VILNIUS – Individual EU member states' communication with authoritarian Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is undermining the block's unity and might be used by the Minsk regime to make political gains, Lithuanian Ambassador for Migration Linas Linkevicius says.
He told Lithuania's public radio LRT on Monday that one should follow the line agreed at the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels in bid to adopt the so-called fifth sanction package for Belarus, aimed against the use of migration as a tool for political goals.
"This is what we need to do now. And when some national communication channels are going on at the same time, it does not do any good for the unity, motivation, and it gives some hope for the regime, which is what it expects – that all of this will help it somewhat, on the one hand, to legitimize itself and make some political gains as it has done before, doing trade in political prisoners," Linkevicius said.
In his words, any conversations with Minsk "have to be only made by sending very clearly demands in one direction" to avoid "trading in influence".
Linkevicius also pointed out that the countries directly affected by the crisis should be involved in the European Commission's recent initiative to launch technical talks with Minsk.
"With no doubt, whatever that is and called, all those countries involved in this conflict have to be involved, first of all, Poland, Lithuania and also Latvia. And this is what we talked about yesterday when the Polish prime minister visited Lithuania. (…) We expect it (coordinated action – BNS) as it cannot be any other way," the diplomat said.
He also expressed his concern over doubts whether Belarusian air carrier Belavia would also be sanctioned.
"We'll see how that looks like but there's a threat to the decisive and effective implementation of sanctions," Linkevicius said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Lukashenko twice last week, breaking the silence of more than one year between the West and Minsk. Western countries do not recognize the results of the August, 2020 presidential election in Belarus.
Western countries and Lithuania accuse the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression" in retaliation for the block's sanctions for Belarus for its crackdown on the country's opposition following last year's presidential election.