Opinion: Between the two terms as head of state
President Dalia Grybauskaitė was recently sworn into the office for the second time and from that moment her second term as the Head of State began. Everyone in Lithuania was able to watch the inauguration ceremony, to hear the words in anticipation of the way ahead. This day was the boundary between the two tenures of the head of state. So far, none of the Lithuanian presidents, after Lithuania became independent, had the opportunity and thus the responsibility to continue the work for a second consecutive term. After 10 years, when looking back at one's legacy, it will no longer be possible to say "I ran out of time".
President Algirdas Brazauskas refused this opportunity himself, having been worn out by constant battles with the parliamentary majority. Not only with the conservatives, but also with his own party, the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party.
President Rolandas Paksas did not complete even one term, so it is only him and his entourage who know what it was that wanted to accomplish in Lithuania. It is unfortunate that the president's desire to turn astray, rather than walk the path everyone believed in, as well as his opponents throwing sand in the wheels prevented us from building a just Lithuania.
President Valdas Adamkus had two terms to realize his ambitions. They were only divided by a short stint by Paksas. Now, wishing success to Grybauskaitė, President Adamkus argued that the second term helps the president. He or she gains more experience, better knows people’s hopes and problems and tries to solve them.
But for Adamkus himself, the second term was not very good. It was marked by scandals: intervention in the work of the Supreme Court and trying to suspend the Court’s head Vytautas Greičius; the affair of KGB reservists who were appointed as heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Security Department (SSD). There even appeared in the media discussions about the less honourable pages of Valdas Adamkus' presidency. And it is only his inner elegance and pleasant manner of communicating, respect for his elderly age that prevent contemporaries from dwelling too much on these moments, leaving them for future historians.
Many people in Lithuania supported Grybauskaitė in the election, giving her the opportunity to continue her work. However, it is important to understand the mistakes that were made. Presidential tenure is long, therefore some good things in one area were accomplished in the beginning and then stagnation ensued. In other cases, good work was done towards the end of the term of office. We would like only good works and initiatives to be continued, and the bad ones to be left behind that boundary.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė, in her inauguration speech, made a promise to Parliament that she would say an even more determined "no" to corruption. If this is to be a continuation of the fight she waged during her first two years in office, we welcome it. Grybauskaitė is the first head of state who, by means of specific legislative initiatives, supported action against illegal enrichment. These ideas were heard at the highest level.
But over the past few years, this fight against corruption and implementation of anti-corruption laws were rather like just a PR campaign. Although the president, as no other party leader, has unlimited power and influence to the SSD and the General Prosecutor's Office, she is the one who appoints the heads to these institution, often there was no action beyond words. I would like to believe that she knew what she was doing wrong in the Financial Crime Investigation Service affair.
A few weeks ago, President Grybauskaitė expressed her determination to heed our country further along the European path, to pursue responsible foreign and defence policies. In fact, she demonstrated such policies recently. As a result, I think, she was elected for the second term. It is therefore tempting to believe that the tossing that took place a couple of years ago will remain a thing of the past. Of course, the way the president speaks is very important in foreign policy.
A lot of challenges are waiting for Grybauskaitė. Economic recovery will help people to deal with the country's economic and social problems, perhaps even turn around the emigration tide somewhat. But the foundation of every state is genuine self-government, which, unfortunately, still does not exist in Lithuania. Direct election of mayors is just a cosmetic measure. It is difficult to hope for progress without launching a genuine fight against high-level political corruption, without tackling problems in education, science, culture, healthcare, with government avoiding real rather than staged dialogue with the public.
Archbishop of Vilnius Gintaras Grušas delivered an impressive speech during the inauguration ceremony of Grybauskaitė. He recalled King Solomon who asked not to give him more money and glory but to give a big heart so that the head of state could distinguish good from evil, right from wrong. The head of state has to see this in his or her own actions, not just in those of other politicians and officials. We would like to wish such ability to Grybauskaitė so that the State of Lithuania is fair to the people.