Opinions clash over Adamkus' record

  • 2001-03-01
  • TBT staff
VILNIUS - Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official Valdas Adamkus was inaugurated as Lithuania's president on Feb. 26, 1998. Many see his period in office as successful on the whole, but the third anniversary of his inauguration brought sharp comments from left-wing politicians.

Ceslovas Jursenas, a leader of the Social Democratic Party, currently the most popular single political party in Lithuania, has plans to take the post of president himself at the next election in two years' time.

On Feb. 26, at a press conference in Parliament, the Social Democrat MP spoke about Adamkus' achievements and failures. He said that he would like to congratulate the president for his achievements in foreign policy, which according to the country's constitution is the president's main area of responsibility. But Jursenas was not so happy about the social situation within the country.

"People had great expectations of Adamkus three years ago. These have been partially fulfilled in the sphere of foreign policy, taking Lithuania further in the direction of Euro-Atlantic integration. But the president is also responsible for life inside the country.

"Life for the inhabitants of Lithuania has not improved during these three years. Some of the responsibility for this lies with the president," Jursenas said. As an example he pointed to Adamkus' lack of a clear position at the time of signing of the controversial treaty with the U.S. company Williams during the privatization of Lithuania's oil sector.

Alvydas Medalinskas, Liberal MP and chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, was positive about the role of the President's Office in an interview with The Baltic Times.

"It is also Adamkus' achievement that Lithuania may join the European Union in the first wave and be accepted to NATO in 2002. Relations with Russia are very good. Adamkus will be meeting the Russian president in Moscow at the end of March.

"Poland is our strategic partner. With Adamkus' efforts we have good relations with all our neighbors. The Russian Duma is planning to ratify the state border agreement with Lithuania. Russia is not taking such steps with its other neighbors.

Medalinskas added, "There have been no achievements in relations between the Baltic states over these three years. But these relations are good. The integration of Baltic Sea area countries is plodding along."

Lithuania has good relations with all its neighbors except Belarus.

The Lithuanian president is elected in a general election, as in the United States and Poland, contrary to Estonia, Latvia or Germany where the president is elected by MPs.