Diplomatic Adviser Arnold Pranckevicius dwells on priorities of the new staff of the European Parliament.
- How did you gain the occupation of diplomatic adviser of the European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek?
In July they contacted me and proposed this position. That was quite a nice surprise although I had been already acquainted with Mr. Buzek. He was a member of an interparliamentary delegation on affairs with Ukraine, for which I was responsible. I think that I was appointed due to my experience in the delegation, as they needed a candidate awaring of the specifics of Eastern region for the advisory group. Also I had quite favorable recommendations of my former executives.
- Tell us please about your team.
There are four of us, our leader is Alexander Sсhtutzman – French diplomat with a great experience of work in the European Parliament, who collaborated with a former President Hans-Gert Pöttering. My colleagues – Levente Chasi from Hungary and Dariucs Serowka from Poland. The team is young: we are all about 30. The idea of the kind of international staff is for each team participant to be responsible for a definite geopolitical region. I specialize in Russia, Turkey, Eastern Partnership states and West Balkans.
- What is advisory work about?
We advise directly the President of the Parliament, who is the key figure of the EP foreign policy. The European Parliament President performs not only representative functions, for example, meets with the state or Government Leaders, but also participates in development and fulfillment of diplomatic strategies of the Parliament within foreign policy. He also heads two important decision-making bodies in the Parliament – The Conference of Presidents and the Bureau of the European Parliament. For this job he should be not only aware of the kind of the EU issues as agricultural, transport, energy, single market, etc., but also to be an expert in foreign policy. Advising on foreign policy is our job. Except for this, we should be prepared to advise on the current agenda of the Parliament if it’s necessary. Regular briefings with the President, development of statements and addresses on the EP foreign policy, and official visits of the Presidents to the third world countries – this is also the sphere of our responsibility.
- Where from does the team get the information?
The sources are various. There are our contacts in the Parliament, information of the Foreign Policy Department, views of independent experts, and continuous Mass Media monitoring. Besides, we have our local contacts – in the countries we specialize in. We cooperate with the European Commission and naturally with individual interparliamentary delegations. It means that we gather the information from various sources and here we benefit from a good language skills variety of the participants of our team. For example, I work also with Mass Media in Russian language and this opens the whole region for me.
- What are the relations of your team with the European Parliament interparliamentary delegations?
For us and the Parliament the heads of these delegations are the main experts and prior sources of the information on the situation in individual countries and regions. Moreover, before adopting any decision we analyze information from different sources – this is a key of effectiveness of the European Parliament.
- During this year we’ve observed pragmatization within the relation of different institutions of the European Union, European Commission and Belarus which is the only European country that doesn’t participate within the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the EC. Should we await for the pragmatic approach of the European Parliament?
A rare institution of the European Union has issued the same number of resolutions on Belarus as the European Parliament has. There have been 12 of them since 2004 and in most of them the European Parliament took much more critical position than other EU bodies. It’s the European Parliament during many years gradually insists on the necessity to follow the human rights in Belarus, to stop political persecution of the opposition, to establish equal legal terms for NGOs and non-governmental Mass Media. In fact, mostly because of this stance Belarusian Government criticized the European Parliament. During 7 years since 2002 Belarusian authorities have refused to issue entry visas for our official delegation. From the other hand, lately, the dialogue between the EU and Belarus has gradually improved which is good. For example, the European Parliament welcomed the initiative to suspend visa sanctions for Belarusian authorities, but at the same time it keeps on insisting on that Belarusian party to fulfill the set terms: to follow the principles of human rights protection, democracy an the rule of Law. That is why resolutions of the European Parliament contain quite definite demands for Belarusian authorities on necessary changes in Belarus, starting with the return of non-governmental Mass Media to the national distribution network, finishing with repealing of the article of the Crime Code on the responsibility for activity on behalf of unregistered organization or release of political prisoners according to the list. This the main feature of our work, and also a support for international prestige of the European Parliament, that is why I don’t see any reason to refuse of our firm stance to promote democratic values in Belarus.
- What is special about the new staff of the European Parliament?
Each staff of the Parliament has its peculiarities. This time the Parliament has changed significantly, there are many new delegates starting their work. Now it’s a great time in Brussels – everything is raging. At the same time we face serious challenges: first of all the economic crisis, problems of climate change, energy security, the solution of the problem of democracy deficiency in the EU. The Parliament has kept its core consisting of three major political factions: European People’s Party, group of Socialists and Democrats and Liberal Democratic coalition. During these elections the Green Party succeeded, especially in France and Germany. In other words, traditional and the biggest parties remain popular among voters.
- Which directions of the EU foreign policy will be of priority for East European region by the new Parliament?
Naturally it’s a current program of Eastern Partnership. President Buzek especially stresses East European and Russian vector of the EP policy, which is as significant as transatlantic relations. As we see, there is a good start in this direction, that’s why it will be quite interesting to observe, how these relations will develop. Energy security will also determine political agenda of the region, so much that Mr. Jerzy Buzek is a professional within this sphere – he worked for 4 year in the expert commission on energy and industry at the European Parliament. The priority of the team of the new President is the definition of the unique foreign energy policy of the EU. Thus such important transiting states as Ukraine and Belarus as well as Russia as a major energy supplier will gain special attention of the European Parliament.
- Do you observe Your future in expertise or in policy?
I try to concentrate on current tasks.
We’ve got plenty of work for the coming 2,5 years and all members of our team strive to provide the most qualified support to the President Buzek. Present times challenge us, so I’ve put off my considerations about future career. I’ve never been a politician, but worked for a long time as a political advisor on international affairs. Before the European Parliament I was an advisor of Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus. So I have always been on the edge of policy, but never in policy directly. Political activity is a very serious decision to be made and I’m not sure to be ready for that now or in the near future.
Arnoldas Pranckevicius: born in 1980 in Lithuania, Panevezys. Studied in the University of Vilnius in Journalistic Department, in the Colgate University in New-York in International Affairs Department and in the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. Worked as an advisor of Lithuanian President V.Adamkus, administrator of Interparliamentary delegations on Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and in the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament. Since July 2009 – diplomatic adviser of the European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and a member of the Advisory Group on Foreign Policy.
Translated by EuroDialogue XXI