Yet to have time to warm up in power, the actions and aims of “Peasant” leader Ramūnas Karbauskis leave some surprised, some resentful, while others – even doubtful whether they voted for the right saviours of the nation during the election. How does the politician see all of this? Journalist Daiva Žemaitytė interviewed R. Karbauskis in the Lietuvos Rytas television show 24/7 on Lietuvos rytas TV.
- How should the public view you and your recent actions? The impression arises that you are constantly testing limits and watching what reactions will be brought about. Why, for example, did you start from amendments to the artificial insemination law, not from other, far more important, state problems?
The law was to come into power on January 1, hence the urgency. We wanted this law to come into power the way it should be. There were no other motives.
Everything is proceeding as planned, we are working in the right direction, there are no delays. Everything will be done as the people expect of us.
- The people first and foremost hope for constructive, measured decisions that are definitely needed. Another contentious decision – national costumes for children.
This is not even a question. It was officially not present in any work agenda.
In the Culture Committee we spoke about the centennial of the state. This is important is it not? It would appear to be.
Speaking of my idea, that all pre-school children would be given national costumes, this was not a topic of debate in the committee.
- But you perfectly understand why scandals are created out of what would appear every minor detail. The people who voted for you expect real change.
Say 50 thousand children are being raised in orphanages. Why do you not start with that?
Why are families, which should not be supported, receiving support, when young people are not working, but rather living off of benefits?
Why do you say it is not being done?
- Because nothing has been heard of it. All we hear is “ethnic costumes”, “artificial insemination”.
The government programme has been prepared and presented to Seimas. It is based on the Peasant and Greens Union campaign programme and there we answer many questions.
It takes time to pass and prepare legislation.
The question could rise, why we are touching up on the Labour Code and social model. This is because they are also due to come into power on January 1st. All the legislation regarding children’s security and family welfare has yet to be prepared. It takes time and the Seimas has only been working for a few weeks. We are doing what we can.
We’ve started from ourselves – we banned Seimas Deputy Speakers from being provided cars and drivers, we will continue to reform the Seimas transport infrastructure.
There are many minor details, but they are all meaningful. I’ve stated that the municipal and state sector should cease sending paper Christmas greeting cards because it is a large expense.
- All inconsequential things once more.
Of course, but this will cost tax payers several hundred thousand euro. Thus we would not repair one school, kindergarten or culture house.
- Perhaps instead of making announcements about paper Christmas greeting cards, you should visit an orphanage during Christmas and see the situation there? Or perhaps visit the labour exchange, see the clients there.
I have visited so many orphanages, I could speak volumes of it. I do not understand how you could resolve those children’s fates with slogans.
We have spoken of reducing the number of orphanages, it is not a suitable decision to purchase flats in apartment buildings and move the children there because we cannot ensure the same conditions as those present at the care facility.
People do not understand what we are doing.
There is talk of making sure there’s no children in orphanages, but we are doing nothing to help them find families. We are simply moving them to a different home.
- Those are the problems that need resolving.
We cannot get it done by Christmas. We see this problem and will resolve it, but it takes time.
On the other hand we have to work with the budget we’ve got.
We are trying to amend it, seek reserves and fulfill the commitments made by the government, while it did not dedicate funding.
There is a pre-programmed conflict between society and a new government, which did not even pledge many of those things, those were promises of the earlier government, ones with little validation.
For example the 35 million euro promised to teachers is simply not present in the budget.
We understand what would happen if the promise is not fulfilled.
- Your colleagues are viewing some of your decisions differently. For example Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis is opposed to your thoughts on artificial insemination. Are you in control of the situation in the fraction and the party?
We have agreed that everyone in the fraction will have their own thoughts regarding value questions.
My proposal regarding artificial insemination was supported by 48 of the 49 present for voting.
It would appear a sufficiently unified opinion.
There is no conflict between Skvernelis and me, but our opinions can differ in places.
