Lithuanian president rejects Gedvilas as candidate for education minister

Dalia Grybauskaitė ir Vydas Gedvilas
DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

According to the president, the information presented by the agency “does not even allow to consider this candidate for minister”.

“It’s incredible that prime minister, having such important information, decided to nominate this candidate in the first place,” Grybauskaitė told journalists at the Presidential Palace on Thursday.

The president said she has “the highest transparency standards” and expects a candidate whose “reputation will raise no doubts either to the special services, or the public”.

The information provided by the Special Investigation Service to the president and the prime minister is classified. Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, however, has said the data does not prevent Gedvilas from being appointed minister.

The prime minister told BNS on Wednesday he had already read the Special Investigation Service report and it was definitely favourable to the Labour Party candidate.

“I have read it and it’s favourable. I probably can read Lithuanian,” the head of government said.

Gedvilas, 55, served as speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas from November 2012 until October 2013, and is now a deputy speaker.

He has been a member of the Labour Party since 2004 and is working in the parliament for a third term.

Gedvilas said he was surprised by President Grybauskaitė’s decision not to appoint him education and science minister.

He also drew attention to the fact the Special Investigation Service previously saw no reason why he could not serve as speaker of the Seimas or deputy speaker of the Lithuanian parliament.

“I was speaker of the Seimas and received the Service’s permission to work with the most classified information, which I did and did not leak it, so it’s strange. And the position of the first deputy speaker of the Seimas is a higher position than that of a minister. So why can’t I be a minister? That’s a bit strange,” Gedvilas told journalists on Thursday.

He could not comment on the contents of the Special Investigation Service’s report because he had not seen it. But he noted that Prime Minister Butkevičius saw nothing compromising in it.

“The president said I could not be education minister. I haven’t seen that report, I have no right to, but it’s a bit strange as I know my own life story very well and I feel to have done nothing wrong for Lithuania. I have not resolved any of my personal interests for my own benefit. My way of life is absolutely clear to me. I worked in the education system all my life and then I went into politics. Where did I do something wrong, I don’t really know,” the Labour Party MP said.

The Labour Party to demand release of report

The Labour Party will ask for the publication of the Special Investigation Service’s report that blocked the appointment of the party’s representative Vydas Gedvilas as education and science minister.

“I think we need to ask for the report to be published,” the party’s acting leader Valentinas Bukauskas said. “Now we have contradictory statements from two persons, with the president saying that these are serious arguments and the prime minister having no such evidence. I believe the prime minister.”

Bukauskas also noted the prime minister’s words that the SIS information did not prevent him from nominating Gedvilas for minister. “I believe the prime minister as he’s responsible for the work of his team under the Constitution,” Bukauskas said, adding that the Labour Party would not rush to nominate another candidate for education and science minister.

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