VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who also leads the main ruling party, the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, says his decision to resign over the continuous transit of Belaruskali fertilizers via Lithuania is serious.
"The ball is in the prime minister's hands. I just wanted to show that my decision is serious, and if the prime minister agreed, then other steps would be taken," Landsbergis told journalists in Brussels on Monday.
Last Wednesday, Landsbergis and Transport Minister Marius Skuodis Landsbergis and Skuodis said they accepted their responsibility for the failure to manage the situation and voiced their readiness to step down.
As the US sanctions for Belarusian fertilizers producer Belaruskali came into force on December 8, their transit via Lithuania did not stop because Belaruskali made advance payments back in November to Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG), the country's state-owned railway company.
Landsbergis and Skuodis handed in their resignation letter on Friday. Landsbergis says he was encouraged to do so by President Gitanas Nauseda's comments that one could not wait for the ministers' resignations to be considered by Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.
The president then said politicians usually "hand in resignation letters and then other institutions make relevant decisions".
"I am a man of my word and if I announce my decision in public, so in most cases I am used to that being enough. But I heard doubt until it's not put on paper, it's not real. That encouraged me to just sign it," the minister said.
Belaruskali product shipments via Lithuania did not stop after the US sanctions came into force on Wednesday as Belaruskali made advance payments to Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG) back in November and they are sufficient to cover the cost of rail services in December, January and February.
The Lithuanian government has announced that it is seeking to terminate the state railway company's contract with Belaruskali, even though it says that the US sanctions do not directly apply to the transit of fertilizers through Lithuania.