Finland, Norway could also apply common criteria for border closures – Lithuanian official

  • 2023-09-18
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – As Lithuania, Latvia and Poland are discussing common criteria for closing their borders with Belarus, Estonia, Finland and Norway could also apply them when deciding whether to seal their borders with Russia, Rustamas Liubajevas, Lithuania's border guard chief, has said.

"Apparently, the Estonian government would also take a decision on closing its checkpoints, but this would be about closing Estonia's border with Russia," the commander of the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) told BNS last week.

"Norway and Finland also share a border with Russia. Such a proposal was made in Warsaw, and it is highly likely that in the near future these countries will be invited to join the so-called club," he added.

According to Liubajevas, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland are still discussing common criteria for a joint decision to close their borders with Belarus.

"The work is ongoing, and those criteria will certainly be established. At present, the legal situation in each country is being evaluated. The next stage will be to define those criteria in concrete terms and present them to the leaders for approval," he said. 

Foreign Minister Gabriel Landsbergis has said that a joint border closure could be triggered not only by military action or an influx of migrants, but also by some unfriendly political or diplomatic decisions.

An agreement on common criteria is expected to be reached before an interior ministers' meeting scheduled in Lithuania for October. Officials from Finland and Norway are also expected to attend.

Lithuania last month closed two of its six border crossings with Belarus – at Sumskas and Tverecius.

Poland and the Baltic states started to consider closing their borders with Belarus after several thousand Wagner mercenaries relocated to the country. However, some of the fighters have left Belarus following the death of the Russian mercenary group's leaders. 

Finland has joined its Baltic neighbors in banning Russian-registered private cars from entering its territory.

The ban came into force at midnight on Friday.