2021.11.05 17:22

Two months without a meeting – is there strife between Lithuanian president and PM?

Modesta Gaučaitė-Znutienė, LRT.lt2021.11.05 17:22

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė used to have meetings every Monday. But not in the last two months. Does this signal a rift between the two leaders?

Usually, official meetings between the Lithuanian president and the prime minister are scheduled every week. But according to Nausėda’s public agenda, he last met with Šimonytė on September 6.

According to Šimonytė, she is meeting with the president in other formats, such as the National Defence Council, while official meetings are not taking place because “there are no big issues at the moment”.

In the past, her meetings with the president were not necessarily weekly but varied depending on the situation, Šimonytė added.

According to the President’s Office, Nausėda has not met Šimonytė in the past two months because of the prime minister’s “busy schedule”.

“Such meetings are usually arranged by mutual agreement,” Ridas Jasiulionis, Nausėda’s spokesman, said in a written response.

“On key issues of national governance, the president meets other ministers regularly,” he added.

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Former Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said that he used to meet with the president every week, unless one of the leaders was travelling abroad.

According to Skvernelis, the fact that Nausėda and Šimonytė have not met once in two months signals a relationship crisis.

He went through rough patches with presidents when he was prime minister, he said, but “ours were not that long”.

Disagreements between the president’s office and the cabinet are obvious, political analyst Virgis Valentinavičius told According to him, they only find consensus on foreign policy questions.

“The president and the governing majority are most divided on questions of pandemic management and minority rights,” Valentinavičius said.

Tensions between Nausėda and Šimonytė have been evident since the 2019 presidential election, where they competed against each other, according to Bernaras Ivanovas, a political analyst at Vytautas Magnus University. The two leaders have been bickering ever since.

“This bickering has reached the point where it is hard to imagine the top public officials communicating at all,” Ivanovas said.

According to him, Nausėda should try to mitigate the conflict because he is the head of the state. In general, meetings between the president and the prime minister should be initiated by the president’s office.

“If no meetings are taking place, it means that the president’s office is not inviting [Šimonytė],” Ivanovas said.

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