Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications Eligijus Masiulis has warned the European Union against effecting democratic change in Belarus taking measures that could harm EU member states’ economies.
In an interview published by Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos rytas on April 13, 2012 the Minister expressed fears that EU sanctions could divert Belarusian cargoes from Lithuania’s Klaipeda to other seaports.
According to delfi.lt, the interview was Masiulis’ response to the stand of Ambassador of Belarus to Lithuania Uladzimir Drazhyn, who pointed out that supporting EU sanctions on Belarus Lithuania ventures 7 billion litas ($2.66 million), while the number of the unemployed might increase by 12 thousand people.
It should be noted that the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry called Mr. Drazhyn’s words «tendentious and exceptional».
In his turn, Mr. Masiulis wants the EU «not to confuse economic relations with political views» and urged Lithuanian politicians to «actively explain the situation to Brussels».
The Minister stressed that potential diverting of Belarusian cargoes to other transit routes would do incalculable harm to Lithuanian interests. Belarus ships its fertilizers and agricultural equipment to customers abroad mainly through the Klaipeda seaport. «This yields high revenues for our state. For instance, Belarusian fertilizers accounted for roughly five million tons out of the 36.6 million tons transported through the Klaipeda seaport last year. It is impossible to set off such losses for in a short span of time,» he said.
«If we lose orders from Minsk, Belarusian cargoes will be shipped through Russia, across the Black Sea,» the minister added.
On March 23, 2012 the Council of the EU Foreigh Ministers introduced sanctions on 29 Belarusian enterprises and 12 persons taking responsibility for human rights abuse and repressions against opposition and civil society due to their supporting Aliaksandr Lukashenka or backing him financially. They are added to some 230 Belarusians already blacklisted.