“The president will make her decision soon,” Lina Antanavičienė said after the president’s meeting with Surplys.
In the aide’s words, the meeting mainly focused on negotiations on the harmonization of European direct payments to farmers, as well as on the consolidation of institutions under the Ministry of Agriculture or a review of their functions.
Surplys told journalists after the meeting that, if appointed, he would try to modernize Lithuania’s agriculture and popularize living in the countryside.
“We must look for ways to make our agriculture even more modern. I’m speaking about the modernization of the agriculture sector, looking for new markets. I’m also speaking about the development of rural areas. We do need a lot of work on the measures and the image for living in the countryside to be popular again,” Surplys said, adding that he personally had no links with the agriculture sector.
“I’m a nanofarmer, living on eight ares of land, and this is my whole connection with the agriculture sector. But I do believe that a professional minister should, first of all, be a professional in the areas of management, diplomacy and politics,” Surplys said.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis nominated Surplys fro agriculture minister earlier in the day.
Surplys served as Grybauskaitė’s speechwriter until the start of 2017 when he assumed the position of a vice minister of the interior, and earlier advised former Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas. He was on the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union‘s list of candidates during the 2016 Seimas elections.
Surplys studied political science in Lithuania and later studied diplomacy at the University of Birmingham in the UK.
He’s been in charged of regional development, administration of EU funds, issuance of ID documents and migration at the Ministry of the Interior.
Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas stepped down after he came under criticism due to his family’s farming practices. He will serve until June.
The Lithuanian president rejected Skvernelis’ candidate for justice minister – lawyer Giedrius Danėlius – several weeks ago. The prime minister says he’s still looking for a new candidate for the position.
In Lithuania, ministers are appointed and dismissed by president upon nomination by prime minister.