BNN Analysis: Lukashenko’s Promise of ‘Unprecedented and Rapid Citizenship for Honest and Good Neighbors’ Could Backfire – Baltic News Network

Specially for BNN Linus Jegelevicius

Belarus’ authoritarian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko has made headlines this week by promising “unprecedented expedited citizenship procedures for honest and good neighbors” in the Baltics and Poland.

But Lithuania’s National Security Agency (VSD) has warned that the temptation could have serious consequences later.

Lukashenko told Zerkalo newspaper that Belarus is “already quickly granting citizenship to Ukrainians coming to Ukraine.”

When asked if he could also provide for the country’s western neighbors, Lithuanians, Latvians and Poles, Lukashenko answered in the affirmative.

Belarus introduced a visa-free regime for travelers from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland from April 15th.

«It doesn’t get any faster than this. Because in our country the president can give citizenship. Please put the documents on my desk. Never late. The same procedure applies to Lithuanians, Latvians and Poles,” said the Belarusian emir.

«We are happy to welcome professionals who want to live in Belarus and work with us. It was the initiative of the Belarusian parliamentary group, namely parliamentarians),” said the Belarusian leading figure, adding: anywhere in the world. we are ready for that. »

«We do our best to have the most decent and best neighbors in our Belarusian family. Anyone who wants to work with us and live like a Belarusian, please do so – the door is open, ”Lukashenko emphasized.

Foreign analysts say the role of Belarus will soon become more active, despite the fact that the Belarusian leader has avoided involvement in hostilities against Ukraine despite the fact that it is not recognized by the West. I am concerned that it is possible.

Kestutis Badris, national security adviser to Lithuanian President Hytanas Nauseda, said the authoritarian Belarusian president’s promise to “do everything to grant Belarusian citizenship to honest and good neighbors” , said it was just a propaganda message.

«This is a lie, an abomination to propaganda, and perhaps the least important of what it says exactly. It aims to show that it is a country that wants to live with everyone, harms no one, harms no one. Malicious against Belarus. And this is a complete lie. This is a state that contributes to the military aggression, participates in the military aggression against Ukraine, and also organizes various attacks on those who oppose us, pushing them across the border. This is a hostile state and anything that comes out of it should be viewed as such – it’s the usual scam or propaganda message,” Kęstutis Budrys told LRT Radio on Thursday, August 4.

Budrys does not rule out the possibility that there may be reasons to change citizenship after Lukashenka’s invitation, but strongly recommends assessing the situation “ethically and morally” before making a decision.

«And speaking of the past, there have been people who have changed their citizenship and decided to go to another country, but that in itself is not a big deal. If it is to change their citizenship, that is their will, but moral, ethical, and all other assessments must be made here, respectively. An aggressor nation that promotes crimes against humanity. We have to resist this,” he said.

Lithuanian authorities need to acknowledge the fact that many Lithuanians flock to Belarus for cheap commodities such as buckwheat and salt, and in most cases Belarusian border guards allow them entry.

Lukashenko even says that the border guards are thus showing “compassion and mercy” to Lithuanians seeking cheaper food and other goods.

«Look at neighboring Lithuania and Latvia, Poland. I’m not even talking about Ukraine. They were so happy and cheerful. Lived “overseas” and had everything. and now? They stand at the border and ask for permission to enter Belarus, at least to buy buckwheat »Belarusian news website quotes Alexander Lukashenko.

Meanwhile, Russian media have stepped further into the propaganda turf by claiming that Lithuanians are “greatly” seeking to buy cheap salt in Belarus.

A visa-free regime was introduced by Belarus specifically for Lithuania and Latvia and is valid for one month. Belarusian border guards claim about 4,000 people have arrived from the Baltic states, mainly Lithuania, in his first four days.

Giedrius Mišutis, a spokesman for the Lithuanian National Border Guard, said it was “difficult to provide an exact figure”, but the actual number of Lithuanians heading to Belarus since the Belarusian visa waiver system went into effect is increased by about one-third to

But Mishtis stresses that the reason for this is not only the visa waiver system, but also the relaxation of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sigimantas Maurikas, chief economist at Luminor Bank, said the tendency of Lithuanians to cross borders in search of cheaper goods has been observed for many years.

«Smokers in particular is a separate topic. It’s an open secret that Belarus exports most of this production, but it’s not reflected in export statistics, resulting in massive smuggling. It is indeed her one of the weapons of economic warfare that Lithuania cannot match. That means a lot of tobacco is being brought into Lithuania,” he said.

Analysts can’t say exactly how cheap fuel is in Belarus, but he said the difference should be significant.

“This is a threat of sorts to Lithuania’s economy,” he warned, arguing that Lithuania would lose a lot of taxes due to Belarusian smuggled goods, and even make the application of sanctions against Belarus less effective. . BNN Analysis: Lukashenko’s Promise of ‘Unprecedented and Rapid Citizenship for Honest and Good Neighbors’ Could Backfire – Baltic News Network

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