VILNIUS Aug 25 The major parties of the
Lithuanian ruling coalition agreed on Monday to eject a party of
Poles from the government amid tensions over its criticism of
the government's treatment of ethnic Poles and the party's
siding with Russia during the Ukraine crisis.
Poles account for more than 6 percent of the Baltic state's
population of 3 million. Though Poland has previously criticized
Lithuania for the treatment of its biggest minority, Lithuania's
prime minister said the move would not mar relations between the
Leaders of the Social Democrats and the Labour party said
Monday evening they did not want to have any minister from the
Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania in the government.
Last week, Lithuania's president, Dalia Grybauskaite, sacked
Energy Minister Jaroslav Neverovic, the sole ethnic Pole serving
as a government minister, after Neverovic reinstated his deputy,
another ethnic Pole, against the wishes of Prime Minister
Algirdas Butkevicius, a Social Democrat.
"We support the prime minister... who cannot work in such a
government (with the Poles) any longer," Loreta Grauziniene,
leader of Labour party and speaker of the parliament, told
reporters on Monday.
The government of the Social Democrats, the Labour party and
the Order and Justice party would still have a majority in
parliament. The new energy minister will be nominated by the
Labour party, Grauziniene and Butkevicius said.
Butkevicius said he did not believe that ejecting the party
would cloud Lithuania's cooperation with its much bigger
"There will be no impact on the relationship", he told
reporters. "We are in contact with Poland's prime minister,
Donald Tusk, and President Bronislaw Komorowski. We know their
opinion and position."
Poland is the only European Union country with a land border
with any of the Baltic States, and it is developing vital
electricity and gas links to the region, which still largely
depends on Russia for its energy.
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 second quarter.
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Leslie Adler)