VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, agreed on Monday to maintain a common stance in combatting illegal migration via Belarus, the Lithuanian leader's office said.
"The protection of the EU's external border is a common concern of EU institutions and EU member countries," Nauseda said in a press release after a telephone call with Duda. "Illegal migration can be used against any country, therefore urgent regional measures are needed."
"It is necessary to prepare in advance, especially in light of the approaching Zapad military exercise, when new provocations may occur," he added.
The two leaders underlined that the influx of illegal migration is a hybrid attack used by Belarus as a geopolitical weapon against the EU, according to the press release.
Nauseda stressed the need to erect a physical barrier along the border with Belarus as swiftly as possible, noting that the EU's financial assistance is important for the project as well as for irregular migrant readmission procedures.
Talks are already underway with migrants' countries of origin and transit in an effort to stem the migration flow, curb the smuggling of people and prevent potential terrorist threats, according to the Lithuanian president.
Nauseda thanked Duda for Poland's support in dealing with the migrant crisis.
Over 4,000 migrants – mostly Iraqi citizens – have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year.
Lithuania has declared a state-level extreme situation over the irregular migration influx which it says is being orchestrated by the Belarusian regime.
The flow has decreased considerably after Lithuanian border guards last week started pushing migrants back to Belarus and diverting them to border checkpoints or diplomatic missions to ask for asylum. However, neighboring Poland and Latvia have recorded an increase in illegal crossings.