2022.01.14 10:02

State of emergency on Lithuania's border with Belarus set to expire

BNS2022.01.14 10:02

Lithuania's state of emergency on the border with Belarus is set to expire at midnight on Friday.   

The government has decided not to extend the legal regime, in place since November 10, because the irregular migration situation has stabilised.

"We have agreed to hold an emergency meeting and switch the state of emergency mechanism back on should the situation change," Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė told reporters on Wednesday,

As of Saturday, access to the border area will no longer be restricted.

"The border area will now be accessible to everyone; all you need is an identity document," Giedrius Mišutis, spokesman for the State Border Guard Service (VSAT), told BNS. "Also, the former procedure of permits for entering the state border protection zone will be back in place."

The previously declared extreme situation will remain in place after the state of emergency ends.

Read more: Migration crisis in Baltics and Poland

In autumn last year, the government asked the parliament to declare a state of emergency on the frontier with Belarus after thousands of migrants gathered on the Belarus side of the border with Poland and made attempts to enter the EU.

In November, the parliament declared the state of emergency along the border stretch and five kilometres inland, as well as in the migrant accommodation facilities in Kybartai, Medininkai, Pabradė, Rukla and Vilnius.

Under the state of emergency, the movement of vehicles in the border area without border guards' permission was restricted, and entry into the area was banned, except for local residents as well as those with real estate there.

The authorities had the right to check vehicles and people, and their belongings, as well as seize illegally-possessed weapons, ammunition, explosives and other hazardous materials, and detain offenders. Gatherings were also banned in the areas under the state of emergency.

The measure included restricting the right of irregular migrants accommodated in Lithuania to communicate in writing or by telephone, etc., except to contact the country's authorities.

More than 4,200 irregular crossed into Lithuania from Belarus last year. Lithuania and other Western countries accuse the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".

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