Portraits of the Ambassadors. Let's turn responsibility into opportunity, says Raimundas Karoblis

26 Jun 2013, Last updated at, 11:57 EEST
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Raimundas Karoblis, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania in the EU

Ambassador Raimundas Karoblis says that his already hectic pace of life has recently become even more intense. “During recent months, I and my colleagues have had to abandon some hobbies, yet I don’t think this is a specificity of an ambassador. It is our job, and each of us must accomplish what we are assigned to do,” says Raimundas Karoblis.

He has been the Permanent Representative of Lithuania in the European Union since 2010. He represents Lithuania in the Permanent Representatives Committee of the European Union, which is most commonly referred to as COREPER II (according to the French abbreviation Comité des représentants permanents). From July 1, when Lithuania is to take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Ambassador will become the leader of this work group of 28 countries.

“We will seek compromises and not only in the Chamber. This will be the top of the iceberg, the beginning and end of discussions. On-going work with colleagues and other countries that have sensitive issues and to propose their solutions - this awaits us. The basic aim of the work is to find the golden mean that is acceptable by all or as many country members as possible,” says the Ambassador.

Meetings of the Permanent Representatives Committee are convened twice a week to discuss political issues. The meetings are generally all day and cover many areas. The ambassadors that help organise Ministerial Council Meetings seek greater progress among themselves in negotiations, this so that the Ministers need to decide on as little as possible and then only the most important political issues. Raimundas Karoblis says that during the Lithuanian presidency, he and the Ministers will have to deal with difficult topics.

“On most occasions agreement is reached – in an easier or more difficult way. The issues during our presidency are going to be difficult – on the usage rules of the European Union’s multi-annual budget, i.e. money, the use of money, and banking rules as well. We will have to negotiate and agree on an acceptable solution,” he adds.

Long negotiations are not a new thing for the ambassador. He says he got used to difficult meetings in his previous position as the Deputy Permanent Representative of Lithuania for three years in another committee – CORPER I - which primarily addresses issues of the EU internal market.

“When the issue is really very important to the country, when money or other not only material but also value related issues are discussed, work continues through the night, people seek results,” he says.

A Brussels’ newspaper recently described the Ambassador as an open, straight and hard-working person. He was born in Pasvalys district, and admits he had down-to-earth dreams and the choice between the professions of his father, a forester, and his lawyer mother. He chose the latter and worked with the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, business, and considered becoming an advocate or judge.

“It was unexpected to get a proposal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work in the field of international trade, at least temporarily, just to try. The try extended to a dozen years,” observes the Ambassador.

Most time he dedicated to international trade – he was the leader of the Economics and Foreign Trade Policy Departments, subsequently being appointed the Permanent Representative of Lithuania in the World Trade Organisation, and then the President of the Customs Valuation Committee of this organisation. He later represented Lithuania as a full member of the Foreign Trade Committee of the EU.

“I like everything related to trade. We all have our weaknesses,” he smiles.

The Ambassador also likes to travel, but he admits that during the half year of the presidency, there will be no time for travelling or dreams about new plans. According to the Ambassador, the working hours often extend from 7 in the morning till 11 in the evening, and only Sundays are less busy with work starting at 11 in the morning. The Ambassador underlines that at least Saturday must be a day of leisure, because some rest is a must even during the presidency.

“I wish my colleagues not to forget their families during this half-year,” adding that after the presidency he will firstly look to get a good night’s sleep.

The goal of the intensive work is to anchor Lithuania as a reliable EU member, which presides over the Council of Ministers in a manner at least equal to its predecessors.

“We receive a lot from the EU – from guarantees of security and participation in the inner market, to structural funds and money the effect of which is felt by many families. A time comes when we must not only take but also give, and one of our responsibilities is the presidency,” says the Ambassador.

He stresses, however, that the presidency is a great opportunity for Lithuania to give a good account of itself.

“Interest in both the presidency and Lithuania is really huge. It is a rare opportunity,” he says. “We can seize that opportunity and represent our culture, attract investment, and strengthen economic ties.”

As the Ambassador maintains, the experience, knowledge and contacts from the presidency will be priceless to Lithuania’s future interests.

“Lithuania gains much benefit from EU membership, and people think positively about the EU – yet it is important to know precisely what we are doing. I think the presidency is the perfect opportunity to show more clearly to our citizens what we have already done,” concludes the Ambassador.

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