VILNIUS - The President's Office has rejected criticism by Viktor Uspaskich, leader of the Labor Party, that Valdas Adamkus' failure to participate in the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos is harmful to Lithuania's image.
Presidential spokesman on foreign policy, Valteris Baliukonis, told the Baltic News Service that such allegations were ungrounded, adding that Adamkus attended events at the World Economic Forum.
"We should not say that Lithuania is not active in the generation of ideas of Davos because Adamkus participated in an extraordinary Davos forum in Kiev in June. We are active in the forum on the regional level as experts because we are bigger in the region," Baliukonis said.
Uspaskich had expressed concern over Adamkus' absence, claiming it amounted to negligence toward foreign policy.
"The president is holding visits of less importance to Lithuania and totally disregards Lithuania's foreign policy. Due to his actions, Lithuania will miss the second consecutive World Economic Forum that brings together the world's most outstanding leaders. The stance taken by the President's Office looks strange when its priorities are less important to Lithuania, and the Davos conference is left aside," said Uspaskich.
In recent weeks, the leader of the Labor Party, one of four in the ruling coalition, has been increasingly critical of the president. According to media reports, during his current series of trips around the country, Uspaskich has stated that the 79-year-old president is losing his memory due to old age.
The comment outraged Adamkus supporters, several of whom staged a picket outside Parliament.
Lilijana Astra, the party's chairwoman, said that the party intended to address the prosecutor's office over Uspaskich's statements. "He dared attack the country's top official 's the president. He has accused him of 'poor memory.' This is impermissible, because in accordance with Constitutional values and laws, the honor and dignity of the country's top official is the honor and dignity of ours, the country's citizens," she said.
Speaking of Davos, Baliukonis said, "Lithuania did not receive an invitation because the organizers are revising the strategy of the event. Regions rather than states are invited. [Latvian President Vaira] Vike-Freiberga was invited to represent the Baltic region as she specializes on U.N. reform issues."
Vike-Freiberga will attend the Davos forum in the capacity of special envoy of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Meanwhile, Uspaskich himself is under scrutiny as Conservative politician Audronius Azubalis questioned whether the Labor leader's presence at coalition council meetings represented a security threat. Uspaskich was stripped of his right to have access to secret information after resigning his Economy Ministry post and seat in Parliament.
Azubalis asked ruling party leaders to state whether written or verbal classified information would be used at the meetings attended by Uspaskich.
Vytautas Makauskas of the State Security Department told the Baltic News Service that Uspaskich had no right to work with classified data since he did not hold any public office.
But Uspaskich said on Dec. 6 that he could still work with classified information. "Nobody cancelled my permit to work with secret information," he was quoted as saying. In his words, even his not having the necessary permit would not prevent his participation in meetings of the ruling coalition's political council, "state secrets are not addressed" at the sessions.