VILNIUS – The European Commission could consider suspending visa issuance to Belarus' citizens due to the growing influx of illegal migrants from the country, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said on Monday.
"I'm also responsible for the visa policy. And I must say that I stand ready to consider taking actions on visa suspensions towards Belarus in this situation," Johansson said at an extraordinary joint meeting of the European Parliament's Committees on Foreign Affairs and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
"Of course, we would still like to have contacts with ordinary Belarusian people, but still I think this could be something that could be considered," she added.
"We must stand ready to use all tools at our disposal," the commissioner said. "Migrants must not be instrumentalized for political purposes Lithuania should have sufficient support from the European Union".
Lithuanian authorities have detained a total of 1,676 migrants, mostly from Middle Eastern and African countries, on the border with Belarus this year so far, 20 times more than last year.
Belarus says it no longer keeping migrants on its territory due to the EU's sanctions.