2019.06.11 13:30

5 key points from Grybauskaitė's final annual address

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS 2019.06.11 13:30

Lithuania's outgoing President Dalia Grybauskaitė delivered her last state of the nation address on Tuesday. Here are five key points.

1. Warning over dialogue with enemies.

Grybauskaitė highlighted Lithuania's value-based foreign policy and warned against cooperation with hostile countries. “Immature political decisions and statements about cooperating with hostile countries can create creeping threats that will turn us into hostages when we have to choose between bad and dangerous,” the president said.

She did not mention specific countries or specific statements, but that can be viewed as a warning to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and President-elect Gitanas Nausėda over risks associated with engaging in a deeper political dialogue with Russia and Belarus.

2. Criticism for ruling parties over “policy of bans”

Grybauskaitė also warned that a free society was incompatible with “an overseer’s whip and instructions what to eat, when to drink, where to get medical treatment, and whom to be friends with”.

She also pointed to the ruling parties' wish “to control the media, law enforcement and independent institutions”, politicize the public broadcaster, LRT, stating that there's a lot of “bickering and political rudeness” in the parliament.

Grybauskaitė did not mention any names, but her criticism was doubtlessly directed at the initiatives of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

3. A message to president-elect.

Grybauskaitė also gave an indirect warning to her successor Gitanas Nausėda, saying that some politicians will expect him to be silent and non-objecting.

“Even though some politicians still dream about a silent and non-objecting president who does no obstruct their ‘work’, people want to have a leader who protects their interests, constitutional rights and human values,” she said.

She also welcomed the results of the presidential and European Parliament elections, saying that they showed people learned “to think for [them]selves” and their choices were “no longer shaped by oligarchic pressure or cheap populist promises”.

4. Western legal system.

The outgoing president concluded that Lithuania had managed to create “a truly Western legal system”. In her words, a new generation of judges and prosecutors “are doing away with clan restraints, political dependency and old corrupt habits”.

She did not directly mention a high-profile judicial corruption case that rocked the country earlier this year, but added that law enforcement had overcome the “fear to displease, to ignore phone-call instructions and to stop covering up for their own”.

She also praised the Constitutional Court, calling it “the last resort to stop political self-will”.

5. Little attention for social security, education and health.

The annual address was light on specific proposal how to deal with social exclusion, improve the situation in education and healthcare.

The president also did not mention migration. She only called on completing the education reform as quickly as possible, and also criticized the ruling parties over “endless experiments with vouchers, pension schemes, education models, hospital ‘modifications’, and ‘mirror-style’ ministries”.

The president also presented the results of her social security campaign “For a Safe Lithuania”.

Read more: Grybauskaitė's speech in full

Read more: Grybauskaitė's presidency: confrontation with governments and focus on foreign policy