2021.03.03 12:45

Seimas speaker backs conservative MP after Georgia debacle

BNS2021.03.03 12:45

Lithuanian Parliament Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen says she sees no reason why Žygimantas Pavilionis should resign as chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The conservative MP has been criticised for being “undiplomatic” during a recent mediation trip to Georgia.

Read more: Lithuanian parliament envoy under fire for ‘failed’ mediation mission in Georgia

“I see no reason for Pavilionis to be removed as the committee chairman, even if somebody didn’t like what he said [in Georgia] and if it seems that he was not sufficiently diplomatic,” the speaker told LRT RADIO on Wednesday.

The Board of the Seimas is set to listen to Pavilionis later on Wednesday and ask questions, but has no plans to take any action afterwards, she said.

During his recent visit to Georgia, Pavilionis attended a press conference with representatives of several opposition forces and angered the ruling party with his statements. Georgia's Prime Minister-designate Irakli Garibashvili said Pavilionis' statements were “unacceptable and outrageous”.

Last week, the opposition Social Democratic Party of Lithuania demanded Pavilionis' resignation as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Social Democrats believe Pavilionis, sent to Georgia with a diplomatic mission, “acted unprofessionally, instead of executing the state's foreign policy, and did damage to Lithuanian-Georgian relations and Lithuania's reputation”.

Čmilytė-Nielsen said on Wednesday she saw nothing wrong in Pavilionis' action. “We are very active and close friends of Georgia [...] and I see nothing wrong in our politicians who have input in foreign affairs taking an active part and in this situation,” she said.

Meanwhile President Gitanas Nausėda said that Pavilionis “damaged Lithuania's reputation”.

“After Mr. Žygimantas Pavilionis' visit, I am forced to state that damage was done to our image as a mediator in Georgia,” Nauseda told a press conference on Wednesday.

He noted that European Council President Charles Michel visited the country and held discussions with both the opposition and the ruling parties.

“We cannot say these results are already tangible and promising, but a start has been made,” he said.

Nausėda also said he recently told his Georgian counterpart Salome Zourabichvili that Lithuania was ready “to come to Georgia and help resolve the difficult situation”.

“But we need to help each other today, not make obstacles,” he added.

Georgia has been in the midst of a deepening political crisis, sparked by last year's parliamentary election. The country's previous Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia stepped down last month over the ruling party's plans to detain opposition leader Meliya.

An attempt to detain Melia, leader of the United National Movement, a political party founded by ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, sparked the opposition's anger.

Tbilisi has also received warning from the country's several allies in the West.

The Georgian opposition maintains that the general election last October, won by the Georgian Dream party won with a slim majority, was rigged.