VILNIUS – Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite on Friday called for Russia and Belarus to be expelled from the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).
"We respect Interpol's neutrality and appreciate its efforts to introduce stricter control over the National Central Bureau in Moscow," Bilotaite said after meeting with Juergen Stock, the organization's secretary general, in Vilnius.
"It is understood that Interpol's constitution does not contain any provision for suspension or expulsion of a member country. But I am sure that a legal solution can be found if the international community agrees," the minister said.
"There is no sense in Russia, which has no respect for any rules of international law and order, being a member of Interpol. The same applies to Belarus," she added.
A couple of weeks ago, Interpol said it was restricting Russia's ability to enter information directly into the organization's vast network, deciding that communications must first be checked by the general secretariat in Lyon, France.
Interpol stressed in a statement that it was maintaining its pledge of neutrality amid the war between two of its members, triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
However, the organization said that "heightened supervision and monitoring measures" of Moscow's National Central Bureau were needed “to prevent any potential misuse of Interpol's channels", such as targeting individuals in or outside Ukraine.
Stock said Interpol must remain neutral, otherwise it could become a political tool.
It is in the international police organization's interests to keep certain channels with Russia and Belarus open so as to be able to prevent or detect serious international crimes, according to the secretary general.
Stock said further action would be taken if new violations were found on the part of Russia or Belarus.
He noted that individual member states may take political decisions not to cooperate with Russia or Belarus and not to exchange data with them.
At the meeting in Vilnius, the Lithuanian minister expressed concern that Interpol channels could be used by Russia and Belarus to persecute opponents of the political regimes.
In response, Stock called on Interpol's member countries to step up their efforts to provide information directly to the organization, especially in such sensitive cases.
Interpol, the world's largest international police organization with 195 member countries, will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.