Lithuanian foreign minister off to Ankara, Baghdad for illegal migration talks

  • 2021-07-13
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis is leaving for the Turkish and Iraqi capitals on Tuesday for talks on curbing flows of illegal migrants and returning them to their countries of origin.

The minister is accompanied by Government Chancellor Giedre Balcytyte and Interior Vice Minister Arnoldas Abramavicius.

In Turkey, members of the Lithuanian delegations are scheduled to meet with Turkish Foreign and Interior Ministers Mevlut Cavusoglu and Suleyman Soylu.

"During the visit, join action aimed at preventing the ongoing hybrid war operations being carried out by the Belarusian regime against Lithuania when illegal migrations is used as a weapon will be discussed," the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said.

In Ankara, bilateral consultations will be continued to agree on close bilateral cooperation to effectively curb the inflow of illegal migrants entering Lithuania from Belarus.

From Turkey Landsbergis will fly to Baghdad to also discuss ways to cooperate in the area of illegal migrations with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.

Earlier on Tuesday, Landsbergis said EU officials may join the Lithuanian delegation in the talks since illegal migrations into Lithuania "is n EU problem".

"Other states, especially those to which migrants would be looking to flee to, agree that, in principle, we need to have very clear return mechanisms and we need to work with the EU to do that. In my opinion, this is our key task today," he added.

The EU is currently considering lifting the Schengen visa regime for Iraq," the minister said, adding that this "is not related to this crisis; it's just a decision that has been long in coming".

Based on the latest official data, a total of 1,716 irregular migrants have been detained at Lithuania's border with Belarus this year so far, more than a 20-fold increase compared to the whole of 2020.

Most of the migrants originally come from the Middle East and Africa.

The Lithuanian government has declared a state-level emergency situation due to the growing influx of irregular migration via Belarus. 

In retaliation for EU sanctions, Minsk says it is no longer stopping migrants seeking to cross into the bloc.