Tomaszewski reticent about elections: speaks of versions of who seeks to unseat Narkiewicz

Valdemar Tomaševski
Waldemar Tomaszewski DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Electoral Action of Lithuanian Poles – Christian Families Union (LLRA-KŠS) chairman, MEP Waldemar Tomaszewski says that the party is already preparing for the 2020 Seimas elections and is in the planning phase, but remains reticent in that regard. He does not reveal who will headline the party’s electoral list, nor does he indicate whether he will participate himself. The party’s candidates are to be named only in the second half of July, Lina Brazauskienė writes in TV3.lt.

The party chairman was, however, willing to discuss the two ministers his party has delegated and praises their work in combatting the pandemic. Furthermore, he describes the scandals following Minister of Transport and Communications Jaroslaw Narkiewicz as being persecution and has his explanations of it.

The tv3.lt news portal spoke to W. Tomaszewski about the nearing Seimas elections, potential cooperation with other parties following the elections, the pandemic situation, ruling coalition and the scandals accompanying minister J. Narkiewicz. W. Tomaszewski also recalled conversations with President Gitanas Nausėda prior to J. Narkiewicz entering office.

The campaign season for the coming Seimas elections has begun. How could the coronavirus impact the outcome of the Seimas elections?

It’s hard to say right now because we do not know what will be in autumn. A second wave of the coronavirus could hit. But one way or another, there will be consequences. Voters have now clearly seen that the cabinet is working smoothly with a strong prime minister at its head, Minister of Healthcare Aurelijus Veryga and our ministers are working well.

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Our ministers also faced a significant workload in containing the pandemic. Both Minister of Interior Affairs Rita Tamašunienė and Minister of Transport and Communications Jaroslaw Narkiewicz. It isn’t in all countries that government officials’ ratings rose, but our government faced its moment of truth and it turned out it worked well.

With the Seimas elections approaching, parties have begun announcing candidate lists and names. Who will headline your electoral list?

We have yet to make a decision, but we do have a very wide selection of individuals, who could. I would rather not list names ahead of time and form an opinion. Currently, our branches are establishing ratings, this process will take some time yet.

Other questions also need to be resolved as well: who can lead, who can take what offices. The law is constructed in a way that there is no freedom of decision. I am called upon to lead the list myself, but so far, I have not made a decision, even if it could be the case.

So will you participate? If you successfully run for Seimas, would you lose the mandate of a member of the European Parliament?

You cannot restrict candidacies, but that’s what we have. The overall background in Lithuania is that problems are formed. However, we will make the best possible decision. The list will appear because we have to present it prior to August 8. It will become clear in the second half of July.

R. Tamašunienė was at the top of the 2016 Seimas election list. Is she looking to repeat this?

Yes, she is among the potential candidates and we have many of them. R. Tamašunienė has the experience and is one of the more realistic candidates. That said, we must coordinate all the situations, discuss questions with the head of the cabinet, how the candidates will work over that period, whether they will go on holiday.

Based on the latest public opinion surveys, it is claimed that your party might not surpass the 5% vote threshold. What do you think?

You say that it doesn’t, I say it does. Both of us are right. This is because surveys in the country are arranged in a way that it includes the undecided or planning not to vote. But this cannot be the case. Those, who don’t come to vote, there’s less than half of them and they cannot decide election results. They are included in surveys and this is a sort of manipulation.

Thus, we make a different chart and perform surveys. We subtract those, who would not vote in the elections. Based on these surveys, we receive 5 or 6% of the vote. I think that we will definitely enter Seimas, though no one can know for certain yet what will be. Nevertheless, based on previous years, our percentages were smaller in surveys, but we entered. Now it is 3-4% without subtracting those, who won’t show up. If we do, then we will get 5-6%.

If you have a group in Seimas, whom would you agree to cooperate with and whose ruling coalition would you join?

We will make decisions on whom to cooperate with when the elections conclude. We won’t say right now. First, we must see what parties enter parliament. The second point is seeing what people enter. This is not our first days in politics, we are familiar with other politicians, their traits and values.

