News2019.12.02 14:30

Lithuanian PM refuses to sack embattled transport minister

BNS 2019.12.02 14:30

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says he sees no reason to sack the embattled minister of transport following the president's calls for his resignation.

Jaroslav Narkevič has been heavily criticised by the opposition over a number of issues and the president has indicated he is unhappy with the minister's performance.

Skvernelis, who was on a sick leave last week, said on Monday he wouldn't make any rush decisions that might split the ruling coalition or affect the government's stability.

“I don’t see a single legal fact today to reproach the minister and call for his resignation,” the prime minister told journalists.

His comments came in response to President Gitanas Nausėda's expressed no-confidence in Narkevič and call for his resignation.

Narkevič has lately come under fire over the dismissal of the board of the country's state-run postal company Lietuvos Paštas (Lithuanian Post). He was also reproached for accepting lunches in Dubai and Minsk paid for by state-run companies and for directing funds to upgrading a street where Prime Minister Skvernelis lives.

The prime minister says lawyers should first look into accusations against Narkevič, because some of them have been proven unfounded. Only then will he discuss the minister's future with the president, Skvernelis said.

“I will make a decision after meeting with the president. I won't do anything hasty that might destroy the ruling coalition or affect the government stability, when we need to adopt key laws by December 17,” the prime minister said, referring to the government spending bill that is currently making its way through the government and parliament.

The president's office respoded to Skvernelis' comments by saying that a minister is subject to “moral” as well as legal rules.

“The president expressed his position very clearly last week. The minister has lost trust of the public and the president and must step down,” Nausėda's adviser Antanas Bubnelis told journalists on Monday.

“The minister is subject not only to legal but, above all, moral requirements. The prime minister should be aware of that more than anyone else,” he added.

Narkevič represents the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance which joined the ruling coalition after the presidential election earlier this year.

Narkevič himself said on Monday that he respected the president's position, but would not resign, because he had the backing of the prime minister and coalition partners.

“I take all comments very seriously and I also appreciate comments in my support by the chairman of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, the party that delegated me to the post, and by the coalition partners, Ramūnas Karbauskis and Gediminas Kirkilas, and the position the prime minister has stated today,” the minister told reporters on Monday.

“In short, I continue to work and make decisions on issues that are important to the state,” Narkevic said.

“I respect the president's position [...]. More information will come in time. Now, I concentrate on my work,” he added.

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