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Published: 26 august 2013 14:01

Rimvydas Valatka: Which part of the body, if any, does Algirdas Butkevičius use for thinking?

Innocent but guilty. Two ambassadors did no harm to Lithuania's foreign policy, did not commit any crime, but they still lost the prime minister's trust. The president believes that those who leaked recordings of the two ambassadors' private conversations did so as a provocation, but nevertheless maintains that the victims behaved unprofessionally. The foreign minister proposes to sack them. Just for his peace of mind.

Doesn't it remind you of something? What?

A girl comes to the police. Her face is battered, body covered with bruises, her clothes torn. A group of scoundrels raped her in a park. The criminal officer scratches his head and explains, yawning: Your skirt was too short, too much cleavage revealed, your make-up too heavy, and you were crossing the park after dark – what else could have happened?

The victim behaved “unprofessionally.” For the police officer, it is clear as day – it was her own fault that she was raped. Instead of going after the rapists, police officers are grilling the victim.

The police hopefully don't do that any more. But this was exactly what the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Security Department did after the recorded conversations were published on YouTube. They did not look for criminals who leaked the recordings. Instead, they spent a month investigating how the victims behaved. And kept repeating how bad they were.

Which part of his body was Prime Minister Butkevičius using for thinking when he declared no-confidence in the ambassadors even before the investigation was over? Was he thinking at all?

Does the president realize that she was out of place even commenting on the recordings on YouTube, let alone so hastily? Does she realize that the truly unprofessional behaviour of a state leader, not the recordings themselves, is a treasure to those foreign special services that planned the affair?

On the other hand, what if the recordings were made not by foreign special services, but the president's own pocket agency, the State Security Department? Then everything starts making sense. In that case, it is better to kick the diplomats out of their posts as quickly and as loudly as possible. So that everyone can see how hard she is fighting to purge the ranks of Lithuania's public service. The presidential election is less than ten months away.

Whatever the case might be, the State Security Department did not even bother to identify those who tapped the diplomats' conversations. And that is the most scandalous aspect of the whole affair. That the State Security Department is not looking for criminals, not the recordings themselves, that, in fact, contain little more than just humorous remarks at the expense of our self-aggrandizing state leaders.

Which part of his body is Foreign Minister Linkevičius using to think?

Those who published the recordings knew only too well that common sense has long departed Lithuania's Presidential Palace or Government offices.

The question is irrelevant. Linkevičius knows only too well that he can think only when the president authorizes him to. But neither he, nor other foreign ministers are running the risk of finding themselves in a situation like that.

And so Linkevičius is saying things that make little sense. He proposes to recall the two ambassadors from posts in Hungary and Azerbaijan, but seconds later admits that “they committed no malfeasance nor broken any laws,” while “the leaked recording of the ambassadors' conversation has done no harm to Lithuania's foreign policy.”

Those who published the recordings knew only too well that common sense has long departed Lithuania's Presidential Palace or Government offices. Only two virtues are still revered in Vilnius – hierarchy and loyalty.

Our enemies knew how Lithuanian leaders would react. That Linkevičius would propose to sack the ambassadors, because he'd feel, even without her saying it, that the president's desire was not just to punish all jokers, but to exterminate them as a class. So they do not cloud her glory. Butkevičius would declare no-confidence the moment the president intimated that the ambassadors had fallen out of her favour.

And the three political leaders of the country did just what the enemy expected them to.

Was it difficult to anticipate that?

If the president and the prime minister had learnt the art of using the services of their advisers every once in a while, they would have cracked the scheme in no time. Any sensible adviser would have counselled them that, should the United States have done to its diplomats after the WikiLeaks scandal what Lithuania plans to do to its own, the United States would have been left without a diplomatic corps.

But the United States did not swallow the hook. Because it is a steady country. A mature state defends its diplomatic corps instead of destroying it. Lithuania used to be a steady state once. Seven years ago, when someone published a conversation between Januška and Georgian President Saakashvili's adviser Targamadze on the opposition in Belarus, Lithuania did not react. Operation “Provocation” failed.

What awaits those who continue to work for Lithuania in the future? Easy to predict. 'What, you're still working for Lithuania? Here, a five-minute YouTube soundtrack just for you.' And that's the end of it – killed in a friendly fire.

What does that imply? As Prime Minister Butkevičius says in one of his viral quotes collected in prietaisas.com, we will now do an analysis. We will seek that Lithuania stays in Lithuania. We will strive to try. Strive responsibly. Let's be modern but not old-fashioned. And do not confuse my morning statements with my evening statements.

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