Viewing cable 09VILNIUS716

09VILNIUS7162009-12-29 14:15:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
DE RUEHVL #0716/01 3631415
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 000716 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/29/2019 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Damian R. Leader for reasons 1.4 
 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  In her first meeting with Zygimantis 
Pavilionis, the MFA's Coordinator for Lithuania's Presidency 
of the Community of Democracies (CD), Ambassador Derse heard 
that the current recalibration of Lithuania's foreign policy 
provided an opportunity for the United States, and that 
Lithuania was using its time at the helm of the CD to look 
critically at its own democratic development.  Pavilionis 
also said that he feared Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas 
would fare poorly in his personality clash with President 
Dalia Grybauskaite, and promoted the idea of high-level 
meetings and visits to Lithuania by USG officials.  End 
¶2.  (C)  Pavilionis, whose previous MFA positions have 
included deputy chief negotiator for EU accession, political 
director and undersecretary, told the Ambassador that debate 
about the direction of Lithuania's foreign policy began about 
two years before President Adamkus left office last summer. 
Until then, the focus had been on Lithuania's drive to join 
NATO and the EU and its integration into those organizations. 
 "Now the rules have changed," Pavilionis said.  "We're 
inside, and the question is who will have influence.  The 
struggle is on.  We've got a generation change in Lithuania." 
 He said Lithuania's foreign policy was "balancing itself, 
little by little," among various interests and players.  He 
said be believed Lithuania's leadership of the CD was playing 
an important role "because it lets us look at others' 
problems and think about ourselves."  Western countries 
pushed Lithuania to make political and other reforms as 
conditions for entry into the EU and NATO, but that pressure 
stopped once membership was decided, he said.  He said former 
Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok told him that not following 
through on demands for reform was Europe's "very biggest 
mistake.  He told me, 'We pushed you to reform, to get in, 
but then we stopped'."  Because of that, Pavilionis said, "In 
the last five years, we made it into the club, but we haven't 
looked critically at ourselves.  We were stuck."  But 
Grybauskaite is trying to change that.  "She wants us to be a 
healthy Western society from the inside, not just looking 
good from the outside," Pavilionis said. 
Reviving democracy promotion 
¶3.  (C)  American support for the CD has helped Lithuania's 
efforts to reinvigorate the organization, Pavilionis said. 
"The general feeling was that something was going wrong with 
democracy in this neighborhood.  Russia from 2000, it's 
obvious, has been going deeply into an autocratic state. 
Historically, that usually ends badly for the Baltic states." 
 He also said there had been little or no encouraging 
democratic movement in former Soviet republics such as 
Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan. 
"Mainstream Europe looked critically at this Community of 
Democracies.  In Europe, to talk about democracy promotion is 
not very popular.  But this American administration has put 
democracy and rights back in front and said it shouldn't be 
taken for granted or forgotten."  He said, "This gives the 
Lithuanian elites a chance to be part of the debate.  After 
just a half a year of our (CD) presidency, democracy 
promotion is again something important to us." 
¶4.  (C)  He said Lithuania had spoken with several CD members 
about taking the lead on various topics the organization 
addresses.  Hungary is leading the drive to create an 
International Center for Democratic Transition, he said, and 
Canada also has put forth many ideas on strengthening civil 
society.  Italy and Chile will have the lead role on 
exploring political risks of economic crisis.  South Korea 
and Romania will lead on regional cooperation.  Pavilionis 
said he hoped South Africa and the Netherlands would lead on 
education for democracy.  As reported reftel, Pavilionis 
asked that the USG take the lead within the CD on gender 
equality and other issues related to women and democracy. 
USG Visitors Wanted 
¶5.  (C)  Pavilionis said he hoped to attract numerous Members 
of Congress to Vilnius for the 20th anniversary on March 11 
of Lithuania's declaration of independence from the Soviet 
Union.  He said about 150 legislators from the United States 
and various European countries would be invited for the 
celebrations, and that he hoped a strong bipartisan 
delegation from Congress would accept. 
