Viewing cable 10VILNIUS4
Title: LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT GRYBAUSKAITE'S FIRST SIX

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10VILNIUS42010-01-04 14:45:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
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PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHVL #0004/01 0041445
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041445Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4041
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 VILNIUS 000004 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2020 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ENRG LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT GRYBAUSKAITE'S FIRST SIX 
MONTHS 
 
REF: A. VILNIUS 711 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 710 
     ¶C. VILNIUS 440 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Damian Leader for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 
 
Summary and Introduction 
------------------------ 
 
¶1. (C) After six months as president of Lithuania, Dalia 
Grybauskaite has put a strong personal stamp on the office 
and has charted a new direction from that set by her 
predecessor, Valdas Adamkus. She retains high approval 
ratings, and is seen as honest and hard working. She has 
sought to orient Lithuanian foreign policy more towards 
relations with Europe, and has cultivated a more pragmatic 
relationship with Russia that could enhance Lithuania's 
reputation among its Western allies.  She wants better 
coordination among the three Baltic countries to push forward 
energy projects, but at the same time has irritated Baltic 
counterparts by publicly speaking on their behalf about NATO 
contingency planning for the Baltic region. Despite an 
economic background, she has rejected taking a personal role 
in marketing Lithuania to foreign traders and investors (whom 
she suspects would be uninterested in any case in Lithuania, 
absent strong financial incentives that the GOL would be hard 
pressed to deliver). She has been a strong supporter of 
women's issues and opposed efforts to criminalize information 
on homosexuality to minors.  She has a good relationship with 
Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, but her feud with Foreign 
Minister Vygaudas Usackas has become very open, and some 
Seimas (parliament) members lament her lack of political 
acumen.  She can be very prickly in reacting to public 
criticism.  Unlike many senior Lithuanian officials 
(including her predecessor), Grybauskaite is not 
instinctively pro-American.  Meetings with the President and 
the Secretaries of State and Defense during Grybauskaite's 
proposed March 2010 trip to Washington could pay dividends 
far into the future, as we seek to engage her on a range of 
bilateral and multilateral issues, including Afghanistan and 
contingency planning. End Summary. 
 
¶2. (C) Grybauskaite's advisors told us early in her tenure 
that she would not be conducting a "photo op" presidency 
consisting of meetings with all comers, and that she would 
exert control over government operations in excess of her 
predecessors.  "She considers herself the 'decider' on 
everything important, one advisor told us.   Grybauskaite 
prides herself on being straightforward and all business. 
She works long hours, schedules few meetings, and has made 
her opinion on what works (and what doesn't work) in 
Lithuania known widely. In both word and deed she has made it 
clear that she is accessible to the Ambassador, but at the 
same time her advisors tell us she is interested in meeting 
only the most senior USG officials. We understand the 
president is a quick study and very bright, and at the same 
time has a long memory and does not forget slights. 
 
¶3. (C) In a society where family ties are strong and 
connections through family and friends help one advance, 
Grybauskaite is an anomaly.  With her parents deceased and no 
siblings or children of her own, the unmarried president has 
no close family.  Rumors about her sexual preference during 
the presidential campaign were categorically denied by 
Grybauskaite, and have been a non-issue since then. Chief 
foreign policy advisor Darius Semaska, who worked with 
Grybauskaite when she was posted to the Lithuanian Embassy in 
Washington, said she did not socialize or cultivate 
friendships there, and even now has only one or two close 
friends.  Despite her lack of interest in socializing, 
though, she surprised her staff by being an effective 
person-on-person political campaigner, which they attribute 
to her view that campaigning is "socializing with a purpose". 
 She does reach out to support charities, particularly 
children's issues such as orphanages (charities are the only 
events to which she is willing to extend presidential 
prestige to support).  Her reputation for being aloof in 
private is not reflected in her public appearances, where she 
often shows a warm and caring side.  The result -- she 
remains by far the most popular politician in Lithuania, with 
one late December poll showing her popularity at 85 percent. 
 
Focus on Security Issues and Energy 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶4. (C) Security issues related to Russia have been a 
paramount focus of President Grybauskaite.  She has been an 
outspoken proponent for NATO development of a contingency 
plan for the three Baltic states. Her public statements have 
raised concerns among other NATO members that she has 
 
VILNIUS 00000004  002 OF 004 
 
 
unnecessarily increased her rhetoric for political reasons, 
which makes progress on the ultimate goal of a contingency 
plan more difficult for some members of the Alliance.  Her 
comments reportedly upset counterparts in Estonia and Latvia, 
who are not always consulted in advance of Grybauskaite's 
statements regarding "Baltic" security needs. According to 
Defense Minster Jukneviciene however, Grybauskaite is 
unrepentant about the high public profile she has taken on 
contingency planning, believing that her comments to the 
effect that "the Emperor has no clothes" spurred Alliance 
thinking on Baltic defense. 
 
