Jurbarkas, a Lithuanian district bordering the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, may have to return almost 1 million euros in EU money improperly used in implementing a 17-million-euro water management project jointly with Neman, a town on the other side of the border.
© DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

The funds were transferred in advance to the municipality of Neman, which failed to justify the use of the money.

The Polish Investment and Economic Development Ministry, which administered the Lithuania-Poland-Russia Cross-Border Cooperation Program for 2007-2013, demanded back in April 2017 that Jurbarkas, the leading partner in the project, return 962,200 euros.

On August 14, 2018, the Polish ministry gave the Lithuanian municipality 45 days to transfer the money.

Skirmantas Mockevičius, the district's mayor, hopes that the European Commission will take over the issue and will recover the money directly from the Russian side.

"Neman keeps promising to return the money, but they don't have it. Under the directive, in case of our failure to pay back the funds in a year, this issue should be referred to the European Commission, but the Polish ministry demands the money from us," Mockevičius told BNS.

"Lithuania hardly has the levers to recover the funds from Russia, no matter what the size of the debt is or who the debtor is," the mayor said.

"I think this is a political issue. I've no doubt that the Russian side cleverly uses it for political purposes," he added.

According to the mayor, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of regional policies, have been informed about the Polish ministry's demand.

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