Viewing cable 08VILNIUS92

08VILNIUS922008-02-14 07:59:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
DE RUEHVL #0092/01 0450759
P 140759Z FEB 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 VILNIUS 000092 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2018 
REF: A. 07 VILNIUS 164 
     ¶B. 06 VILNIUS 53 
Classified By: Ambassador John Cloud for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (C) SUMMARY/INTRODUCTION: One year ago, we laid out a 
plan to engage the Lithuanian government strategically 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.  With PM Gediminas 
Kirkilas' government now holding a (slim) majority and 
parliamentary elections coming up this fall (and presidential 
elections Spring 2009) we examine our progress to date and 
provide a plan to further advance our bilateral agenda in 
¶2008.  End Summary/Introduction. 
¶2.  (C) In the past year, Embassy Vilnius has engaged 
intensively with the government on the issues that matter to 
us the most.  We succeeded in convincing Lithuania to 
re-deploy a platoon to Iraq and to continue its PRT and SOF 
deployments in Afghanistan.  Lithuania continues to work 
effectively to promote our democracy agenda in Belarus, 
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.  We regularly press the 
government to move forward on difficult post-Holocaust issues 
and to improve the investment climate.  The Ambassador met 
during the past year with every Cabinet member, and 
frequently consults with key decision makers, including 
President Adamkus, PM Kirkilas, Foreign Minister Vaitiekunas, 
and Defense Minister Olekas.  Our ministry-specific work 
plans guide mission interactions with government leaders, and 
we track progress on the issues that matter to U.S. interests. 
¶3.  (C) Broadly speaking, our mission priorities are the same 
as in recent years: 
-- Support for U.S. initiatives within Europe and beyond 
-- Support for democracy at home and abroad 
-- Closer U.S.-Lithuanian economic ties 
-- Bilateral law enforcement cooperation 
-- Increasing public support for U.S. positions 
-- Improving embassy operating conditions 
In contributing to global security and promoting democracy, 
Lithuania has consistently supported U.S. positions. 
However, within the EU, Lithuania is more reticent than we 
would like in supporting democracy and human rights outside 
of the region.  In areas such as promotion of U.S. 
investment, encouraging transparency and tolerance, and 
cultivating Lithuania's next generation of leaders, however, 
we need to continue to press in this coming year and beyond. 
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 
¶4.  (C) Our key priority remains maximizing Lithuania's 
contribution to global peace and security.  Lithuania's 
leadership of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Ghor, 
Afghanistan continues to be its most significant contribution 
to global collective security.  Lithuania has expanded its 
presence and responsibilities in Afghanistan, taking over all 
financial responsibility for the PRT in 2007 and has 
responded to NATO's call for more combat capability in the 
south by deploring its Special Operations Forces (SOF) to 
Zabul province.  Besides making Lithuania a provider, rather 
than just a consumer of security, the experience of operating 
the PRT has helped drive Lithuania's defense transformation 
in ways that will make it a stronger NATO contributor in the 
future.  Lithuania also made the difficult decision to 
re-deploy troops to Iraq and remain committed in Kosovo. 
¶5.  (C) In 2008, we plan to build on those past 
accomplishments by reinforcing political and public support 
for Lithuania's participation in these multinational 
operations.  Our main challenge will be to ensure Lithuania 
stays engaged in Iraq  The Defense Minister has already 
announced that Lithuania will take an "operational pause" 
following the return of the current deployment in May and 
until after the autumn elections.  Given the withdrawal of 
other European forces from Iraq, we are concerned such a 
"pause" will be hard to reverse.  In Afghanistan, we will 
encourage the GOL to expand its capacity to deliver security 
by including a training element in its SOF deployment.  We 
also intend to promote the GOL's continued development of 
niche capabilities within NATO, and to urge Parliament to 
provide adequate resources so it can pay both for foreign 
deployments and for defense transformation needs at home.  We 
will use our limited IMET, FMS, FMF resources as efficiently 
as possible. 
VILNIUS 00000092  002 OF 004 
Building democracy abroad... 
¶6.  (C) The government continued to champion freedom closer 
to home in 2007 through its commitment to the promotion of 
democracy and Western values within the former Soviet Union. 
President Adamkus consulted closely with us as he personally 
worked with the leaders of new democracies in the former 
Soviet space, especially in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.  We 
worked with the Foreign Ministry and the President's staff to 
help them to de-escalate tensions in Georgia and help prepare 
for elections, and to encourage proportionate responses to 
what Lithuania and some of its neighbors view as Russian 
meddling in the region. 
¶7.  (C) This year, we will continue to encourage and support 
the GOL's active role in promoting democratic institutions 
and human rights in its neighbors in Eastern Europe and the 
Caucasus.  We will work with the GOL to bolster its 
credibility within the European Union as an expert on 
democratic transformation in Eastern Europe as well as the 
(more touchy) issue of Russia-EU relations.  We will continue 
to discourage impulses in some parts of the government to 
pursue an engagement strategy with Belarus's regime without 
consultation with us and the EU. 
¶8.  (C) Lithuania is devoted to democracy and human rights. 
Nevertheless, it tends to limit its support for these goals 
to its immediate neighborhood.  As an EU member, Lithuania 
has the potential to promote these goals more globally.  Last 
year, we succeeded in blunting an effort by some in Lithuania 
to recognize Cuba.  This year, we will continue to encourage 
Lithuania to speak up on democracy and human rights issues 
whether in the Greater Middle East, Burma, Cuba, or elsewhere. 
