If Belarus used drones improperly, EU funds would have to be returned – EC

  • 2020-10-08
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The drones Belarus bought for EU funds can only be used to monitor large territories in border regions, and if they were used improperly, the funds would have to be returned, the European Commission says.

In a comment sent to BNS, the European Commission Representation in Lithuania said the drones cannot identify people. Its representatives also said the cross-border cooperation project with Belarus was confirmed last year and its implementation was started in February.

"It stipulates the use of light drones to monitor large territories in border regions. These drones have no technical possibilities to identify people, and the provisions of the contracts as part of the cross-border cooperation project clearly state that drones can only be used for the project's goals," the representation said.

According to the Commission, the drones were acquired by the Belarusian State Committee for Forensic Science and they were delivered in August but have not been used.

"It is known from the program's join technical secretariat and the project's partner, Lithuania's police, which is implementing the project, that the drones were delivered to the Belarusian State Committee for Forensic Science but have not been used," the comment reads.

"Any attempt to use the drones improperly would mean that the contract would be breached and the grant agreement would be terminated, and the EU funds allocated for the project would have to be returned," the European Commission Representation in Lithuania said.

The European Commission says it is reviewing its cooperation with Belarus and will issue recommendations on the implementation of assistance programs in the future.

"The European Union is carrying out a review of its relations with Belarus, including assistance programs. Once recommendations on project implementation are drafted, the European Commission will provide them to the project's managing authority," the representation said.

There have been Lithuanian and international media reports in recent days that Belarus purchased drones for EU funds, and that Lithuania was involved in the project.

40 MEPs on Thursday urged the European Commission and the Lithuanian government to carry out an in-depth investigation into this case.