VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Friday urged the European Union to step up its efforts to deal with the challenges of irregular migration.
In his speech at the European Council, Nauseda said that "not only the migratory pressure in the Mediterranean countries, but also the situation at the EU eastern borders calls for decisive action at the EU level", according to a press release by his office.
In the Lithuanian leader's words, attention must be paid both to protecting the EU's external borders and to engaging with the countries of origin of irregular migration.
"The instrumentalization of migrants at the EU's eastern borders continues," said Nauseda. "For two years now, we have been facing the phenomenon which requires not only adequate preparation and prompt response, but also legal measures at the EU level."
Lithuania and some other EU states want the Schengen Border Code to include the concept of migration instrumentalization, references to all types of stationary and mobile border security infrastructure, common minimum border surveillance standards, and the possibility for member states facing migration instrumentalization to take the relevant national measures.
However, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in September voted in favor of removing all provisions related to the instrumentalization of migration from the draft amendments to the Schengen Code.
Almost 4,200 migrants entered Lithuania illegally from Belarus in 2021. However, the vast majority of them fled Lithuania once they were allowed to move freely.
Lithuanian border guards have prevented a total of almost 22,000 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.