Lithuanian Railways too dependent on Belaruskali – parlt committee chair

  • 2022-01-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The behavior of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG)  revealed the state-owned railway company's over-dependency on its fertilizer transit contract with Belarus' potash giant Belaruskali, Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense (CNSD), said on Wednesday.  

"Some of LTG's action algorithms seemed to show that the company at that time was too dependent on this contract," Kasciunas told reporters after the CNSD and the parliamentary Committee on Economics held a joint meeting on the transit of Belarusian fertilizers.  

"Certain steps were taken, not so much to avoid sanctions, but to delay them a little. Here we are talking about the advance payments," he added. 

Kasciunas said that "it is worth raising the question of how much a state-owned company should be dependent on a country like Belarus".

"Such contracts were supposed to bring profits, but there is also national security to consider," he said. 

The MP noted that LTG's contract with Belaruskali had never been vetted by a special governmental commission for national security concerns.  

"The company itself did not feel legally obliged to have it cleared" by the commission, he said. 

LTG's acting CEO Egidijus Lazauskas, who took part in the meeting, said that lawyers hired by the company had recommended against referring the contract to the commission.

Kasciunas rejected the opposition's call to set up a special commission to further investigate Lithuania's failure to stop the transit of Belarusian fertilizers despite the US sanctions against Belaruskali. 

"Parliamentary control is sufficient," he said.  

However, the CNSD members from opposition parties insist on the need for a special inquiry.

The governmental commission vetting deals by strategic enterprises announced on December 21 that LTG's 2018 contract with Belaruskali and amendments to the contract signed in October 2021 were not in line with Lithuania's national security interests.  

If the government declares the contract a threat to national security, this will provide grounds for terminating it.  

Belaruskali product shipments via Lithuania did not stop after the US sanctions 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.