Lithuania's unilateral ban on Russian grain could violate intl agreements – minister

  • 2024-03-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania would risk violating international agreements by unilaterally imposing a ban on the import or transit of Russian grain, Agriculture Minister Kestutis Navickas said on Tuesday.

His comment comes amid calls by some MPs to temporarily ban the import and transit of Russian and Belarusian agricultural produce.

"This a matter of Lithuania risking non-compliance with international agreements," Navickas told LRT Radio.

"The international agreement is not with Russia; it is not bilateral. If it were bilateral, it would probably have already been adopted, and there would be no discussion," he added.

Navickas expects the issue to trigger intensive discussions within the corridors of the European Commission, as well as with the European Law Department under the Justice Ministry, and the Foreign Ministry.

"I think there will be a really intensive discussion on how we are going to implement this obligation without finding ourselves among countries that are not adhering to international agreements. This is a very important matter, not only within the competence of the Agriculture Ministry," he said.

The minister said he would back the idea of introducing national sanctions on Russian grain if this could be agreed at European level.

Almost 20 members of the parliamentary Committees on Rural and European Affairs are proposing a temporary ban on the import of Russian or Belarusian agricultural products and feed into Lithuania.

The respective draft amendments to the Law on Agriculture, Food and Rural Development have been registered in the parliament.

Kazys Starkevicius, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Economics, on Monday proposed to supplement these amendments by prohibiting not only imports but also transit.