Lithuanian and Latvian agriculture ministers under pressure after hunting trip

“I am very tired of all this and we will end this here, right? I am extremely tired of all this. I went to visit (Lithuania) and then I have to answer silly questions for a week? You will have to find out what happened and how back in our country,” Duklavs told BNS on Friday and hung up the phone.

He had told Latvian media earlier on Friday that he had not known about participation of Lithuanian businessmen in the dinner in Lithuania.

He spoke to Latvian press a few hours after his Lithuanian counterpart, Virginija Baltraitienė, stated that a few Lithuanian business figures had been invited at the Latvian minister’s request.

Duklavs said there was no conflict of interests in the participation of Virginijus Kantauskas, CEO of the Lithuanian meat producer Biovela Group.

The Latvian minister said he thought the dinner and hunt had been paid for by Baltraitienė’s husband, as he claimed to have heard from the Latvian media.

Baltraitienė initially told BNS that the Lithuanian businessmen had been invited at the initiative of Lithuania’s chief veterinary officer Jonas Milius or the Latvian minister. On Friday, she stated that Kantauskas and Pranas Dailidė, CEO of Dojus Agro, had been invited by the Latvian minister.

Interpellation calls from opposition

Members of the Lithuanian opposition believe that actions of Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė of the Labour Party give serious grounds for interpellation, although they question the need to take the step a few months before the end of her term in office.

“The agriculture minister has accumulated quite a few ‘sins’, the press has covered a number of scandals surrounding her work, officials she has appointed, acquisitions made by the market regulation agency, the Gineikaitė story, I could continue the list… Indecision about the chief veterinary officer, possible conflicts of interests in some vague hunting activity gives grounds for interpellation. The other question is about the sense in this, with a month and a half left until the end of the term – the argument needs to be discussed in the political group,” Jurgis Razma, the first deputy chairman of the political group of the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, told BNS in comment of the initiative.

The interpellation was proposed by the party’s leader Gabrielius Landsbergis who pledged to make the proposal amid “constant corruption scandals and doubts about the food safety system in Lithuania”.

Meanwhile, Valentinas Mazuronis, the leader of the Labour Party that delegated Baltraitienė to the post, downplayed the fact of the “Baltraitienė dinner”.

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