Lithuania hands note to Belarus in protest over border closure
Topics: LITHUANIA BELARUS
The note, handed to Belarus' embassy in Vilnius on Friday, says that Minsk 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.
Belarus closed its border to passenger transport with Lithuania on Thursday afternoon, citing coronavirus safety requirements as the reason.
Neither Belarusians nor foreigners could enter the country, but the movement of freight transport was not restricted.
Lithuanian border guards say the border has now been reopened to Belarusian nationals.
"Belarusian border guards are allowing Belarusians into and out of their territory," Rustamas Liubajevas, the commander of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service, told BNS on Friday. "Yesterday, there were cases when Belarus did not allow in its citizens who hold permanent residence permits in Lithuania and Estonia. Overall, there was some confusion on the Belarusian side yesterday," he added.
Foreign nationals who have work visas, employment contracts or residence permits in Belarus are also allowed into the country. Other foreign travelers are denied entry, according to the commander.
"There are restrictions for foreigners who are just travelling (...) There were cases when Ukrainian citizens traveled from Lithuania to Belarus and they were not allowed in," he said. ■