Lithuania plans to build a barrier on the border with Belarus and deploy troops to prevent migrants from illegally crossing into its territory, news wires reported. According to PM Ingrida Simonyte, more than 1,000 migrants had been held after crossing the border since 1 June.
At a news briefing in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, Simonyte said that “an additional physical barrier” would be built on the border with Belarus. She pointed out this would be “a certain sign and a certain deterrent to organisers of the illegal migration flows”. “To assist our border officers, our army forces will be used to increase the number of people physically guarding the border,” Simonyte added.
Lithuanian PM accused Belarus of offering migrants flights to the Belarusian capital Minsk, citing evidence found on at least one such person who had reached Lithuania. “There are travel agencies, direct flights that connect Minsk with Baghdad for example, and there are agencies both in Belarus and other countries that operate and attract ‘tourists’ to Minsk,” Simonyte told Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said a large number of illegal migrants trying to cross into Lithuania from Belarus had been flown in from Turkey. He had asked his Turkish counterpart to help identify any such arrivals. The EU has already sent personnel from its from its border agency Frontex to Lithuania’s border to help deal with the growing migrant crisis.
Lukashenko has repeatedly warned that Belarusian authorities will no longer be trying to stop an influx of illegal migrants from abroad to EU members. “If some think that we will close our borders with Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine and become a camp for people fleeing Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Tunisia they are mistaken,” Lukashenko said on Tuesday. “We won’t hold anyone, they are coming not to us but to the enlightened, warm and cozy Europe,” he added mockingly.