Businessmen, military at odds over Zokniai airport

  • 1998-12-10
VILNIUS (BNS) - Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has urged the government to pass a resolution concerning the status of free economic zones as soon as possible.

During the consultation over the Siauliai FEZ, the interests of businesses and the military collided over Zokniai airport, which belongs to Siauliai FEZ.

In the years of Soviet rule, the airport in Zokniai was the largest military airport in the Baltic states.

The Defense Ministry wants to found the main Lithuanian military aviation base at the former aviation plant, but the FEZ administration proposed to establish the base in the northern part of Siauliai FEZ. The ministry says it would cost millions of litas, while all the premises necessary for the infrastructure are at the plant.

After analyzing the Lithuanian defence structure, U.S. experts ascertained that Zokniai airport is the best place to establish the country's military aviation base, since the airport is based in a strategically favorable locality, far from any border, adapted for landing and take-off of any kind of airplane.

Siauliai Mayor Alfredas Lankauskas said the city would not benefit economically if the military receives the territory and the building they want.

No other legal documents defining FEZ activities have been adopted since a law on free economic zones was passed three years ago by the parliament.