Migrants are always illegally crossing the Belarusian border into the EU. Germany, too, is now concerned about it. A quick end is not in sight.
Vilnius – The EU is raising serious allegations against the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko because of the sharp increase in the number of migrants at the Lithuanian EU external border and wants to step up protective measures. What the EU is dealing with is not primarily a migration crisis, but an “act of aggression” by the Lukashenko regime, said EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson loudly dpa in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. This is “absolutely unacceptable”.
Johansson had traveled to Lithuania to get an idea of the situation and to discuss the next steps with government officials. At the almost 680 kilometer long border between Lithuania and Belarus, more than 2000 illegal border crossings by people from countries such as Iraq or African states were last registered in July alone. In the entire past year, there were only 81.
Belarus uses migration as a weapon: Berlin is also concerned
According to the EU, the increase in the numbers is deliberately brought about by the Belarusian government. In the past, Lukashenko had openly threatened to let people from countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria pass through in response to the EU sanctions imposed on his country.
In Germany, too, there is now concern about the developments. Because it is feared that some of the people arriving in Lithuania might try to get further to the west. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) and his Austrian colleague Karl Nehammer therefore spoke at the end of last week in favor of providing Lithuania with comprehensive support for border protection. “It would be fatal if we only limit the funding to the care and accommodation of migrants who are already in the country,” they commented.
Belarus uses migration as a weapon: Most migrants want to go to Germany
Research by the Lithuanian media confirms the fears in Berlin. According to this, most migrants are drawn to Germany. According to a report by the Internet portal 15min.lt A trip from Iraq to the Federal Republic of Germany, which begins with a legal flight to Minsk, costs a total of around 3,000 dollars (around 2,500 euros).
It is not foreseeable that the situation can be brought under control quickly. Lithuania recently tightened its asylum regulations and started erecting a fence at the border. But because there is no barbed wire, the construction of the border barrier finally came to a standstill. Lithuania’s Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite recently stated the cost of securing the border at up to half a billion euros.
Belarus uses migration as a weapon: the border is to be protected with reinforced “physical barriers”
The EU therefore wants to give Lithuania more support. Johansson made it clear on Monday during a border visit that she also saw the need to protect the Lithuanian EU external border with reinforced “physical barriers”. At the same time, she pointed out that the EU was already helping in many other areas. According to her, more than 100 border guards from the EU border protection agency Frontex will support the work of local forces in the future.
Johansson admitted on Monday in her press conference with the Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, however, that the measures taken so far have not achieved much. The situation is getting worse, she said.
Belarus uses migration as a weapon: EU is already imposing sanctions on Belarus
On Friday, the EU threatened those responsible in Belarus with sanctions. “The EU and its member states condemn the instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees by the Belarusian regime,” said a statement published by the EU’s foreign affairs representative, Josep Borrell. The possibility of restrictive measures against smugglers and other people involved in human trafficking will be examined.
With the existing sanctions against Belarus, the EU has responded to the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition in the country. This also includes the illegal arrest of the blogger Roman Protassewitsch, who is critical of the government, from an EU perspective. Authorities in Belarus had forced a passenger plane on its way from Athens to Vilnius in Lithuania to a stopover in Minsk in order to arrest him.
The most far-reaching punitive measures so far have been economic sanctions, which are primarily directed against state-owned companies. Affected are companies that earn money with petroleum products, potash fertilizers and goods for the manufacture of tobacco products.
Belarus uses migration as a weapon: the situation is deteriorating
With regard to the sanctions, Lukashenko said: “We prepared ourselves for it, we knew what threatened us.” And at the same time he threatened: “We have to show these bastards on the other side of the border that their sanctions are their own impotence. “
Lithuania is internationally one of the greatest advocates of the democracy movement in the neighboring country and has long been a refuge for the Belarusian opposition. The country has welcomed many members of the opposition, including opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya. (mhof / dpa)
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