¶5. (C) With the December 31 closure of the Ignalina nuclear 
power plant, energy security has become a priority for the 
President.  On energy issues Grybauskaite has worked more 
closely and constructively with her Baltic counterparts, 
approaching the issue pragmatically and advocating a more 
regional approach to alleviating energy dependence on Russia. 
 A summit meeting with the other Baltic presidents in 
mid-December produced long-overdue agreement on implementing 
a range of regional energy projects, with the hope that a 
coordinated approach would be more likely to attract 
financing from both the private sector and the EU (ref B). 
 
¶6.  (C)  Grybauskaite has also been a force for moderation 
and universal values within Lithuania.  She appointed a 
commission to address the homophobic aspects of a law on 
information to minors, and defused a highly contentious 
issue.  She was key in securing the establishment of the EU 
Institute for Gender Equality in Vilnius and attended its 
opening. 
 
Looking West, but Handling the East 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶7. (C) Grybauskaite's Washington experience, and her dealings 
with the United States on trade issues, did not leave her as 
pro-American as her predecessor Valdas Adamkus.  Nor is she 
as openly anti-Russian as Adamkus, believing that 
inflammatory anti-Russian rhetoric damages Lithuania,s 
standing in EU councils.   She has sought to reorient 
Lithuanian foreign policy towards greater cooperation with 
the EU (her early trips as president were to Brussels, 
Berlin, and Paris) and away from Adamkus' high-profile 
support for countries like Georgia and Ukraine.  To enhance 
Lithuania's reputation within both NATO and the EU, she has 
promoted a U.S.-like "reset" to the Lithuanian-Russian 
relationship that approaches bilateral disputes on a 
pragmatic, results-oriented basis (though her comments on 
NATO contingency planning reveal the limits of her 
pragmatism).  This approach was in evidence earlier in her 
tenure, when she spoke by phone with Russian President 
Medvedev to help broker a resolution to a Russian crackdown 
on Lithuanian cargo trucks entering Russia; the situation was 
essentially resolved shortly thereafter (ref C).  At the same 
time, she has been forcefully pushing NATO to develop a 
contingency plan for the Baltics, and to address other 
security concerns with Russia, including Russian influence on 
Lithuanian media. 
 
No Interest in Marketing Lithuania 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶8. (C) Although an economist by background, and having just 
served as EU Budget Commissioner, Grybauskaite has decided 
not to play a prominent role in promoting investment and 
trade.  Her advisors now tell us that she envisions a trip to 
the U.S. in March 2010 focused exclusively on political 
issues, with meetings requested with the President as well as 
Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates.  Although at one point 
we understood a business component would be included, the 
President has  decided that Prime Minister Kubilius should 
focus his 2010 visits to the U.S. on economic and business 
issues, leaving her to focus exclusively on international 
political issues. 
 
¶9. (C) The Lithuanian constitution gives the president 
significant foreign policy authority, but little in the way 
of economic authority, so Grybauskaite's decision makes 
constitutional sense. But her lack of interest in promoting 
Lithuania's business interests reflects her belief that 
Lithuania will never be able to attract big investments from 
the U.S. or elsewhere.  She is skeptical that investment 
incentives offered to potential foreign investors will have 
much impact in Lithuania, and instead believes that 
Lithuanian-owned small and medium enterprises will drive the 
country's future economic growth.  Semaska told us that 
Grybauskaite does not want to be associated with businessmen 
(noting she rejected his advice to lead of a group of 
Lithuanian businessmen on a visit to Estonia and Finland 
earlier in the fall).  Her refusal reflects her view that 
 
VILNIUS 00000004  003 OF 004 
 
 
such businessmen would want to accompany her only to ask her 
for favors and to curry political influence, damaging the 
independence from special interest groups that has helped 
underpin her popularity. 
 
¶10. (C) Grybauskaite's views on foreign investment were 
profoundly affected by the failed investment of the U.S. firm 
Williams in Lithuania's Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery from 
1999-2002, according to Semaska (Grybauskaite has mentioned 
the controversy to the Ambassador on more than one occasion). 
 She believes that the investment incentives offered to 
Williams by the 1999 Kubilius government (including tax 
holidays and reduced tariffs on rail use) were embarrassing 
concessions and a waste of government resources that did not 
create a sustainable investment, leading Williams eventually 
to sell the refinery to Russia's Yukos (much to Lithuania's 
consternation). 
 
