Nausėda embarks on a new crusade, but slips while trying to get Landsbergis out of office

President Nausėda and Minister of foreign affairs Landsbergis. Photo
President Nausėda and Minister of foreign affairs Landsbergis. Photo

After failing to hear of Gabrielius Landsbergis’ resignation over the fertiliser transit scandal, President Gitanas Nausėda continues to scramble the Conservative leader out of his ministerial post, but he does so while slipping himself, Tadas Ignatavičius writes in

Perhaps in a mood of optimism over the resignation of the head of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, Žygimantas Pavilionis, G.Nausėda has embarked on a new crusade.

As relations between Lithuania and China have been strained over the opening of a Taiwanese mission in Vilnius, the President said that a mistake had been made in choosing its name. He said it had been done without his knowledge and called the officials responsible for foreign policy “sit-down dreamers”.

Although Nausėda did not mention Landsbergis’s name, politicians do not doubt that the President is targeting him.

The President’s allies soon joined the attack on Landsbergis. The leader of the Farmers, Ramūnas Karbauskis, also began to demand the head of the Minister of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

It is naive to expect peace

Eugenijus Gentvilas, the elder of the Liberal group in the Seimas, was interviewed on the “Lietuvos rytas” TV programme “#NeSpaudai” and he thinks that the conservatives might have hoped that after the removal of Pavilionis, peace would prevail between the President and the ruling party.

However, according to the liberal, Nausėda’s recent statements show that this belief was too naive.

The representative of the Liberal Movement pointed out that in the past, the President had not seen or spoken out loud about the problems that might arise from the name of the Taiwanese mission.

The politician recalled an interview with Elta at the end of October in which the President said that “China should not react irritably to Lithuania’s initiative to set up a business representative office under the name of Taiwan”.

“The President said this knowing full well that a Taiwanese representative office would be established. Today he criticises it by explaining that he was the only one who was not mistaken. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Lithuanian foreign policy in general, is already becoming the target of the President’s criticism,” said Gentvilas.

Relations between President Nausėda and Foreign Minister Landsbergis are far from softening.

Was everything agreed?

By the way, Nausėda did not have any complaints against the ruling party in November last year, either about the opening of the Taiwanese mission in Vilnius or about its name.

“I don’t understand why the name becomes a decisive issue. If we state very clearly that a mission is not a diplomatic office and that the opening of a mission, whatever the name, does not imply diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, then we seem to have said everything. So why make a big deal out of this fact if the name itself has no principled significance? Our one-China principle remains valid,” Nausėda told after China’s dissatisfaction had already begun.

Moreover, the head of state stressed at the time that he and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had the same vision on the opening of the Taiwanese mission.

Surprised that he spoke out now

Apparently referring to Nausėda’s previous speeches, Landsbergis, who had been attacked yesterday, retorted that the autumn process had been actively coordinated with the President himself.

“Not only were all actions coordinated with the President before the opening of the mission, but they were also actively coordinated,” the conservative leader explained.

The Minister, who came under attack from the President, was also backed by the ruling coalition partners. For example, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the Speaker of the Seimas, wondered why Nausėda had only criticised the centre-right government’s foreign policy after China had started to apply economic and political pressure on Lithuania.

“As I see it, the difference between a values-based policy and other policies is that you don’t retreat from it after the first push.

Somehow, I heard little criticism of the decisions taken in the first months after they were taken: it was not even mentioned in August and September.

Only now, when the situation is tenser, there are more voices of doubt,” Čmilytė-Nielsen told ELTA.

Unlike the President, the Speaker of the Seimas stressed that no mistake had been made in setting up the Taiwanese representation in Lithuania under that name.

She was not in favour of changing her mind

Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, the elder of the conservative group in the Seimas, retorted even more sharply to the President.

The politician said that it was not the name of the Taiwanese mission that was a mistake, but the President’s statements and the change of his opinion: “Consistent inconsistency. That is what I would call the President’s position on the Taiwanese representation.”

In a meeting with the US President a few months ago, she pointed out that the President himself was pleased that Washington was supportive of Lithuania’s decision on Taiwan: “So what has changed? Which is the real opinion? When is the President sincere, and when is his opinion not influenced by his own convictions, but by some judgement from this or that commentator?”

There was no need to give the portfolio

However, Nausėda also received support. “Madam President, Minister Landsbergis must be dismissed before it is too late,” Karbauskis told the President yesterday.

According to the State party leader, the President made a mistake in appointing Landsbergis as a minister, and now he has the opportunity to correct this mistake.

“In one year, the Minister has caused so much damage to Lithuania that it will take years to repair the consequences of that damage. Moreover, Landsbergis’ statements about a foreign policy based on values seem to have nothing to do with values or the interests of the state,” Karbauskis said.

According to the Farmers and Green Union leader, Lithuania needs to normalise its deteriorating relations with China, and this should start with Landsbergis’ resignation.

According to Karbauskis, the Minister is only following his party’s programme, in which the creation of enemies and the fight against them is the most important task.
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