VILNIUS – The Minsk regime has to change its policy so that the transit of potash fertilizers through Lithuania does not stop, Transport Minister Marius Skuodis said on Friday.
His comment comes as the European Union considers new sanctions against Belarus, and as the US sanctions against Belaruskali, Belarus' potash giant that exports millions of tons of fertilizers via Lithuania and its seaport of Klaipeda annually, are set to take effect on December 8.
"The sanctions have not been imposed for the sake of sanctions. The regime only needs to change its behavior for the transit [...] to continue," Skuodis told reporters in Klaipeda.
"I don't want it [transit] to stop, but that depends on the other side. The ball is on the other side and they just need to make certain steps," he added.
The minister doubts that fertilizer transit will stop immediately after the sanctions come into force next month, because "there are certain prepayment conditions" and other circumstances.
Whether the transit will continue depends on two key factors: banks and possible changes to the sanctions regime, according to Skuodis.
"The first thing is whether banks will allow payments, because the US sanctions do not apply directly to, for example, Lithuanian legal entities," he said, adding that "the big banks have already had their say".
Also, both the EU and the US may tighten or otherwise change their sanctions, the minister noted.
Skuodis admitted that fertilizers account for a large part of cargo handled in Klaipeda and of freight transported by rail in Lithuania, but he did not elaborate on how Lithuanian businesses might be affected by tougher sanctions.