Observer - Europe
Published: May 25 2005 21:19
Gunning for Europe's money
Europe's foreign ministers be warned: do not test the patience of Dalia Grybauskaite, the budget commissioner. The 25 member states seem intent on thwarting the Commission's spending plans.
But Grybauskaite, who as Observer noted last week, has a black belt in martial arts, has an ace up her sleeve: a gun.
Observer's linguist has unearthed a candid interview in a lifestyle magazine with the woman dubbed the "Iron Lady of Lithuania" for her similarity to ex-British premier Margaret Thatcher. On becoming finance minister a couple of years ago she was approached by shadowy groups offering bribes. She refused but they persisted, she said.
"I reacted aggressively. I understood that having a gun would be useful. A personal gun was given to me as a present by the prime minister.
"I made sure information that I was armed reached certain groups and that I would react to bribe attempts. There were no more attempts. I will not tolerate physical or moral pressure."
Grybauskaite has not brought the gun, which has a fetching inscription, to Brussels.
So Jack Straw, the British foreign minister bleating about the 35 per cent budget rise, should refuse any invitations to Vilnius.
Brazaukas (PM in Lithuania) apparently said that Grybauskaite kept the whole cabinet of ministers in line. Now we know how she did it.
What chance of the British rebate surviving now? Who are the next shadowy groups?