Migration, sanctions against Russia, Belarus should be resolved separately – advisor

  • 2024-04-30
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – As the Lithuanian Seimas has recently decided to extend the existing national sanctions against Russian and Belarusian citizens for another year, presidential advisor Kestutis Budrys says the adopted law mixes up the issues of migration and Lithuania's foreign policy, which need to be separated.

"Where the Seimas went a bit astray when discussing this law was that the foreign policy goals involving Belarus were mixed with the migration policy, and we started discussing issues related to migration, and we started putting them into this law, and they could have been dealt with via other laws and other means. Then we mixed so much up that we don't understand whether it should apply to everyone and whether we are talking about the war or migration," the chief presidential advisor on national security issues told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Tuesday.

In his words, by exempting political refugees, long-distance drivers and businesses, they are being put in one pot "under the umbrella of the war in Ukraine".

"I don't know whether we really need to consider how much we can reduce traffic at specific point when we consider the sanction issue. When raising this issue, the president says that the Belarusian authorities' activities against us allow us to treat all Russian and Belarusian citizens entering and crossing the border in the same way," Budrys said.

He believes that Lithuania needs to strengthen the capacity of state institutions and to limit the increased migration flows to avoid the threats identified by the intelligence services, and in order to achieve these goals one needs to stay away from "the things that nobody questions: the Belarusian and the people who are already here and have temporary residency permits to stay in Lithuania".

Last week, the Seimas extended the existing national sanctions against Russian and Belarusian citizens for a year and also introduced some new restrictions, including a ban on the import of agricultural products and animal feed of Russian and Belarusian origin. The specific list of banned products and feed will be approved by the government.

Lawmakers also approved a proposal to introduce additional checks on Belarusians entering Lithuania from Belarus and Russia. According to Zygimantas Pavilionis, chair of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, not only Belarusian citizens traveling on visas, but also those with residence permits in Lithuania will be subject to additional checks for possible threats.

However, the Seimas refused to discuss proposals to restrict Russian and Belarusian travel to their homeland.

The law is yet to be signed by President Gitanas Nauseda.

Budrys welcomed the inclusion of restrictions on agricultural products, saying that there are still several areas where Russians and Belarusians could be subjected to the same restrictions.