Lithuania, Poland to work together to speed up EU migration policy changes

  • 2021-09-17
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania and Poland will work together to press the European Union to accelerate the review of its migration policy and take into account the risk of hybrid threats, Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said in Warsaw on Friday.

"As for the future, we must work shoulder to shoulder to ensure that changes are made in the EU's migration policy and legal system, so that member countries can protect themselves when they are under a hybrid attack," she said ahead of a joint sitting of the Lithuanian and Polish Cabinets in Warsaw. 

Bilotaite was speaking after meeting with her Polish counterpart, Mariusz Kaminski, and Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri in the Polish capital to discuss migration issues. 

The Lithuanian Interior Ministry said in a press release that the situation at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border has now been stabilized and that the pushback policy has worked well, with over 2,500 people barred from illegally entering the country. 

However, pressure from Minsk is not easing and attempts are being made to organize new illegal migration routes, taking advantage of the crisis in Afghanistan, according to the press release. 

The ministry also notes that Lithuania, Poland and the European Union as a whole are facing not only an influx of illegal migration orchestrated by Belarus, but also an avalanche of disinformation, which requires a united response from all countries, too. 

Over 4,100 migrants, mostly Iraqi nationals, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year, compared to just 81 in all of 2020. Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".

Neighboring Poland and Latvia have seen an increase in illegal crossings after Lithuanian border guards started pushing migrants back to Belarus.