Lithuania has huge potential of ‘border integration' with Belarus

Lithuania has the highest potential of border integration' with Belarus, reads the article written by Chairman of the State Border Committee of Belarus Leonid Maltsev published in the Sovetskaya Belorussiya newspaper on 13 January, BelTA has learned.

The launch of the small border traffic at the Belarusian-Polish border and the Belarusian-Lithuanian border has been in the spotlight of mass media. Members of the public of Belarus, Lithuania and Poland discuss small border traffic prospects expressing various opinions, sometimes even incorrect ones, about the situation, Leonid Maltsev says.

In his words, to imagine what the infrastructure of the state border and the near-border territory should be, it is needed to analyze several demographic indicators which have an impact on the small border traffic formation. For example, it comprises 202 towns and rural councils with the total population of about 1.7 million (about 18% of the country's population) in Belarus. Of them, 113 towns and rural councils (about 600,000 people) are in the Lithuanian direction, 89 jurisdictions with the population of about 1.1 million are in the Polish direction.

Just to compare: small border traffic can be launched in 93 jurisdictions in Poland and Lithuania. There are 600,000 people living in such territories of Poland (1.5% of the country's population), 800,000 people in Lithuania (27.5%, mostly in Vilnius). Obviously, Lithuania has the highest potential of border integration' with Belarus, because more than a fourth of its citizens can get an opportunity to visit Belarus in the facilitated regime. At the same time, the majority of Belarusian small border traffic participants (about 65%) live near Poland, especially in Brest and Grodno, the chairman of the State Border Committee remarks.

On the whole, more than 3 million people will be able to cross the border in the facilitated regime and move freely in the near-border territories. If, for example, only one tenth of them, or 300,000 people, travel to the neighboring countries at least once a month, after the introduction of the small border traffic regulations the load on border checkpoints will increase by at least 30%.

As of today, about 1.2 citizens cross the Belarusian border in these directions every month. If the small border traffic becomes more popular, the load on border checkpoints will increase to 70% by the most conservative estimate. Therefore, the infrastructure of border checkpoints should be prepared and adapted before the introduction of these innovations, reads the article.

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