Both the “Peasant” and Social Democrat negotiation group leaders – Ramūnas Karbauskis and Algirdas Butkevičius say that it is very unlikely the two parties will fail to agree on programme points and posts. Thus the mid-week statement by the Conservative presidium that in case of a failed negotiation between the “Peasants” and Social Democrats, they are open for talks, is unlikely to have much impact, leaving the 31 mandate second place winner, the TS-LKD in the opposition.
Does this satisfy the Conservatives themselves? This was the question posed to party Chairman Gabrielius Landsbergis at the studio of the LRT show Savaitė.
– So what do you think is better for the party – being the “second brother” in the coalition with the “Peasants” or leading the opposition?
Well, I think that for the TS-LKD it is currently most important to remain the party for whose values and beliefs people voted for not only during this election, but since declaring independence. We are principled. Sometimes perhaps even too much, but I believe that this is what determines people’s trust. I think that the most important thing is where can we best implement our tasks and programme points. We are open to negotiations, if they do not happen, then we will aim to do the best we can in the opposition.
– Do you have any hopes that those negotiations can still occur? Ergo that the “Peasants” won’t come to terms with the SocDems?
It’s hard to say. In the public sphere we only hear fragments of what is happening in the negotiations. Information reached me that the deputy ministers have been chosen already. Thus it is clear that discussions on content did not take long, but on the other hand I see a different divide. As far as I know some of the members of the LVŽS, who are of firm beliefs and their programme points are definitely right from the heart. Thus either the SocDems will be consumed out of principle with all of their interests or we will perhaps even see a watershed where the value-based members of the Peasant Greens are left unable to fulfil their programme due to pressure from Social Democrat interests.
– On the other hand Mr. Karbauskis says that there are positions that the two parties will be unable to come to terms on and will thus leave it to Seimas, where he hopes for that so-called broad coalition, that is that the Conservatives will support them on alcohol, family and partnership questions. Are you prepared to be the ones who support the coalition on questions you find acceptable?
It is time to discard unnecessary anger and obstruction, when it isn’t necessary. I have stated a number of times that the taxation changes presented by Jakeliūnas are definitely necessary and set in the correct direction. Thus I have no doubt that there will be support from our side as well. This will not require a broad coalition, it will be support for the right things, which we will do.
– How would you explain the fact that during the first round voters showed they wanted change, while during the second round they did not associate change with your party after all?
There are preconceptions and mistakes made, unanswered questions.
– You think this stems from the past?
I think that some of the decisions we made were perhaps sometimes not adequately communicated. Well, we were not a party which could boast of great sympathy. That is also understandable. And I think it needs to change. Our trip across Lithuania – we truly drove all around Lithuania – and we went where people may not necessarily like us. I participated in meetings where people turned their chairs and intentionally faced away from me while talking. It went even further. I will go there once again nevertheless, to once again answer those people’s questions.
– Another issue directed against your whole party – arrogance and Soviet-era arguments still arising. I would like to quote “Hey, “Peasant” voters, you’re definitely not rednecks because rednecks would not make such an idiotic choice, they at least have a slight self-preservation instinct… After all the Soviet era maimed irreparably, most likely only in the next life it’ll be less felt.” And if we add Kubilius’ words that the election came down to nostalgia for the past, how would you view such texts?
It hurts me… This is not the Lithuania I see. I see many people, who do not know at all who represents them. They hope for prophets, hope for saviours, but in reality they want hope. They want to have a path to go, they ask whether their children will return from abroad, whether someone can prevent them from leaving. I think that today this is the essence of the matter, specifically disappointment, not looking to the future. I spoke even prior to the elections that we have to return hope and trust in the state.
– But you probably heard of Žygimantas Pavilionis’ texts that Moscow put in a great deal of effort to prevent the Conservatives from joining the coalition. This is once again the same – something about the Soviet era, something about the hand of Moscow. How do you view such talks?
At this point it is laughable, I would say. To claim that Moscow is leading such people as professor Landsbergis, Kubilius, Degutienė, Šimonytė, the whole party presidium after all, those who unanimously agreed on the party position – to call them hostages or enforcers of Moscow’s will, is either an expression of political inexperience or rashness, or motives I am unaware of. I view it leniently and calmly.
– How do you get along with Ž. Pavilionis?
We have a professional relationship because we are from the same sphere, both are diplomats.
– But holding very different opinions.
I am surprised because those opinions were fairly similar running up to the election. Well, now Žygimantas [Pavilionis] would probably explain better where he’s headed.
– Are you convinced today that you will manage to rein in the party, party opinions? I would even say without your grandfather’s authority, that you would manage to take it all into your hands yourself?
I think so. There is still one nuance of course that we have party chairman elections in May next year. We can see some preparation for this event, which will also be democratic – we have to gather our comrades to vote for one or another candidate. So we will be able to see some sort of fireworks.
– Thank you and best of luck.