Books on Lithuania
Update No: 307 - (27/07/06)
Parliament vetoes first PM nominee
The Labour Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Peasants Party and the New
Union formed the 13-member government after the 2004 parliamentary elections.
One coalition partner in the government, the New Union, quit in April in protest
after the party's Arturas Paulauskas was stripped of the post as parliament
Premier Algirdas Brazauskas resigned on June 1 after the Labour Party withdrew
from the coalition government at the end of May amid corruption charges.
President Valdas Adamkus then proposed social democrat Zigmantas Balcytis as the
country's prime minister nominee in mid-June; but his nomination was vetoed by
Lithuania's parliament. Among the 132 legislators present, only 52 supported the
nomination, with 48 against and 32 abstaining. A simple majority is required to
approve any nomination.
The 53-year-old Balcytis was finance minister in the previous government of
Brazauskas and was acting prime minister after Brazauskas resigned.
After the nomination failed to pass parliament, the president had to come up
with a new nominee within 15 days under the country's constitution. This he duly
Kirkilas, the second nominee, elected premier
Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas was elected prime minister on July 4 as
parliamentarians on both the right and left threw their support behind the
Social Democrat in an attempt to bring stability to Lithuania's fractured
political arena. Kirkilas, who was nominated at the end of June by President
Adamkus, was supported by 86 MPs from the Social Democrats, Liberal/Centre
Union, the New Union, the Civil Democracy Party and the National Farmers' Union.
Even a handful of Labourites, who had threatened to vote against the PM
candidate on suspicions involving a graduate diploma, changed their minds at the
last minute and voted for Kirkilas. Thirteen voted against the candidate and
On the eve of the vote, the Labour Party tried to sabotage Kirkilas' candidacy
by casting doubt on the veracity of his university diploma. The party asked
Adamkus to recall the candidate.
But both Vilnius University and the International Business School confirmed that
Kirkilas was enrolled. "Kirkilas was admitted to the International Business
School of Vilnius University in 2002 in accordance with the rules for admission
that were in effect," read a letter sent by a university dean to
Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Muntianas.
The Social Democrats, the National Farmers' Union, the Civil Democracy party and
the Liberal Centrists, who have formed a 53-member center-left coalition, will
likely form the backbone of the next government, but Kirkilas said on July 4
that he hoped to form a majority government.
In the defense minister's words, the vote opens opportunities for forming a
majority government. At the same time, he reiterated that "so far a
minority government is being formed" and hinted that the embattled Labour
Party would not be represented in the new Cabinet, although pointing out that
parliamentary posts were a completely different matter.
Kirkilas also said that the Social Liberals' unanimous support and clear stance
was a "good way to start new cooperation."
The party dropped out of the previous coalition after the Laborites supported a
motion of no-confidence, initiated by the opposition, in former Parliamentary
Chairman Arturas Paulauskas. The Social Liberals took umbrage that the Social
Democrats remained in the coalition with the "perfidious Laborites"
and went on to cooperate with the Conservatives.
But that scandal eventually snowballed into even more serious allegations, until
finally Algirdas Brazauskas was forced to resign as prime minister.
The Conservatives abstained from voting on July 4.
Kirkilas did not reveal whether the Social Democrats would aim to keep the
existing ministerial portfolios in the government, adding that the Social
Democrats should hold most posts in the government under the coalition agreement
and the responsibility they have assumed.
Following the president's decree of appointment, the PM-designate has 15 days to
present a president-approved government and a governmental program to
Adamkus expressed hope that Kirkilas would keep his promises to form a
transparent, efficient and responsible government. His spokeswoman, Rita
Grumadaite, said the president was glad that parliamentary groups "took a
constructive position in approving the candidate for prime minister at the
"The president tasks the future government with speeding up necessary
reforms and using European Union's funds efficiently for the good of the people
of Lithuania," Grumadaite said.
Asked about the Labour Party's charges over his education, Kirkilas said there
had been no agreements on this matter. "I believe this was due to our
principled stance we had taken. Probably the Labour Party held a discussion
within the party and made the decision," said Kirkilas.
The end of an era
The passing of Algirdas Brazauskas marks the end of an era for the Baltic
states, as well as Lithuania. He is the last great figure responsible for the
collapse of the Soviet Union to depart the political scene. In the late 1980s he
was the head of the Lithuanian Communist Party and president of the country, who
in 1989 took the bold step of taking the Lithuanian party out of the Soviet
Communist Party. Yeltsin backed his stand, with the clear intention of declaring
Russia's independence one day, once he became president.
The Lithuanians declared independence under President Vytautis Landsbergis in
March 1990, which precipitated a chain of events that led to the failed Moscow
coup of August, 1991 and the collapse of the whole Soviet edifice. For
Gorbachev, to his credit, reined in the hardliners and refused to agree to
further use of force after 15 demonstrators in Vilnius had been killed by the
security forces. Brazauskas was to alternate the presidency with Landsbergis in
the course of the 1990s. He can take much of the credit for Lithuania's
successful transition to capitalism.
He was never a true believer in communism, joining the party being a
prerequisite of having a political career at all in those days. His reflections
on the whole business would be well worth having. After a period of adjustment
to retirement, we may well have them one day. We may salute the veteran
statesman on his leaving as a towering figure of his day.
Vilnius calls on Ankara to arrange for alternative fuel
Lithuanian President, Valdas Adamkus, recently called on Turkey and South
Caucasus countries to arrange for "alternative fuel supplies to Europe to
ensure its energy independence." He stated this at the meeting with his
Turkish President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, in Ankara, the Lithuanian president's
press service reported.
Adamkus described the ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan as "an excellent
example of good-neighbourly relations," and expressed satisfaction with
"the improvement of relations between Ankara and Georgia."
"Joint projects of countries of the South Caucasus region and Turkey to lay
out oil-and-gas pipelines are of much importance for the strengthening of energy
independence and security of European countries," he said. Adamkus said
Lithuania is interested in spreading these projects to the Baltic Sea, New
The heads of state discussed the broadening of bilateral cooperation and
prospects for Turkey's membership in the European Union. Adamkus said,
"Vilnius favours Turkey's membership in the EU, but Ankara must fulfil its
obligations, including the settlement of the Cyprus problem."
Meanwhile, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and
Lithuanian Industrial Confederation signed a cooperation agreement in Ankara
with participation of Turkish State Minister, Besir Atalay, and Adamkus during a
Turkey-Lithuania Cooperation meeting. Adamkus said Turkey and Lithuania are
among the popular countries in the aspect of foreign investments. He said
Lithuania is an appropriate door to reach the EU market with a population of 480
million, and called on Turkey to focus on the new EU members.
On that note, TOBB Chairman, Rifat Hisarciklioglu, said Lithuania has an
advantageous structure due to its strategic location between Europe and Eurasia,
transportation and logistics facilities, qualified labour force and e-state and
informatics. "Thus, Lithuania, with its EU membership besides these
features, draws foreign investments, and Turkey wants to boost economic and
commercial relations with Lithuania."
Hisarciklioglu also said trade volume between Turkey and Lithuania was US$300
million in 2005. "I believe we will increase this figure to US$ one billion
soon," he said.