Date: 15 July 2019
Lithuania Closer to Poland. The New President and Coalition
The president’s first foreign visit to Warsaw and the invitation for the Lithuanian Poles party to the coalition and government. Lithuania definitely wants to get closer with Poland considering it as a security enhancement. The small Baltic country located between the highly militarised Kaliningrad Oblast and pro-Russian Belarus reacts to the enhancement of the Polish-American alliance. Vilnius noticed that Poland has become the main partner of the USA in the eastern NATO flank. The stronger Poland is with the greatest number of stationing Americans, the better for Lithuania. One should expect that as a result of great military, economic and political cooperation with Warsaw, the most urgent issues of the Polish minority will be dealt with. The composition of the ruling coalition is favourable.
The Prime Minister of Lithuania Saulius Skvernelis changed his decision and remained in office. Earlier, after his failure in the elections (third place) he announced that he would resign from his post after the swearing-in of the new president Gitanas Nausėda. Skvernelis announced that he made such a decision after his talk with the president-elect. Several days earlier, the ruling coalition was extended. The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVZS) represented by Skvernelis and Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (LSDP) were joined by Party Order and Justice (TT) and Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance (AWPL-ZChR). This means that the parliamentary majority has risen from 60 to 75 MPs (out of 141 members of the Seimas). A new coalition agreement was signed according to which the party of Lithuanian Poles received two ministries: Ministry of Transport and Communications and Ministry of Internal Affairs. In turn, Order and Justice got the Ministry of Defence. The leader of the Seimas will be changed. LVZS will pass this post to LSDP. The official reason for inviting AWPL-ZChR and TT to the coalition was the reinforcement and extension of the parliamentary background of the government. But personnel changes connected with the coalition agreement imply something else. The leader of LVZS Ramūnas Karbauskis wants to use the coalition to weaken his party opponents – the current leader of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis and the current Minister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania Rokas Masiulis. LVZS gives both posts to the coalition partners. Interestingly, LVZS which dominates in the coalition and has twice as many MPs as the rest of its coalition partners together (LSDP – 11, AWPL-ZChR – 8, TT – 7) is giving the posts to the smaller partners.
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The entrance of AWPL-ZChR to the coalition and the government is not the only sign pointing to the reinforcement of the Polish political environment in the Lithuanian authorities. Jarosław Niewierowicz, who graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics and served as the Minister of Energy of Lithuania, has become one of the new president’s advisors. The fact that new president Gitanas Nausėda, who was sworn in on July 12, paid his first visit to Warsaw four days later, confirms the willingness of Vilnius to make a strategic alliance with Poland. At the 450th anniversary of the Union of Lublin strengthening the common statehood (Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth) the Polish-Lithuanian relations are the best in recent history. It concerns not only the military cooperation within NATO or the establishment of joint infrastructural projects, from transport to energy, but also similar, firm stance regarding the aggressive Russian politics and improving cooperation within the EU. Poland is a valuable partner for Lithuania not only due to the common history and economic potential but also because Poland is the main ally of the USA in the eastern NATO flank. This is not a coincidence that the Lithuanian politicians reacted enthusiastically to the recent visit of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda in Washington which resulted in the increase of the military and economic presence of the USA in our region of Europe. New centre-right President of Lithuania guarantees continuity of the pro-Polish and definitely pro-Western politics of his country, even though, looking at the political past of the parties included in the ruling coalition one could have doubts. The leader of LVZS Karbauskis used to be called “Lithuanian Lepper”, the founder of TT Rolandas Paksas is a former President of Lithuania who was removed from post due to impeachment for breaking the rules and unsavoury contacts with Russia in the background. The leader of AWPL-ZChR Waldemar Tomaszewski is notorious for his pro-Russian sentiments, he cooperates with the group of Lithuanian Russians and is criticised not only in Poland but also in the Lithuanian Polish diaspora. Finally, Social Democrats – even though they have gradually changed their policy to pro-Western and distanced themselves from Russia – one should remember that they come from Lithuanian communists party.
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