Minister of Transport and Communications: Lithuania should not remain a “transport island”

Date

2016 05 10

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“Lithuania should not remain a “transport island” in the European Union; we must become part of the European transport network,” Lithuanian minister of transport and communications Rimantas Sinkevičius stated during his meeting with Flemish (Belgium) Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois when speaking about a section of the railway Rail Baltica between the Poland-Lithuania border and Kaunas. A 127 km stretch of the new European 1435 mm standard gauge was built in the territory of Lithuania, and nineteen bridges were renovated or constructed.

A delegation led Flemish Prime Minister was also interested in Lithuanian’s participation in the project One Belt, One Road, a strategy implemented by the Chinese government. According to Mr Sinkevičius, this strategy is built on the concept that the routes of economic cooperation and transport to Europe go through the Baltic States.

“Our goal is present Lithuania and its transport infrastructure as a reliable transport point of the new Silk Road. We hope that Chinese cargo will be delivered to Scandinavia and Western Europe through the port of Klaipėda. As a fast growing transit country, Lithuania has a real opportunity to become a major player of the global transport and logistics market by taking an active part in the development of this strategy,” pointed out Mr. Sinkevičius.

When speaking about the impact of Russia’s sanctions on Lithuania’s economy and ports, Mr. Sinkevičius admitted that they negatively affected the transport sector. In his words, transit to Russia declined by 40 per cent as a result of Russia’s political decisions.  

“Despite this Lithuania managed to switch to other markets, namely be increasing cargo transit to Western European countries. As a result the port of Klaipėda not only retained the volume of cargo handling but even managed to increase it in 2014-2015. We hope this year will also be record in terms of cargo handing volume in the port of Klaipėda,” said Mr. Sinkevičius.

Mr. Sinkevičius has expressed his special gratitude to Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois for the support of the Flemish government provided under the tripartite Lithuanian and Flemish cooperation programme for 2016-2018, which gives an opportunity for Lithuanian transport specialists to participate in internships and get acquainted with the Flemish transport and logistics system, take up master’s degree studies at the University of Antwerp, and participate in training programmes for marine transport specialists.

After the meeting with the Lithuanian minister the representatives of Flemish delegation, including the heads of four ports – Antwerp, Ghent, Ostend and Zeebrugge – met with the heads of the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority.