VILNIUS - In one day President Valdas Adamkus helped usher in a new era of energy security for Lithuania, signing into law a series of crucial amendments to the nuclear power law in the morning and in the afternoon presiding over the signing of a deal to connect the Baltic state's electricity system with Poland's.
Adamkus signed the amendments 's which approve the participation of private capital's in the project of new nuclear power plant construction 's into law on Feb. 12 after a vicious debate between the ruling coalition and the opposition.
At one point Adamkus openly considered vetoing the legislation, which led Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas to strike back by threatening to resign.
Immediately after signing the bill, Adamkus flew to Warsaw, where together with his Polish colleague Lech Kaczynsky, he oversaw the signing of the historic "power bridge" link between the two countries.
The agreement, which was signed by Lithuanian and Polish energy companies' Lietuvos Energija and the Polska Grupa Energetyczna, and the two countries' economy ministers, provides for establishing a new company that will manage construction of the power link.
The link and the nuclear power plant are intertwined, particularly for Poles and Balts, who want a guarantee of energy independence in the distant future.
The European Union has given the power bridge priority status, while officials Brussels have given mixed reviews of a new atomic power plant.
During the last two weeks, Adamkus has been a primary target of both supporters and opponents of the new nuclear power plant law amendments, not to mention the tension at the international level.
Parliament approved the nuclear power plant law on Feb. 1, giving Adamkus 10 days to sign or veto the amendments.
Opponents of the law largely criticized the alleged lack of safeguards and guarantees that the capital firm NDX Energija would not abandon the project prematurely.
In addition, some observers said a lack of transparency of negotiations with private investors bad compromised the integrity of the deal.
Tension surrounding the law climaxed on Feb. 11, when media reported that Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas implied he would resign if Adamkus vetoed the amendments.
"What is the alternative?" Kirkilas said.
Although the prime minister said he was not blackmailing Adamkus, most observers said this was a desperate measure to corner the president into signing the law.
Adamkus denied he gave in to the pressure and said he decided based on his own opinion.
"I was looking for a most suitable decision, because I could hardly find the best one in this situation," the president said in his public address on Feb. 12.
In the words of Conservative leader, Andrius Kubilius, "Prime Minister Gedinimas Kirkilas delivered an ultimatum 's the president has to sign the law first, and I do not see any resolution in the president's actions to resist the prime minister's blackmail," Kubilius announced at the press conference on Feb. 11.
Kirkilas tried denying he threatened to resign, saying on Feb.11 that he was misunderstood in the media, but Adamkus admitted that the head of government did talk about possible resignation.
The president noted that together with signing the amendments, he also sent a letter to the Kirkilas obliging the government to review the existing contracts in order to improve the protection of state interests and safeguarding measures.
The opposition has criticized prime minister's refusal to re-open negotiations with NDX Energija.
"The most interesting thing is that the private business agreed to reopen the negotiations, which could help to improve the state interests' protection, but the prime minister refused to assert state interests in renewed negotiations," said Kubilius.
Kirkilas claimed the negotiations might be re-opened with NDX Energija only with one condition 's that the president sign the current version of the law.
"If the law is signed, some corrections will be necessary," Kirkilas said after meeting the President on Feb. 7.
The same morning, however, he denied the necessity to re-launching of negotiations, saying time for discussions has passed.
Opponents of nuclear power amendments organized a public demonstration near the Presidential Palace on Feb. 8, urging Adamkus to use his veto. The demonstration involved around 500 people and well-known public figures such as singer Andrius Mamontovas.
A petition containing more than 9,000 signatures was handed to the president on Feb. 5, though by Feb. 12 it had been signed by more than 34,000 Lithuanians.
Meanwhile, supporters of the amendments did not stand around with their hands behind their back.
Irena Siauliene, head of the Social Democrat faction, motioned to form a commission that would investigate whether opposition to the nuclear power plant law is not motivated by foreign states' interference and whether it does not violate essential Lithuania's state interests.
The initiative, which was blasted by the opposition as an attempt to persecute the government's critics, will be deliberated in Parliament's spring session, which commences on March 10.