C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000868
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2018
TAGS: PREL KTIA NATO XG ZB LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA WANTS INCREASED USG ATTENTION VIA
REVIVED BALTIC CHARTER
Classified By: Ambassador John A. Cloud for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
Â¶1. (C) Summary: Lithuanian political leaders have recently
called in Vilnius and Washington for the U.S. to revive the
1998 Baltic Charter as a mechanism to get a more "muscular"
USG presence in the Baltic region, and also have the U.S.
help resolve Lithuania's security related issues. The
Lithuanians say utilizing this Charter will not threaten
their commitment to NATO and Article V common defense.
Â¶2. (C) Lithuania is one of our most forward leaning allies in
Eastern Europe, but its desire to re-activate this Charter
highlights the Lithuanian's inability both to appreciate the
regular, high level consultations they already receive as a
NATO ally and to solve basic, long standing energy security
issues with their own regional partners. Post believes USG
consultations -- particularly given the recent increase in
their tempo -- meets Lithuanian needs and that there is no
need to re-start the Baltic Charter mechanisms. Post will
endeavor to supplement Lithuania's inter-agency briefing
process on our existing consultations in order to ensure that
all of the key players are briefed. End summary.
The Baltic Charter
Â¶3. (U) The Baltic Charter is a political agreement signed in
January 1998 by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United
States, which served as a mechanism for USG-Baltic political
and security consultation, pre-NATO accession. As the Baltic
countries progressed toward NATO membership, the Charter's
mandated consultations became less relevant as political and
security dialogue transferred to NATO fora.
Â¶4. (C) It is not a coincidence that the Lithuanian push to
revive the Baltic Charter comes only two months after the
Russian's invasion of Georgian territory. The crisis both
validated Lithuanian suspicions that Russia's aim is to gain
control over former Soviet states and also unleashed deep
seated insecurity that the Baltic States "might be next."
Â¶5. (C) GOL officials have raised the idea of reviving the
Baltic Charter with Estonia and Latvia, but characterized
their neighbors' reaction as "less enthusiastic." The
Lithuanians say they will continue to lobby the other Baltic
States and expect no objections to this idea in the end.
Â¶6. (C) The GOL has raised the idea of re-activating the
Baltic Charter in several meetings with USG officials.
President Adamkus mentioned the idea during his September 29
meetings in Washington. The Prime Minister's foreign policy
advisor Mindaugas Jurkynas told Post in early October that
the Lithuanians want to invoke the Charter and see a larger
military footprint -- "more ships and planes" -- in Lithuania
as the desired result - even though a larger American
footprint in the Baltic States was never part of the Charter.
Â¶7. (C) MFA Director of the Transatlantic Cooperation and
Security Policy Department Vytautas Leskevicius said the
Lithuanians specifically want to activate the Charter's
Partnership Commission, which the agreement describes as
"chaired at the appropriately high level to evaluate common
efforts" and which "meets once a year or as needed to take
stock of the Partnership, (and) assess results of bilateral
consultations on economic, military, and other areas..."
Leskevicius emphasized that re-activating the Charter is no
threat to NATO and said that Lithuania has confidence in the
Article Five common defense commitment. However the
Lithuanians want more "institutionalized" consultation (and
more attention, in general) in a smaller, sub-NATO setting.
How We Engage with Lithuania
Â¶8. (C) In stressing the need for increased
"institutionalized" consultation apart from NATO, the
Lithuanians emphasize the fanfare of "summits" and
high-profile meetings, while under-valuing the kinds of
regularly scheduled interactions we normally have with our
closest allies in Brussels and elsewhere. Since July,
Lithuanian political leaders have met with the President, had
two meetings with the Vice President, one with the Secretary
of State, and two with the Secretary of Defense. Lithuanian
military leaders hosted USSOCOM Commander Admiral Olson and
the USS Elrod ship visit in August, and USAFE Commander
General Brady in early September. They also met with the
Chairman of the JCS Admiral Mullen in Brussels, also in
September, and will host him in Vilnius in October. Another
frigate, the USS Doyle, will visit at the end of October.
Â¶9. (C) Lithuanian MFA Under Secretary Pavilionis has been
clear that they do not see the current e-PINE (USG, Baltic
States, and Scandinavia) consultations as a substitute for
consultations under the Baltic Charter. Pavilionis has told
us that Lithuania has frequent consultations with
Scandinavia; what they are looking for are consultations with
the USG. In addition, the weakness of Lithuania's
inter-agency process has resulted in the MFA and the
Presidency not getting timely readouts of EUCOM consultations
with the Baltic States on security issues.
Â¶10. (C) Through our current interactions with Lithuania, they
usually achieve what they need, especially in the security
area. For example, in the aftermath of the Georgia crisis,
they requested a threat re-assessment for Eastern Europe and
a contingency plan in case of Russian aggression into the
Baltic region. NATO is currently, informally developing just
such a plan.
Â¶11. (C) The Lithuanians also want to utilize the Baltic
Charter to get the USG involved in energy security issues.
Despite Lithuanian lobbying, the EU appears unwilling to
allow them to keep their Chernobyl-style nuclear reactor at
Ignalina operating past 2009. The Lithuanians agreed to
close this plant as a pre-condition for joining the EU, yet
have made little progress on alternative sources over the
past several years.
Â¶12. (C) Lithuania also has disagreements on energy with its
Baltic ally, Latvia. In the GOL's opinion, the Latvians are
attempting to divert an electrical cable connection from
Sweden to their country, instead of Lithuania as initially
planned. An MFA source openly said he hoped the USG could
help resolve problems such as this through the Baltic
Charter. We clearly must engage the entire EU to push for
greater energy security in Europe, but creating a new forum
to adjudicate intra-Baltic spats would not accomplish that.
Â¶13. (C) While we agree that in the current climate we should
do all we can to reassure the Lithuanian government and
people of our commitment to Lithuania's security and
prosperity, we are wary of using the recently re-discovered
Baltic Charter, its mandated consultations, and the
inevitable, additional bureaucracy, as our means to do so.