He spoke up not about what is present in the legislative project, but about the discussion of whether embryos would be allowed to be frozen or not. Regarding what was entered into the project itself, his opinion is exactly the same.
- The Conservatives and Andrius Kubilius are once again raising questions about your businesses, presenting specific questions. Do you intend to answer them? Do you not think that the public should be presented all information regarding shadows of the past?
How many times can I repeat the answer? You could get the impression that Kubilius forgot the time I took him to court.
- Your opinions differ even regarding the court ruling.
Read the court’s conclusions, there are transcripts. A. Kubilius was trying to prove that he knows nothing about me being related with Russia in any way, that he has no such information.
The court found it difficult to make the ruling that he is guilty because he claimed he did not state or do anything.
Now, in the post-election situation, some sort of reports were manufactured. I have contacted the prosecutor’s office and State Security Department regarding this. I am a member of Seimas, I have such a right.
I am most curious who wrote up the report. It contains names of people who I have never seen in my life and have never interacted with.
There is talk of cities I’ve never visited. There are many things that can be checked.
To my understanding all the versions proposed originate in the same place.
I have said time and time again that A. Kubilius should review the time he is talking about, as well as the information. He states that we had conditions from some sort of companies, that they had certain owners.
He did not check that the company was not privatised at the time, still belonged to the state. I am speaking of Acron. He has heard my answer, but continues to repeat the same thing because he knows that not all of Lithuania heard the same answer.
- This does not change the fact that your businesses had or still have connections with Russia and you, as a particularly active public figure, a politician, should give a specific answer.
The answer is simple – let them present me a list of businesses in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, England, Germany or other country in the world that we are not allowed to have business with.
- We are not talking about the current period, but 1993, when your career as a businessman began.
Not then and not now has any information been provided that any specific business is dangerous or operating against Lithuania.
- Perhaps you did not know that you were working with a company that has links with the Kremlin or is loyal to it?
It was a state company, so it had connections with the Kremlin, but Vladimir Putin was not present in it then. Everything has been confused greatly.
I am being asked what I think about Russian performance in Lithuania, but what are we talking about – the ballet Swan Lake or something else? Most likely no-one poses any questions whether everything is fine with Swan Lake.
If there is a person banned from entering Lithuania, then most likely the one inviting him has to check. Why do you have to take it to the next level and accuse someone? Culture and politics are two separate entities.
Businessmen who have some sort of relation with Russia and they are an absolute majority, count in the tens of thousands in Lithuania, they could be equally accused of links with Russia.
Does it immediately mean that they are providing some sort of information, acting against Lithuania?
- But certain decisions of yours, such as a referendum regarding NATO, raise doubts as to what your aims are.
I voted for entering NATO in Seimas. The Conservatives have been concealing this time all this time, denying and trying to avoid it.
But it is a fact. I have never spoken against NATO.
Together with the late rector of Vilnius University Rolandas Pavilionis I initiated a referendum not because I was against NATO, but because I believe that such decisions as accession to NATO or the European Union should be decided in referenda, not the Seimas.
I was completely convinced that the nation will decide as I, that NATO is a guarantee of our security.
You would not find a single document where I speak against NATO.
- I understand these questions are unpleasant.
I’ve gotten bored of answering them. How long can it persist? I answered during the election campaign and after it. They continue to query me. I have already answered. Who more do I have to answer to?
If there is information of some sort of connections, put it on the table. Where is it?
Why are the Conservatives accusing me, that they lost the elections?
They did not want to enter any coalition after the elections – that’s obvious. Immediately after the election I said that they are acting this way because they need an excuse to their voters as to why they are not entering a coalition with the “Peasants”.
I can explain why they did not want to in a simple way. If the coalition succeeded, they would not be as well off as us because we would be more prominent.
If it was not successful, they would be just as badly off as us.
The Conservatives seek that the current coalition would work as short a time and as poorly as possible – that is the only outcome they find beneficial. This is a betrayal of their voters, but it is the path they have chosen.
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