Gitanas Nausėda

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Gitanas Nausėda
9th President of Lithuania
Assumed office
12 July 2019
Prime MinisterSaulius Skvernelis
Ingrida Šimonytė
Preceded byDalia Grybauskaitė
Personal details
Born (1964-05-19) 19 May 1964 (age 59)
Klaipėda, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union (now Lithuania)
Political partyIndependent
Other political
affiliations
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1988–1991)
Spouse
(m. 1990)
Children2
EducationVilnius University
Signature

Gitanas Nausėda (born 19 May 1964) is a Lithuanian politician, economist and banker who is serving as the ninth and current president of Lithuania since 2019. He was previously director of monetary policy at the Bank of Lithuania from 1996 to 2000 and chief economist to the chairman of SEB bankas from 2008 to 2018.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Nausėda was born on 19 May 1964 in the port city Klaipėda on the Baltic coast. He started his secondary studies at the Klaipėda 5th Secondary School and also attended the Klaipėda Music School where he sang in the boys’ choir "Gintarėlis".

After secondary school he moved to Vilnius where he studied Industrial Economics from 1982 to 1987 at Vilnius University, he continued his studies as a post-graduate student of Economics from 1987 until 1989.[2] While at university Nausėda registered to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1988 at the age of 24.[3] From 1987 to 2004 he hosted occasional economics lecturers at the University.

From 1990 to 1992 he did a practice at the University of Mannheim in Germany under the DAAD scholarship. He defended his PhD thesis "Income Policy Under Inflation and Stagflation" in 1993.[4] Upon returning to Lithuania, he worked for the Lithuanian Competition Council as Head of the Financial Markets Department until 1994. Since 2009 he has been an associate professor at Vilnius University Business School.[1][5]

Professional and political career[edit]

Having completed his studies, from 1992 to 1993 he worked for the Research Institute for Economics and Privatization. From 1993 to 1994 he worked for the Lithuanian Competition Council as a head of the Financial Markets Department. From 1994 to 2000 he worked at the Bank of Lithuania, initially in the department regulating the commercial banks and later as a director of the Monetary Policy Department. From 2000 to 2008 he was a chief economist and adviser to the chairman of AB Vilniaus Bankas. From 2008 to 2018 he was the financial analyst as well as chief adviser and later the chief economist for the SEB bankas president.[1]

In 2004, he supported the election campaign of the former Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus.

Presidency (2019–present)[edit]

Gitanas Nausėda meets the US President Joe Biden during the 2023 Vilnius summit
Gitanas Nausėda meeting with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Vilnius in November 2019

On 17 September 2018, Nausėda announced his candidacy for the 2019 Lithuanian presidential election.[6] He finished just 2,000 votes behind former Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė in the first round, and defeated her in the runoff with 66 percent of the vote.

He was officially inaugurated on 12 July.[7] Nausėda presented acting Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis's candidacy to continue his duties on 18 July.[8] By the time he had spent a month in office, Nausėda was considered to be the most trusted politician in Lithuania according to polls conducted by the Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT).[9]

Foreign policy[edit]

Nausėda meets with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in October 2019
Nausėda meets with the Prime Minister of Finland Antti Rinne in November 2019
Nausėda meets with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Liz Truss in September 2022

Belarus[edit]

In April 2020, President Nausėda and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had their nations' first presidential tête-à-tête in 10 years.[10] Following the Lukashenko government's crackdown on protesters after the disputed 2020 Belarusian presidential elections (which were widely regarded as unfree and unfair)[11] and the resulting protests, Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania.[12] Nausėda's leadership during the crisis has been noted for being one that augmented Lithuania's role among European Union nations.[13] On 12 August, he ordered that Lithuania open its borders to all Belarusians for humanitarian purposes.[14] That day, he also presented a plan on the settlement of the crisis, being supported by Latvia and Poland, which consisted of three points that included a call for the creation of a national council from the Belarusian Government and civilian society. In an interview with Sky News on 13 August, he declared Lukashenko as "no longer the legitimate leader".[15]

Nausėda has been critical of the safety of the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus.[16] In May 2020, during a conference call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, he called on Armenia to share its experience with the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant to Belarus over concerns over the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant.[17]

On 23 May 2021, in the immediate aftermath of the hijacking of Ryanair flight 4578, where two journalists outspoken against the Lukashenko regime in Belarus were arrested, Nausėda called for EU recognition of Belarusian airspace as "unsafe for civilian aviation" and the immediate release of the arrested journalist Roman Protasevich. By the evening of 23 May Nausėda has secured the support of both the leaders of Latvia and Estonia in recognising Belarusian airspace as unsafe to enter.

