In response to sanctions, Belarusian ruler Lukashenko is allowing refugees to enter EU territory. Lithuania, which has been particularly hard hit, is now calling on the community for solidarity.
Vilnius (dpa) – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has appealed to the solidarity of the other EU countries in view of the sharp increase in the number of illegal entries into his country via Belarus.
“Protecting the EU’s external borders is the joint responsibility of all Member States,” he wrote in a joint letter with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa to EU heads of state or government. Lithuania is in a difficult position and needs help in the form of equipment to protect and guard the border with neighboring Belarus, a statement from the presidential chancellery in Vilnius said in the letter on Sunday.
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 a nearly 680 km-long border with Belarus, is particularly hard hit. Several hundred migrants had crossed the border illegally in recent weeks. According to official figures, there were more than 2000 people in July alone. Most of them have applied for asylum in Lithuania.
“This is a hybrid attack and a government-funded use of illegal migration as a weapon,” Nauseda and Jansa wrote. It was in response to EU support for the democratic opposition in Belarus and EU sanctions against authoritarian leaders in Minsk. Slovenia currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
Lithuania had recently tightened its asylum rules due to the influx of migrants and started erecting a fence. Due to the lack of barbed wire, construction of the border barrier has recently come to a halt. In recent weeks, the EU border security agency Frontex has sent additional border guards and equipment to the Baltic EU country.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson will discuss additional measures in Lithuania against the increasing number of illegal border crossings on Monday. According to the EU commission, Johansson will meet Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte in the capital Vilnius tomorrow morning. After that, a visit to the border crossing of Padvarionys is on the program together with the Minister of the Interior Agne Bilotaite.