The solemn speech of the president on loyalty and attachment to the whole media is hypocrisy because in fact she enjoys praise and lack of criticism, political analyst Vytautas Bruveris tells LRT Radio. According to him, the widely known scandal between D. Grybauskaitė and a Latvian journalist regarding questions shows that the president is no different from the denizens of the political swamp and jungle, lrt.lt writes.
Metaphors in the speech
The annual address was filled with metaphors, various quips, sometimes even amusing, political analyst Vytautas Bruveris tells LRT Radio.
“The main thought was also fairly metaphorous, symbolic – Lithuania is as if a surrounded fortress, which is being successfully rebuilt and defended, but which is constantly attacked by enemies both within and without. I would say this is very military symbolism, the defence of a castle. It would appear that the address also concludes symbolically. To my knowledge, in Ukraine it is a paratrooper motto: “Who else, if not us,” V. Bruveris mused.
Journalist Ramūnas Terleckas notes that metaphors are a dangerous tool because not everyone understands them equally, similarly to jokes. “I have already said – the genre of the annual address itself is very peculiar. It is difficult to understand, why prior to the break in the political season. Is it a report? I don’t think so. You also cannot describe it as a view of tomorrow, what must be done. While there are hints, there’s no vision of the future,” R. Terleckas believes.
He observes that it is as if a summary of the current situation and some metaphors: “As I’ve said, those who like Dalia Grybauskaitė will also like this annual address. Those who do not like her will also not like the address. Not everyone analyses the actual text – we simply have our likes and dislikes. They decide based on that.”
R. Terleckas believes that talks can exist, but he personally finds it lacking in specifics: “Speeches are always overly propagandist, they contain too much abstract symbolism, efforts to play with the feelings of sympathisers and supporters.”
An unassuming address
As such, R. Terleckas emphasises, it would be of value to hear in more detail, how the head of state views certain key matters, important problems, core challenges that the state and society face. And this address was unassuming, fairly abstract.
“For example, I was awaiting for the president to make a statement about her relations with the infamous MG Baltic political corruption case. Here she also mentioned her “tulip mail”, her correspondence with E. Masiulis, the former Liberal leader. Thus, she simply avoided this topic. But there was a sentence that the oligarchic conquest of the democratic system has been obstructed, even if everyone painfully burned their fingers, including herself,” R. Terleckas says.
R. Terleckas disagrees with V. Bruveris’ comment “”I also got burned”, so understand that she suffered due to her morality, fairness and independence.” R. Terleckas disagrees because it would be odd if the president were to overly blame herself in the annual address: “I believe the president intentionally avoided it and described bribes in metaphor as money boxes or something else.”
Nevertheless, in V. Bruveris’ opinion, the president’s position was clear – she spoke about the unseen layers of corruption in Lithuania and sent a message that she views the case as closed.
Painful blow to R. Karbauskis
“To me personally it was interesting, what she will say about the ruling majority and its leader Ramūnas Karbauskis. There were a number of arrows of criticism. Last year’s address strongly criticised the majority and it is similar this year. Perhaps more abstract, but it is fairly clear that the entirety of the ruling majority’s actions are viewed negatively. As for Mr. Karbauskis, she made a painful blow when she spoke of the most painful and sensitive aspect for the “Farmers” – agriculture, which according to her, is in an unfortunate and bad position, where some are impoverished and others grow rich. R. Karbauskis is specified as wealthy, earning from the toil and tears of poor farmers,” the political analyst notes.
Thirdly, V. Bruveris adds, foreign policy was underemphasised: while based on the Constitution this is the president’s prerogative, she reviewed it in brief glimpses: “It was just said that matters are grim, threatening and unclear in the world, that’s it. I wanted to hear more, how the head of state, the chief of diplomacy and the armed forces views specific problems that global policy has no lack of.”
Only official support for freedom of press
In terms of the president’s statement on news media, R. Terleckas says that D. Grybauskaitė always supported news media and its freedom, but only officially: “The role of the news media is large, however we see a desire to use it for political goals, the current government’s aim to rein in the news media is obvious. Perhaps the president’s word has a say or perhaps none at all.”
V. Bruveris states that he will only believe the president is earnest when she will truly defend the news media from the majority’s ploys. “We will also see the desire to suppress the news media in autumn, in the new political season and Mr. Ramūnas Karbauskis will make sure of it. I recall one of the most expressive events during D. Grybauskaitė’s two terms – the scandal with a Latvian television journalist over the so-called arranged questions. This reveals one obvious and simple matter. The president is no different from the denizens of the political swamp and jungle,” he stated.
