Valionis could take Adamkus' place in Moscow

  • 2005-03-09
  • By TBT staff
Parliamentary Speaker Arturas Paulauskas announced that Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis could represent Lithuania in Moscow during the May 9 Victory Day ceremony. Valionis will go in place of President Valdas Adamkus, who announced on March 7 that he would not attend.

"I think an invitation for the president is an invitation for our country as well, and if the president is to authorize another official, I believe that could be the foreign minister. I do not think this would be an offense to anybody," Paulauskas said in an interview with Ziniu Radijas.

The president's foreign policy adviser Edminas Bagdonas said on March 8 that a solution to the question of whether Lithuania would be represented in Moscow, and to what level, would be sought through diplomatic consultations.

Paulauskas, who is currently visiting Germany, said that most of the Germans he had met understood the president's resolution not to go to Moscow.

"I think that European nations understand us. These days, the Baltic states' pages of history are recalled with increased sharpness. This is an excellent opportunity to remember the period of struggle [for independence against the Soviet occupation]," said the parliamentary speaker.

During his interview, Paulauskas, who had urged the president not to attend the ceremony in Moscow on several occasions, also accentuated that World War II victims must be remembered in Lithuania as well "by visiting graves and lighting candles."

In response to the question of whether the president's decision would be detrimental to Lithuanian-Russian relations, Paulauskas said he believed Russia's position would be outweighed by economic arguments.

"Russia is undergoing economic development, it needs both finance and income from energy supply. I think economic-related arguments will prevail," the parliamentary speaker emphasized.

Adamkus announced his decision to pass up Putin's invitation to Moscow and the underlying motives on March 7. Estonia's President Arnold Ruutel almost simultaneously announced the same decision. Thus, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who earlier declared that she would go to Moscow, will be alone in representing the Baltic states.

Adamkus said that being "aware of the painful historic experience of our nation and drawing on the discussions among the public" he decided to "stay on May 9 in Lithuania with the people." The nation identifies the end of the Nazi regime with the commencement of a half-century occupation by the Soviet Union.