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Lithuania Explains Reason For Closing Border Crossings With Belarus

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Lithuania Explains Reason For Closing Border Crossings With Belarus

The Minister of Internal Affairs made a statement.

Lithuanian Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė said that the closure of two more checkpoints on the border with Belarus is due to several factors, including the lack of resources for high-quality control and the intensification of the activities of the Belarusian special services against Lithuania.

"Neighboring states have one border crossing each, but Lithuania has four. As a result, the flow of goods, transport and people through points on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border increased by 50%. More resources are needed to control flows, prevent smuggling, enforce international sanctions, and mitigate traffic safety risks. This decision was also due to the risks associated with the strengthening of the activities of the Belarusian special services against Lithuania and our citizens, " Agnė Bilotaitė said.

According to her, the Lithuanian government approved the decision to reduce by 50% the number of permits issued to Belarusian and Lithuanian carriers for regular international passenger bus transportation between the countries.

The Lithuanian government notes that in 2023, almost 3.9 million people passed control at the border with Belarus, which is 25.5% more than in 2022. 66% were citizens of Belarus.

According to published statistics, the number of Lithuanian citizens who visited Belarus in 2023 decreased by 13.4% to 684,000 people. However, the Lithuanian government considers these figures to be "extremely high".

The Lithuanian government also reminded its citizens of the recommendation "not to visit Russia and Belarus in connection with the recent intensification of hostile and provocative actions of Belarusian and Russian special services against Lithuanian citizens who are already in or temporarily arrived in these countries."

On February 21, the Lithuanian government supported the initiative of the National Center for Crisis Management to close two more checkpoints on the border with Belarus — Raigardas and Lavorishkes - from March 1.

The Medininkai and Šalčininkai checkpoints will remain open, but pedestrians and cyclists will also be restricted from spring.

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