Lithuania to reinstate checks on borders with Latvia and Poland for NATO summit

  • 2023-05-31
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuania will reinstate internal Schengen border controls during and several days before and after NATO's July 11-12 summit in Vilnius.

The controls will be in place from 8 a.m. on July 7 to 8 a.m. on July 13, according to a draft government resolution registered by the Interior Ministry on Wednesday.

The measure will apply in Lithuania's border checkpoints with Latvia and Poland, and at its airports and seaports, and also checkpoints when traveling via airports and seaports on internal Schengen routes.

According to the Interior Ministry, travelers must have a valid travel document, such as a passport or an identity card, when crossing internal borders.

"We take the potential risks seriously and are ready to ensure public, national and NATO leaders' security during this event of particular importance. The decision to resume checks at the internal border would allow for a more targeted allocation of human resources and a more efficient management of potential threats," Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said.

Depending on the situation and potential threats, random checks will be carried out at any time of the day, based on risk analysis. Temporary infrastructure will be used for checks, and temporary road signs and barriers will be erected to regulate traffic, the ministry said.

The reintroduction of internal border controls may result in longer travel times, but travelers are not expected to experience any inconvenience due to additional border procedures, the ministry added.

Customs officers, as well as Latvian and Polish border guards, will be deployed to assist with checks at the EU's internal border.

The Lithuanian army, the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union, Estonian and Moldovan border guards, as well as additional forces from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, will be deployed to control the EU's external borders with Belarus and Russia.

The Lithuanian army said earlier that over 3,000 troops would be involved in ensuring security during the NATO summit. Together with allies, they will additionally provide air defense, protection of critical facilities, important routes, protection of persons, accommodation and vehicle checks, and search for explosives.

Last week, Germany said it would deploy Patriot long-range air defense system to ensure leaders' security in Vilnius. The systems will be redeployed from Slovakia and its support units will be redeployed from Poland.

Schengen countries usually have no internal border controls but each country can temporarily reintroduce them when it is necessary to take certain security measures in order to more effectively prevent breaches of internal security and public order.

The Interior Ministry says the reintroduction of internal border controls for large-scale and high-profile events is a common practice in Schengen area countries as internal border controls were also reintroduced for NATO summits by Latvia in 2010, Poland in 2016 and Spain in 2022.