• 2000-01-06
Lithuanians say they like most popular politician Rolandas Paksas
because he is good looking, a daring aerobatics pilot and for what he
did not do. We will leave his physical comeliness and derring-do to
the judgement of others, but we definitely join Lithuanians and
others of wisdom who honor Paksas for refusing to put his ceremonial
pen to a deal in which Williams International bought Lithuania's
oil-refining capability. Not only did Williams get Mazeikiu Nafta,
but the sellers, the Lithuanian people, essentially have to give
Williams $134 million to grease the transaction.

No dice, said Paksas, who backed up his concern by cleaning out his
prime minister's desk. For having the guts to turn his back on bad
business, The Baltic Times nominates Paksas as the Baltics'
significant person of the year. The pact may eventually pencil out
for Lithuania, but the business practices suggest the deal was drawn
up by candy-store robbers.

"Negotiators" of the deal did not avail themselves of competitive
market forces to determine what the market would truly bear and the
value of the package giving Williams eventual control of Butinge,
Maziekiu Nafta and a pipeline.

Additionally, negotiations and terms of the deal have been kept
secret by people who know better, Williams officials from the United
States, where disposal of public property is subject to the
disclosure ordered by sunshine laws. Such people seem to be fostering
Lithuania's stay in old ways for old days rather than advancing the
cause of economic reform and democracy.

We salute Mr. Paksas for backing up his conviction and being one of
only several to oppose the pact and stand up for the owners and
sellers of the oil-refining sector, the Lithuanian people, who may
find that the costs of selling the enterprise will by far outrun the