PM FROM HER STYLE OF PLACE: Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said that Lithuania is her style of place because women occupy the main government posts in Lithuania.
VILNIUS - On May 5-9, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius went on a five-day long trip to the U.S. to boost co-operation in high-tech industries between both countries and to have his first meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He returned home happy with a signed letter of intent with IBM regarding this multinational computer, technology and IT consulting corporation’s plan to establish its scientific research center in Lithuania.
On May 6, Kubilius had his half-hour conversation with Clinton at the U.S. State Department. According to Kubilius, they discussed security issues as well as possible U.S. participation in the construction of a nuclear plant near the Lithuanian town of Ignalina, and a liquefied gas terminal in Klaipeda. After their meeting they had a joint press conference during which Clinton described Lithuania as “a valued ally and a trusted friend,” and praised Lithuania for being “the first of the former Soviet republics to claim its freedom in 1990,” as well as for women’s power in Lithuania.
“It’s made great progress on women’s rights, to the extent that the prime minister told me with great pride about not only having a woman president, as we all know, but a woman minister of defense,” Clinton said. “And a minister of finance and speaker of the parliament,” Kubilius added. “My kind of place,” Clinton commented provoking some laughter among the journalists.
“The U.S.-Lithuanian partnership is a strategic one, in reality, and 20 years of our independence really is a big success in which the U.S. took a leading role […] I had the privilege to participate in a quite recent dinner in Prague, which was organized by President Obama, and again I can say the same that I said during that evening – that we are very optimistic, looking to what the reset policy towards Russia is bringing into our region. I had quite recently a very important meeting with Prime Minister Putin. It was months ago, and I saw in evidence what results this reset policy is bringing, bringing not only to what’s changing in Russia’s attitude to Europe, to neighboring countries, but I think that it brings also quite an interesting and challenging development even in our neighboring Belarus,” Kubilius said.
Clinton also spoke about the Times Square attempted bombing by a Pakistani-born American, though Kubilius could also talk about an unprofessional terrorist from Lithuania if asked about it. Egle Kusaite, 21, from Klaipeda, was arrested by the Lithuanian State Security Department on suspicions that she was ready to travel to some military facility in Russia as a suicide bomber. According to the media, earlier, Kusaite, who has been in the Vilnius Lukiskes prison since October, converted to Islam and had constant Internet contacts with Islamists in Russia, Uzbekistan and Britain, though an unnamed former employee of Klaipeda’s State Security Department told Lithuanian public TV that he does not believe in the terrorist intentions of Kusaite.
Asked by a Lithuanian journalist about the alleged CIA prison for al Qaeda suspects near Vilnius, Clinton said, “Well, I’ll let the prime minister respond, since I know that’s a matter of great interest.”
“Well, I think that all the investigations which we were able to do were done in Lithuania by the Lithuanian Parliament, and we have nothing to add. And if some additional information will come, we shall come back to conclusions which were made earlier. So that’s an issue which is closed in Lithuania and there is nothing to add,” Kubilius said.
During his visit, Kubilius gave a speech to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, emphasizing Lithuania’s power in IT and Big Z (the nickname of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Lithuanian basketball player on the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers). He also took part in a conference in the Lithuanian embassy in Washington promoting investment opportunities in Lithuania. Among the listeners was Jeff Nelson, vice president of Strategic Staffing Solutions, which is active in Lithuania. In 2009, this company made an increase in its turnover in Lithuania by 600 percent, mostly due to headhunting for Barclays bank’s IT center, which was opened in Vilnius.
Kubilius finished his visit on a high note in New York by signing a letter of intent with IBM about the establishment of this company’s joint research center in Lithuania, employing Lithuanian scientists in nanotechnologies and healthcare-related research. Such a center will be established in Lithuania, though IBM also considered possibilities in Latvia and Estonia. “Everything was going at high speed. We had contact in February. Now we signed a letter of intent,” Kubilius said, adding that the final agreement will be signed in the coming months.