Viewing cable 09VILNIUS668

09VILNIUS6682009-12-10 08:47:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius

DE RUEHVL #0668/01 3440847
P 100847Z DEC 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000668 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2019 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Damian R. Leader for reasons 1.4 (b) a 
nd (d). 
¶1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  During a lunch with the Ambassador on 
December 4, 15 members of the American caucus of the Seimas 
(parliament) expressed concerns about the level of U.S. and 
NATO commitment to the Baltic states, NATO defense planning, 
Afghanistan, missile defense, and relations with Russia.  The 
Ambassador thanked the legislators for Lithuania's steadfast 
efforts in Afghanistan.  End summary. 
¶2.  (U)  The Ambassador was invited to lunch at the Seimas 
Dec. 4 with the Group for Interparliamentary Relations with 
the United States, better known as the American caucus.  With 
54 members, the American caucus is the fifth-largest of 42 
such groups in the 141-seat Seimas, surpassed only by 
caucuses for Germany (69 members), Russia (66), Ukraine (66) 
and Kazakhstan (62).  Fifteen members attended the lunch with 
the ambassador. 
¶3.  (C)  The Ambassador thanked and praised Lithuania for its 
leadership of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Ghor 
Province, Afghanistan.  Seimas member Mantas Adomenas asked 
about the new strategy for Afghanistan.  "We're happy with 
the surge and the new troops, because we're worried that our 
rebuilding effort in Ghor could be endangered otherwise," he 
said.  "But after 18 months, doesn't the promised withdrawal 
create the possibility of a second Vietnam, with all the 
efforts and achievements being put at risk because of 
instability?"  The Ambassador said that the United States 
would not withdraw without achieving its goal of denying Al 
Qaeda a place to regroup in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and that 
the increase in troop levels and civilian aid was designed to 
strengthen the Afghan government and increase stability. 
¶4.  (C)  Seimas member Petras Austrevicius suggested that 
Lithuania need not always be asking for assistance, but could 
be proactive.  "We have a small number of troops in 
Afghanistan, and that's enough to keep things under control 
in Ghor Province.  But why don't we increase the number of 
our Special Operations Forces in the south, if not by 50 
percent, then at least by 20 percent?  The sooner we act, the 
sooner we will get results." 
Women's rights 
¶5.  (C)  Seimas member Birute Vesaite said she was "very 
pleased with the decisions of President Obama on 
reproductive health issues and the shift in policy" to allow 
recipients of USG grants to provide information or counseling 
regarding abortion.  She also praised the appointment of 
Secretary Clinton, whom she called "a strong fighter for 
women's rights."  The Ambassador said that the President and 
the Secretary have made empowerment of women an important 
pillar of U.S. policy. 
NATO and Russia 
¶6.  (C)  Adomenas said he was worried that the importance of 
the Baltic region would be marginalized as the United States 
took on a more multipolar view of the world.  He said the 
"abandonment of missile defense without warning was one such 
step.  In this multipolar world, what is the role for small 
states such as the Baltic states? Is the new defense concept 
of NATO going to say anything about this?  Will we still 
remain in the sight of NATO in any way?" 
¶7.  (C)  The Ambassador replied that the United States had 
not abandoned, but only modified and made more effective its 
missile defense plans.  She also reassured the Seimas members 
that neither the United States nor NATO has decreased its 
attention or obligations to the Baltics. "Article 5 (of the 
Charter) is ironclad.  The United States is absolutely 
committed to fulfilling its Article 5 commitments," she 
¶8.  (C)  Other Seimas members pointed out that Russia has 
taken aggressive actions against Lithuania, both through a 
recent, large military exercise and through economic actions 
such as banning some Lithuanian imports and making it 
difficult for Lithuanian trucks to carry cargo into Russia. 
Member Gintaras Songaila asked how the United States was 
reacting to Russia's recent announcement of a new European 
security policy.  The Ambassador said the United States has 
suggested to Russia that the OSCE already exists to address 
such issues, because we believe human rights and economic 
issues are indivisible from military security.  Continuing 
the Corfu process would be the best way to approach the 
Russian proposal and other ideas for tackling European 
security challenges. 
¶9.  (C)  Parliamentarian Vilija Aleknaite-Abramikiene said 
that Lithuania has drawn not only retaliation from Russia but 
also criticism from some countries and international Jewish 
groups for supporting the Vilnius Declaration, which was 
adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly when it met in 
Vilnius over the summer.  The declaration calls for a 
thorough examination of both of the major totalitarian 
regimes in Europe in the 20th Century: the Nazis and the 
Russians under Stalin.  "They say we want to diminish the 
uniqueness of the Holocaust, but the Vilnius Declaration is a 
very balanced document with a view of the uniqueness of the 
Holocaust.  But we want to find the right formula to 
commemorate what happened during this long (Soviet) 
occupation," Aleknaite-Abramikiene said. 
Science, technology and tuberculosis 
¶10.  (C)  Seimas members and the Ambassador said they looked 
forward to the Lithuanian ratification of a bilateral Science 
and Technology Agreement signed earlier this year, and hoped 
it would foster closer cooperation that would benefit both 
countries.  Aleknaite-Abramikiene said the agreement should 
be approved by a Seimas committee within days, then be 
forwarded to the full Seimas for ratification. 
¶11.  (C)  The Ambassador urged the caucus to take advantage 
of a World Health Organization program that could save the 
GOL money while making the fight against disease more 
effective. The USG spent several years and about 400,000 USD 
helping Lithuania gain access to the Green Light Program, 
which allows the purchase of medicines to fight 
multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) at heavily 
discounted prices.  Although MDR-TB is a major problem in 
Lithuania, the GOL has never used the program and instead 
continues to procure drugs locally.  Seimas members said they 
were unaware of the program and would take the issue up with 
GOL health officials. 
¶12.  (C)  COMMENT:  The American caucus brings together 
Seimas members, including leaders and members of nearly every 
political party faction, who care about and support a strong 
U.S.-Lithuania relationship.  Caucus members can be our best 
allies and proponents in the Seimas, and they are eager for 
substantive contacts, both with the Embassy and with visitors 
from Washington.  In exchange for demonstrating their support 
for issues of concern to the U.S. (such as the Seimas' recent 
vote to extend Lithuania's mandate in Afghanistan to 2013), 
they expect the U.S. to recognize their serious concerns on 
certain issues, in particular the threat that Russia poses to 
Lithuania. End comment.