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Avia Solutions Group, an aviation business group, says it is disappointed with the recent decision by the Lithuanian government's commission vetting deals important to national security to block its investment at Vilnius Airport due to potential threat to national security, calling it "a with hunt".
Avia Solutions Group calls block on its investment in Vilnius "witch hunt"
© DELFI / Modesta Meškė

Supporters of the government position say any investment into strategic objects should be strictly monitored based on transatlantic criteria and taking into account an investor's ties with the Russian and Chinese regimes.

Avia Solutions Group wanted to reconstruct its hangar at Vilnius Airport where aircraft are serviced and repaired.

But the government panel involving representatives of various ministries, law enforcement and intelligence services on Thursday objected to such plans, and such a conclusion will be submitted to the government.

Usackas: surprised and disappointed

Vygaudas Usackas, a board member at Avia Solutions Group, says the reconstruction of the company's existing hangar poses no threat, adding that any reproach over ties with Russia has no basis as the group and its shareholder Gediminas Ziemelis sold the stake in Moscow's Zhykovsky Airports several years ago.

"We, of course, are surprised and disappointed as we planned to invest a small amount, 7 million euros, at Vilnius Airport. Under an advanced agreement, FL Technics will continue using the land lot until 2053, it's a leased lot, a hangar we use for operation. We wanted to expand it and this way we would have created 200 high-value jobs," Usackas told BNS on Friday.

He said the company now generates just 5 percent of its revenue in Russia.

"Our group operates at more than 70 airports, with the absolute majority of them situated in EU and NATO countries where we are welcome, we receive permits and do business. If somebody is involved in a witch hunt, I leave for those people to decide. We will do business where we are invited and are welcome, but we will also do business in Lithuania," Usackas said.

Kasciunas: it’s important to evaluate ties

Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, says he has no doubt the government commission made a reasoned decision, having assessed the investor's ties with countries non-friendly towards Lithuania.

"Lithuania has one of the EU's strongest mechanisms for the evaluation of investment into strategic objects. Investment into strategic objects must meet transatlantic and Euro-Atlantic security criteria, have no ties with the Russian, Chinese or other non-democratic regime and interests groups close to them" Kasciunas told BNS on Friday.

"I have no doubt the government commission had an in-depth look into the potential investor's ties with countries non-friendly towards Lithuania or their structures and made a reasoned decision," he added.

It's not the first time when the government blocks Avia Solutions Group's expansion at Vilnius Airport due to national security reasons as the government panel concluded in 2015 that the expansion of FL Technics, part of the group, within the airport territory would not meet national security interests.

Lithuanian border guards earlier decided against working with Helisota, a helicopter and aircraft repair company, for the same reason.

BNS
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