“We are only hearing rumours about potential renegades, but the rumours are concerning,” said Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrat (TS-LKD) Chairman Gabrielius Landsbergis in response to talks that confusion has spread in the party ranks regarding negotiations with the “Peasants”. After the TS-LKD presidium meeting, in the show Dėmesio Centre (Centre of Attention) the TS-LKD chairman spoke of mistakes made in the elections, current positions on the coalition government and emotions inside the party, said to the LRT TV.
Gabrielius Landsbergis
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

- Mr Landsbergis, where did the TS-LKD make mistakes that it is now not among the parties negotiating on governing?

Were mistakes really made? If we analyse the campaign period, then we first have to evaluate the fact that the first round was successful for us. We should not run from the fact that since 1996 this is our best election performance. It is a large amount of trust from youth in the cities and elsewhere, which shows that our party is headed in the right direction. In the second round we started celebrating a bit too early and after seeing the results we understood that the future is unclear.

Further cooperation and preparing for the next stage, or as professor Vytautas Landsbergis said – the third round of elections, the negotiation round, that was definitely very difficult. First and foremost because the Peasant Greens did not want to negotiate.

- But did you want to?

We were open to the idea.

- Really? After the results became clear, it appeared that they disappointed you greatly. You were confused, now the “Peasants” are using the word “arrogant”.

No, there was no confusion. In my opinion we were consistent. Even speaking of the much controversial fact regarding the Liberals. Even here, during the show after the first round, standing next to Eugenijus Gentvilas and Saulius Skvernelis, we discussed that the three of us see that potential coalition. Then E. Gentvilas nodded and said it was a realistic possibility. Later something suddenly changed. The Liberals went one way, the “Peasants” clashed with the Liberals, threatening them with further lawsuits that only they know of. Let it be so. But we have always said the same things. We have been talking very consistently. The greatest challenge in negotiations or perhaps potential negotiations isn’t posts, but that of what the new cabinet will be about, what its programme will contain.

- But it’s clear that if you had wanted to be in government, you would have.

The term “be in government” isn’t suitable.

- Prior to the second round you expected different positions. You spoke several times that “we will come to terms, we will do it, we will reconcile our programmes.”

Be in government for what? That’s the main question.

- But you didn’t even try.

We tried. Those discussions had progressed quite far.

- You played hard to get for four days, then you delayed the presidium meeting for a week to put off the decision. At that time you already knew what decision the Social Democrats will make.

That isn’t true. On Tuesday (Nov. 2) there was a consultation group meeting. In it we had Peasant Greens representatives. We saw a great deal of confusion in their eyes. It is clear they were not prepared for the consultations. Talking points were not decided on, it is clear what we would discuss. We were told to wait for a management discussion and they would return with an answer. The response came on Friday – our meeting with S. Skvernelis. We had a friendly and honest discussion, but at the end of the talk we found out that Skvernelis does not have the authority and cannot say, what he truly thinks on our simple positions.

- It is obvious he cannot have authority because he is only the electoral roll frontrunner, not the party chairman.

Is it obvious? This is the main question. It wasn’t so obvious to me when I received a call and was offered to meet.

- But in your party you do not make decisions on joining the coalition yourself either.

No, but my authority, coming from the consultation group, where we had settled several key positions is that negotiations cannot happen with several partners at once. Trumpeting it or negotiating with two, it is poor political practice.

- Mr Landsbergis, is it not possible that for a long time prior to elections the LVŽS dragged on negotiations with you in order to avoid sharp criticism from the TS-LKD and President?

It’s hard to say.

- You don’t feel that you were waylaid and left on the roadside?

Well put. Let us remember the debates prior to the first round. In many of the discussions we participated in with S. Skvernelis were about finding a common denominator. I truly believed it. I am even now waiting for an opportunity to negotiate if the negotiations with the Social Democrats fail.

- Well, the chances are no more than 5-10%.

So be it, but we are a respectable political force. We have a strong programme and regardless of whether we are in the majority or the minority, we will seek to implement it as much as our strength and support allow. If the Peasant Greens come to negotiate and discuss, we will certainly do so.

