Lithuanian politicians' coordinated message is key in managing migration crisis – minister

  • 2021-07-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – A coordinated message from Lithuanian politicians to potential migrants is key in managing the migration crisis, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.

His comment came in response to the presidential office's previously expressed criticism for the recently adopted amendments on the status of migrants.

"I believe that today the most important fact is that the president signed them and we have a law in force. I said earlier that at this stage it's very important what we, all politicians, public figures, say because our words are translated in to the English, Arabic and Kurdish languages, they are spread and might act as an additional invitation to come or act as a deterrence measure for people better not to come," the minister told journalists on Thursday.

"Irrespective of which party we belong to or where we are in the political field, we need to agreed that we send a coordinated message that people can only come to Lithuania and the European Union legally," he said.

Landsbergis also does not rule out the possibility to amend the law in the fall.

On Wednesday, President Gitanas Nauseda signed a package of amendments restricting irregular migrants' rights into law.

The president noted that asylum seekers' rights "must not be restricted more than necessary" and called on the parliament to remove the shortcomings in the law in the near future, it said in a press release.

The new legislation, among other things, reduces the processing time of migrants' asylum applications and restricts some of irregular migrants' rights when the government declares a state of emergency due to a migration influx. 

Non-governmental organizations say the amendments will violate human rights and put vulnerable people in danger. Lawyers also say the new legislation may run counter to the Constitution.

On Tuesday, Povilas Maciulis, Gitanas Nauseda's chief domestic policy adviser, said that the new amendments had thrown the human rights of migrants "into the bin".