YouTube-gate? Ambassador scandal repercussions in Lithuania
To the surprise of few, heads are rolling in Lithuania in the wake of a damaging-unto-scandalous telephone conversation between Lithuanian Ambassador to Hungary Renatas Juška and others that was leaked to YouTube in July. One ambassador has already resigned as a result, while the conversationalists themselves have attracted the attention of their country’s prime minister and will likely soon be shown the exit as well.
In mid-July, an audio recording of a phone conversation between Lithuanian Ambassador to Hungary Renatas Juška and Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry Deputy Director Zenonas Kumetaitis was posted to YouTube with the title “This is how Lithuania really treats Azerbaijan.” The video – which a bit incredibly remains available on the file-sharing site – features both ministers rather deviating from their country’s party line in discussing relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
After Juška brazenly opines that he is “supportive of those who lead Armenians. They are also Christians and the Stalin regime also made them suffer. Their territories were also reshaped just the way it was with us,” Kumetaitis essentially agrees, tossing in “from the religious or just common human viewpoint, Armenia seems closer, though they are also [rotten].”
Lithuania-based news outlet Delfi and the Azerbaijan Press Association are now reporting some new developments thanks to the posting. The country’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Artūras Žurauskas, tendered his resignation on Friday; this was certainly due in large part to the reaction in Azerbaijani quarters, which had the country's ambassador to Lithuania, Hasan Mammadzada, calling the posting “a new provocative action” against both Azerbaijan and Lithuania. Žurauskas’ resignation was immediately accepted by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
On Monday came an emphatic condemnation of the two from Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius in which they were described as having “lost credibility.” Though Butkevičius cannot dismiss the ambassadors from their posts, it is implied that she who can, i.e. President Dalia Grybauskaitė, will be sacking the offenders.
“I have spoken with the Lithuanian President on this issue,” said Butkevičius. “The decision regarding the ambassadors will be made in the near future. … However, the final decision will be made after the investigation of the Foreign Ministry.”
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