VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday that conservative parliamentarians' initiative to delegate Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, rather than him, to the European Council goes against the Constitution and fuels unnecessary tensions.
"No institution, no ministry, no group of members of the Seimas can (...) restrict the president's ability to perform their constitutional duty," Nauseda told BNS in an interview.
"And it is the president's duty to represent the country in various international organizations and foreign countries, while implementing the country's foreign policy," the president said.
"Specifically, if you are speaking about the (parliamentary) Committee on European Affairs, then, yes, it can formulate Lithuania's position, but it doesn't have the right to decide on the composition of the delegation," he added.
The committee has said recently that it will not only formulate Lithuania's positions before each EU summit, but will also make recommendations as to who should lead the country's delegation.
Parliamentarians of the ruling conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats say that Simonyte could replace Nauseda as Lithuania's representative at EU summits when the agenda focuses on issues within the government's areas of competence.
The conservatives maintain that since the president is not accountable either to the parliament or the government, there is a risk that he or she may deviate from the mandate approved by them.
Nauseda noted that this has not happened so far, adding that successful cooperation is possible if there is good will on both sides.
"Has there ever been a precedent where the president (...) has deviated, as you say, from Lithuania's position? Lithuania's position is formulated jointly, with various institutions working on it, and we adhere to this position," he said.
The matter is being artificially escalated to raise tensions, according to Nauseda.
"It seems to me that we are creating a problem where it might not actually exist. Perhaps this is being done deliberately: the problem is created to find a certain point of tension or a source of tension," he said.
When asked by BNS if he could imagine a situation where he and the prime minister would form separate delegations, the president said, "This would hardly make the state look properly in the international context".
"This would be a somewhat comical situation," he added.