Last year, Lithuanian border guards intercepted 6 percent more smuggled cigarettes than they did in 2010, reports ELTA. The State Border Guard Service (VSAT) statistics reveals that the inflows of tobacco smuggling from Belarus have grown, whereas smuggling from Russia has declined. In 2011, officials intercepted about 2.2 million packets of contraband cigarettes, which is 6 percent more compared on a year-on-year basis. Tobacco products are the most popular smuggling item, as last year 87.4 percent of smuggling attempts prevented by the VSAT were related to cigarette contraband. Most of the prevented attempts to smuggle were at the border with Belarus (328 attempts), followed by Russia (123 attempts, a rather large decrease from 2010) and inside the country (123 attempts).
On Jan. 11 in Vilnius, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Azubalis held a meeting with the Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs and Chief Negotiator for Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU Egemen Bagis, reports ELTA. During the meeting, Azubalis stressed the necessity for Turkey to continue reforms aimed at European integration and affirmed Lithuania’s continued support and readiness to share the experience of EU integration. “We support the ongoing democratic reforms in Turkey and believe that they will give a new impetus to the country’s membership talks with the EU,” Azubalis said. The ministers discussed bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and Turkey and its future prospects. He called on Turkey to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the field of transport and reiterated the invitation to join the agreement of Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova on the freight carriage by shuttle train Viking, connecting the Baltic and Black Sea regions. During the visit, the Turkish minister participated in the informal Snow Meeting of experts in international affairs and security policy from European and North American countries in Trakai.