VILNIUS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite proposed on Wednesday that investments in strategically important sectors of the economy should be vetted by the government to ensure they do not pose a threat to national security.
The draft legislation, which must be approved by parliament, follows reports that a Russian-led company leased two large plots of land next to Siauliai airport in northern Lithuania, a base for NATO planes patrolling the Baltic skies.
Siauliai and the country’s other airports were included on the list of strategically important sectors, alongside energy, finance, transport, communications and IT.
Without mentioning Russia, the president’s office said the bill was proposed “due to a changed geopolitical situation ... national security can be threatened by investment into economy sectors which have strategic importance to national security”.
The proposal highlights security concerns raised in the Baltic state of 3 million by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine and its support for pro-Russian separatists in that country’s east.
European Union and NATO member Lithuania regained independence from Moscow in 1991 after decades of Soviet rule but remains wary of its giant neighbour.
“Our colleagues in the security service showed us that these are the most sensitive and most vulnerable parts of the economy,” Grybauskaite’s chief adviser Giedre Kaminskaite-Salters told Reuters.
“We are in a complicated geopolitical situation, and we will fight for the security of our country - which includes these strategic economy sectors.”
The Baltic states, including Lithuania, have asked NATO to increase its presence in the region in order to deter any potential aggression as Russia has been stepping up naval maneuvers and military flights near their borders. (Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Writing by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Catherine Evans)