VILNIUS – Lithuania’s Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite has sent a letter to Ylva Johansson, the European Union’s (EU) Commissioner for Home Affairs, asking to consider a possibility for the Community to co-finance the installation of a patrol trail on Lithuania’s border with Belarus.
“Thanks to joint efforts made together with the European Commission, Lithuania now has one of the most integrated and state-of-the-art external border management systems across the EU,” a press release from the Interior Ministry quoted her as saying.
“However, we need to continue to improve our border protection infrastructure and be ready to the fullest degree to respond to various threats. The patrol trail will help us achieve this goal,” the minister added.
Lithuania currently plans to install new sections of patrol trail and mend the existing ones along the 462-kilometer stretch of its border with Belarus in order to improve the response time and beef up prevention of irregular border crossing.
Investment required for this project has been estimated at up to 60 million euros.
However, in its press release, the ministry did not specify the amount of funds, which Lithuania would apply for.
Meanwhile, Bilotaite stressed that investment in border protection proved effective not just in preventing irregular migration but also in combating smuggling.
Lithuanian border guards have prevented more than 19,900 people from crossing in from Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to turn away irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.
The State Border Guard Service (SBGS) says that illegal migration to Lithuania and the EU is being facilitated by Belarusian officials.
Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally in 2021. However, the vast majority of them fled Lithuania once they were allowed to move freely.