." 
This view is, unfortunately, based on some genuine 
shortcomings with democracy in Lithuania.  However, 
resignation and inaction will only allow the shortcomings to 
continue and perhaps to strengthen.  We will continue to 
interact with youth, civil society groups, and the media to 
encourage people to rise to the challenges of democracy. 
LEADER