Lithuanian minister says threats remain as she asks MPs to extend state of emergency

  • 2022-12-08
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite on Thursday asked the parliament to extend the existing state of emergency on Lithuania's borders with Russia and Belarus through March 16.  

The minister said while presenting the draft resolution that the government does not propose to introduce any new measures, but asks to leave in place the existing restrictions, such as the border closure for Russian citizens, the policy of turning away irregular migrants, and the reinforced protection of the external border.

"The threats to our national security remain," she said. "This is not a political issue; this is about the security of our state." 

The parliament is expected to hold its first vote on the resolution later on Thursday. 

The state of emergency, last extended in September, is now set to expire on December 16. 

The state of emergency was introduced nationwide on February 24 after Russia launched its war against Ukraine. In September, the legal regime was limited to the borders with Russia and Belarus.

The draft parliamentary resolution also calls for extending the existing entry ban on Russian citizens who do not meet certain criteria set by the government.

Under an agreement among the three Baltic countries and Poland, only Russian diplomats, dissidents, transport companies' employees, EU citizens' family members, and Russian citizens with residence permits or long-stay national visas from Schengen countries have been allowed to cross the EU external border since September.

Russian citizens can also transit through Lithuania by train to and from Kaliningrad Region. 

The government also suggests keeping in place the policy of turning away foreign nationals attempting to or having crossed the EU's external border illegally at non-designated places. This would not apply to people fleeing military aggression or persecution.

A state of emergency was imposed on Lithuania's border with Belarus due to a wave of illegal migration in November 2021 and remained in place until mid-January.