VILNIUS – Calls by some conservative MPs that the prime minister, rather than the president, should represent Lithuania at EU summit meetings, are unfounded, Gitanas Nauseda's chief foreign policy advisor said on Tuesday, adding that the current practice "is working well and could continue to work".
Some politicians began to raise the issue "artificially" after last October's parliamentary election to achieve certain domestic policy goals, according to Asta Skaisgiryte.
"It seems to me that this discussion was artificially sparked in our domestic politics," she told the Ziniu Radijas radio station. "The discussion began to unfold in the public domain when the current Seimas majority came to power."
Under the Constitution, the president is the head of state and represents the state, the advisor noted, adding that the Constitutional Court has also stated that the president is part of the executive branch.
"It follows from the constitutional powers that the president is both a foreign policy maker and a participant in domestic politics," the advisor said. "The president is not an official who represents only foreign policy; he is elected by all the people of Lithuania and he participates in Lithuania's domestic politics."
At EU summits, the president represents a position that is coordinated with the government and approved by a Seimas committee, she said.
The tradition of the president representing Lithuania at EU summits started under Dalia Grybauskaite. Before that, the country was sometimes represented by the prime minister, too.
Two members of the ruling Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats' parliamentary group – Matas Maldeikis and Jurgis Razma – say that Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte should participate in EU summits instead of Nauseda, because the European Council's meetings focus on issues falling within the government's remit during the pandemic.
When asked if she would seek to replace Nauseda at EU summits, Simonyte told BNS in December that she saw "no reason why we should rush to change anything in the near future".
"I'd say that this is not a topic that needs to be raised or changed in the near future, because the government already has a lot of work to do," she said.