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Lithuanian Defense Committee chairman apologizes for putting blame on Estonians for teddy-bear incident

Šarūno Mažeikos/BFL nuotr. / Anušauskas
Šaltinis: BNS

Arvydas Anušauskas, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, apologized on Wednesday for his claim that Estonian military officers were responsible for protecting Lithuania's airspace during the Swedish teddy-bear incident.

Activists from Sweden flew to Belarus from Lithuania on 4 July, airdropped a thousand teddy-bears with pro-democratic messages and returned to Lithuania.

The politician said in a statement that he "takes full responsibility and apologizes for his words that were misunderstood and interpreted as accusations against Estonian military officers."

"I have not given an interview or made a statement on the issue, let alone accusing Estonian officers, but I take full responsibility for my words uttered during a radio discussion, and I regret the fact that they were misinterpreted," Anušauskas said.

Anušauskas said last week the Swedish plane which flew teddy-bears with pro-democratic messages to Belarus violated Lithuania's border due to a mistake by the Estonian shift of the Karmėlava-based Airspace Surveillance and Control Command.

"One minor mistake determines a lot. I think that in this case a mistake was made as planes are on the radars and their speed is technically identified. Since there was no identification, there was no radio connection with the Swedish plane, tags were automatically put: an 'identified' plane took off from Pociūnai (aerodrome), and the lost plane returned to Lithuania's airspace, so they had to tag it as 'unidentified'. And then the whole system starts working, fighter jets are sent from Šiauliai. But it was tagged as 'identified'," Anusauskas told Žinių Radijas (News Radio) on Saturday.

"What can I say? It was an Estonian shift. (…) There are Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians in Karmėlava, it was an Estonian shift. What can we do… We cannot do anything to Estonian officers," He said.

Meanwhile the Lithuanian army said shifts of military staff at the Karmėlava-based Airspace Surveillance and Control Command are not divided on the basis of nationality.

Estonia's Ministry of Defense refused to comment on Anušauskas' words.

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