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Lithuania - Belarus Border Barrier

In implementing the 1995 February 6 The Lithuanian-Belarusian Agreement on the Lithuanian-Belarusian Border, signed in 2006. March 10 the marking of the Lithuanian-Belarusian state border was completed, the last sign of the Lithuanian-Belarusian state border was built - a buoy in Gilute Lake. Lithuania had previously completed the physical marking of the state border.

There are 6 international border crossing points (2 railways, 4 roads) and 11 roadside checkpoints between Lithuania and Belarus. In the future, it is planned to grant the status of international control points to 2 local road traffic control points after the installation of infrastructure, as well as to open 1 international river border control point.

The total length of the Lithuanian-Belarusian state border is 678,819 km, of which 380 km is land and 299 km is water. A total of 1955 state border signs were installed, including 1246 on land, 457 along rivers, streams and drainage ditches, 93 transitional and 2 special. The state border, which passes through water bodies, lakes and ponds, is marked by 71 buoys in the 32-kilometer-long section of border waters: Dubo, Gruda, Drukiai, Apvardai, Pruta, Gilute, Rauketai, Tverecius lakes, Purvenai, Jurgioniai and Tausiunai ponds.

Demarcation works carried out by Lithuania were financed from the state budget, and most of the works performed by Belarus were financed by the EU. 2007 February 2 the final demarcation documents of the border of the Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Belarus were signed. This is the first demarcation of the EU's eastern external border.

In late 2018 a new video surveillance system was installed near Belarus, in the Lavorikes firewall section. According to the State Border Guard Service, the company FIMA laid a sensor cable in the 22-kilometer section and installed a network of 300 video cameras. An information system was also set up to collect data from the facilities and generate reports for officers at the monitoring station.

According to Vytautas Ulevicius, the head of the Border Surveillance Division of the Border Control Organization Board, until now this section has been controlled by seismic sensors, therefore a more modern system was wanted. "We are convinced that such a combination of technologies helps to effectively detect violations of the state border and acts as an excellent preventive measure. This is another thoughtful solution that will help to continue to properly ensure the protection of the external border of the European Union and the Schengen area, V. Ulevicius is quoted in the report.

According to the border guards, if the sensor cable or video camera captures the event at the border, the signal will be automatically transmitted to the monitoring station in Lavorikes firewall, and the camera will present the image of the violation on the computer screen.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Shimonyte on 07 July 2021 announced that her government would build "an additional physical barrier that separates Lithuania and Belarus," and deploy soldiers to control the flow of people entering the country from neighboring Belarus. The prime minister had previously called the idea "a waste of time." The two ex-Soviet countries share a 678-kilometer (421-mile) border, and a fence would cost an estimated 15 million ($17.7 million).

The apparent change of heart came as the number of migrants crossing the border an external EU border has skyrocketed in recent weeks. EU officials believe Minsk seeking revenge for Western sanctions over a number of issues including election rigging and human rights abuses. The Lithuanian government said it has documented more than 1,300 illegal crossings over the first six months of 2021, as opposed to a total of 81 in 2020. "We assess the process itself as hybrid aggression, which is directed not against Lithuania but against the entire European Union. The basis was the principled position of the whole EU, as well as Lithuania, on the falsified election results, repression of civil society and human rights defenders," said Shimonyte.

On 06 July 2021, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko had threatened to let migrants from war-torn countries enter the EU unhindered. Most of those now entering Lithuania are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. "Belarusian regime agencies are actively and passively involved in organizing the flow of illegal migrants. The conditions for crossing the border are created deliberately and we tend to see behind that, among other things, the purpose to harm our state and destabilize the situation," said Shimonyte.

The situation, though not new, has escalated in recent weeks. In June, ahead of the recent EU summit, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told European leaders that Belarus was increasingly using migrants as a political weapon.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Wednesday told reporters that he had summoned the head of Belarus' embassy to demand Minsk stop the flow across the shared border. Moreover, he said he had asked his Turkish counterpart to help identify migrants coming into Lithuania from Belarus. "A large part of the people [entering Lithuania from Belarus] arrive from Turkey, on Turkish airlines," he said. "We believe that Turkey knows their identities. In cooperation with Turkey, we can easily determine their identities and demand they are accepted by the states they originate from."

"There are travel agencies, direct flights, connecting Minsk and Baghdad for instance, and there are agencies in Belarus and other countries that are responsible for attracting 'tourists' to Minsk," Shimonyte said. She added that most arrivals in Minsk had come on flights from the Iraqi capital. The government additionally noted that some migrants had boarding cards from Belarus state carrier Belavia in their possession when they arrived at the border.

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Page last modified: 19-07-2021 18:28:10 ZULU