Greek experience in managing migration crisis very important for Lithuania – PM

  • 2021-07-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Greece's experience in managing a migration crisis is of great value and importance for Lithuania, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte says.

Speaking at a joint press conference with her Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens on Thursday, the Lithuanian prime minister thanked the Greek government for "technical support and expertise".

"It's already being provided and will be provided along the way. We want to learn from the experience that is real, natural, although, painful sometimes," Simonyte said.

Greece faced a major migration crisis in the middle of last decade when asylum seekers from the Middle East started arriving en masse in the country via the Mediterranean Sea.

The Lithuanian prime minister underlined that Lithuania's not "a track towards EU".

"Lithuania is not a corridor, not a track towards EU: Sweden, Germany or other countries. There are procedures and legal instruments to request for asylum," Simonyte said.

In her words, Belarus is not an unsafe country to live, except for opposition members, media representative and members of active civil society.

"There will be a lot of cases where requests for asylum at the end of the day will be considered groundless," the prime minister said.

The total number of migrants in Lithuania might seem to be not very high but the country is scared of the "tendency as the main influx happened over a short period of time".

"We clearly see that there are processes and procedures that are operational to make this flow even bigger," the head of the Lithuanian government said, adding that not only criminal but also Belarusian government institutions are fueling this migration crisis.

Simonyte also thanked Greece for its solidarity in response to the forced diversion and landing of a passenger plane, en route from Athens to Vilnius, in Minsk to detain Belarusian opposition blogger Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, a Russian citizen who studied in Vilnius.

Meanwhile, the Greek prime minister pointed out that the pressure Lithuania is facing "is not your to manage alone".

"The Greek government extends whatever know-how it has. I hope this tricky situation is resolved as soon as possible," Mitsotakis said.

He also stressed the need of the EU's joint policy on migration to avoid unbearable pressure on countries facing such problems.