WikiLeaks on Lithuania

  • 2010-12-08
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

OOPS!: Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, was forced to apologize for the U.S. diplomatic cables leaks during her participation in the OSCE summit in Astana, Kazakhstan on Dec. 1-2, where she also had talks with Dalia Grybauskaite, president of Lithuania, which will chair the OSCE next year.

VILNIUS - On Nov. 28, WikiLeaks, the non-profit media organization, began publishing stolen U.S. classified diplomatic cables. The WikiLeaks search engine indicates that Lithuania’s name is mentioned in 882 documents. On the eve of the publishing, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry stated that “it is not going to comment on the published information” – this statement only fueled interest into WikiLeaks’ information on Lithuania. However, it is worth bearing in mind that those leaked cables are interpretations and assessments made by U.S. diplomats.

“In the fall of 2009, Lithuania’s newly elected president backed out of her country’s previous agreement to resettle a prisoner amid an uproar over reports that the Central Intelligence Agency had run a secret jail in Lithuania. The chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament’s national security committee privately apologized and suggested using mutual allies to pressure her to reconsider,” the cables say, according to The New York Times.

On Nov. 30, Arvydas Anusauskas, chairman of the parliamentary committee on national security and defense, who is mentioned in that U.S. diplomats’ information, speaking at an improvised short briefing in the lobby of the parliament building, said he has no clue what the cables talk about. “You find out to whom I was talking and then I’ll maybe recall what I said,” Anusauskas told journalists who were attacking him with microphones.

In the beginning of 2010, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite stated that Lithuania must first deal with the long shadow cast by allegations the country hosted CIA prisons in the middle of the last decade, before it can look at accepting Guantanamo detainees. The parliamentary inquiry that had strong backing from the president found that the Lithuanian State Security Department worked hand in hand with the CIA in the building of two prisons near the capital Vilnius, but it discovered no evidence of al-Qaeda suspects being brought to those prisons.

According to WikiLeaks, the U.S. talks with Lithuania regarding taking two Uzbek detainees from Guantanamo in Lithuania started in 2007, not in 2009, as Lithuanian officials were publicly stating before. According to the cables, on Feb. 20, 2009, Clint Williamson, when he was U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues (now he is a special expert to the secretary-general of the United Nations), told French diplomat Eric Chevalier that, according to the Lithuanian government, Uzbeks can easily adapt in Lithuania “due to common language and a big Uzbek population in the country.” The average Lithuanian, except those of the older generation who were forced to serve in the Soviet army, never met an Uzbek and, therefore, on Dec. 2, the Lithuanian daily Vilniaus Diena published a photo of Williamson with the ironical teaser “COMPETENCE.”

According to the French daily Le Monde, the U.S. diplomatic cables also report about a conversation between then Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Adamkus was highly valued by Merkel because he was a successful mediator between the stubborn Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the duo of Nicolas Sarkozy and Merkel when the Lisbon Treaty was discussed). The Merkel-Adamkus conversation, mentioned by the U.S. diplomatic cables, took place in 2008, soon after the Russian aggression in Georgia. Merkel told Adamkus that Russia wants to overthrow Mikheil Saakashvili from the post of Georgian president and, therefore, the West should support Saakashvili even though the West does not like Saakashvili. Christian Democrat Merkel said that she cannot support Saakashvili too much, because at the time she had a Social Democrat foreign minister in her government.

Merkel said that Russia wants to divide the Western allies. Merkel also told Adamkus that Russia wants to destabilize Ukraine and it is necessary to convince Moscow not to do so. According to other information by Le Monde, based on WikiLeaks, in 2008 Vladimir Chkhikvadze, Russian ambassador to Lithuania (he still occupies this post), stated to Petras Vaitiekunas, then Lithuanian foreign minister in the Social Democrat-led government, that Russia will take extraordinary measures against Lithuania due to Vilnius’ support for Tbilisi. The U.S. diplomatic cables described the Russian ambassador’s behavior as scandalous and informed Washington that Vilnius asks for signs of support for Lithuania from the USA and NATO. According to Ukrainian media information based on WikiLeaks, in 2005, Viktor Yanukovych, then the Ukrainian opposition leader (now president of Ukraine) threatened the Lithuanian ambassador in Kiev. According to WikiLeaks, Yanukovych stated that Lithuania will be punished for its involvement in the “putsch” (the Orange Revolution) in Ukraine in 2004.

According to Russian independent journalists, although Merkel and Vladimir Putin meet each other quite often and the German-Russian relations are perfect, there is no personal friendly relation among them – it’s just business. Adamkus was the world’s most outspoken supporter of Georgia (during the war in 2008, speaking in Tbilisi, he even compared the mild reaction of the West on Russia to the Munich agreement of 1938) – no wonder that on Aug. 7, 2010, a boulevard in Batumi, Georgia’s main resort, was named Valdas Adamkus Boulevard, although Adamkus is still alive and well. Adamkus was also an important person in Ukraine because in 2004 he, together with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Javier Solana, then the EU high representative for common foreign and security policy, successfully negotiated in Kiev the outcome of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.