Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Analysis

Is Germany more hawkish on Russia?

Germany's socialist foreign minister just said the EU should "step up pressure" on Russia. Merkel aired "political" doubts on a Russian pipeline.

News in Brief

  1. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  2. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  3. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  4. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement
  5. Nahles elected new leader of Germany's SPD
  6. Report: EU budget to refocus on South
  7. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  8. MEPs urge better protection for journalists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  3. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  5. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  6. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  7. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  8. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  9. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  10. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations

Latest News

  1. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  2. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  3. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP
  4. 'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly
  5. France tightens immigration law, sparking division
  6. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  7. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  8. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes