Estonia to assist Lithuanian border authority under pressure from Belarus

  • 2021-06-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonia intends to help the Lithuanian border authority, which has come under pressure from illegal immigrants organized by the Belarusian regime, the amount of aid is not specified by the police, the news portal of public broadcaster ERR reports.

Estonia is to assist Lithuania in the framework of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).

"The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) has indeed turned to the member states, including Estonia, to involve additional support in guarding the Lithuanian border. Support was requested in the form of additional officials and equipment, which Estonia, among others, is offering to Lithuania," Helen Neider-Veerme, head of the office for international cooperation at the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, said.

She added that, for security reasons, she could not disclose the extent to which the Police and Border Guard Board would contribute to guarding the Lithuanian border.

"In the future, the number of officials and the volume of equipment will largely depend on the current situation, where, as migration pressures change, it will be considered on a running basis whether to reduce or further increase the contribution to guarding the Lithuanian border. The extent to which the support of border surveillance by both Estonian and other officials involved in the joint operation is needed will also depend on further events at the borders of Lithuania and other EU countries," Neider-Veerme said.

Lithuania has come under pressure in recent weeks from migrants arriving from Belarus, who are allegedly being helped by the Belarusian authorities to reach the border. The sharp increase in the number of migrants is associated with the revenge of the ruler of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, aimed at Lithuania.

While 81 people were caught illegally arriving in Lithuania from Belarus last year, 46 in 2019 and 104 in 2018, this year 405 immigrants have arrived in Lithuania illegally across the Belarusian border, mostly Iraqis arriving in Minsk from Baghdad by charter flights.

According to Neider-Veerme, Frontex is constantly monitoring the situation at the EU's borders and is ready to send additional officials or equipment to each member state as the situation changes.

The deployment and technical expenses of officials participating in Frontex joint operations are covered from the Frontex budget.

The proposal to help Lithuania must also be approved by the Estonian government on Tuesday.