...and at Home 
¶9.  (SBU) We also want to help Lithuania develop a more 
mature and resilient political system domestically.  Although 
Lithuania boasts a strong and active democracy and an 
independent (albeit, at times, irresponsible) media, areas of 
concern remain.  In particular, Lithuania needs to tackle 
corruption, especially in the police force, develop a more 
responsive prosecutor general's office, and strengthen the 
Special Investigation Service, which is charged with 
investigating corruption but seldom brings significant cases. 
 Other blemishes on Lithuania's democratic record are 
intolerance and a reluctance to deal with the historical 
events that devastated Lithuania's once vibrant Jewish 
community.  In 2008, a draft law on the restitution of Jewish 
communal property remains stalled.  While we have succeeded 
in getting the GOL to take seriously Jewish objections to 
proposed development on the site of an historic Jewish 
cemetery, the government has dragged its feet and has not 
challenged the interests which prevent a resolution. 
¶10.  (SBU) In 2008, we will continue to emphasize these 
issues by speaking out in defense of civil society and 
euro-atlantic values.  We will continue to confront 
intolerance by featuring that issue as a core theme of our 
speeches and outreach programs.  We will push the government 
to reach a negotiated solution to concerns about developing 
the Snipiskes Jewish cemetery and to encourage the 
promulgation and enactment of a new law on the restitution of 
Jewish communal property confiscated since World War II. 
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 
issues about which Lithuanians care.  The most prominent of 
these remains Lithuania's desire for inclusion in the Visa 
Waiver Program (VWP).  In 2007, we made significant progress 
in getting the GOL to address its responsibility to provide 
better data sharing on lost and stolen passports and on other 
security issues.  The GOL sent a senior-level delegation to 
Washington in December 2007 to meet with State and Homeland 
Security to clarify the way forward.  In 2008 we will 
continue to work with the GOL and DHS to create the 
conditions under which the VWP will be possible for 
Lithuania, and anticipate hosting DHS teams in the coming 
months to work with the Lithuanian government.  We will also 
undertake a public relations program to educate Lithuanian 
citizens and officials on what exactly the VWP includes and 
what it does not. 
Promote U.S. Economic Interests 
VILNIUS 00000092  003 OF 004 
¶12.  (SBU) The U.S. role in the Lithuanian economy remains 
underdeveloped and we hope to change that.  We will actively 
engage the government in areas most promising for U.S. 
investment, like energy, and urge the GOL to ensure that the 
tender for a planned new nuclear power plant is transparent, 
giving U.S. companies a fair opportunity to compete.  We will 
continue our efforts to energize the AmCham to be a more 
effective advocate for investment and creating the 
preconditions for increased investment.  We will also 
continue to press the GOL to change the residency law which 
prohibits dependents of U.S. residents in Lithuania, 
including investors and businesspeople, from joining them in 
Lithuania for two years. 
¶13.  (SBU) We have been disappointed by the limits (largely 
due to funding and staffing shortages) of regional support by 
other agencies, but will continue to try to engage our 
partner FCS post in Warsaw to encourage U.S. business 
visitors and private trade missions 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. 
Support for Law Enforcement 
¶14.  (C) In 2007 we made substantial progress in our efforts 
to support Lithuanian law enforcement, as the FBI and other 
law enforcement agencies intensified their activity here.  In 
the current year we plan to expand our training initiatives 
with law enforcement officials, with a view to make the 
national police and the GOL's anti-corruption service more 
effective and active partners.  We will also continue our 
joint work with the GOL to combat the root causes and 
mitigate the effects of trafficking in persons, public 
corruption, cyber and organized crime. 
Getting out the Word 
¶15.  (SBU) Underlying all our goals is an effective public 
relations strategy to generate broad public support for U.S. 
policy goals in Lithuania and elsewhere.  A recent poll 
sponsored by the Public Affairs Section suggests that 
Lithuanians' approval of the United States and support for 
Lithuania's contributions to U.S. initiatives abroad is 
directly and positively related to whether the respondent has 
met an American.  The Ambassador has accelerated his travel 
program to reach all of Lithuania's larger cities and remote 
communities that receive official visits less frequently. 
¶16.  (SBU) The Ambassador has also stepped up his visibility 
in the press, with interviews in prominent magazines and 
dailies, and on television.  He and his Mission colleagues 
have also been active in promoting post's cultural programs. 
During 2008, we will continue with our post speaker's bureau, 
which involves the entire embassy community in speaking to 
audiences all over Lithuania about various topics -- from 
science and education in the United States to foreign policy 
and democracy building abroad.  We will also work with 
private groups on both sides of the Atlantic to expand the 
range and incidence of U.S.-Lithuanian youth exchanges. 
Effective Embassy Operating Conditions 
¶17.  (SBU) In 2007, we moved into the new American Center, 
allowing the public affairs section to relocate to the 
embassy compound, and received funding for the upgrade of the 
archaic, stained, and crumbling chancery building.  In 2008, 
we will begin renovation of the chancery.  We will continue 
to work with the Department to try to remedy the fire safety 
and anti-terror vulnerabilities of our building that have 
been allowed to continue in the past. 
¶18.  (SBU) Our main personnel challenge will be to retain our 
best FSN personnel in the face of high wage growth on the 
local economy.  We have not received funds for an FSN wage 
increase since March 2004.  In addition, we need to increase 
on-line and other training opportunities for our best FSNs to 
ensure that we can empower them in the future. 
¶19. (C) Lithuania remains one of our nation's most loyal and 
consistent allies on many issues that matter to us.  In the 
VILNIUS 00000092  004 OF 004 
world's most dangerous places, Lithuania still 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 
believe the strategy outlined here will yield an even 
stronger and more durable bilateral relationship in 2008.