What the real purpose of the meeting between Skvernelis and Landsbergis was?

Saulius Skvernelis ir Gabrielius Landsbergis
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

During Last week‘s unannounced meeting Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and the leader of the opposition Conservatives Gabrielius Landsbergis most likely spoke on support for specific projects, political analysts Vytautas Bruveris and Virgis Valentinavičius told LRT.lt.

Meanwhile MEP Antanas Guoga’s claims that during the meeting, positions for the future were discussed, were dismissed as fantasies. “This was a division of a not yet shot moose,” V. Valentinavičius commented.

The talks held in the cabinet building were, according to the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) Chairman G. Landsbergis, “of a private nature” and not coordinated with the rest of party management.

After meeting the Prime Minister, the Conservative head told journalists that they spoke of the Prime Minister’s participation in the TS-LKD congress and joked that they discussed the Eurovision preliminaries.

“The Homeland Union is in no rush to enter the majority, but it is prepared to support reforms that are important for Lithuania <…>. Perhaps the Prime Minister would choose to say something more if he saw fit, but this was a friendly, informal chat,” Landsbergis said.

A. Guoga – perhaps the Conservatives would support S. Skvernelis’ bid for presidency

MEP A. Guoga told LRT.lt that he has heard rumours that during this meeting the two politicians may have been arranging potential future positions.

“I have heard rumours that perhaps these were arrangements, that the Conservatives could support S. Skvernelis’ candidacy during the presidential elections. That is also a possible outcome. S. Skvernelis could, for example, run as non-partisan and the Conservatives would support him. Is this realistic? Everything is realistic in politics. Perhaps that would even be good for Lithuania, who knows… Perhaps G. Landsbergis would become Prime Minister and S. Skvernelis – President. Perhaps that is the future of Lithuania? Trust me, everything is possible. After all the Prime Minister entered politics with the Order and Justice Party,” Guoga mused.

Political analysts do not view such rumours as serious however. V. Valentinavičius points out that this would be dividing up a moose that hasn’t been shot yet.

“How cunning it is to peddle influence you do not have. In this case we have a meeting of two very unequal players – S. Skvernelis is extremely popular and, despite the chaos and initially a lax attitude toward communications, the cabinet nevertheless has potential and S. Skvernelis’ ratings are high. He was particularly strengthened when Ramūnas Karbauskis was weakened. This meeting, I believe, could not have reached that far,” Valentinavičius told LRT.lt.

Political analyst for the newspaper Lietuvos Rytas, V. Bruveris, believes that such manufactured scenarios are reminiscent of fantasies.

“A. Guoga is a known dreamer. It sounds all too much like fantasy. Especially because these are still very distant matters and the political circumstances can change several or even tens of times by that time. I cannot imagine G. Landsbergis and S. Skvernelis negotiating regarding this. If they were really sitting down to talk of such matters, then they should be viewed very poorly. I do not view them that poorly,” Bruveris commented.

Meeting initiated by S. Skvernelis?

Neither of the two politicians involved revealed under whose initiative the meeting between G. Landsbergis and S. Skvernelis occurred.

“I do not know who initiated it, I did not ask about that. But I want to say that this is no rarity – it is a constant, normal and constructive communication with both coalition partners and the representatives of the opposition,” the Prime Minister’s press representative Tomas Beržinskas told BNS.

According to political analyst V. Valentinavičius, the meeting could have occured at S. Skvernelis‘ initiative. “He wants to show primarily the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) Seimas group, as well as their coalition partners, the Social Democrats, that he has sufficient support everywhere. He wants to intimidate both the coalition partners and the LVŽS with R. Karbauskis with the notion that to make certain decisions he may not need them,” Valentinavičius pointed out.
He also guesses that during the meeting there were talks of support for specific projects, for example the forestry reform.

Political analyst for the Lietuvos Rytas newspaper V. Bruveris is inclined to believe so as well.
“S. Skvernelis has some sort of list of tasks. The Prime Minister can see that the Social Democrats may not support certain issues, particularly forestry reform. He believes that there can also be problems in the LVŽS group itself when dealing with certain matters. The story of Greta Kildišienė has revealed that the group is sown with white thread.

As such he needs support in Seimas and the Conservatives have long spoken that they are waiting for signals from S. Skvernelis and his team. The Conservatives themselves spoke in the background that it is not they who are offering themselves, but S. Skvernelis is sending signals. Now it has become an open market,” the analyst commented.

What the Conservatives expect in return

What do the Conservatives expect in return for all this? According to V. Valentinavičius, the Conservatives and G. Landsbergis should be celebrating that their services were needed at all because they are in the “weak opposition”. “The situation would change if the Conservatives and Liberals had their own ideas and proposals and would go to discuss not their agreement, but with their own political ideas. Now they are playing second or third number,” the expert commented.
Meanwhile V. Bruveris says that there are three conditions for the Conservatives to enter the coalition – the SocDems being pushed out of the coalition, agreement from the “Farmers” and the Conservatives wanting to join a coalition with the LVŽS.

“It appears to me that the Conservatives do not wish to enter the coalition. They want a simple thing – to play a game which would allow them to increase their political weight. Primarily I am speaking of the Conservative management and G. Landsbergis. He now needs to perform political manoeuvres to raise his importance as a political player in the eyes of voters. If he is negotiating with the Prime Minister and S. Skvernelis wants his support, this is a completely different political league,” V. Bruveris summarised.

The political analyst points out that such meetings drown out the Social Democrats even further. “I am almost 100% certain that this is what the Presidential Palace wants, it is also playing a sort of coalition breaking game – supporting S. Skvernelis and his cabinet at the expense of the SocDems and the rest of the “Farmers” gathered around R. Karbauskis. I believe the President is aiming to highlight the divides. The clearer they are, the higher the Presidential Palace’s political weight and freedom of action,” Bruveris explained.

According to him, a triangle has formed – S. Skvernelis, the Presidential Palace and the Conservatives. “In this triangle the Conservatives and Presidential Palace both receive political benefits, their weight and significance rise, they are gaining opportunities to get revenge on the Social Democrats even more,” the expert said.

R. Karbauskis should be glad that G. Kildišienė is being forgotten?

Meanwhile the LVŽS head and its Seimas group Prefect, R. Karbauskis stated after S. Skvernelis and G. Landsbergis’ meeting that he is “glad that the head of the cabinet found so much time for meetings with members of Seimas and Seimas group prefects”.

“I think that with the spring session nearing there are negotiations on which questions could receive support. We have passed a number of pieces of legislation unanimously after all, this has not happened often in Seimas history,” Karbauskis told BNS.

Meanwhile V. Bruveris notes that R. Karbauskis did not become what he wanted to.

“What else can he say? He can’t say that it is bad and that such meetings hurt his ambitions. I do not know if he is losing his positions, but for now he has not become what he wanted to be. What he wanted to be was the chairman of everything. He had promised that the centre of political power and influence would be the Seimas. To elaborate – in the main LVŽS group in Seimas, in his hands and the whole game revolving around him. That is not the case,” the analyst points out.

According to V. Valentinavičius, R. Karbauskis should be happy overall that the story of G. Kildišienė is fading out of memory. “He should be glad the scandal is being forgotten. He is, with sufficient cunning, demonstrating that it is important to move toward fulfilling electoral promises and somehow organising cabinet work,” the analyst commented.

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