Lithuania is taking steps to shore up security on its border with Belarus, such as installing surveillance systems along the entire border within a couple of years, Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė said on Thursday.
Bilotaitė said the ministry was working in several directions.
“The first decision has a long-term perspective. Our goal is to cover the entire border with Belarus with surveillance cameras,” the minister told reporters, adding that she had instructed authorities to work out a plan for achieving the goal as swiftly as possible.
“Let me assure you that there's the political will to do so both on the part of the prime minister and the government. We'll find all the [necessary] financial resources to cover the border as quickly as possible.”
Currently, surveillance systems cover only 38 percent of Lithuania's 680-kilometre border with Belarus. The plan is to install the systems along the entire border within the next two years, according to the minister.
She said the project would cost Lithuania 38 million euros.
Bilotaitė also said that the country was already taking measures to reinforce its border protection “in the short term”.
According to the minister, there has been an increase in smuggling across the border as well as irregular migration lately.
“Currently, we have clear indications that there are problems,” Bilotaitė said. “We have 178 illegal migrants who came from Belarus in the first quarter of this year, a marked increase compared to last year.”
“It seems that, for a fee, these people are transported to the Lithuanian border and then cross into Lithuania in an organised way,” she said. “Belarusian officials seem to be involved in this, too.”