Cold shower for Skvernelis after Landsbergis’ visit to the Presidential Palace

Saulius Skvernelis, Gabrielius Landsbergis
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

President Dalia Grybauskaitė poured on criticism on the cabinet and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis following her meeting with opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats Seimas group leader Gabrielius Landsbergis.

This was revealed following a Delfi interview with the Conservative leader.

While speaking of the publicised battle of words between the President and PM last Friday, G. Landsbergis confirmed that the Seimas opposition discusses events in the Seimas with the President and that he met D. Grybauskaitė several days ago.

“We met less than a week ago and spoke on various topics, including reforms,” G. Landsbergis told Delfi at the end of the week.

On Monday presidential advisor Daiva Ulbinaitė confirmed the meeting with the Conservative leader occurred, however she stated it was a work meeting, which the Presidential Palace does not comment on. According to Delfi information, D. Grybauskaitė and G. Landsbergis met on June 28, Wednesday.

On Friday, June 30, for the second time in a month, the head of state accused the cabinet of arrogance and pushing reforms without listening to criticism.

“This is political arrogance which portrays both the cabinet and the Seimas majority,” the head of state told journalists after a meeting in one of the country’s childcare institutions.

After a few hours from D. Grybauskaitė’s statements, S. Skvernelis stated that “for the past eight years a position of observing from the side, evaluating and criticising was chosen without actually doing anything.”

July marks eight years since D. Grybauskaitė became the head of state.

What news from Seimas did G. Landsbergis share with D. Grybauskaitė and what irritated S. Skvernelis so?

Recently information has surfaced in the public of meetings between Conservative group representatives and members of the majority “Farmer” group, who are considering moving to the right side of parliament. G. Landsbergis confirmed to Delfi himself that over the past weeks he had 18-20 such meetings.

According to the politician, “realistically we can speak of a few, perhaps 5-6 who could join us soon.”

“We hear there is much anger and antagonism in the “Farmer” group. Forced voting over the forestry caused even greater tensions. I know that some “Farmer” group members have spoken to our group member about the possibility of joining us,” G. Landsbergis told Delfi.

When asked of specific names he refused, citing unwillingness to harm those in talks.

Some time ago former “Farmer” group member Bronislovas Matelis was cited as likely to join the Conservatives. While he has since moved to the mixed Seimas group, he confirmed on Monday to Delfi he had received an invitation and is considering it.

“I have met with G. Landsbergis a number of times, I have also spoken to other colleagues of his. Yes, I will not hide I received such an offer and I am considering it. However me joining should be natural, not artificial – for posts or positions. Just as natural as my departure from the “Farmers”,” the member of Seimas said.

He confirmed having heard of the opposition making offers and meeting with other former colleagues in the “Farmer” group.

“Authoritarian leadership, stillborn reforms, fear of or perhaps also inability to take responsibility and make decisive choices, which were promised to voters and are necessary for Lithuania,” B. Matelis listed reasons why a number of “Farmers” are disappointed with the majority and could move to the political right.

If such talks by the Conservatives truly have a basis, the situation could mean not just a major threat of the “Farmer” group bleeding off, but also potential for the collapse of the current majority government.

Currently the “Farmers” have 75 mandates in Seimas together with the Social Democrats. With just five members withdrawing, the majority would be lost and the cabinet’s legitimacy would be taken to question.

“Five parliamentarians and the majority is lost. Is it realistic they will manage to “poach” these newcomers?” Delfi questioned G. Landsbergis.

“The Homeland Union does not “poach” votes. We simply see that the problems in the majority are real and we will seek ways to help resolve them. I believe that most people earnestly want change and to contribute to real work for Lithuania. Stagnant reform, irrational group leadership dragging the group in various directions, force people [“Farmers” – Delfi] to doubt. Another three such years could threaten with political forgetfulness, as happened with the politicians gathered by Valinskas. It is easy to gather votes for easy votes. The real test [of the cabinet – Delfi] comes when strategic questions are voted on. If the Social Democrats do not support the Prime Minister, then he needs to answer the question if he can continue to work,” stated G. Landsbergis.

According to the Conservative leader, the current situation is reminiscent of 1998 when the then Conservative PM Gediminas Vagnorius clashed with then President Valdas Adamkus.

“We all know what followed. Mr. Vagnorius resigned. Yes, this definitely reminds of those times. The cabinet is operating under minority conditions. Pretending that the cabinet is functional will only make the situation more difficult and will obstruct the prevention of emigration and improvement of people’s livelihoods,” Homeland Union leader G. Landsbergis told Delfi.

Prime Minister S. Skvernelis strictly denied to journalists on Monday that he is at all considering resigning from his post.

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