¶6.  (C)  He said Lithuania also wanted to encourage a visit 
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to the Baltics by either President Obama or Vice President 
Biden.  "You have the same dilemma we have: whether to go to 
Moscow to celebrate various events, in this case the 65th 
anniversary" in 2010 of the end of World War II in Europe, he 
said.  "There should be a stop in Lithuania for whoever is 
going to Moscow for the 65th anniversary."  Pavilionis said 
Antony J. Blinken, the Vice President's National Security 
Advisor, had told him that the Vice President would be 
willing to visit the Baltics, whether in conjunction with a 
Moscow trip or not. 
Courting Grybauskaite 
¶7.  (C)  Pavilionis said high-level attention also could be 
important in building a relationship with President 
Grybauskaite.  The President, he said, is not anti-American, 
but "is very much European.  She wants us to make a 
Scandinavian-style, vibrant, technologically open society -- 
European in the best sense.  That is compatible with a strong 
transatlantic relationship."  He said the United States might 
have to work to woo Grybauskaite, but the task was not 
impossible.  "She is independent and has a strong 
personality."  For Grybauskaite's expected trip to Washington 
in March, "she needs a meeting with President Obama," 
Pavilionis said.  The Ambassador told him that the Embassy 
supported that idea and was working hard for such a meeting. 
Pavilionis also said that Grybauskaite's foreign-affairs 
advisor, Darius Semaska, could be a key ally in courting 
Grybauskaite.  "He is very much a transatlantic figure.  He's 
your good partner."  Pavilionis said Grybauskaite is 
decidedly not pro-Russia, but that Russia would work from 
both the left and right sides of the political spectrum to 
try to drive a wedge between Grybauskaite and the United 
States.  "We will have lots of attempts from various angles 
to break that link," he said. 
¶8.  (C)  Pavilionis said he expected changes early in the New 
Year in Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius' Cabinet.  "The 
temperature is getting higher in Lithuanian internal 
politics.  (Seimas Speaker Irena) Degutiene said she 
expected changes at the government level, with ministers. 
She reflects the temperature within her party.  The 
Conservatives are unhappy with their falling popularity." 
(Note: The Conservatives lead the four-party governing 
coalition.  After a non-coalition faction gave its support to 
the 2010 budget bill earlier this month, Kubilius and others 
said there would be discussions about changes in the 
coalition and the possibility of that faction naming a 
minister. End note.) 
¶9.  (C)  Foreign Minister Usackas may be on his way out, 
Pavilionis said.  "There is a growing incompatibility 
(between Grybauskaite and Usackas).  It's not because of 
their teams, but because of personality issues between the 
President and the Foreign Minister.  I think they'll only 
continue to grow, and not to the advantage of my Foreign 
Minister."  (As recently as December 28, Grybauskaite 
publicly rebuked Usackas for his comments on the report of 
the parliamentary committee that investigated an alleged CIA 
prison in Lithuania; Usackas' comments seemingly contradicted 
Grybauskaite's assertion that the Seimas report had 
vindicated her earlier suspicions about the prison's 
existence.)  Pavilionis, who admitted that he is "lobbying 
hard" to become Lithuania's next ambassador in Washington, 
said he hoped Usackas' conflict with Grybauskaite would not 
damage his own chances.  He added that Grybauskaite is 
interested in pushing him for a position on new EU President 
Herman Van Rompuy's staff.  Pavilionis said that a successful 
CD presidency would be good for him as well as for Lithuania 
and for democracy. 
¶10. (C) Pavilionis is an ambitious diplomat from a prominent 
Lithuanian family (his late father Rolandas was rector of 
Vilnius University and a European MP, while his mother Marija 
Ausriene Pavilioniene is a Social Democrat member of the 
Lithuanian parliament).  He appears to be balancing himself, 
so far successfully, between Usackas and Grybauskaite. 
Though at one point he was believed to be seeking the foreign 
minister's job before it was given to Usackas, he by all 
accounts works well with the equally ambitious Usackas. 
Pavilionis is the driving force behind Lithuania's active 
chairmanship of the Community of Democracies, and in so doing 
is furthering one of Usackas' priorities.  Embassy has always 
found Pavilionis well-disposed to the U.S., and we believe he 
would be an effective ambassador in Washington (all the more 
so given what appears to be a good relationship with 
Grybauskaite).  He could prove a valuable contact in Brussels 
as well, should he end up working on Van Rompuy's staff. 
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