President’s position runs counter to rule of law principles, Lithuanian PM says

DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

“When a person is prevented from becoming a minister due to their profession when they honestly perform their duties, it’s not a legal argument”, the prime ministers told journalists. “Moreover, its’ a signal to the legal society, showing that in Lithuania we can question whether we adhere to the rule of law and whether we respect every person’s right to defense and whether this right is impartially ensured.”

The prime minister regretted over the rejection of “a professional and strong lawyer who could have bravely and immediately started solving problems of the justice system”.

Earlier in the day, the president said she would not appoint Danėlius as the country’s justice minister because he served as a defense lawyer in a political corruption case.

“The candidate nominated by the prime minister, Giedrius Danėlius, will not be appointed to the post of justice minister because of a possible conflict of interest,” the office said in a comment.

“An attorney chooses whether to represent and defend one or another client. The candidate’s choices to represent clients in a specific political corruption case preclude his appointment to a political position,” it said.

The prime minister said he had learned about the president’s decision from journalists.

“Thank you once again, really, because without you, I wouldn’t have learned many things and only with your help I learn about decisions made by the presidential office”, the prime minister said.

Asked whether the rejection had anything to do with his refusal to sack Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas, as the president demands, the prime minister said „if it had any influence, then it would be pathetic because these are totally unrelated things”.

„I’m telling you once again that it’s rejection of a strong lawyer, a strong professional, and perhaps one of the reasons is that changes are unwelcome”, Skvernelis said.

Asked about his further actions, the prime minister said he would calmly look into this decision. “Perhaps I will receive the arguments, not from the media, and then further decisions may vary”, he said.

Asked if the existing situation reflected a confrontation between the presidential office and the government, Skvernelis said: “If (the president) hasn’t even listened to the candidate for justice minister, it’s also a position”.

Speaking to BNS Lithuania, Danėlius refrained from commenting on the president’s decision before considering her motives.

Danėlius represented Grybauskaitė’s spokeswoman Daiva Ulbinaite in a case where she was accused of revealing a state secret. Ulbinaite was later acquitted.

He recently represented former MG Baltic vice president Raimondas Kurlianskis, suspected of bribery, in a political corruption case involving MG Baltic and several political parties. The case was handed over to court earlier this week.

Under the Constitution, ministers are appointed by the president on the prime minister’s recommendation.

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