Viewing cable 10VILNIUS3

10VILNIUS32010-01-04 14:04:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Vilnius
DE RUEHVL #0003/01 0041404
P 041404Z JAN 10
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000003 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2020 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Damian R. Leader for reasons 1.4 (b) a 
nd (d). 
¶1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  Growing public disagreement between 
President Dalia Grybauskaite and Foreign Minister Vygaudas 
Usackas has prompted speculation by government officials, 
political analysts and the media that Usackas may lose his 
job in a Cabinet reshuffle that is expected early in 2010. 
End summary. 
¶2.  (U)  Following the December 22 release of a parliamentary 
commission's report of its investigation into the alleged 
existence of a CIA prison in Lithuania, Grybauskaite was 
publicly and sharply critical of Usackas' interpretation of 
the commission's findings, which appeared to contradict her 
assertion that the report vindicated her earlier suspicions 
that such a prison existed.  Usackas had said that the most 
important message was that the commission did not find 
conclusive evidence that CIA detainees were transported to or 
through Lithuania.  Grybauskaite told journalists on December 
28, "If Mr. Usackas knows better than the commission's 
investigation and is very certain, I sincerely wish him good 
luck."  She did not answer questions about whether she could 
continue to work with the Foreign Minister. 
¶3.  (U)  Political analysts, noting that Usackas' 
characterization of the report's findings was accurate, said 
Grybauskaite's criticism appeared to stem more from the fact 
that his public comment differed from hers.  Media are 
treating the spat seriously, with one newspaper predicting 
that "a change of management at the MFA is in the cards for 
the coming year." 
¶4.  (C)  There have been other public disagreements between 
the two.  Earlier in December, Usackas said he planned to 
appoint a former aide to ex-President Valdas Adamkus, 
Valteris Baliukonis, to head Lithuania's "special mission" to 
Afghanistan.  In October, Grybauskaite had rejected 
Baliukonis' appointment as ambassador to Spain, saying  "I 
have no intentions of appointing this person anywhere...I 
know him...and from my personal experience I will definitely 
not appoint such a person."  Ambassadorial appointments are 
made by the President on the recommendation of the 
government.  Because the Afghanistan position is not an 
ambassadorship, Grybauskaite has no formal say in whether 
Baliukonis can be assigned.  When Ambassador Derse asked 
well-connected Lithuanian diplomat Zygimantis Pavilionis 
whether Usackas had cleared Baliukonis' Afghanistan 
appointment with Grybauskaite's office, Pavilionis shook his 
head and talked of a "growing incompatibility" between the 
president and foreign minister, which he said is "likely to 
worsen, and not to the benefit of my Minister." .  The MFA's 
Deputy Head of the Transatlantic Relations Department, Jonas 
Daniliauskas, told us December 18 that Usackas knows he 
cannot appoint Baliukonis to be an Ambassador because 
Grybauskaite would never agree.  But because the position in 
Afghanistan is not technically an ambassadorship, though 
Baliukonis would head the mission there, the MFA does not 
need Presidential approval. 
¶5.  (S)  While Usackas has come across as less than adroit in 
his dealings with the president, he has provided logical 
explanations for his positions in both of these cases. 
Concerning the prison reports, Usackas told Ambassador Derse 
on December 28 that he was concerned about media coverage of 
the commission report, and especially of Grybauskaite's 
remarks that the report "confirmed" her indirect suspicions 
about the existence of a prison.  Usackas said he felt he had 
to speak out because following Grybauskaite,s remarks, now 
the man on the street believes that there was a prison and 
prisoners held there."  His comment did not dispute the 
report's finding that "conditions were created" for a prison, 
but only that it did not confirm that any such facilities 
were ever used. 
¶6.  (C)  Simonas Satunas, a Lithuanian diplomat now detailed 
to the State Department, told us December 30 after speaking 
with Usackas the Minister believed it important to speak out 
because he thought Grybauskaite's assumptions would hurt 
U.S.-Lithuanian ties.  Usackas said he expected the public 
difference of opinion between him and Grybauskaite on this 
topic would continue. 
