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Baltic Prime Ministers discuss response to Lukashenka’s hybrid aggression against Lithuania and the EU

Date

2021 08 06

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On Friday, 6 August, Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė had a remote conversation with Prime Ministers of Estonia and Latvia, Kaja Kallas and Krišjānis Kariņš, respectively. The Prime Ministers discussed the security situation on the border with Belarus and the joint response to the Lukashenka regime’s hybrid aggression against Lithuania and the EU, and strongly condemned all attempts to use irregular migration to exert political pressure on the EU and its Member States.

The Lithuanian Prime Minister thanked Estonia and Latvia for their strong support and comprehensive assistance to the country in fighting the Belarusian regime-sponsored smuggling of illegal migrants to the EU via the border with Lithuania.

‘Estonia and Latvia were among the first countries to provide assistance to Lithuania. Your diplomatic efforts, practical assistance, and active participation in the Frontex mission in Lithuania are highly necessary for our country. This is the best example of solidarity and friendship between the Baltic states,’ said Prime Minister Šimonytė.

The Head of the Lithuanian Government emphasised that Lithuania was doing its utmost to ensure that no transit route to other EU countries was formed. According to the Head of the Lithuanian Government, we must be vigilant about the possible emergence of new routes for illegal migration through Belarus.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the EU’s external border with a dictator-controlled neighbour could not do without a physical barrier, and that Lithuania did not see any alternative to its construction.

‘Our principled position is that the EU must invest in strengthening the protection of its external borders. Responsibility for the protection of the EU’s external borders cannot fall only on the Member States – it is a common responsibility of the entire EU,’ said the Head of the Lithuanian Government.

The Prime Ministers also discussed concrete possibilities for the EU’s assistance to Lithuania, EU migration policy, joint efforts to reduce migration flows, and the importance of active dialogue with the countries of origin of irregular migrants at the EU and bilateral levels.

‘EU’s political and diplomatic pressure on countries of origin to sign and implement readmission agreements needs to be stepped up,’ said Šimonytė.

The Lithuanian Prime Minister noted that full responsibility for the smuggling of migrants and the consequences of this crime lie with the Belarusian regime, as its state institutions and border services directly contribute to its organisation. The Baltic Prime Ministers emphasised that the EU must provide an appropriate response to Lukashenka’s regime, including by extending sectorial sanctions.

The Heads of Government of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia also discussed the security situation in the region.

The Baltic Prime Ministers adopted a joint statement expressing their appreciation to the European Commission, Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Europol, all the EU Member States, and partners for the political and practical support.

‘Rapidly deteriorating situation on the EU external border requires swift, robust and decisive response to the Belarusian regime as well as intensification of the diplomatic, financial and technical support to Lithuania. The EU negotiations with the countries of origin of illegal migration are of paramount importance,’ reads the joint statement of the Baltic Prime Ministers.

The statement calls on the EU Council and partners to extend individual and sectorial sanctions on the Belarusian regime, as well as to establish new sanctions regime targeting all parties involved in the state-sponsored use of irregular migration flows.

 

An English version of the Joint Statement of the Baltic Prime Ministers is available here.