Lithuania hands protest note to Belarus over border closure

Vilnius has send a diplomatic note to Minsk in protest over its decision to close the Belarusian border to passenger transport from Lithuania, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The note, handed to the Belarusian embassy in Vilnius on Friday, says that the neighbouring country has violated an intergovernmental agreement on border crossing points.

“On Thursday afternoon, Belarus unilaterally, without informing Lithuania, violated the procedures provided for in the bilateral agreement and partially closed its border with Lithuania,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Foreign Ministry requests Belarus to explain the causes and reasons for this violation, and to ensure that it does not happen again,” it said.

Lithuania’s Border Guard Service (VSAT) reported on Thursday afternoon that passenger vehicles crossing into Belarus – though not freight traffic – were being turned down at the border.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius then commented to LRT RADIO that the Vilnius government had not been informed about the restrictions.

Belarus later said it had closed its border to travellers from Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Ukraine over the coronavirus situation.

Lithuania and Poland have been fierce critics of the government of Alexander Lukashenko and its crackdown on opposition protests in Belarus. The protests were triggered by the presidential election of August 8 that many believe was rigged.


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