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2019.08.08 09:55

Lithuanian president approves new cabinet

Updated 08.08
BNS2019.08.08 09:55

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has on Wednesday approved a reshuffled cabinet with three new ministers. 

MP Jaroslav Narkevič of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (LLRA-KŠS) is to replace Rokas Masiulis as transport and communications minister, MP Rita Tamašunienė of the LLRA-KŠS replaces Eimutis Misiūnas as interior minister, and MP Andrius Palionis of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDDP) takes over as agriculture minister from Giedrius Surplys.

Read more: Lithuania's new government – what you need to know

Nausėda told reporters that that the government's goal is to "ensure transparency and continuity".

The president expects the coalition parties to deliver on their 2016 election promises, even though the 2020 general election is in sight.

"[I expect] not only stability in the state, but also the willingness to carry through reforms, especially those that are already ongoing," he said.

Commenting on the approval of the cabinet, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said, "perhaps we disappointed those who expected scandals, chaos, all kinds of intrigues".

Skvernelis described his reshuffled cabinet as the best possible option.

"I hope that this cooperation between the government and the president will remain as close, smooth, and effective in the future," he said.

According to Nausėda, this option was chosen to ensure a transparent cabinet formation.

"No one will think that attempts are being made to avoid political procedures. Everything is carried out transparently, clearly [and] according to the established principles," he said.

The president noted that all ministerial candidates have been vetted by special services.

The three replacements mean that the prime minister will have to submit his cabinet to a confidence vote in the parliament.

The cabinet was reshuffled in line with the Farmers and Greens Union's new coalition agreement with the Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDDP), the Order and Justice party, and the LLRA-KŠS.

The Farmers and Greens' ministers stay on in the cabinet: Kęstutis Mažeika as environment minister, Žygimantas Vaičiūnas as energy minister, Vilius Šapoka as finance minister, Raimundas Karoblis as defence minister, Mindaugas Kvietkauskas as culture minister, Linas Kukuraitis as social security and labour minister, Aurelijus Veryga as health minister, Algirdas Monkevičius as education, science and sport minister, and Elvinas Jankevičius as justice minister.

Linas Linkevičius, delegated to the cabinet by the LSDDP, continues as foreign minister.

Economy and Innovation Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius, Lithuania's nominee for the European Commission, will remain in his current post as Economy and Innovation Minister for the time being.

Saulius Skvernelis was re-appointed as prime minister in late July after returning his cabinet's powers to the new president in a procedural step following the presidential election.

Under the coalition agreement, the LSDDP holds the foreign and agriculture portfolios in the cabinet, and the LLRA-KŠS holds the interior and transport portfolios.

The defence portfolio was to go to the Order and Justice party, but Karoblis from the LVŽS remains in the post. The Order and Justice Party wants another post in the cabinet in exchange.

The 15min.lt online news site has reported that Remigijus Žemaitaitis, leader of the Order and Justice, and Ramūnas Karbauskis, the Farmers and Greens' leader, do not rule out appointing the former party's representative as economy and innovation minister, if Sinkevičius leaves for Brussels.

The prime minister has said that “ministerial positions are not a service or a product”.

“When the time comes to look for a new candidate to run the Economy and Innovation Ministry, I'll proceed according to the Constitution (and) I'll also coordinate the decision with the president,” he said.