Faced with a threat of African swine fever (ASF), the Lithuanian government plans to team up with Latvia, Estonia and Poland and to apply for the European Union’s (EU) support.
© Viliaus Paškevičiaus nuotr.

Agriculture ministers and chief veterinary officers from the four countries plan to meet in Vilnius the coming Wednesday.

“We are working out the details of the meeting now. We have to discuss what the European Union should be asked for, how we should tackle the problem of African swine fever,” Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė told BNS.

The participants of the meeting will talk about European support, but the exact amount that might be requested is still unknown, she said.

According to the minister, the spread of the virus has shown that the situation is complicated.

The second wave of contagion might hit Lithuania in fall with the return of wild boars to Lithuanian forests from the maize fields in Belarus, she believes.

Jonas Milius, the head of the State Food and Veterinary Service, told BNS that Lithuania would once again come up with a proposal to build a fence along its border with Belarus, although such a measure might come too late.

“Europe now suffers approximately 4 million euros in daily losses due to restrictions of trade with Russia. The fence would have cost less and it would have stopped the spread of the virus from Belarus, which does not provide us any information about contagion,” he told BNS.

Milius first proposed to build the fence last summer in response to the first ASF outbreak in Belarus. However, the European Commission rejected this initiative.

The fence, estimated to cost around 12 million euros, was the costliest of the measures thus far proposed by Lithuania to combat ASF.

The Commission last year earmarked 1.948 million euros to support Lithuania’s fight against ASF, about one-tenth of what the country had been asking for since the end of 2013 (EUR 20 million).

BNS
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