Bruveris. G. Nausėda no longer seems as unshakeable

Gitanas Nausėda
Gitanas Nausėda, DELFI / Valdas Kopūstas

To force the hubristic Turkish President R. T. Erdogan to withdraw is more comfortable than to unseat J. Narkevičius from the post of minister of transport and communications. That’s probably how we can describe the results achieved by President G. Nausėda last week, Vytautas Bruveris wrote in

The Lithuanian head of state and his delegation returned from the NATO summit meeting in London, which marked the Alliance’s 70th anniversary as if an ancient Roman emperor’s army from yet another victorious campaign. At least officially, it was announced that the actions of Lithuanian representatives were significant in ensuring that the disagreements that lately racked NATO were smoothed over.

Indeed, substantial visible differences within the most powerful military alliance in the world were particularly noticeable on the eve of this jubilee summit.

The French, seeking to make the best use of the decline of their main rivals in Europe – the Germanys – further sharpened their tone regarding the Alliance. Furthermore, according to French President E. Macron, Russia, with whom he seeks to create a unified Europe, isn’t any threat because the main enemy of NATO is international terrorism.

US President D. Trump, who can still be seen as seeking ways of how to reduce America’s commitments to NATO or to even withdraw from the Alliance, once more clashed with the leaders of the other main countries.

Ankara poured fuel on the fire by declaring that it would veto renewing NATO defence plans for the Baltic States and Poland if a similar project is not done for Turkey – one where the Alliance would name the Kurds R. T. Erdogan is fighting in Syria as terrorists and a threat.

However, the meeting in London, which as expected had no lack of sparks, ended without any major shocks or collapses.

Dinner with the world elite

D. Trump hosted a dinner for the member state leaders, whose countries allocate no less than 2% of their GDP to defence.

The Lithuanian president was among those receiving a free dinner.

In the final summit declaration, Russia was traditionally named as a threat, while also assuring that the Alliance is prepared for dialogue with Moscow as soon as it begins to change its aggressive behaviour.

Most likely, behind the scenes talks that the main European countries are inclined to yield to Moscow’s wiles to renew equivalent NATO associations with Russia are not baseless.

Nevertheless, the nigh-on most important matter is that R. T. Erdogan agreed to not veto the Baltic States and Polish defence plans despite NATO not agreeing to recognise the Kurds as its enemies. That said, it is so far unclear, what the Turkish president received in return from D. Trump and NATO Secretary-General J. Stoltenberg.

Meanwhile, Lithuania was told that R. T. Erdogan was influenced by G. Nausėda, the Polish, Latvian and Estonian leaders, as well as J. Stoltenberg, who spoke to him.

He stood firmly

Furthermore, diplomats anonymously boasted that much was achieved by a successful special operation – supposedly after Turkish veto plans being leaked thanks to Lithuanian efforts, the Turks withdrew.

Thus, G. Nausėda seemingly stood firmly among the world’s powerful, but the picture looks very different when looking at our rural landscape.

Take how on Tuesday, S. Skvernelis returned to work and immediately rejected a demand voiced by the president to immediately dismiss Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union (LLRA-KŠS) representative J. Narkevičius from the office of minister of transport and communications.

But demands from the parliament came…

The demand was rejected so firmly that the impression arose that S. Skvernelis had already decided not to yield the minister, while G. Nausėda knew or suspected this and decided to declare his lack of confidence in J. Narkevičius without awaiting the prime minister’s return to work, thus pre-empting the PM and all critics, who doubt in the president’s resolve.

In any case, with this first strict challenge to the ruling coalition, G. Nausėda forced himself into a corner.

With S. Skvernelis refusing to dismiss the minister, “Farmer” and LLRA-KŠS leaders R. Karbauskis and W. Tomaszewski retorted with no less militant declarations – supposedly the inexperienced G. Nausėda directly submitted to an uproar raised by the opposition.

These politicians, having earlier talked back at the president, declared even more categorically a few days ago that J. Narkevičius will not be dismissed. Not now, not later.

Of course, R. Karbauskis and W. Tomaszewski reacted thus to versions floating around in public that S. Skvernelis, by mentioning that the minister of transport and communications will remain in office up to the next year’s budget is approved seemingly implied that later on, the minister could be symbolically sacrificed in the name of good relations with the Presidential Palace.

However, if the president and prime minister did plan this out, the impression arises that the “Farmers” and their coalition partners in Seimas will not allow this.

Narkevičius effect

Overall, the impression grows stronger that after the J. Narkevičius story, the headbutting with the president, the chaos enveloping the budget, R. Karbauskis has even more firmly tied S. Skvernelis to himself educed his room for manoeuvre before next year’s Seimas elections that could allow him to leave the “Farmer” camp.

Most likely, another important goal for the “Farmer” leader is to return the centre of power back to the Seimas, with it having migrated to the Presidential Palace during D. Grybauskaitė‘s tenure.

After all, even if the controversial J. Narkevičius were to lose his seat as minister of transport and communications sooner or later, after this week‘s return fire from the Seimas ruling coalition camp, G. Nausėda no longer seems as unshakeable as during the electoral campaign or the first weeks of his presidency.

Most likely, it is no coincidence that during the Prayer Breakfast at the Presidential Palace G. Nausėda expressed regret over the current situation: “In political life, common goals are increasingly overshadowed by meaningless competition, anger and disrespect. We become vulnerable as a nation, as a country and as a community. And as individuals.”

It’s hard to say whether such lamentation will help the president recover.
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