Friday

28th Jul 2017

Lithuania seeks EU support on Russia border clampdown

  • Lithuanian trucks are backed up on the Russian border since 11 September (Photo: David Basanta)

Lithuania has accused Russia of imposing new border checks for political reasons and urged the EU to show solidarity.

Its foreign minister, Linas Linkevicius, told EUobserver on Monday (16 September), the border clampdown is part of Russia's campaign to intimidate former Soviet states which seek EU integration.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said: "Knowing what kind of measures are being applied against Ukraine and Moldova, and now getting the news of thorough checks, sample taking and other procedures for all the goods exclusively from Lithuania … it is difficult to see this situation in an isolated manner."

He added he "expects" EU countries and officials to make "strong calls urging Russia to keep to its international commitments, as well as to stop and refrain from any discriminatory practices directed at Lithuania as the rotating EU presidency."

Linkevicius spoke out on the morning of an EU transport ministers' meeting in Vilnius.

His complaint comes after Russia on 11 September imposed a new customs regime on Lithuanian road hauliers.

Trucks which used to clear customs in half a day are now backed up on the Lithuanian-Russian border awaiting permits which could up take up to a week.

Russia on 30 August also began harassing cars with Lithuanian plates trying to get in and out of Russia's European exclave, Kaliningrad, prompting a 90 percent drop in traffic.

Lithuania will in November host an EU summit with six former Soviet countries in a bid to pull them closer to the Union.

It is a vocal critic of Russia's recent threats to block trade with Moldova and Ukraine if they conclude EU agreements at the November event.

Vilnius on Friday summoned the Russian ambassador to Lithuania to give him a written complaint about its border problem.

But Linkevicius indicated the Russian diplomat did little to alleviate concerns. "Absence of official explanations by the Russian authorities does not help," he told this website.

One former Soviet state, Armenia, recently caused surprise by saying it will join Russia's Customs Union instead of an EU free trade pact.

EU neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan last week to ask what happened.

EU diplomats suspect Russia threatened to make trouble for Armenia in its frozen conflict with Azerbaijan.

But Fuele told the RFE/RFL news agency in an interview: "In none of my meetings have I been told by Armenian officials that there was any [Russian] pressure. Who am I to question the integrity of my interlocutors?"

He noted that "he has not given up on Armenia" despite its Customs Union decision.

He said he will create a "new legal framework" so that Armenia can continue EU-model reforms in areas such as rule of law and good governance despite joining the Russian club.

Following Russia's ban on Moldovan wine on 10 September, Fuele added the EU will increase quotas for Moldovan wine imports to the Union by way of compensation.

"We have assured [the former Soviet states] that if they become the subject of undue pressure because of exercising their free choice, they can count on the solidarity [of the EU]. Solidarity is not an empty word in the European Union," he said.

Russia's information war in Lithuania

The Lithuanian State Security Department has issued a booklet with tips on how to recognise a spy as citizens amid a febrile atmosphere in the aftermath of Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Corbyn re-opens Labour's single market wound
  2. Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue
  3. EU court could dismiss national borders in cyberspace
  4. Confusion swirls around Macron's Libya 'hotspots'
  5. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  6. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  7. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  8. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis