* Ethnic Pole removed after defying PM over reshuffle
* Departure could prompt party to leave coalition
* Refinery's future an issue with neighbour Poland
By Andrius Sytas
VILNIUS, Aug 19 Lithuania's President Dalia
Grybauskaite sacked her ethnic Polish energy minister on Tuesday
in a row that could affect talks with Poland over the future of
the Baltic state's only oil refinery.
The minister, Jaroslav Neverovic, was fired after
reinstating his deputy, another ethnic Pole, who had been
removed as part of a government reshuffle.
The departure of the two politicians from the Polish
Electoral Action party raises the possibility it might quit the
centre-left coalition. The government would still have a
majority in parliament, but such a move could cloud Lithuania's
cooperation with its much bigger neighbour, Poland.
Poles account for more than 6 percent of the Baltic state's
population of 3 million, and Warsaw has previously criticized
Vilnius for the treatment of its biggest minority.
Lithuanian refinery Orlen Lietuva is owned by Polish oil
group PKN Orlen, which has said it wants to discuss a
potential sale with the Lithuanian government. The loss-making
unit dragged its group results to a record net loss in the
Neverovic and his party were not available for immediate
Lithuania plans to start importing liquefied natural gas
(LNG) in 2015, and seeks to build power links to Sweden and
Poland by end-2015 to cut its energy dependence on its former
Soviet master, Russia. Analysts said the minister's departure
should not affect this strategy.
"There is a broad agreement among the country's top
politicians to support all these projects, so the minister's
removal should not impact their implementation much," said
Ramunas Vilpisauskas, head of the Vilnius Institute of
International Relations and Political Science.
Transport Minister Rimantas Sinkevicius will take over as
acting energy minister, the president's office said.
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas, editing by Nerijus Adomaitis and