Lithuania is not adequately prepared to handle a large scale ecological or technical accidents. This was displayed once again by the fire just recently put out in Alytus’ used tires recycling plant after it had burned for ten days, Vytautas Bruvertis wrote in lrytas.lt.
In the midst of the fire, the public sphere immediately bore witness to the scenario, which always dominates in such cases – the powers of good and evil and their camps.
Regular firefighters became the warriors of the light. Enduring days on end in the fire and the smoke. Also the local residents, who aided them, the regular mortals around the country, the municipal staff.
Alytus Mayor N. Cesiulis became the undisputed leader of these powers.
On the other side, we have those to whom the mayor’s fierce gaze would fall or sharp critique would be levied. The central government, from big to small, old and young faced accusations for failing to perform direct duties and leaving the residents of Alytus on their own.
Even President G. Nausėda faced criticism for leaving Alytus choking and travelling to Japan to participate in the Japanese emperor’s inauguration.
However, the main target of accusations was placed on the new minister of interior affairs, Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union representative R. Tamašunienė.
Just that is such a white and black image justified, which urges to place all the blame on the towers of Vilnius? Perhaps there’s nuance?
While the duties of the minister of interior affairs and the environment do not charge them to immediately personally take charge of such emergency operations, they really did have to be more present at the location.
This would have been not only public relations but also a crucial symbolic act, which would show the public that the central government and its leaders will be with the nation at every critical moment.
Such behaviour by senior officials is usual across all civilised democratic countries on both sides of the Atlantic.
Furthermore, combatting a fire of this level, even as per legislation, would likely have been left to the Fire and Rescue Department, not municipal officials.
That said, Prime Minister S. Skvernelis pointed his finger at the municipality. Perhaps formally he might be correct.
However, it is also clear that the central government did not ensure that the firefighters would have adequate machinery and equipment, that the public would be well informed about the situation, about the dangers and consequences of the fire and that the joint work of municipal and state institutions at all levels would be suitably coordinated.
At the same time, there are also gaps regarding the Alytus municipality, which handled the fire and its responsibilities.
For example, how was it that mandatory prevention and control measures in the company did not work? A company where a number of publicly known fires had occurred and based on increasing amounts of unofficial reports – unreported cases as well. Furthermore, the company had already faced fines for breaches in operational security requirements.
Prime Minister S. Skvernelis also emphasised that emergency situation containment plans were supposed to be made.
In summary, the same conclusions can be made as in every similar case.
Instead of rushing to distinguish the good and the bad, everyone must carefully review, what each failed to do.
Otherwise, the chaos can repeat, particularly given greater emergencies.
By the way, currently, both the prime minister and all of the government currently have a headache not only due to the fire in Alytus, but also how to put out the fire roaring in Seimas.
The “pranckiad” and “pranckexit” that lasted almost half a year has seemingly ended.
“Farmer” leader R. Karbauskis was humiliated to probably a similar extent as when his ward G. Kildišienė had to leave Seimas.
Just 63 votes in favour of dismissing the Seimas speaker when 71 were needed means that R. Karbauskis was demonstratively humiliated not only by coalition partners but even his own “Farmers”.
Who cares about R. Karbauskis’ reputation though? What is far more important is that next year’s budget project has landed in the furnace of the majority’s internal disputes.
Some “Farmer” MPs, who R. Karbauskis can no longer control, or perhaps who he incites intentionally, have acted against the project and alongside it – the cabinet. Calls even emerged, though behind closed doors, to dismiss it [the cabinet].
Either way, a number of cabinet projects particularly necessary for the budget were rejected in Seimas and the “Farmers”, having not defended such plans or even opposed them, started to register proposals that will cost further tens of millions.
Perhaps the budget will be approved just as R. Karbauskis promises, but after slights from Seimas, S. Skvernelis seems to be resolute.
According to the prime minister, if the budget will be taken apart to the extent it is being right now, the cabinet will dissolve.
The same was confirmed on the Lietuvos Rytas television show Ne Spaudai by S. Skvernelis’ advisor S. Malinauskas, as well as Minister of Economics and Innovation V. Sinkevičius.
What would happen if S. Skvernelis parted with the “Farmers” without the budget being approved?
Perhaps he would seek to form a new majority without R. Karbauskis’ gang and would instead lean on the current opposition?
By the way, Social Democrat leader G. Paluckas has already publicly pledged support for the prime minister, thus seemingly confirming behind the scenes talks that they could take to the Seimas elections together. Or perhaps the PM would leave politics as a whole?
And so, a political inferno might loom for the country, but who knows, who could put it out.