Adamkus on election fence

  • 2002-08-29
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus says he is running out of reasons not to seek a second term in office but will wait to make an official decision.

Adamkus, 75, was handed a letter signed by 60 Lithuanian intellectuals during a meeting Aug. 27 in Vilnius urging him to run.

"Every time I receive such an appeal I have to take the responsibility to consider the idea," said the former U.S. government official. "Your appeal is another issue I have to think about. I must admit, at present I am involved in deliberation."

Adamkus said if the decision were purely personal he would decline. But he said he feels a moral obligation to continue "the job I can do to best serve my country."

Adamkus expects to make a decision next week. The election is scheduled for Dec. 22.

The other big-name candidates could be Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and Parliament Chairman Arturas Paulauskas, though neither has declared.

Interior Minister Juozas Bernatonis, a member of Brauzauskas' Social Democratic Party, turned a few heads last week in Lithuania's political community when he suggested that the party support Adamkus if Brazauskas doesn't run.

"I believe the people who are tired of party games and political disagreements would approve of such a wise and noble step by us," he said during a meeting of the party's executive council on Aug. 24.

The party's support would help lend support to the country's government amid a crucial period of negotiations for membership in NATO and the European Union.

His statements surprised many because in the spring the party announced that it would nominate its own candidate for president, thought to be Brazauskas.

Brazauskas, who also attended last week's meeting, would not comment on the statement.

Some in the party were also dismayed by the comments, particularly in light of the recent agreement by the U.S.-based energy group Williams to sell its share and management control of Mazeikiu Nafta to the Russian oil firm Yukos. Many believe the pullout will hurt Adamkus politically if he decides to run.