Lithua­nia con­sid­ers re­plac­ing eco­nomic at­taches with spe­cial­ized en­voys

The Baltic Times - - OUTLOOK - BNS/TBT Staff

In an ef­fort to at­tract more in­vest­ments and pro­tect Lithua­nia's in­ter­est abroad, the gov­ern­ment has come up with an idea of re­plac­ing com­mer­cial at­taches work­ing in em­bassies with spe­cial­ized en­voys of in­sti­tu­tions.

Sup­port­ers of the idea say the new scheme would al­low eas­ier ap­point­ment and re­call of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives who would be more re­sult-ori­ented. Mean­while, crit­ics warn against de­stroy­ing the ex­ist­ing sys­tem, call­ing for bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion of eco­nomic rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Vil­nius and Lithua­nia's em­bassies abroad.

Amid the dif­fer­ing po­si­tions, min­is­ters of econ­omy and for­eign af­fairs agreed to first test the new sys­tem in Ger­many and Bri­tain be­fore mak­ing the fi­nal de­ci­sion.

Lithua­nia's Econ­omy Min­istry has pro­posed dis­card­ing com­mer­cial at­taches to Western coun­tries and send­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies In­vest Lithua­nia and En­ter­prise Lithua­nia in­stead. The min­istry hopes to find some of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives among Lithua­ni­ans liv­ing abroad. Their func­tions would be bet­ter de­fined than those of the ex­ist­ing com­mer­cial at­taches, for in­stance, some would only work with at­tract­ing in­vest­ments, oth­ers would pro­mote im­ports from Lithua­nia or tourism only.

"We want to have spe­cial­ized peo­ple. We also want more flex­i­bil­ity. Com­mer­cial at­taches are sent for three years, mo­bil­ity, re­call pro­ce­dures are com­pli­cated and take time. If there is a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of In­vest Lithua­nia, there will be less co­or­di­na­tion, fur­ther­more, we will have an op­por­tu­nity to use ex­iles," Econ­omy Min­is­ter Min­dau­gas Sinke­vi­cius em­pha­sised.

Lithua­nia's eco­nomic in­ter­ests abroad are taken care of by 13 diplo­mats who per­form eco­nomic func­tions, 15 com­mer­cial at­taches del­e­gated by the Econ­omy Min­istry, four agri­cul­ture at­taches del­e­gated by the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry, three trans­port at­taches and a cus­toms at­tache, all del­e­gated by the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The Lithua­nian For­eign Min­istry re­cently pro­posed mov­ing all spe­cial at­taches to its ju­ris­dic­tion, how­ever, other min­istries op­posed.

Diplo­mats say that the Econ­omy Min­istry's ini­tia­tive would be too costly for Lithua­nia. In their words, many rep­re­sen­ta­tives should work with many func­tions, in­clud­ing in­vest­ments, ex­ports and cor­po­rate is­sues. Of­fi­cials of the For­eign Min­istry fear that spe­cial­ized rep­re­sen­ta­tives would not en­sure suf­fi­cient co­or­di­na­tion of their op­er­a­tions with am­bas­sadors, say­ing the func­tions would over­lap and the en­voys would have limited op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with­out a diplo­matic sta­tus.

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