Lithuania Wants More EU Involvement In Handling Illegal Migration From Belarus

Lithuania Wants More EU Involvement in Handling Illegal Migration From Belarus

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 21st July, 2021) Lithuania expects European Union institutions to make a greater effort in deporting irregular migrants crossing from Belarus, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told EU ambassadors on Wednesday.

"The EU's coordinated action is of great importance, when talking to the third countries of origin and transit and pursuing an effective readmission policy. We expect greater involvement of the EU institutions in the facilitation of the return of irregular migrants from Belarus. It is important for the EU to send a clear message that irregular migrants will be returned to their countries of origin," Landsbergis said.

He described Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's policy toward the EU as progressively more aggressive, saying that Europe's response must be "strong and clear."

"We are starting discussions and preparing to expand economic sanctions on Belarus," the minister added.

For the past few weeks, Lithuania has been accusing Belarus of facilitating the transit of illegal migrants through its territory into the EU. The Lithuanian border guard service claims that 2,228 illegal immigrants have tried to enter Lithuania from Belarus this year so far, which is 27 times more than in the whole of 2020.

On July 2, the Lithuanian government declared an emergency and began to seek assistance from its EU partners in handling the migration crisis. On the same day, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that his country will not contain the flow of illegal migrants to the EU any longer, as it does not have enough capacity due to the EU sanctions imposed on Minsk. He later agreed to cooperate on a paid basis.