Turkey could help identify irregular migrants crossing into Lithuania from Belarus as a significant share of those people arrive through Turkish airports, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has said.
“We believe that Turkey has information about the identity of those people. Identification of people is one of the bigger challenges faced by the Lithuanian government today,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“We could identify those people quickly in cooperation with Turkey and would then be able to demand that they are accepted in the countries they have departed from,” he added.
According to the minister, this issue had recently been discussed with the Turkish foreign minister and arrangements for a visit to Ankara in the near future were under way.
Landsbergis also said that he had a similar discussion several weeks ago with his counterpart from Iraq, the home country of the majority of migrants.
“We asked to provide a possibility to transfer a consular employee to Lithuania either from the embassy in Warsaw or from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad. Lithuania could cover such personnel costs as it wants to be able to identify those crossing into the Lithuanian territory as quickly as possible,” the minister said.
More than 1,400 irregular migrants, most of them without documents, have been detained at Lithuania’s border with Belarus so far this year, with the majority of them coming from Iraq. In comparison, 81 people were detained in 2020, 46 in 2019, and 104 in 2018.
Lithuania declared a state-level emergency on Friday due to the recent increase in irregular migration, with officials saying it is a campaign organised by the Belarusian regime against Lithuania.