EU migrant mechanism fails to take Ukrainian refugees into account – Lithuania's Nauseda

  • 2023-09-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

MOLETAI – The European Union's solidarity mechanism for sharing irregular migrants fails to properly take into account the contribution of Lithuania and other countries in the region in taking in Ukrainian war refugees, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says. 

"We need take into account the fact that our people, our country, have welcomed a very large number of people from Ukraine, fleeing the horrors of war, and those from Belarus, fleeing the horrors of the regime," the president said during his visit to Moletai on Thursday. "I believe this is not adequately reflected in this solidarity mechanism since these are the same people as those coming from the Mediterranean region. They (Ukrainian war refugees - BNS) are fleeing, unlike those people, from a real war, from all the horrors that come with that war."

His comment came in response to a question about the new migration policy under discussion in the European Union and Lithuania's possible choices. 

In June, the EU Council tentatively agreed on a new migration policy and mandatory participation in the solidarity mechanism.

Under this mechanism, a country's contribution – a certain number of resettled refugees or an amount of money – would be calculated annually based on its population and GDP.  Each state would decide whether to accept migrants or make a monetary contribution.

It was then estimated that Lithuania would have to take in 158 migrants or pay 3.18 million euros a year.

Currently, most irregular migrants come from Africa to Greece and Italy, with a recent surge in arrivals on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

For their part, the Baltic states and Poland have been facing an influx of irregular migrants over the past several years, blaming Minsk for orchestrating it.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally in 2021. However, the vast majority of them fled Lithuania once they were allowed to move freely.

Asked whether Lithuanian could accept people fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh, Nauseda said that "Lithuania is already doing a lot in terms of solidarity".

Yerevan reports that more than 65,000 people have fled the region to Armenia.