Poland[edit]

Nausėda has made multiple efforts to engage in better relations with Poland, being seen as a personal ally of the Polish leadership.[18] On 16 July, four days after his inauguration, he visited Warsaw to meet with President Andrzej Duda in his first foreign visit as president.[19] During the visit, there were calls for him to establish a more personal relationship with the country.[20] He also rejected any attempt by European Union leaders to sanction Poland for its actions in relation to the Supreme Court of Poland and the rest of the country's judiciary.[21] On 22 November, Nausėda and Duda, as well as the First Lady of Poland Agata Kornhauser-Duda participated in the state funeral of commanders and participants in the 1863–1864 uprising against Tsarist rule in Vilnius.[22] During his visit to Vilnius, Duda highlighted the Central European nations' unity importance for their independence.[23] In January 2020, Nausėda joined Duda in pulling out of the 5th World Holocaust Forum, who criticized the event for giving the speaking slot to Russian president Putin, who has himself criticized Poland's WWII history by engaging in a historical revisionist campaign.[24]

Russia[edit]

During a meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in August 2019, Nausėda urged her to maintain sanctions against Russia.[25] In an interview with LRT on 14 August, he reiterated past positions that a potential meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would be "pointless" due to the fact that Lithuania sees "the true danger" and "risks" of being on the border with Russia.[26]

On 24 February 2022, Nausėda has strongly condemned the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and called for heavy sanctions on Russia.[27]

In March 2023, he accused China of supporting Russia, saying that "the aim of China is to continue this war, to make this war even more bloody".[28]

Ukraine[edit]

Nausėda in Kyiv, Ukraine on 13 April 2022
Nausėda with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, 28 July 2022

In November 2019, he referred to the Steinmeier formula suggested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a solution to the Russo-Ukrainian War as being "more profitable for Russia than Ukraine".[29]

On 23 February 2022, a day before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Nausėda together with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda visited Zelensky in Kyiv to express solidarity and support.[30] During the visit, Nausėda said: "In the face of Russian aggression, Ukraine will not be left alone... We will support Ukraine with all possible means."[30] Following the invasion, Nausėda called for military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.[27]

Taiwan[edit]

In January 2022, Nausėda criticized the government's creation of a de facto embassy of Taiwan with the inclusion of "Taiwanese" in the name, an act interpreted by the People's Republic of China as a breach of the One-China policy and resulted in a degradation in political and economic relationships.[31] The President clarified that while he does not object to the opening of the embassy, he was not consulted on the naming decision.[32]

Relations with the Šimonytė Government and centre-right ruling coalition[edit]

During the 2020 parliamentary elections Ingrida Šimonytė, former opponent of Nausėda in the 2019 presidential election, was elected to the position of prime minister.[33] He publicly broke with the government's decision to create a defacto embassy of Taiwan bearing the country's name in the title.[32]

Possible impeachment[edit]

During February 2021 it was alleged that there were talks in new ruling coalition about impeaching president, possible due alleged breaching of power in two different situations: alleged interference in appointing military intelligence commander (which is the duty of Minister of Defence) and participation in European Council (which is, according to some conservatives, prerogative of Prime Minister).[34][35][36] However, this was denied by politcians of rulling party [37]

Countries visited by Nausėda as of 20 January 2020.

International trips as president[edit]

As President, Nausėda frequently heads Lithuanian diplomatic, academic and business delegations around the world to promote, advocate and advance Lithuanian interests internationally. This includes defending the nations interests regionally, with the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and internationally to promote Lithuanian business and industry and create ties with other states. Since 2019, Nausėda has made 79 international trips, including 13 to Belgium for meetings of the European Union, 8 to Poland, 6 to Germany and 4 to the United States for sessions of the United Nations General Assembly. His most recent visit was to Australia, where he spent a day in both Melbourne and Canberra.

