The Ministry of the Interior of Lithuania has decided to extend the state of emergency along the entire border section of the country with Belarus and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation for another two months.
In a statement issued today, the Ministry said that the state of emergency which was set to end on March 16 will remain in place until May 2, 2023, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
In this regard, the Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitė said that the war in Ukraine has been going on for a year now, and along with it, the crimes against humanity, war crimes and violations of international law are continuing.
“We propose to extend the state of emergency because, during a tense geopolitical situation, we must ensure public safety, constitutional order and national security,” she also noted.
As the Ministry explains, during the state of emergency, a stricter visa regime will continue to apply. The same points out that the issuing of visas for Russian and Belarusian citizens in the visa-issuing services of the Republic of Lithuania abroad continues to remain suspended.
Lithuania issues visas for citizens of Russia and Belarus only in case the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intervenes.
At the same time, during the state of emergency, it will be also possible to use the state reserve to ensure adequate financing of the state institutions involved in the management of the state of emergency and to eliminate possible threats to the national security interests of Lithuania.
Earlier this month, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry proposed that the country extends the state of emergency until April 17 of this year. However, taking into account the current situation, it decided to prolong it until May.
Back when the first proposal was given, Minister Bilotaitė said that the extension of this measure is necessary to protect public safety and to guarantee national security. She also condemned the actions of Belarus and Russia, calling on them to stop crimes against humanity and other violations.
At the end of January, the Lithuanian government also cancelled the agreement with Belarus on the main principles of cross-border cooperation due to the current geopolitical situation.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, such a decision was taken due to the political situation in the Republic of Belarus after the elections that were held in the summer of 2020.
Furthermore, the Ministry said that the measures also have to do with the instrumentalisation of migrants by the Lukashenko regime to destabilise the situation in the EU as well as the involvement in the war against Ukraine.