Karbauskis’ thoughts on possible coalitions

Ramūnas Karbauskis at DELFI
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union (LVŽS) Chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis says he understands that the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) have already come to a decision not to join the Peasant Greens and are simply seeking a pretext to say it.
In the worst case, Karbauskis believes that his party can form a minority cabinet and request informal support from the small Seimas fraction, for example the Polish Electoral Action or Order and Justice, with whom a formal coalition would not be formed, DELFI reported.

When asked about claims of a supposed report from Ukrainian special services regarding his connections to Russia, Karbauskis says thay if it was reality, such information would have been revealed prior to the election or at least during the second round.

– Can we conclude that the idea of a broad coalition failed?

I think so, if talking of it on Lithuanian Radio, the Conservative and the Social Democrat almost got into a fight. It is hard to expect that they could see one another in any sort of coalition. But that is totally not our problem, it is theirs. I am just saddened that over twenty five years their views split apart so far that they cannot even see one another as partners working for the good of Lithuania.

– What coalition looks more realistic right now?

I think that one party definitely does not want to be in a coalition, while the other party is deciding whether to be in the coalition. I am after all a calculating, analysing person. You can clearly see – everything that is being done by the Conservatives now is being done to justify their choice of not joining the coalition to their voters. Because the decision, it appears is not to join. Now they are only seeking a reason. But they can’t find one which is unnerving them. The reason should appear on Friday.

If on Friday the Social Democrats decide to begin negotiations that will be the Conservative’s reason not to join the coalition. The Conservatives have said that if we begin negotiations with the Social Democrats, they will not negotiate with us. That, it appears, is what they are waiting for. And respectively they will then gladly announce why they cannot form a coalition. This is communication to their voters.

– What do you think are the reasons why the Homeland Union would not want to join a coalition with the Peasant and Greens Union?

I understand that it is a pragmatical calculation, what works better for the party in the long term. They are doing a simple calculation – if they join the coalition and the coalition works successfully, they will benefit less than we do. If the coalition works poorly, it will be just as bad for them as for us. Which variant is better? The better variant is opposition and bashing us until we can no longer hold up. And then they will definitely be well off.

I just want to say one thing – if we manage to work as I hope, if we form a cabinet, which will not bring shame (and this I am sure of), then it follows that they will definitely lose out. But that is their business. That is how they are calculating.

– Why did you set Povilas Urbšys who is disliked by the Conservatives and Stasys Jakeliūnas, who is disliked by the Social Democrats as the heads of your consultation group? Is this intentional annoyance?

No, we are definitely not trying to annoy. Even physically it was simpler this way – they are in Vilnius, they have more experience.

– But Saulius Skvernelis is also in Vilnius?

But this is not a negotiation, this is a consultation group. The Conservatives are putting us into a frame, they demanded to not start negotiations with anyone. We would have given them a chance to immediately say that they cannot negotiate with us. But we wanted to give them a chance, which is why we created not a negotiation group, but a consultation group. So what, will S. Skvernelis and R. Karbauskis go to consultations now? Well, that does not require either of us.

– However S. Skvernelis still goes – I do not know what exactly he does, but he meets with both the Social Democrat leader and the Conservatives’.

Skvernelis is discussing the budget and many other important things.

– And with Landsbergis?

I don’t know. In this case I know that they can meet, we have spoken, so a meeting like that is possible. This is an extra consultation meeting, you could say. Because if they constantly say that they don’t want to negotiate, then once again they will be told “You’re welcome. We can.”

– How do you view statements that the Ukrainian special services have apparently written a report on your connections to Russia?

You know, I will tell you in simple terms. It is funny. It is very odd that if the report exists, that it appeared a day after the election. If it really did exist, I think we would have heard of it a little earlier, for example after the first and second round. But I am used to these things.

On Facebook I wrote that I now know how the Conservatives do it, how much it is worth. We had a lawsuit with Andrius Kubilius who was called to court. The judge requested the report, which was mentioned in the Conservatives’ strategy, well if did not mention names, or companies, nothing. The judge even got somewhat angry. I remember how he told lawyers – that’s it, Kubilius has to be in the next hearing because I want to ask him myself, why he claims that R. Karbauskis is involved one way or another. They got by only because they proved that they didn’t want to imply anything. That which they based everything on, that report with a number and a date on it, it was empty.

– Was it a report by Lithuanian services?

Lithuanian. I can only say one thing – the further from Lithuania the report, the more amusing it sounds. I know my life, I know interactions with people and I am completely sure that there is nothing and could not be.

