2021.08.02 13:37

Lithuania may ask EU countries to relocate migrants – PM

BNS2021.08.02 13:37

Lithuania may ask other EU countries to accommodate some of the migrants who have been crossing into the country from Belarus.

Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said on Monday her government planned to ask for assistance, if the situation became unmanageable.

“We are considering it, but I cannot say yet when [Lithuania] will make the request. But if the situation becomes hard to manage, of course, we will,” she told reporters.

Earlier on Monday, the Lithuanian prime minister discussed Lithuania's migration crisis with visiting European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

According to her, EU member states are ready to send equipment and personnel to Lithuania. While the EU does not have a mandatory migrant relocation system, there is “a possibility to ask for voluntary sharing of migrants”.

“In my proposal, there's also a mandatory solidarity mechanism to make sure that when a member state is under pressure, it can have predictable support from other members, not only voluntary,” Johansson said.

Lithuania has detained over 3,000 irregular migrants so far this year after they crossed into the country from Belarus. Lithuanian officials claim the Belarusian government is involved in facilitating migrant smuggling from the Middle East and Africa.

Border guards say most of the migrants want to get to Western European countries via Lithuania.

More EU involvement needed

Šimonytė said Lithuania also needed the EU to to get more involved, for example, by talking with Iraq about cutting flights to Minsk and repatriating the migrants.

“Here we have the greatest expectation in the EU's ability to use its negotiating position with the Iraqi government,” Šimonytė told reporters.

The prime minister also stressed the importance of the readmission issue when negotiating with Baghdad.

The practical assistance Lithuania is receiving from the EU is also very important, the Lithuanian prime minister said, adding that Lithuania expects other countries and international organisations to lend officers and interpreters.

“We have discussed this type of assistance as well, and also other assistance measures the EC could provide. Financial ones as well,” she said.

Meanwhile, Johansson acknowledged that “more needs to be done” to resolve the crisis.

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