Lithuanian PM voices confidence in defmin

  • 2023-08-04
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has voiced her confidence in Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas after he came under fire for allegedly publishing information about the purchase of tanks.

"I trust the minister, and I have discussed this situation with him. Although, in my opinion, in response to the public accusations of MP Raimundas Lopata, the minister should have proposed to the chairman of the Committee on National Security and Defense to hold a meeting and present the information and answer the questions, to the best of my knowledge, the information presented at the State Defense Council, which is specifically classified under the legislation regulating this matter, was not disclosed by the minister," Simonyte was quoted as saying in a comment the government sent to BNS.

The prime minister also agrees that Anusauskas should have refrained from broader discussions in the public domain at the current stage, which she called a working stage, but she sees no reason to demand the minister's resignation.

According to the prime minister, the presentation of restricted information includes the discussion of content that can be found in public sources and that does not make the information that is already public classified.

Simonyte points out that the State Defense Council's plans and decision on the establishment of an army division are known publicly as are the plans to acquire tanks in that context.

"The supply of tanks is limited, and their names and the armies that use them are known, and one can find numerous articles by analysts analyzing and comparing their various characteristics, and the differences in engines or other operational differences among the most common models can be easily googled," the prime minister said.

She also rejects claims that the defense minister's announcement about a letter of intent on Leopard tanks, sent to Germany, could have undermined Lithuania's negotiating position, saying that she sees them as "irresponsible and casting a shadow over the ability of strategic partners to maximize their own interests as well as those of other governments and societies".

The Prosecutor General's Office decision to investigate the situation regarding the possible disclosure of classified information "does not imply that any infringement can be attributed _a prior_i to a particular person", Simonyte said.

"That would be clarified during the investigation, and its conclusions can be different. I want to believe that this case will be a good lesson for everyone who prepares and receives restricted-use and other classified information," Simonyte said.

Anusauskas was criticized by the president and some other politicians last week when he disclosed Lithuania's plans to purchase tanks for the Lithuanian army after the SDC meeting last week.

Earlier this week, President Gitanas Nauseda said Anusauskas disclosed information of restricted use, which Anusauskas denies and says it may have been similar to such information.

Opposition MP Agne Sirinskiene later turned to the General Prosecutor's Office over Anusauskas' post-SDC statement asked prosecutors to look into whether the defense minister disclosed classified information or not. The prosecution servicing is still considering her request.

The minister later confirmed the Prosecutor General's Office had received such a request. The presidential office handed over the information from the SDC to the prosecution service and answered its questions on Tuesday, but refrains to comment on it.