Lithuania needs parlt probe on fertilizer transit, sanctions – president

  • 2022-01-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania needs a parliamentary investigation into the non-implementation of the existing US sanctions for Belarusian fertilizers producer Belaruskali and the still ongoing transit of such fertilizers via Lithuania, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.

He believes such an investigation would provide an answer to the question whether some ministers should have resigned over the existing situation, not only Mantas Bartuska, the CEO of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG), the country's state-owned railway company.

"I believe an probe commission would answer this question even in a better way as we now have a lot of information, which is controversial, and there's often certain fog over that information," Nauseda told LNK last Friday.

"I believe that if we have nothing to hide, it would be good to have such a commission to further light up those dark corners in this case we, unfortunately, don’t see the end of yet, despite the fact that certain political steps have been taken so far," the president said.

Presidential advisers say the president heard during his recent meeting with Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis that the crisis would be resolved by January 31 and the reputational damage to Lithuania would be eliminated.

As reported earlier on Monday, Lithuania's parliamentary Committees on National Security and Defense and on Economics will look into the circumstances surrounding the transit of fertilizers produced by Belarusian company Belaruskali via Lithuania, which is still ongoing despite the fact that US sanctions came into force on December 8, Laurynas Kasciunas, the CNSD chairman, has confirmed.

"We plan to hold a parliamentary control session in the second or third week of January. Either by the CNSD or jointly with the Committee on Economics. Probably, it will be a joint session," he told BNS last week.

In his words, the parliamentary control "initiative might be adjusted" by newly-emerged circumstances on the fertilizer transit but the probe would not be postponed.

"The key thing for me, speaking of the suspension of the fertilizer transit, is that we need to answer the main question: first, will the sanctions be effective, will they achieve what they are intended to, or will they be circumvented, will somebody else gain from them, will there be other private companies that will continue transporting those fertilizers, and will there be other EU member states that might profit from that, and whether we will not have a situation where the Russian federation is the winner in this case. We have to impose sanctions only after we answer those questions," Kasciunas said, adding that there will probably now binding conclusions after this probe.

"But the probe might be followed by some recommendations. For the government, individual ministries," the CNSD chairman said.

Before Christmas, the Seimas rejected the opposition's two proposals to set up an ad-hoc investigation commission on Belaruskali transit. Lawmakers also rejected a proposal to order the Committee on Foreign Affairs to carry out such a probe by awarding additional powers.

Belaruskali product shipments via Lithuania did not stop after US sanctions against it came into force on December 8, because the Belarusian company had made an advance payment to LTG, sufficient to cover the cost of rail services for several months.