News2023.03.10 16:28

Lithuanian PM proposes extending state of emergency for ‘last time’

BNS 2023.03.10 16:28

On Friday, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė proposed extending the existing state of emergency on the country's borders with Russia and Belarus for another six weeks until May 2.

"The existing state of emergency expires on March 16, and the government has decided to propose to the Seimas to extend the state of emergency once again, but I would dare to say that this will be the last time such a request will be made by the government," Šimonytė said during the Seimas sitting.

The state of emergency was introduced nationwide on February 24, 2022, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and has since been extended several times.

The draft resolution received initial approval with 58 votes in favour, nine against and 14 abstentions. The motion will be further considered on Tuesday.

According to Šimonytė, the state of emergency would remain in force until the parliament adopts a separate law on sanctions against Russian travellers.

"It would include amendments aimed at strengthening the protection of the state border, the application of the practice of non-admission in the event of a massive influx of migrants, the tightening of the issuance of visas to foreigners, and restrictions for Russian citizens to cross the external border,” the prime minister said.

“All of these legal provisions are proposed to be transposed into legislation to be tabled later today," she added.

Under the proposal, the state of emergency regime would remain in place on Lithuania's border with Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad region.

The draft resolution, just like the Seimas resolution now in place, proposes to continue to ban entry to Russian citizens who do not meet the government's criteria.

Under an agreement among the three Baltic countries and Poland, only Russian diplomats, dissidents, transport companies' employees, EU citizens' family members, and Russian citizens with residence permits or long-stay national visas from Schengen countries have been allowed to enter the country since September last year.

Russian citizens can also transit through Lithuania by train to and from the Kaliningrad exclave.

Russians and Belarusians would remain subject to the existing visa restrictions, meaning their visa applications will not be accepted unless requested by the Foreign Ministry.

The government also suggests keeping in place the policy of pushbacks applied to migrants crossing the Lithuanian border irregularly.

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