Lithuania and Iraq have agreed on closer cooperation in order to deal with the current influx of irregular migrants, Lithuania's Foreign Ministry has said. As part of the scheme, the two countries will send delegations.
“We have agreed on the political principles of cooperation. Technical delegations will discuss concrete measures in more detail. We have also agreed on their meeting in the near future,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis was quoted in a statement on Thursday.
A Lithuanian expert delegation will visit Iraq in the near future, while Iraqi experts will make a return visit to Lithuania.
Lithuania has experienced an unprecedented hike of irregular migrants crossing from Belarus, many of them Iraqi citizens. Lithuanian officials have accused the Belarusian government of facilitating migrant smuggling in retaliation for EU sanctions.
“Iraq has paid serious attention to the situation at the Lithuanian state border. In addition, we have been given a promise that they will launch an investigation into a possible criminal network organised by Belarus in Iraq, which exploits the people of Iraq, selling them trips to the European Union, although they do not travel farther than a migrant camp,” Landsbergis said.
His comment followed a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. The latter told a joint press conference that Iraq would not accept smugglers in the Iraqi society and also stressed the country's duty to protect its citizens inside and outside the country.
More than 1,800 people have been detained in Lithuania after crossing into the country from Belarus this year so far. The Lithuanian government has declared a state-level emergency situation due to what it says is a migrant crisis.