Usackas reveals future foreign policy goals

  • 2008-12-03
  • By Adam Mullett

PREMATURE: Usackas was criticized for making statements about policy before the official party lines had been announced.

VILNIUS - The front-runner for foreign minister has come out and made his second speech in as many weeks regarding his plans for the upcoming term, should the President approve his candidacy for the position.
The Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrat Party candidate for foreign minister Vygaudas Usackas vowed continuity of foreign policy and noted the importance of better diplomatic representation of Lithuania's economic interests abroad.

"Continuity of foreign policy is one of our greatest virtues. Our foreign policy is built on three solid [pillars], namely more profound integration to the European Union [and] our NATO membership, good relations with the U.S. and businesslike, constructive yet principle based relations with our neighbors," Usackas said after meeting with President Valdas Adamkus.

Foreign policy analysts say that Usackas should be more careful in the way he acts.
"All these things should have been kept a little bit more secret and he should have been more careful, but this was done purely for personal publicity," Morta Vidunaite, a Vilnius University lecturer on foreign policy and diplomacy, told The Baltic Times.

Usackas told media last week that he would take a pragmatic approach to Russia relations in comparison to the previous government, which demanded compensation for the Soviet occupation.
Vidunaite said most of what the minister says is out of his control.
"I don't think the policies will depend on him. The program of the Homeland Union party hasn't been published yet," she said.

"So much depends on the foreign policy of the United States. What Usackas says is just talk, but actual policy will be based on other things," Vidunaite added.
Usackas said he spoke with the president about a joint initiative with candidate for Economy Minister Dainius Kreivys to better coordinate and optimize effectiveness of Lithuania's economic diplomacy.
He reiterated Lithuania's interest in businesslike, constructive relations with neighboring states 's including Russia and Belarus 's and noted these relations are based on principles of fairness, justice and international law.

The Foreign Ministry will not avoid bringing up questions regarding compensation of damages brought about by occupation, Usackas said. He noted, however, that Russia is unprepared for this as its people do not know the historic truth.
Vidunaite cited this discrepancy in policy as an indicator of things to come. While he is a successful diplomat, she said, being a politician requires different merits which he might not have.
"I think he is good though he is a diplomat, not a politician. He has a strong personality, but it might not be enough to withstand the pressure from inside the foreign ministry. The undersecretaries will put a lot of pressure on him," she said.

Lithuania will aim to maintain its role as a proponent of democracy on the EU's eastern border and help Ukraine and Georgia maintain the road to Euro-Atlantic integration, Usackas said.
The candidate for one of the most prominent Cabinet posts also said Lithuania's role in EU's eastern stretch and businesslike relations with Russia are compatible.
Continuity of Lithuania's foreign policy is the main requirement set out by the president for the future head of the Foreign Ministry, the President's Spokeswoman Rita Grumadaite said.

"The president maintains the opinion that Lithuania must continue developing active dialogue with Western partners and the United States, maintain attention to energy security issues, remain a supporter of democratic processes and their proclaimer in Europe's East, be an active contributor to EU and NATO agenda setting. Lithuania must also maintain strategic cooperation and deal with issues arising in relations with Latvia and Poland," Grumadaite said.