2022.07.20 09:38

Lithuanian FM summoned by opposition over Kaliningrad transit

BNS 2022.07.20 09:38

Lithuanian parliament’s opposition Political Group of Democrats “For Lithuania” has summoned Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis to the parliament on Wednesday to explain the situation of the European Commission changing its position on the Kaliningrad transit and is planning to raise the issue of his responsibility.

“This is not the first time that the Foreign Ministry’s work has caused doubts and confusion,” Linas Kukuraitis, head of the political group in the Seimas, said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The credit of trust, which wavered considerably in the case of Belaruskali [transit] or the Taiwanese representative office, has now completely dried up,” the MP added. “The minister’s competence and performance are in serious doubt. We have many questions as to whether this can go on any longer.”

The Democrats say the state “failed to defend its position on this issue, which led to the undermining of the essence of the sanctions” after the Commission’s updated guidelines allowed the rail transit of sanctioned goods between Russia and its enclave of Kaliningrad via Lithuania.

The opposition MPs also say that the Foreign Ministry and the government lack strategic communication, which forces the Lithuanian media to quote Russian sources instead of relying on information from Lithuanian officials.

According to Landsbergis, the Kaliningrad transit issue was raised at all levels when the European Union was discussing the implementation of sanctions against Russia.

“The issue was raised at all levels – up to the European Council, as far as I know, and I also raised it, and also the ambassador raised it. The Kaliningrad issue was raised as requiring special attention,” the minister said during the meeting with the opposition political group at the Seimas.

Saulius Skvernelis, the group’s leader, asked Landsbergis whether it was true that when the sanction packages for Russia were being discussed, Lithuanian politicians deliberately decided not to raise the Kaliningrad issue.

“I cannot confirm such information regarding Kaliningrad, as there was no formal or informal decision not to raise the issue,” the minister replied.

In its updated guidelines issued last week, the EC allowed Russia to transport sanctioned goods from and to Kaliningrad by rail via Lithuania for the exclave’s needs.

Lithuania last month halted the movement of some Russian goods via its territory to Kaliningrad after the EU sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine came into force. Vilnius said it followed the Commission’s previous guidelines that banned transit.

Lithuanian and EC representatives spent several weeks consulting on the new guidelines following Russia’s outcry over the suspension of transit of steel, ferrous metals, and other goods in mid-June.

Read more: Lithuania and Kaliningrad – updates