The euros, delivered by plane to Lithuania, were protected by the Lithuanian Police Anti-terrorist Operations Unit Aras (photo: Dainius Labutis)
The entire amount of euro bank notes for Lithuania — 132 million banknotes weighing 114 tonnes — have been safely delivered to the Bank of Lithuania’s vaults.
Lithuania becomes the 19th eurozone member on Jan. 1, 2015.
“Historically this is the largest shipment of cash to Lithuania. The operation was completed safely and successfully. The euro banknotes are already being distributed from the Bank of Lithuania’s vaults in Vilnius and Kaunas to commercial banks, from where they will continue their journey to trade and service enterprises and, finally, early next year they will reach the pockets of the country’s population. We appreciate the particularly successful cooperation with the partners who participated in the operation,” says Vitas Vasiliauskas, Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania.
The banknotes reached Lithuania from Germany in three airline flight. Two shipments were delivered to the Bank of Lithuania’s vaults in Vilnius, one — in Kaunas. In escorting the banknotes to the vaults, the Police department, Lithuanian Police Anti-terrorist Operations Unit Aras, traffic police, territorial police, and airport security all participated; helicopters were borrowed from the State Border Guard Service for the operation.
“The police began to prepare for the euro shipment from the moment it became clear that Lithuania would adopt the euro. We worked intensively together with the Bank of Lithuania. This operation will go down in history, and it is an especially important moment for the economy. At the same time it was also a great challenge for the police, and it was able to deal successfully with this challenge,” says Saulius Skvernelis, the Lithuanian Minister of Internal Affairs.
The operation was carried out in accordance with particularly strict security requirements. The public was informed of the banknote delivery ahead of time.
“Such operations are very carefully planned. Our officers participated not only as security for the column transporting the banknotes. We also used snipers, who acted as security from the buildings and helicopters. An additional group of mobile officers was also prepared to react in case of an incident,” told Viktoras Grabauskas, Chief of the Lithuanian Police Anti-terrorist Operations Unit Aras, revealing some details from the operation.
From 1 November the banknotes will be distributed to banks, while from 1 December they will be delivered to retailers and service providers.
“Although this is a large-scale logistic process, it is automated enough and managed effectively. Now we need much less physical labour than with the adoption of the litas, when the Bank of Lithuania’s employees had to carry by hand bags with the new currency. We do not doubt that the amount of banknotes and coins necessary for the euro adoption will reach commercial banks at the scheduled time,” says the Head of the Bank of Lithuania’s Cash Service’s Euro Project, Gintaras Moška, who also participated in the litas adoption process.
The Bank of Lithuania is borrowing the euro banknotes from Germany’s Central Bank — Bundesbank. According to the agreement the banknotes will be returned once they will be printed at a European Union-certified printing house.
In parallel, the Bank of Lithuania continues its acquisition of Lithuanian euro coins. The Lithuanian Mint is minting them in three shifts. The coins are already being delivered from the Bank of Lithuania’s vaults to banks as of early October. In total, the Lithuanian Mint will mint 370 million euro coins, their weight — 1,740 tonnes.