I want to say that we already have developed positive and fruitful cooperation with the “Farmer” party. We have good relations and have achieved much together. Sometimes, our votes are decisive. It was at our initiative that children’s money, free medicines for the elderly, family cards for families with multiple children appeared. Now, a new law was registered regarding commercial banks.

Were you able to achieve everything you planned prior to entering the ruling coalition?

In 2012, we were unable to achieve our plans regarding children’s money, but now we were able to. They have been increased. Looking at our neighbouring countries, our goal is to have 120 euro paid out per child.

Free medicine for all the elderly over the age of 75. This was our proposal and it was approved last year. Family cards for families with multiple children and the overall strengthening of the family institution. We have been able to realise much.

The lustration law was rejected after deliberations. Unfortunately, there was pushback. Former [secret KGB] staff data is classified. Why do we have to keep them classified for another 75 years? What are we afraid of? But we propose to return to this initiative. We will also propose commercial bank taxation laws.

Furthermore, we will propose changes to life protection law. Life begins from conception and must be protected. Currently, pregnancies can be terminated up until the 12th week, voluntarily killing the unborn child. We will propose to change this for exceptional cases, if there was a crime such as rape or if the woman’s life is in danger, while in other cases, abortion would not be an option. This is a normal practice in other countries such as Portugal, Poland, Ireland.

We propose to significantly increase financing for municipal or local roads. Currently, highways and republican roadways are allocated vast funding. During the Algirdas Butkevičius cabinet’s tenure, we achieved a distribution of 20% for local roads and 80% for republican ones. Now we achieved 30% of the fund being allocated to local roads.

Nevertheless, we mustn’t stop. Up to half of the funding could be allocated to municipal roads because that’s where there is the most need, home access asphalting and such. We have good asphalt in certain areas, but new asphalt is laid down because there is funding for republican roads. This practice must be changed and most powers granted to the municipalities.

Minister of Transport and Communications J. Narkiewicz, who your party delegated, has asserted in regard to accusations over the renovation of his house in Trakai that it was repaired through the funds of his parents, which they allegedly accumulated from reclaimed land. However, LRT Investigation Department data showed that Narkiewicz inherited more land than his parents had reclaimed. When the house renovation occurred, he and his wife deposited almost half a million euro into banks. Do you have no doubts about Narkiewicz’s transparency?

In the first words, you point out the essence of how he is persecuted. This is a sort of persecution and it is inappropriate. You cannot persecute over political or personal motives, whether you like them or not. You can’t do that, we are in the European Union. It has different standards, the presumption of innocence.

Let me emphasise that just as the prime minister has commented, a pre-trial investigation is ongoing and let it answer all questions. But no. Journalists are both the prosecutors and the courts. Overall, this is a deterioration of the foundations of our country. All branches of government are separated: executive government, legislative government, the Presidential Palace, the judiciary. They work as per their remits. Now, one news media outlet wants to replace all these branches of government: they are both prosecutors and judges, as well as opinion shapers. This is inappropriate and must not be. In most European countries, this is not the case, but it is so with us.

Now the new scandal because there were many cutlets and other pieces of nonsense before, where did it appear from? A former Soviet mayor, who was influenced by the KGB [Aleksandras Ribnikovas] came to the LRT, did an investigation. Then he went to the Presidential Palace to Darius Kuliešius, who had his own personal motives because he had worked in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, where EU funding was employed poorly, it has been written that he was a grey eminence there and made the decisions. People thought that the ministry would have roads asphalted, but it did not use the funding.

The minister [J. Narkiewicz] discovered this situation, made audits, conclusions and it turned out that an electrification project for a strip from Kaišiadorys to Klaipėda had been launched, 250 million euro allocated, but at the end of the tender, after two years, it was delayed. These are criminal activities because we could lose such EU funding, the deadline is nearing. It turned out that the winning firm received 363 million euro – 113 million more than there was available. Our money was spent in the millions because no one oversaw it.

