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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS88 2005-01-26 14:32:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
Cable title:  

AG MINISTER PRUNSKIENE: MORE EU MEANS ROOM FOR

Tags:   EAGR PGOV ETRD ENRG PHUM LH 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000088 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NB
USEU FOR NFRANCIS AND USTR/CWILSON
WARSAW FOR CRUSH

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2015
TAGS: EAGR PGOV ETRD ENRG PHUM LH
SUBJECT: AG MINISTER PRUNSKIENE: MORE EU MEANS ROOM FOR
U.S.?

REF: A. VILNIUS 57


B. 2004 VILNIUS 1523

C. 2004 VILNIUS 1505

D. 2004 VILNIUS 1315

E. 2004 VILNIUS 739

Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Christian Yarnell
for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: Agricultural Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene,
meeting with Ambassador Mull on January 25, painted a picture
of an EU branded agricultural policy for Lithuania and
pledged to focus her efforts on rural development. She
praised U.S.-Lithuanian cooperation on agricultural and rural
development issues, and highlighted these areas and
development of agro-tourism as investment targets. In her
capacity as MP and former head of a nuclear energy task
force, Prunskiene advocated a continuation of Lithuania's
nuclear power capability, assuring that the GOL would not
exclude American companies from negotiations with investors,
now set to begin in earnest. The former leader of the
Women's Party also pledged to help our efforts to open a
local shelter for victims of trafficking-in-persons. While
Prunskiene will be a strong proponent of EU policies in her
Ministerial position, we anticipate healthy collaboration
with her on some matters of mutual interest. END SUMMARY.



2. (SBU) Ambassador Mull met with Kazimiera Prunskiene,
Peasant Party leader and recently-confirmed Minister of
Agriculture, January 25 as part of his tour of Lithuania's
new Cabinet (ref A). Prunskiene spoke of her attempts to
energize the Agricultural Ministry. The Ambassador also
engaged her, as an important player in the Government
coalition, on other items of particular interest outside the
scope of her Ministry. Prunskiene, who has often called for
Lithuania to adopt "more European" policies (ref E), spoke
highly of cooperation with the United States, but outlined a
Lithuanian agricultural policy lockstep with the EU vision.



--------------------------


A European Agricultural Policy


--------------------------





3. (U) Prunskiene presented her strategic plan for the
Ministry, which she said would focus on developing a modern,
competitive, and secure agricultural sector in Lithuania.
She highlighted development of rural tourism, biofuels
production, and traditional crops as important agricultural
initiatives. Ambassador Mull noted that agricultural policy
will remain an important element of U.S. foreign policy and
described biotech as a unique opportunity for agricultural
development and a global imperative. Prunskiene responded
hesitantly, emphasizing the importance of food security, and
echoing the European "precautionary principle" on introducing
GMOs into the environment and the food chain.



--------------------------


Focus on Rural Development


--------------------------





4. (U) Prunskiene spotlighted rural development as a critical
element of the Ministry's activities. Developing capacity to
absorb effectively EU agricultural support, she said, would
be a ministry priority. Prunskiene said she hoped to
increase investment into Lithuania's rural areas
dramatically, noting that the Ministry might attempt to move
its division for rural development from the capital to a
location closer to agricultural lands, in an attempt to raise
the issue's profile. The Ambassador said that he had
witnessed first-hand the country's large disparity between
urban and rural development and praised Prunskiene's
attention to the problem.



--------------------------


Cooperation with United States


--------------------------





5. (U) Ambassador Mull expressed his desire to advance
U.S.-Lithuanian cooperation on agricultural issues, noting
that our dialogue will significantly expand as a result of
Lithuania's EU membership. He said that U.S. business would
welcome solid agricultural investment opportunities.
Prunskiene thanked the Ambassador for past collaboration,
highlighting ongoing contact with Ohio's agrarian community
as especially useful. The Ambassador cited the Cochran
Fellowship Program's history of valuable informational
exchanges and exposure to U.S. practices and research, and he
encouraged the Ministry to help identify the candidates to
visit the United States. The Ambassador also encouraged
Prunskiene to travel to the United States, promising to help
work-up an extensive program for her.



--------------------------


Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant


--------------------------




6. (SBU) The Ambassador queried Prunskiene, the driving force
behind Lithuanian efforts to retain its nuclear energy
capacity, about the future of the Ignalina plant. Following
EU mandates, Ignalina's first reactor went offline in
December 2004, and decommissioning of the final reactor
should follow in 2009 (refs C and D). Prunskiene argued that
Lithuania, already possessing the necessary nuclear
infrastructure and technical expertise, should not give it
up. Noting that the GOL has already established as its a
goal the continuation of nuclear power generation
capabilities, Prunskiene said that the process has moved into
the "second phase," namely negotiations with possible
investors. Ambassador Mull noted that American companies
would likely be interested in a project to build a new
reactor, and Prunskiene assured him that the GOL would
consider working with "a company from outside the EU."



--------------------------


Trafficking-in-Persons Shelter


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Ambassador Mull briefed Prunskiene on a situation
involving a shelter and rehabilitation center for victims of
trafficking-in-persons in the town of Sirvintos. EUCOM has
awarded a substantial contract to a local NGO to open the
shelter, already approved by the GOL, but the local
municipality has refused to grant the necessary building
permit for the project. Prunskiene, a longtime champion of
women's rights, promised to raise the issue with the
Sirvintos mayor, the local leader of her Peasant Party, and
with the Peasant Party-dominated city council. She praised
the Ambassador for his work on TIP issues, and expressed hope
that they would be able to work out the situation in
Sirvintos.



--------------------------



--------------------------


Comment: A Europeanist, But Willing to Work with the USG


--------------------------



--------------------------





8. (C) We have long recognized Prunskiene's penchant for
"Europeanism" (meaning less U.S. influence), and expect that
her policies as Minister of Agriculture will undoubtedly
mirror those of the European Union. That said, Prunskiene
continues to appreciate cooperative efforts with the United
States, and has now gone on the record in saying that the
contract to build a new Lithuanian nuclear facility remains
open to U.S. companies. Prunskiene also appeared sincere in
her pledge to help us in our local anti-TIP activities.
While there is no hope in enlisting Prunskiene as an ally in
any U.S.-EU agricultural disputes, we see her as a powerful
and popular (if not entirely populist) political force with
whom we believe we can work on some matters of mutual
interest.
MULL