VILNIUS - Current Ambassador to Belarus Petras Vaitiekunas was nominated to take over the foreign minister's spot, and President Valdas Adamkus expressed his support for the candidate. Adamkus, who met with Vaitiekunas on May 16, is expected to sign a decree on Vaitiekunas' appointment as foreign minister in the near future.
The nominee expressed regret that Antanas Valionis was leaving the post of foreign minister, saying that upon his appointment as minister "there should be no revolutions in foreign policy."
"Lithuania's foreign policy has been developing for 16 years. It has very clear features, its goals and vision. We are members of the European Union and NATO, we have good relations with neighbors. These principles should not be changed," Vaitiekunas said.
When asked about his relations with the National Farmers' Union that delegated him to the post, Vaitiekunas said, "There has not been any business meeting or written agreement yet." There should be no difficulty in communication, he added.
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas presented Vaitiekunas' candidacy to the president on May 13.
Under Lithuania's constitution, ministers are appointed and dismissed by the president upon the prime minister's proposal.
Adamkus was also presented with the candidacy of MP Loreta Grauziniene, a member of the Labor Party, for the post of social security and labor minister.
The president has not met her yet.
The two candidacies were presented after the resignations of the current ministers of foreign affairs and social security and labor, Antanas Valionis and Vilija Blinkeviciute. The two ministers, both Social Liberals, tendered their resignations after the party withdrew from the ruling coalition and recalled its representatives from high governmental and parliamentary posts.
Upon conclusion of the new ruling coalition agreement, the foreign minister's post went to the National Farmers' Union and the position of social security and labor minister was assigned to the Labor Party.
Ironically, a recent poll showed that Blinkeviciute is the most popular public figure in Lithuania.
According to the poll carried out by public opinion and market research center Vilmorus, Blinkeviciute is supported by 68.7 percent of respondents (versus 62.7 percent in April). President Adamkus was second, supported by 68 percent of those polled (67.1 percent in April), while Police Commissioner General Vytautas Grigaravicius was third, favored by 59.9 percent of respondents (59.3 percent in April).
Lithuania's current ruling majority consists of the Social Democrats, the Labor Party and the National Farmers' Union. The parliamentary ruling majority will also be supported by the Civil Democracy group, established by parliamentarians who have left the Labor Party.