Baltic leaders urge changes to EU migration policy, support Poland

  • 2021-11-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on Monday urged to the European Commission to launch a review of the EU's migration policy and expressed their support for Poland with several thousand migrants massing on its border with Belarus.

In their joint statement, Gitanas Nauseda, Egils Levits and Alar Karis called on the EU's executive body not only to propose "the necessary changes to the EU legal framework on migration and asylum policy", but also to provide "adequate EU financial support for building physical barriers and infrastructure". 

The Baltic presidents reiterated their condemnation of the Belarusian regime's instrumentalization of migrants for political purposes and called on EU and NATO leaders to "increase diplomatic efforts in the countries of origin of illegal migration". 

The three presidents voiced their concern "for the human rights and safety of the migrants currently in Belarus, who are being forced to breach the European Union border" and urged the international community "to hold the Lukashenko regime accountable for human trafficking". 

They called on "all relevant international organizations to actively engage in resolving the situation created by the Lukashenko regime".

"The ongoing serious situation was addressed and assessed by the UN Security Council, and we call for concrete actions” by the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, they said. 

Nauseda, Levits and Karis also expressed "their appreciation to the European Union institutions and agencies, in particular Frontex, and our fellow Member States for their support in this hybrid attack". 

"[We] appreciate NATO Allies’ solidarity and support for remaining vigilant against the risk of further escalation and provocation by Belarus through continued instrumentalization of illegal migration and for monitoring the implications for the security of the Alliance," they said. 

Among other things, the Baltic leaders expressed their "readiness to continue supporting the Belarusian civil society".

Following their meeting in Vilnius on Monday, the Baltic presidents held a remote meeting with their Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda.  

Several thousand migrants converged on Belarus' border with Poland last week. They set up camps and began attempts to force the border into Poland. 

Fearing a similar scenario, Lithuania last Wednesday declared a state of emergency along its border with Belarus and at irregular migrant accommodation facilities.  

Over 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year.

Lithuania and other Western countries accuse the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".