Let's not to give extra trump cards to Lithuania's enemies – Landsbergis

  • 2022-07-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis fears that Lithuanian politicians' internal disputes over the Kaliningrad transit controversy could give Russia additional trump cards.

"What I would like most of all is that we do not give additional trump cards to our opponents – real opponents, not opponents in the Seimas, but real enemies of Lithuania, I wouldn't want to provide such an additional opportunity," Landsbergis told reporters at the Seimas on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the minister met with members of the opposition Democrats "For Lithuania" political group in the Lithuanian Seimas to answer questions on Kaliningrad transit. Following the meeting, opposition members announced their plans to initiate an interpellation for Landsbergis.

Asked by reporters whether the opposition's interpellation was one of the "extra trump cards", Landsbergis said no.

"No, the interpellation does not give (extra trump cards – BNS), different assessments and the inability to answer what is Lithuania's interest do", the minister said.

He described the interpellation as a normal statutory procedure when a minister answers questions from members of the Seimas. He said, however, he had already answered all the questions.

"It's difficult for me to think of any other question I could answer," Landsbergis said. "I think the problem is that it's quite difficult for the opposition, and for the Seimas, because our coalition colleagues (express opposing views) as well, it's difficult to formulate a common position on what the expectation is: whether those sanctions should be or not, whether we have to follow the EC recommendation, or not."

"If the European Commission itself says that Lithuania, with the information it has, did everything right, in other words, confirmed the government's position, I have nothing more to say. I understand that it's possible to take political action as the statute allows it", Landsbergis added.

The foreign minister also maintains that politicians highlighting Lithuania's exceptional situation regarding the Kaliningrad transit "are creating a dangerous precedent" as the country's goal is for the rules to be the same for all EU member states.

Lithuania stressed during all consultations with the European Commission that its situation was not and should not be treated as exceptional, Landsbergis said.

Meanwhile, Saulius Skvernelis, leader of the Democrats "For Lithuania" group, said earlier Lithuania should have raised the Kaliningrad transit issued as "a specific state" during consultations with the EC on sanctions for Russia.

Landsbergis, however, stated during the group meeting earlier in the day that Lithuania raised the Kaliningrad transit issue at all levels.

Opposition MPs said earlier on Wednesday they would initiate an interpellation against Landsbergis over the situation regarding the transit of sanctioned Russian goods via Lithuania to Kaliningrad. The motion is scheduled to be put forward during the parliament's upcoming fall session.

The opposition started raising the issue of the foreign minister's responsibility after the European Commission last week issued updated guidance allowing 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 guidance that banned the transit. The move angered Moscow, and the EC said it would issue updated guidance.