Antanas Valionis, who served as foreign minister in three Cabinets, bid farewell to President Valdas Adamkus July 13. Valionis, who is counting his last days as minister, said he felt relieved and happy to finish his career.
"Lithuania is different now compared to 2000. The country is already a member of the European Union and NATO, and has pursued an active foreign policy recognized both by our supporters and opponents," Valionis said. According to the new government's program, he added, Lithuania's foreign policy will not change. "Lithuania's ambition is to establish itself as a regional leader will remain," Valionis said, adding that he hoped to return to diplomatic services.
The minister expressed little regret over failing to follow the example of his former colleague Vilija Blinkeviciute, who left the New Union (Social Liberals) to join the Social Democrats and would retain the post of social security and labor minister in the new government.
As for rumors that he may go on to work at the President's Office, Valionis said he doubted he would work there.
Adamkus said he valued Valionis as a professional in his area. The foreign minister proved his loyalty to the country through hard work, the president added. Meanwhile, Prime Minister-designate Gediminas Kirkilas, acting defense minister, said working with Valionis was an honor.
Under the Constitution, the president tackles Lithuania's key foreign policy issues and implements the country's foreign policy together with the government.
On July 12, Adamkus approved the composition of the 14th government, in which Lithuanian Ambassador to Belarus Petras Vaitiekunas, nominated by the National Farmers' Union, would work as foreign