Lithuania calls for tougher EU action on refugee issues | free press


In response to EU sanctions, Belarus under ruler Alexander Lukashenko is letting hundreds of refugees through to Lithuania. Lithuania’s foreign minister therefore wants the EU to impose even stricter sanctions.

Vilnius/Brussels (dpa) – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called for tougher action by the European Union given the rapidly increasing number of illegal entries into his country via Belarus.

“If the migration situation in Lithuania deteriorates further, new and stricter European sanctions against Belarus should be introduced,” Landsbergis told the world. “I have already suggested that in the Council. This is not a refugee crisis, but a “hybrid warfare” against us.”

Asylum rules already tightened

Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly threatened the EU to let in refugees from war zones in response to sanctions imposed on his country. Lithuania, which has an almost 680-kilometer-long border with Belarus, is particularly hard hit.

Several hundred migrants had crossed the border illegally in recent weeks. As a result, Lithuania has recently tightened its asylum rules.

“Lukashenko’s smuggling network” broken

“We need to join our efforts in Europe to break up Lukashenko’s smuggling network,” Landsbergis said. The regime in Belarus is getting rich, Gabrielius called it a “profitable business” for the country.

«Belarusian companies are active in the countries of origin and organize the trips. One of our neighboring countries sells tickets for 7,000 or 8,000 euros, which people would use to illegally enter the EU. The route is also attractive for migrants because there are no dangers associated with it.