– There were statements of Agrokoncernas retailing fertilisers from Russian company Acron. Did it or didn’t it sell them?

I don’t know. That company trades with perhaps 150 companies in Europe. I cannot answer that question, I really can’t because they sell fertiliser from various companies. Essentially buying from companies in Russia, Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. It buys from many countries, wherever the fertiliser is cheapest.

– Have you considered the possibility of ceasing cooperation with Acron just for the sake of peace because its owner is Viatcheslav Kantor, whose company in Switzerland is, as written by analyst Marius Laurinavičius, identified as being founded by Russian foreign intelligence? Why not do it?
Answer this for me then. How should you know? If someone states that something like that exists, then I, as the owner, would like to ask – please be so kind and tell me what companies and for what reasons am I not allowed to trade with. In such a case we can state that certain companies, trade knowing this information. How should we know? We are not intelligence institutions after all.

A very curious question arises from this, how is this known, where is this information from, how is it presented, was it public, was it secret? I am hearing it for the first time. We started trading with the company before it was even privatised. It was privatised after we began working with it.

– The Conservatives expressed a demand that if a coalition agreement is signed, all the participating leaders should be investigated by Lithuanian security services. Perhaps it is worthwhile to agree?

I have said it already, on TV and on radio – check me, go ahead, check me all you want. But I don’t understand, what am I supposed to do now? Pledge in writing? By law nobody has to investigate me… Can they investigate under my request? I don’t know. Perhaps they can? Then I would be glad to be investigated.

It is amusing because soon we will hear that someone else needs to be investigated. Let’s investigate this – are we suited to partner with the Conservatives? We never asked for them to be investigated – not health, not anything else. We can go for it. Then we would probably speak of health. I won’t say what sort of health, but health.

This is just a joke, but I am definitely not afraid of any investigation. It is a usual method of theirs, when they begin pressuring in order to convince their electorate that it is the real reason. After all you don’t even need a report. It suffices to say that a report exists, that those people are unclean and that is why we cannot be in a coalition.

– Where you surprised by the change in Conservative rhetoric before and after the election?

No. I just understand that they are doing simple calculations – “we lost the election, what do we do to win the next.”

– Why are the Social Democrats not calculating like this?

Because the Social Democrats are in a different situation. Both scenarios are dangerous for them. In both cases they can win and lose. They can enter the opposition and disappear because two massive parties will be in the opposition. Theoretically. As such they would not be heard or seen. If you go into the majority with a fraction as large as ours, you can also disappear. They have to choose regarding this now.

I think that it is more beneficial for them to join the coalition rather than the opposition because if the Conservatives don’t join, the Social Democrats will be almost invisible. Practically nobody will remember them in four years.

– Do you still not see any chance of working with the Polish Electoral Action or Order and Justice as you’ve stated before?

We are definitely not considering any of the small fractions participating in the coalition. I will describe it thus, I’m sorry. Simply due to the number of members. But I do not dismiss the possibility of a deal being made, if we are pushed into a minority cabinet, to give our candidates support in Seimas. This would not be a coalition agreement, just coming to terms to support our candidates to the cabinet, Seimas Speakers, deputies. This would not be participation in a coalition government, but a support agreement. It is possible. I think that as a final solution it is possible. Such a minority cabinet could in reality have great support in Seimas.

– Why did your opinion on candidates to Prime Minister change? After the election you mentioned S. Skvernelis and Bronis Ropė, but now only Skvernelis remains. Why?

The position is unchanged. We have no specific decision today. We are simply monitoring the environment, listening to concerns and doubts. Nothing changed, a decision has not been made. Simply when I am asked if Skvernelis could be PM, I answer that he can. He is the first on the list for PM. Then I am asked that one goes here and another there, to which I answer – yes, it could be so.

– Are there any other candidates?

No, we have no other candidates to the seat of PM in mind. No other options.

– I’ve noticed claims by one lobbyist in social media that the new government will not repeal the new Labour Code. You have said that the Labour Code has to return to the tripartite council. What will happen?

That’s what will happen. The question is different – what will the current Seimas manage to accomplish, how much will it still do. That is the only question present. As far as we are aware they are trying to pass something, change something. Hence we will need to react to what they do. The current iteration of the Code will not be implemented. But if it is amended and to a great degree, if it adheres to the logic we are speaking of, perhaps we won’t need to stop it, we will let it pass.

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