Strained Relations with the Government/Seimas 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
¶11. (C) Although she was supported by the Conservatives 
during her election campaign (she ran as an independent), 
Grybauskaite has not been shy to criticize the 
Conservative-led government. Shortly after her inauguration 
she insisted that the government change finance ministers, 
sending Algirdas Semeta to take her prior position as EU 
Budget Commissioner, while elevating to the minister job her 
longtime ministry colleague Ingrida Simonyte. She has 
torpedoed one ambassadorial nomination and recalled another 
high-profile ambassador, and has become increasingly 
critical, in public, of Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas 
(reported septel). 
 
¶12. (C) The President's relationship with Prime Minister 
Kubilius appears to be good and he supported her presidential 
candidacy.  However, her relationship with the Seimas appears 
to be tepid, with some MPs complaining to us that the 
President rarely visits the Seimas except to attend 
constitutionally-mandated events.  Senior PM Advisor Virgis 
Valentinavicius told Ambassador recently that Grybauskaite 
doesn't yet know well how to effectively navigate Lithuanian 
politics, which is reflected by her relative lack of 
popularity among Seimas members (ref A), although she is 
learning fast. 
 
¶13.  (C)  In addition to being out of sync with the Seimas, 
Grybauskaite has already lost support from some of the elites 
who had supported her candidacy.  Businessmen have told us of 
their disappointment with her unwillingness to engage on 
their issues and her decision to eliminate the trade and 
business aspects from her planned trip to America.  She can 
be prickly when criticized, especially in public, and the 
personal quality of her attacks on people she dislikes or 
disagrees with, such as FM Usackas, former VSD head Povilas 
Malakauskas and several ambassadors, has been noted. 
 
No Special Warmth for the U.S. 
------------------------------ 
 
¶14. (C) Grybauskaite spent several years in the U.S. She 
attended a six-month program on international economic 
diplomacy at Georgetown University in 1991, participated in 
the International Visitor Leadership Program in 1994, then 
served as DCM at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington from 
1996 to 1999.  Despite her extensive U.S. experience, we have 
heard from more than one source that she is no more favorably 
disposed to the U.S. than when she first visited.  She was 
particularly unimpressed with the Lithuanian-American 
community, believing that post-1990 most of them never 
delivered on their promise of real investment to help rebuild 
Lithuania.  We understand that she believes most of them 
seemed only interested in retiring and moving to Lithuania to 
get hired by the GOL as experts of one sort or another.  Her 
attitude is reflected in her decision to forego being the 
guest of honor at the 2010 U.S.-Baltic Foundation dinner (an 
honor that she apparently asked be extended to PM Kubilius 
instead). 
 
¶15.  (C)  Her handling of the ABC News story alleging the CIA 
ran secret prisons in Lithuania, and its effect on U.S. 
relations, appeared uncertain.  When the story first broke, 
she expressed to the Ambassador her concern that it could 
harm U.S.-Lithuanian relations.  Shortly afterwards, 
following a meeting with Council of Europe Human Rights 
Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, she seemed to allow herself 
to be provoked in a press conference and called publicly for 
an investigation that many thought ill-advised. Some members 
of the American caucus in the Seimas also told us that they 
were upset that Grybauskaite reignited the secret CIA prison 
story, which caused a somewhat-reluctant Seimas to launch an 
 
VILNIUS 00000004  004 OF 004 
 
 
investigation; these MPs worry that the investigation could 
damage Lithuania's vital relationship with the U.S.  She also 
appeared to use the alleged prisons as a reason to force out 
the VSD director and call for more accountability.  She did 
not seem to be aware of how this could affect relations with 
the U.S. 
 
Comment: U.S. Needs to Cultivate Grybauskaite 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
¶16. (C) The absence of an instinctive pro-American attitude 
does not mean Grybauskaite is anti-American.  The 
Ambassador's meetings with her reflect Grybauskaite,s 
understanding that the U.S. is an important ally, and the key 
ally to address her concerns on Lithuania's security.   She 
has been an unwavering supporter of Lithuania's continued 
presence in Afghanistan, seeing it as a direct quid pro quo 
for strong NATO support for Lithuania.  As noted above, 
though she does not have an open-door policy with every 
visiting U.S. official (a policy that we confirm extends to 
other countries as well), she has been very accessible to the 
Ambassador. 
 
¶17. (C)  Future support for issues of concern to the U.S. 
require careful cultivation of Grybauskaite now.  Her planned 
trip to the U.S. this spring is an opportunity to create a 
foundation at senior USG levels through meetings with 
President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates.  (She 
is prepared to adjust the timing of her visit in order to 
facilitate their scheduling.)  Grybauskaite could well be 
president until 2019 and showing that we take her seriously, 
value Lithuania's support in Afghanistan, appreciate its 
support for our Russia policy, and want it to play a 
constructive role in the EuroAtlantic community, could pay 
dividends for many years to come. 
LEADER