Prunskiene, Adamkus quarrel deteriorates

  • 2005-07-06
  • By The Baltic Times
VILNIUS 's The row between President Valdas Adamkus and Agriculture Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene worsened this week, with the president threatening to review the minister's integrity for holding a public office.

Prunskiene, who raised Adamkus' heckles by attending the 750th anniversary of Kaliningrad even though he had asked her not to go, defended her decision by saying the president's recommendation to abstain from the visit was "not binding."

She told journalists on Tuesday that the celebration of Kaliningrad and the meeting of Russian, French and German president must be distinguished. She stressed that having good relations with the Russian exclave, and supporting Lithuanian investment within it, was of primary importance.

She went so far as to say that the president "should probably be advised to coordinate the foreign policy better." Specifically, she said Adamkus shouldn't "converge foreign policy into one point."

Adamkus responded angrily, saying that the minister's words were an attack on both him and the Lithuanian presidency.

"I see the agriculture minister's statements of today as a demarche towards myself, as the leader of the state," he told a media briefing on Tuesday.

He said that if Prunskiene continued disregarding the principles set out in the constitution he would address the matter "of her amenability as a minister."

Adamkus, as well as his Polish counterpart Aleksandr Kwasniewski, was not invited to participate in the anniversary hoopla in Kaliningrad, despite the fact that Poland and Lithuania share borders with the exclave. The Kremlin, however, did invite French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

There was speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin deliberately left Adamkus off the invitation list as a snub for the latter not attending the Victory Day celebration in Moscow on May 9. However, this holds little weight considering that Kwasniewski did attend the WWII anniversary ceremonies.

The Foreign Ministry also advised all Lithuanian officials not to attend the ceremony in Kaliningrad since the head of state had not been invited.

"Lithuania's foreign policy is handled by the Foreign Ministry. All other actions, I think, are irresponsible," Adamkus said.

The president has also stated it was hard to understand why the anniversary of Kaliningrad was marked while ignoring the leaders of neighboring Lithuania and Poland.