When Narkiewicz did the audit, pressure began. Prior to handing it over to the prosecutors, he was told not to do it. Representatives from the railways came and said so. And then somewhere in the media, a new story immediately surfaced. Talking about nonsense how supposedly the house renovations were done for almost half a million litas. As the prime minister put it, you could build two houses for that much. But someone is seeking to disinform the public and makes these claims. And everyone believes it. It’s an unfair move.

One can only regret that senior officials like a presidential advisor are involved. Perhaps due to personal motives, perhaps seeking to hide their inactivity, they meet with Soviet mayors – what does this mean? However, law enforcement will get to the bottom of this and all questions will be answered. We should not do the work of law enforcement in its stead.

But when asked by journalists, Narkiewicz did not answer questions, nor did he explain to the public. Is this normal?

Often he does. Perhaps at that moment, he was hurrying to a meeting. You might be hurrying to a vote, but there are five journalists in wait, asking to stop to talk for half an hour. You must understand that this is not possible and it cannot be done in the cabinet, such procedure is not in place in Seimas.

If you say in one place that you can’t talk then, then immediately it will be shown all over that he didn’t want to comment. Perhaps he didn’t want to, perhaps he physically could not. Why must the man immediately answer – there’s an order to everything.

Narkiewicz is constantly involved in such situations. Would it not be logical to replace him with someone else? Do you believe that he is entirely transparent and can fully continue with the duties of a minister?

I trust in people. Such is my stance. If I did not trust people, it wouldn’t be worth doing any political or public work at all. Another case we could look at is the poaching accusations. Afterwards, it turned out that there was no poaching. Before, there were some sort of cutlets, information that he had a work dinner or lunch.

But law enforcement is doing its work and there is no need to delve into it beyond that. When decisions are made, then I will comment. I have trust in our law enforcement institutions.

Did Narkiewicz explain the situation to you, why those scandals occurred?

We had a conference, he explained normally. Everyone accepted that his explanations were normal. IF even the numbers don’t line up. It was claimed that he built a new house in 2008 for 150 thousand litas and renovated it for 450 thousand. Why delve further?

The numbers don’t line up and people understand these are lies. We know that you could build two new houses for this much. Why delve further then?

President Gitanas Nausėda has repeatedly called for minister J. Narkiewicz to resign, he is not welcome in the Presidential Palace. Do you think this causes a rift between the Presidential Palace, cabinet and Seimas?

This is antagonisation and a sort of achievement of an unfair clan, which steals not in the hundreds of thousands, but hundreds of millions. They know how, when and whom to pay off. Now a new president has arrived, he wanted to change something, we also supported him prior to the elections. But what can he do on his own? He is offered people and here comes D. Kuliešius from Rokas Masiulis’ ministry and all the intrigue simply flowers.

Failing with the first attack, a KGB lackey came to the Presidential Palace and set out a second wave. Such figures pretend to be advisors advising the president.

The first attack was when we were speaking to the president regarding minister candidates. Already back then, J. Narkiewicz was being blocked. The president told me Narkiewicz was linked to MG Baltic. I questioned the president how this could be the case. On the contrary, we have been fighting MG Baltic. I said that this could not be. We met later on and it turned out that the information proved unfounded. Who could be presenting such information before him?

Another question arises over his advisor, saying that Narkiewicz must resign. I spoke by phone with the president some time in late November, around 8 PM in the evening. When the poaching scandal erupted, I said that all boundaries are being overstepped and this cannot be the case.

The president said that yes, a boundary was overstepped, that it is poaching. I said that it could not be poaching – I know that he is no fisherman, I know his hobbies. He said that that’s it, no more. I asked to check again. At ten in the morning, the president’s advisor called for resignation. After 2 hours and 15 minutes, it was written that the information proved unfounded.

The president is being disinformed. Someone presented a false report to the president. But later on, he perhaps asked for a review. The other calls [for J. Narkiewicz’s resignation] emerged immediately. Now, the result has been reached – antagonising the cabinet and the president.

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