According to V. Bruveris, the president enjoys a useful, uncritical and pandering news media: “In my opinion this is obvious. She is morbidly intolerant of media criticism and such solemn speeches on loyalty and attachment for the whole news media in principle is something of a hypocrisy.”
If she thought of integrity, she would not organise conflicts
Speaking of the president’s criticism to the majority, R. Terleckas says that this year’s address was not as fierce and overt regarding it. “Last year’s address, to my memory, mentioned a number of specific matters and ministers. This time the address was noted for metaphors,” he muses.
V. Bruveris points out that it is curious, where the president’s statement “prohibit and punish” appeared from: “To my memory it is a song by a character in the children’s book Karlsson-on-the-Roof. Speaking of the content of the speech itself, it must be noted how the president invited the governments not to fight and instead cooperate. She strictly formulated criticism to the Seimas, apparently the Seimas has become a bastion against the people’s freedoms and rights. I do not know whether D. Grybauskaitė’s confrontation against R. Karbauskis will reach a culmination, even if it appears every day that it will.”
V. Bruveris says that if the president thought about cooperation and integrity, she would not organise peculiar conflicts and attacks in R. Karbauskis’ direction. “What do these talks that R. Karbauskis cannot be in Seimas, that he breaches the Constitution by his mere presence in Seimas, just because he has a business, that he holds stocks and such mean? In recent times it is almost as if D. Grybauskaitė has been urging the Seimas to impeach R. Karbauskis for these matters.”
President’s position on parties changed
The Lietuvos Žinios editor in chief also notes that the president’s position toward parties has changed: earlier she enjoyed criticising political parties, but in this year’s address the head of state admitted that traditional parties are the engine of democracy.
“There were also talks of electoral committees or political powers, which are not parties, but civic movements. There, in my opinion, there are problems of control and ideology. The Central Electoral Commission, which I believe should be reformed and depoliticised, was also touched upon, as well as the use of European Union funding, which is certainly bogged down.
And the main note – the civic resistance movement. A beautiful metaphor that parties now need volunteers. Many areas probably now need volunteers – both education and culture. In my opinion, the greatest problem of Lithuania is not only social segregation, but also the fear formed through it,” R. Terleckas says.
According to him, the Lithuanian people, especially those living in the province, in their disbelief that they can change anything, fear the government of local “kinglets” and this is a distortion of democracy.
“The president said that possibly her greatest regret is that processes did not proceed all that fast. I believe she should also regret that we have the sort of Seimas composition we have right now,” R. Terleckas mused.
V. Bruveris took doubt regarding the president’s notion that selective parliamentary control and the mass frequency of commissions only increase the feeling of injustice in the country. In his opinion, selective justice does not create a further negative effect and is simply a symptom of overall political fracture and a certain political degradation.
“Parliamentary inquiries were held in all Seimas terms, in essence political processes and this is no exception. I can only agree with the president’s thought that this investigation is equally a political instrument to deal with political opponents and the news media, which is also being exploited by this government.
Just to return to the “tulip mail”, I would like to remind that at a time when it was necessary to try and wash oneself and repair falling ratings, the parliamentary investigation suddenly became very important and significant to the president and she evaluated it very positively.
And afterward, when the special VSD report leaked and unveiled the operation, the typical confrontational conjuncture with the “Farmers” was returned to and the investigation once more became for the president what it objectively is – a purely political process,” the political analyst comments.
Prime minister avoiding confrontation with the president
“I believe that this time the address placed less attention on social segregation. Two years ago, there was much talk of it, but this time the emphasis was on completely different issues. Only a few sentences were dedicated to social segregation, also there were applauds for how much has been achieved in this regard – both regarding violence against children and initiatives for Lithuania,” A. Terleckas says.
V. Bruveris adds that the address focused more on the quality of politics in the country and the civic capacities of the public.
“While the president’s remark about yesterday’s search for the Eastern border was intended for specifically the prime minister and his initiatives to end political isolation on Russia from the Lithuanian side, S. Skvernelis nonetheless praised the speech.
This is nothing new – two of the three highest state officials would evaluate the annual addresses of the president excellently, even if the addresses would lash out at them. This also applies to this prime minister, who is obviously holding a different political tone than R. Karbauskis. He is striving to avoid confrontation with the president,” V. Bruveris explains.
A. Terleckas does not believe that the president’s annual address will raise political tensions in the country because it appeared at the end of the political season. Nevertheless, he believes that R. Karbauskis will not forget the president’s criticism: “Mr. Karbauskis is morbidly ambitious and morbidly vengeful, he will remember the mentions of himself in the address, will put it in paper and keep the paper in his pocket, ready for autumn.”