List of foreign visits by Gitanas Nauseda
Date Country City Reason
16 July 2019  Poland Warsaw Talks with President Andrzej Duda[19]
23 July 2019  Latvia Riga Talks with President Egils Levits[38]
14–15 August 2019  Germany Berlin Talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel[39]
15 August 2019  Germany Berlin Talks with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier[40]
20 August 2019  Estonia Tallinn Talks with President Kersti Kaljulaid[41]
1 September 2019  Poland Warsaw 80th anniversary of the September campaign
4–5 September 2019  EU Brussels European Conference
22–26 September 2019  United Nations New York City United Nations General Assembly[42]
17–18 October 2019  EU Brussels European Conference
21–24 October 2019  Japan Tokyo Enthronement of Japanese Emperor Naruhito[43]
5 November 2019  Finland Helsinki Talks with President Sauli Niinistö
7 November 2019  Vatican Vatican City Talks with Pope Francis
7–8 November 2019  Italy Rome Talks with Italian leaders
3–4 December 2019  United Kingdom London See 2019 London summit
20 January 2020   Switzerland Davos See World Economic Forum
27 January 2020  Poland Oświęcim 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz
11 February 2020  EU Brussels Talks with president of the European Council Charles Michel
14 February 2020  Germany Munich Munich Security Conference 2020
15 July 2020  Poland Grunwald 610th Anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald and talks with President Andrzej Duda
17–21 July 2020  EU Brussels European Conference
1–2 September 2020  EU Brussels Meeting of the European Council
15–16 September 2020  EU Brussels Meeting of the European Council
10–11 December 2020  EU Brussels Meeting of the European Council
17–19 March 2021  Ukraine Kyiv Talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky
3 May 2021  Poland Warsaw 230th Anniversary of the Constitution of 3 May
6–8 May 2021  Portugal Lisbon, Porto European Leaders' Meeting
13–14 May 2021  Moldova Chișinău Talks with President Maia Sandu
24–25 May 2021  EU Brussels Meeting of the European Council
10–11 June 2021  Georgia Tbilisi Talks with President Salome Zourabichvili
13 June 2021  EU Brussels Talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
14 June 2021  EU Brussels NATO Conference and talks with United States President Joe Biden
15–16 June 2021  Sweden Stockholm Talks with King Carl XVI Gustaf, Speaker Andreas Norlén and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
23–24 August 2021  Ukraine Kyiv Attended Crimea Platform and Kyiv Independence Day Parade
15–16 September 2021  Germany Berlin Talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel
20–22 September 2021  United States New York City Meeting of the United Nations
22–24 September 2021  United States Chicago Reception with the American-Lithuanian community of Chicago
5–6 October 2021  Slovenia Ljubljana Talks with President Borut Pahor
21–22 October 2021  Belgium Brussels Talks with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo
1–2 November 2021  United Kingdom Glasgow Tour of Scotland and reception with Scottish leaders
29–30 November 2021  France Paris Talks with President Emmanuel Macron
23–25 May 2022   Switzerland Davos Meeting of the World Economic Forum
28–30 June 2022  Spain Madrid Attendance to the 32nd NATO summit.
28 July 2022  Ukraine Kyiv [44]
25–26 August 2022  Iceland Reykjavík Reception with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
18–19 September 2022  United Kingdom London Attendance to the state funeral of Elizabeth II
20–22 September 2022  United States New York City Attendance to the 77th United Nations General Assembly
6–7 October 2022  Czech Republic Prague Tour of Czechia and talks with Czech leaders
6 December 2022  Albania Tirane EU-Western Balkans summit
14 December 2022  Belgium Brussels Attendance to the European Council
19 December 2022  Latvia Riga Summit of the member countries of the Joint Expeditionary Force
17–18 January 2023   Switzerland Davos Meeting of the World Economic Forum
24–25 January 2023  Poland Warsaw Reception with President Andrzej Duda
10–12 February 2023  EU Brussels Meeting of the European Council
13–14 February 2023  Norway Oslo Talks with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and reception with King Harald V of Norway
17–18 February 2023  Germany Munich Meeting of the Munich Security Conference, talks with President Emmanuel Macron, President Egils Levits and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas
23 February 2023  Poland Warsaw Extraordinary Summit of the Bucharest Nine due to the Ukraine conflict, talks with President Joe Biden
14 March 2023  EU Brussels Address to members of the European Parliament
23–24 March 2023  EU Brussels Meeting of the European Council
17–18 April 2023  Netherlands Amsterdam Talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, King William Alexander and Head of the International Criminal Court Judge Piotr Hofmański
26–28 April 2023  Germany Berlin Talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO leaders
6–7 May 2023  United Kingdom London Attendance to the Coronation of King Charles III
10–11 May 2023  Spain Madrid Talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and King Felipe VI
12 May 2023  Portugal Lisbon Talks with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
25–26 May 2023  France Paris Reception and talks with President Emmanuel Macron
2 June 2023  Moldova Chisinau Talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky
28 June 2023  Netherlands The Hague Talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
6–7 June 2023  Slovakia Bratislava Meeting with NATO leaders and talks with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
27 June 2023  Netherlands The Hague Talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
28–30 June 2023  Ukraine Kyiv Reception with President Volodymyr Zelensky and tour of Kyiv with President Andrzej Duda
28–30 June 2023  Ukraine Kyiv Reception with President Volodymyr Zelensky and tour of Kyiv with President Andrzej Duda
18 July 2023  EU Brussels EU and Latin American and Caribbean Leaders' Summit
3 August 2023  Poland Suwalki Talks with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
23–24 August 2023  Ukraine Kyiv Reception with President Volodymyr Zelensky and address to the Ukrainian people for Independence Day of Ukraine
19–22 September 2023  United Nations New York City Address to the United Nations General Assembly and reception with President Joe Biden
23–25 September 2023  United States Los Angeles Reception with the American-Lithuanian community of Los Angeles
5–6 October 2023  Spain Granada Meeting of NATO leader and talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky
17–18 October 2023  Australia Melbourne Reception with the Australian-Lithuanian community of Melbourne and leaders of RMIT University
19–20 October 2023  Australia Canberra Reception with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Premier Peter Malinauskas

Nausėda has welcomed many foreign leaders and dignitaries to Lithuania since taking office, including Latvian President Egils Levits, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Canadian Governor-General Julie Payette.