- After seeing the final results, did a thought that you would neither be Prime Minister, nor Seimas Speaker arise and that there’s no reason to enter government with that?

It isn’t seats that matter the most. People write to me that I am being very arrogant for not entering a coalition. But do we really have a situation in Lithuania right now where a political power is being principled in discussing what the new government will look like? Not what posts or positions will be divvied up.

- I and many other said after the first round that your positions are very distant, but you said that everything can be reconciled and you would definitely come to terms. You were already in the government you are now not in.

Of course it is possible to reconcile if you have goodwill. If we want and seek points of contact. When a coalition was forming in Germany, when Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats managed to come to terms over just a few things. That is, of course, possible. But that doesn’t mean that I come and say “look, here’s a blank paper, you sign it, then we will add something.”

- But no-one proposed that?

In essence that is what their attitudes seem like.

- Are you not propagating a doctrine of TS-LKD faultlessness, with you accusing everyone except yourselves?

No. I identified our problems, it is clear we celebrated too early, we trusted S. Skvernelis smile, that we wanted to work together in the name of Lithuania. That wasn’t right. Right now I do not know what would have been better, analysis is needed.

- Are you personally not sorry that events passed as they did? That on Monday you did not go to R. Karbauskis with an offer to start negotiations, become partners and etc.?

You know well enough what Western negotiation traditions are. The winner is always the one who decides with who and what sort of coalition will be made.

- The winner invites to work, but the one who took less votes goes to congratulate, works toward good relations, shows attention.

Unilaterally. Creating good relations and showing attention is an important stage and we are not shirking it. The choice was on R. Karbauskis’ side, however, and we saw it clearly on Friday when the Social Democrats were chosen.

- They were the first to respond officially. At the party management level they responded that they will begin negotiations. Meanwhile you took a time out.

Our first discussion was on Tuesday, during a consultation group meeting. We had expressed several small principles on not negotiating on two fronts, on leadership investigation by special services and etc. S. Skvernelis agreed to everything during the discussion, noting that it is a wise and respectable position.

- That wish to have R. Karbauskis investigated by the State Security Department. Do you have justified suspicions that this person would not be able to obtain a permit to work with classified state information?

No-one who makes decisions of such gravity to the public and the state should hide and say they do not need to be checked because they are simple members of Seimas. As is known, they are only investigated by the National Security and Defence Committee. This is a sort of independent thing. I’ve said that I can demonstrate myself as an example, regardless of which committee I work in, I will ask that the State Security Department would check my capacity to work with classified information. If any of my colleagues sign and refuse to do so or believe that it is unnecessary, so be it. But I think that currently it is the right way to go. By the way, R. Karbauskis himself said that he does not object at all. Furthermore S. Skvernelis said that they are prepared to check all of their fraction members.

- Regardless, a demand to a negotiation partner, to announce “I am no thief” would probably mean that you want to insult and that it is a demonstration of a bad tone at the start of negotiations. Is it not?

Not necessarily. It depends on how we look at the situation. Various potential mistrusts from earlier, they still exist out there. If we want to shelve those questions once and for all, then they need answering. This is specifically one of the ways.

- Some of the management in your party opposed your chosen stance. Today you resolved your differences in a management meeting. Did you pacify the rising rebellion? Could it be that as you said, renegades appeared?

We accepted a unanimous announcement in the presidium, which confirms our earlier proposals that were formulated for the negotiation group. The general mood, regardless of the emotions present is essentially the same and we are unified. We are hearing rumours about potential renegades. The rumours are concerning. According to them, talks that some individuals were proposed posts and that such talks are developing, and. Etc. I have not spoken myself or encountered it, everything was denied to me. I have no official reason to point a finger and say that it is definitely so or not. If such people exist, it is up to their conscience.

- In other words, you are unsure whether there will be the same number of people in your fraction as were elected on the day of the first session?

Well, I hope that all those who are there will be people of a strong conscience.

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