ABBA press release on Lithuanian Law amendments

March 2023

Statement on the draft law on the amendment of the Law on International Sanctions no. XIVP-2493 and the accompanying draft law on establishing restrictive measures regarding military aggression against Ukraine no. XIVP-2496(2) adopted in the first reading by the Parliament of Lithuania. As a representative of fair Belarusian business from around the world, being supported by the European Commission and many EU members’ governments, the Association of the Belarusian Business Abroad (ABBA) expresses deep concern about restrictive measures towards Belarusian citizens in the forthcoming amendments of the Laws on International Sanctions currently being considered by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.  

We are certain that adoption of the amendments will make it practically impossible for the relocation of the fair Belarusian business to Lithuania, with the following negative implications for its economy: 
  • Restricting the volume of investments coming to Lithuania from Belarusian business owners
  • Restricting number of new working places created in Lithuania by the companies with Belarusian capital
  • Restricting number of needed high- and middle-skilled Belarusian professionals that will be able to come to work in Lithuania 
  • Damaging the image of Lithuania as a business-friendly country for Belarusians. 
Today, Lithuania is the second largest destination for relocation of Belarusian business with more than 660 companies with Belarusian owners, with thousands of employees that pay taxes, invest, and bring their valuable ideas to life. Three Belarusian companies are on the list of top-10 taxpayers among IT companies in Lithuania, two of them are in the top-3. Belarusian businesses keep leaving their home country because of unbearable political and economic repressions by the Lukashenka regime. With the adoption of the amendments, the Belarusian business will seek other jurisdictions in the EU and worldwide, instead of Lithuania. 

We at ABBA respect the right to ensure the national security of Lithuania. We understand that the root cause of the problem lies in the aggression of two authoritarian regimes that threaten their neighbors. Hybrid attacks, attempts to circumvent sanctions with the assistance of some citizens of Belarus, unfortunately, occur. To keep away from that, the Association runs an internal security mechanism – the verification of businesses, to make sure that our members, companies with Belarusian origin and their founders, make fair business in the EU, have no relationship to sanctions or the Lukashenka/Putin regime. ABBA has a very strict Code of Business Ethics and we thoroughly monitor that our members follow it.

Therefore, we suggest not imposing a ban on all Belarusian citizens based on the principle of nationality. If the amendments to the Laws are accepted, we propose to create a mechanism of visa and residency allowance for the owners and employees of the fair businesses that have no threat to the national security of Lithuania. The program, similar to Poland. Business Harbour, currently implemented in Poland, could create a database of the companies and institutions that may apply or recommend issuing a visa or a residency permit for those Belarusians who would like to move their fair business to Lithuania or relocate their employees. ABBA is ready to cooperate with the Lithuanian government and relevant institutions to verify that Belarusian business in Lithuania is in no way connected with the Belarusian regime, does not support military aggression and shares the values of freedom and democracy.  We believe that a flexible approach will help both to preserve the interests of honest Belarusian businessmen and businesswomen and to guarantee the security of the Republic of Lithuania. 

March 27, 2023 

Yauheni Bury
ABBA President