Political positions[edit]

During the 2019 presidential campaign, Nausėda described himself as a compassionate conservative.[45] In spite of this, his political positions are considered by some political scientists as hard to define. According to Lauras Bielinis, "his [Nausėda's] political views are heavily permeated with economic arguments, it is difficult to find ideology there. His acquired profession and activities in the bank still remain an essential factor in his decisions in the field of politics".[45]

Answering questions on important political topics sent to presidential candidates by the program "Mano Balsas" (Lithuanian: My Voice), organized by the Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Nausėda assumed positions on the centre – he opposed legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage, but expressed his support for diversity quotas for women, as well as free-market economics.[46] However, during the election, he also campaigned on the promise of a "welfare state", although the lack of definition for this agenda has led to considerable discussion on the president's vision during and after the campaign.[47]

Nausėda supports the Šimonytė Cabinet's proposal of same-sex partnerships, as long as the reform does not violate the Constitution. In 2021, he refused to sign a letter by EU leaders condemning the Hungarian anti-LGBT law.[48] This statement came after his endorsement of the Great Family Defense March, a protest held in Vilnius which opposed the partnership law proposal and genderist propaganda. Nausėda made a pre-recorded speech in the event, in which he affirmed that he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.[49]

Personal life[edit]

Nausėda's father, Antanas Nausėda (1929–2022), was an engineer. His mother, Stasė Nausėdienė (1931–2014), was a physics and mathematics teacher from the village of Lazdininkai. His sister, Vilija (born 1959), is an economist. In 1990, he married Diana Nausėdienė. They have two daughters.[50] In addition to his native Lithuanian, Gitanas Nausėda speaks German, English and Russian.[51] Since 1997, he has been collecting antique books.[52]

Controversies[edit]

Private house in a regional park[edit]

Environmentalists have criticized Gitanas Nausėda for building a modern private household in Pavilniai Regional Park, nearby Pūčkoriai exposure—a unique geological object declared to be a nature monument in 1974. Then-advisor for SEB bankas, Nausėda replied by stating that he had acquired a legal permit for such a construction to take place here. The Directorate of the Pavilniai Regional Park tried to fight back against this ruling, but to no avail. "It's a shame that people till this day can't admit being wrong and that the court had acknowledged this as well. That time I showed good will and did not demand the court to ask money from them for a lawsuit that lasted for 2–3 years. But it seems people don't get that", Nausėda reacted. According to the director of the Directorate of the Pavilniai Regional Park Vida Petiukonienė, even though experts had confirmed that the permit to construct a modern house in the park is not in accordance with the law, the court had ordered to reconcile the project. "This is the reality of life, this is how things work in this world, we can only feel sorry. The situation we are in is one of those ridiculous instances, a mockery of the country, laws, and people who go to work in order to commit to these laws. In other words, us", Petiukonienė has commented.[53]

Conflict of interest[edit]

The President was criticised after he decided to visit his daughter, studying in South Korea, during the official state visit to Japan trip in 2019. Nausėda apologized for the incident during his announcement of seeking reelection in 2023 and called it fundamentally wrong.[54]

The Whistleblower and the President[edit]

In 2023, investigative journalists Dovydas Pancerovas and Birutė Davidonytė released a book titled Whistleblower and President which revealed information about unreported funding for Nausėda's presidential campaign, as well as Nausėda's relationship with business groups.[55]

Communist Party membership[edit]

In 2023, controversy arose when it was revealed that Nausėda was a former member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. According to documents, Nausėda, who was identified with a russified form of his name, Gitanas Antanovich Nauseda, joined the CPSU on 20 May 1988, and was given a party ticket on 27 June.[3] The news about his membership was first broken out by Dovydas Pancerovas, a journalist working for the Laisvės TV channel, who found the information in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives. Controversy intensified as it was also revealed that Nausėda did not disclose this information when filing for the presidency.[56][57]

Honours[edit]

National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Honorary doctorates[edit]

  •  Japan: Gifu University (24 October 2019)

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of Lithuania
2019–present
Incumbent