Lithuania Seeks to Annul Contract With Belarusian Fertilizer Giant
17:44 GMT 09.12.2021 (Updated: 17:46 GMT 09.12.2021)
© AFP 2023 / SERGEI GAPONA photographer clambers along mounds of potassium waste from the local salt mine in the town of Soligorsk, some 140 km south from Minsk, on September 10, 2014. Soligorsk which translates into "The town of salt" has one of the biggest potassium deposits in the world, producing and exporting potash fertilizers.
© AFP 2023 / SERGEI GAPON
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Lithuania will find a way to break the contract with Belarusian state-owned potash fertilizer producer Belaruskali and avoid any financial damage, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Thursday.
"We will definitely find solutions regarding the termination of the agreement [with Belaruskali] in such a way that the Republic of Lithuania does not face the risk of financial damage," Simonyte said at a Seimas meeting, broadcast on the parliament's website.
However, Mantas Bartuska, head of Lithuanian Railways, warned on Thursday that the termination of the contract with Belaruskali could result in major financial losses for Vilnius. Last month, the Belarusian company paid for the transit of its products through Lithuania for up to three months in advance, he explained.
"According to the agreement, there will be major financial consequences. I would not like to name the amounts themselves, because it is very likely that this situation will end up in international arbitration in any case," Bartuska was quoted as saying by the DELFI news outlet.
Lithuanian Railways tried to return the money paid in advance but failed to do so, he added.
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However, the country's Transport Ministry is studying the contract in question in an attempt to find a way to return the prepayment, Transport Minister Marius Skuodis, who has tendered his resignation over the scandal, said.
"The alternative is a decision at the government level obliging all our enterprises not to participate in the transportation of fertilizers," he was quoted as saying by the news outlet 15min.
The controversy around the transit of Belaruskali goods via Lithuania, in spite of US sanctions against Minsk effective since 8 December, has also prompted Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis to announce his intention to step down along with Skuodis.
Both ministers are awaiting Simonyte's decision on their resignation appeals, which is to be delivered next week.