Viewing cable 09VILNIUS52
Title: AMBASSADOR TRAVELS TO PANEVEZYS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09VILNIUS522009-01-27 11:12:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #0052/01 0271112
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271112Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3243
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000052 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV ECON OTRA KGLB EAGR EAOD LH
SUBJECT:  AMBASSADOR TRAVELS TO PANEVEZYS 
 
¶1.  Summary.  Ambassador Cloud traveled to the city of Panevezys in 
central Lithuania on January 23 to meet with local officials and 
participate in community outreach.  He raised tolerance issues with 
the Mayor and visited two schools and one factory.  Panevezys is the 
fifth largest city in Lithuania and the seventh largest city in the 
Baltic region.  The visit received positive attention from the local 
media.  End Summary. 
 
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PANEVEZYS ECONOMY 
------------------ 
 
¶2.  The Ambassador called on Mayor Povilas Vadopolas who was elected 
to office in June 2008.  He is a member of the Social Democratic 
party.  The Mayor and members of his staff reported that Panevezys 
is feeling the effects of the economic crisis.  The staff said that 
unemployment has reached 8.8 percent in the area and some Panevezys 
companies have been forced to reduce workforce by as much as 50 
percent.  (Comment.  The Panevezys unemployment rate is higher than 
the overall unemployment rate for Lithuania which was reported as 
5.9 percent in Q3 2008.  End Comment.).  Local schools have reported 
a decrease in student population by as many as 1,000 students per 
year.  Families are leaving Panevezys in search of work 
opportunities in Western Europe.  The city is trying to attract more 
businesses to the area and is working on plans for an industrial 
office park which will be supported by EU structural funds.  The 
Ambassador advised that Baltic States must work together to attract 
foreign direct investment.  He further encouraged the city 
government to use English and Lithuanian-language newspapers in the 
UK and Ireland to promote business opportunities in Panevezys.  The 
Mayor later told the press that he intended to follow the 
Ambassador's advice and will set aside money to pay for promotions. 
 
 
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TOLERANCE ISSUES 
---------------- 
 
¶3.  Ambassador Cloud thanked the Mayor for the way the city 
responded quickly and properly after learning that pieces of Jewish 
gravestones had been used in the wall around the drama theater.  The 
city and the Jewish community worked together to remove the stones 
and create a monument from them that will open this summer.  The 
Ambassador asked the Mayor if he could help to protect a local 
Jewish Community Center which has been vandalized several times in 
the past year.  The Mayor dismissed the vandalism as acts of "young 
hooligans" who have also destroyed crosses in the Lithuanian 
cemetery.  The Ambassador urged the city government to make it clear 
that such expressions are unacceptable regardless of the location. 
 
 
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SCHOOL VISITS 
------------- 
 
¶4.  The Ambassador also visited two Panevezys schools including the 
Panevezys School for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and the Minties 
high school.  The Ambassador received a warm greeting at the 
Panevezys School for the Deaf and the Hearing impaired and was 
welcomed by the school's director as well as by local government 
officials including County Governor Viktor Trofimov, Deputy of 
County Governor Vidas Balakauskas and Head of Division of Education 
Ricardas Kliminskas.  The students gave an inspiring musical 
performance in the school's auditorium which was built with funding 
from the USG EUCOM program.  The Ambassador also participated in a 
tour of the facility which highlighted other USG contributions to 
the school including furniture and PCs.  The school's director noted 
that 2009 represents 10 years of friendship between the school and 
the USG. 
 
¶5.  Ambassador Cloud addressed 200 students and teachers at the 
Minties high school.  He highlighted opportunities to study in the 
U.S. and distributed copies of President Obama's inaugural address 
in Lithuanian.  The Ambassador's remarks were followed by a lively 
Q&A session with the students.  Questions ranged from inquiries 
about scholarships to political questions such as the future of 
Guantanamo Bay, the priorities of President Obama and the economic 
crisis. 
 
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FACTORY TOUR & BASKETBALL 
------------------------- 
 
¶6.  Representatives from the Kalnapilis Brewery invited the 
Ambassador to a site visit and tour.  The facility was founded by a 
German beer maker over 100 years ago.  The factory employs up to 175 
workers during high season and produces beer for the Kalnapilis 
brand as well as for Latvian and Danish producers.  The Kalnapilis 
brand boasts 30 percent of the Lithuanian market share for beer. 
 
¶7.  In the evening the Ambassador attended two semi-final basketball 
games in the new Cido Arena, and cheered for several American 
Citizen athletes who play on various Lithuanian teams. 
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MEDIA COVERAGE 
-------------- 
 
¶8.  The visit to Panevezys received positive attention from local 
press.  Ambassador Cloud gave a television interview to KTV Plus 
which boasts an audience of 150 thousand.  He highlighted President 
Obama's priorities in his first days in office and said that the 
strong friendship between the U.S. and Lithuania will remain strong 
under the new administration.  The Ambassador's visit was also 
featured prominently in the local newspaper "Sekunde." 
 
 
CLOUD