RIGA - To respond to hybrid warfare properly, the European Union's (EU) laws must be amended, European Parliament member Inese Vaidere (New Unity) believes.
As Girts Salmgriezis, the Latvian communications adviser for the European People's Party (EPP), told LETA, the European Parliament at a plenary session this week discussed the migration emergency at the EU's border with Belarus.
"Let's not be naļve - this is not a refugee crisis but hybrid warfare triggered by Lukashenko and supported by Putin. Latvia is therefore doing the right thing by not letting the migrants enter the EU. But laws should enable more a extensive response to such hybrid attacks also in the long term," Vaidere said.
The MEP noted that illegal migrants still attempt to cross from Belarus into Latvia, Lithuania and Poland on a daily basis. She added that it is easy for member states in the middle of Europe which do not have to worry about the protection of their borders to criticize other countries' actions, but that explanatory efforts have raised awareness also in Western Europe that this unprecedented aggression that weaponizes humans and that it is every country's duty to protect and defend its border.
Vaidere stressed that all member states must actively help strengthen the border with Belarus, which is also the EU's external border. The MEP indicated that it is not yet clear how the EUR 200 million allocated for this purpose will be distributed among Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
"Our government must work to secure significant funding for Latvia, including for the construction of the fence," Vaidere said.
To support Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, the European Commission at the beginning of December proposed scaling back some asylum rights for six months at the EU-Belarusian border, allowing Poland, Latvia and Lithuania to hold claimants longer and deport rejected applicants more easily. The proposal would give border authorities in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland longer to register asylum claims, potentially holding them at border reception centers. They would have four weeks instead of the current maximum of ten days.
"This is a right but insufficient step. Laws must be amended to provide much more extensive possibilities to respond firmly to such hybrid attacks also in the long term," Vaidere said, adding that in 2022 EU lawmakers will be working on amendments to the Schengen Border Code that would provide a permanent solution to the situation where third countries use migration for their political goals.
The MEP also underlined the necessity to take a strict stance on Russia, which is supporting Alexander Lukashenko's hybrid warfare and threatening its neighbor Ukraine, massing over 100,000 troops at its borders.