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2021.05.27 09:15

Lithuanian PM calls Lukashenko 'migrants and drugs' threats absurd

BNS2021.05.27 09:15

Alexander Lukashenko's regime is unpredictable and one has to be prepared for anything, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said on Wednesday, commenting on the Belarusian authoritarian leader's threats to flood Europe with “migrants and drugs”.

“This is an unpredictable regime from which you can expect anything, and you have to be prepared for anything,” Šimonytė told reporters.

“We've been reinforcing the protection of our border for years and intend to do so in the future. We'll continue to use all means to protect the citizens, the state and the economy of Lithuania,” she said.

Šimonytė noted that Lukashenko's address to the Belarusian parliament was obviously aimed at convincing Belarusians of the legitimacy of his actions.

“Commenting on Lukashenko's statements from a common-sense point of view has been more than difficult, almost impossible, for a long time now. This is the same kind of regime as the one in the Kremlin which will come up with any, even the most absurd, narrative to justify its actions,” the prime minister said.

Read more: ‘Threat to European security’ – Tikhanovskaya calls for more sanctions on Minsk

“Their aim isn't to convince you, me, the European Union or the international community. Their aim is to convince their societies, continue to intimidate them and repeat the same narrative that they are surrounded by enemies wishing these countries ill,” she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lukashenko told the Belarusian parliament that “attacks” against Belarus had crossed “red lines”.

“We were stopping migrants and drugs – now you will catch them and eat them yourselves,” he said.

“I acted lawfully to protect our people,” Lukashenko said, dismissing the international outcry over Sunday's forced landing of Ryanair's Athens-Vilnius flight in Minsk and the arrest of opposition activist Roman Protasevich.

Read more: Lithuania closes airspace to Belarus air carriers

Unexpected unity

Lukashenko did not expect such a united and decisive response from EU leaders to Sunday's forced diversion of a passenger flight to arrest an opposition journalist, a spokesman for President Gitanas Nausėda said on Wednesday.

“Lukashenko didn't say anything new; he only repeated his usual narrative of ‘besieged Belarus’,” Ridas Jasiulionis told BNS.

“What's new is that he clearly didn't expect EU leaders to be so united and take decisions so swiftly in response to the forced landing of the passenger plane in Minsk,” he said.

“Obviously, the regime feels insecure in the face of a consolidated EU and global response,” he added.

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