PM says it's hard, but possible for agriculture minister to stay on
Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that it will be difficult, but possible for Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas to continue in his post after President Dalia Grybauskaitė has called on him to resign amid criticism over his family's farming practices.
"I can only repeat that it will be difficult, but possible to work. I myself have experienced this," the prime minister, back to Vilnius after a visit to Ukraine, told reporters on Friday.
Skvernelis said that decisions would be made after his meeting with Markauskas on Tuesday.
"I don't see any problems that would make it impossible for him to work. Final decisions will be made on Tuesday," he said.
When asked to comment on Grybauskaitė's position that the current situation becomes a problem for the prime minister himself, Skvernelis said that the president had said so under pressure from Gabrielius Landsbergis, the leader of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats.
"The president, unfortunately, fulfilled a demand voiced by the chairman of the conservatives on the eve that she speak out firmly regarding the minister," the prime minister said.
The 15min.lt news website has reported recently that Markauskas' mother, Sofija Markauskienė, has been using several plots of land in the district of Klaipėda without the landowners' permission for five to six years and that she has been receiving payments from the National Paying Agency for that land.
Markauskas has described the situation as an unintentional mistake.