¶7.  (C)  On the Baliukonis appointment to Afghanistan, 
Usackas said he was following the recommendation of a Foreign 
Ministry commission that looks at possible assignments for 
career diplomats.  Baliukonis had been Lithuania's acting 
consul general in the United Arab Emirates and served as 
charge d'Affaires to Argentina and five other South American 
countries before becoming Adamkus' diplomatic advisor. 
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Before Grybauskaite objected, Baliukonis' appointment as 
ambassador to Spain had been approved by the parliamentary 
foreign affairs committee and the Cabinet of Ministers, as 
well as having received agrement from Spain. 
¶8.  (U)  Usackas similarly voiced objections to 
Grybauskaite,s recall of Mecys Laurinkas, Lithuania,s 
Ambassador to Georgia and former head of the State Security 
Service (VSD), after he publicly questioned the existence of 
secret prisons in Lithuania, saying Laurinkas was only 
defending his own position. 
¶9.  (C)  Logic is unlikely to provide much protection for 
Usackas in a personality conflict with Grybauskaite, who won 
a resounding election victory last spring and continues to 
enjoy approval ratings of up to 80 percent.  Even in areas 
where Lithuania's Constitution give the president little or 
no authority, she has been able to use her immense popularity 
as a lever to advance her agenda.  And this is one area where 
the president has real power:  the Constitution says that the 
president decides the basic issues of foreign policy and, 
together with the government, conducts foreign policy. 
¶10.  (C)  Usackas has said that he expects tension with 
Grybauskaite to continue, and also told us that Prime 
Minister Andrius Kubilius, who brought Usackas into the 
Cabinet, is "mediating" between him and the President. 
(Asked by reporters on December 30 about the quality of 
Usackas' work, the Prime Minister said that in foreign policy 
"Lithuania was really quite successful in pursuing the goals 
it had set for itself over this year.") 
¶11.  (C) Despite these disagreements, Grybauskaite's foreign 
policy staff works very smoothly with their MFA counterparts. 
 The policy differences between the principals are not 
dramatic.  Usackas is more zealous in supporting Georgia and 
Ukraine's EuroAtlantic aspirations, while Grybauskaite is 
more skeptical of the internal leadership of both countries. 
Both favor more pragmatic relations with Russia.  Usackas 
more openly advocates close ties with the United States 
whereas Grybauskaite's first impulse is to look to Brussels, 
but that distinction should not be overdrawn.  Both are 
leaders the Embassy works well with and expects to continue 
to do so regardless of how the present struggle plays out. 
¶12.  (C) Some changes in the Cabinet are expected in coming 
weeks because of possible shifts in the makeup of the 
governing coalition.  A non-coalition parliamentary faction 
threw its support to the government in the recent vote on the 
2010 budget, and Kubilius and others have said it is possible 
that faction will be given the right to name a Cabinet 
minister.  If the 11-member faction, Lithuania United, 
succeeds in negotiations and formally joins the coalition, 
further redistribution of Cabinet posts might well occur.  In 
the discussion about which Cabinet positions might be ripe 
for change because of those party politics, the Foreign 
Minister's job has not been mentioned.  But the timing could 
then be fortuitous to make simultaneous changes for other 
reasons, too. 
¶13.  (C)  MFA Chancellor Kestutas Jankauskas told us  half 
the MFA staff expect Usackas to be out of a job very soon, 
while the other half think he might be protected by the fact 
that Grybauskaite has recently forced out the head of the 
State Security Service (VSD), and that promptly doing the 
same to the foreign minister could be seen as an unseemly 
power play. 
¶14.  (C)  Usackas, former ambassador to both the United 
States and the United Kingdom, was mentioned as a possible 
presidential candidate earlier this year, though he did not 
publicly encourage such speculation and in the end did not 
run.  Should he lose his current job, many expect him to turn 
his considerable talents to politics.  There has never been 
any chemistry between Grybauskaite and Usackas, and he is 
considered a political rival and potential challenger, even 
though the next presidential election will not be until 2014. 
 Jankauskas told us December 30 he thought it is 
Grybauskaite's political advisors who are encouraging the 
President to push Usackas out of government, specifically 
because they see him as a potential challenger.  So another 
factor in Grybauskaite's political calculations could be 
whether she is better served politically by keeping Usackas 
on the inside, rather than giving him the freedom to act from 
the outside.