There are indications that the Minsk regime is looking for migrants for potential smuggling in several other countries besides Iraq, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.
“We have indications but they are ever changing. Last week, there were reports about Lukashenko's discussion with Morocco, and now we hear of Pakistan,” Landsbergis told reporters on Thursday.
Lithuanian officials have accused Alexander Lukashenko's government of facilitating migrant smuggling to the Lithuanian border. Most of the migrants have been from Iraq.
According to an investigation by LRT, at least some of the migrants are being brought to Belarus on tourist visas, from where they are guided to the Lithuanian border.
“Is it a method of political pressure? Obviously, they are trying to have more than one route to Minsk,” Landsbergis said. “It's probably either an attempt to increase the migrant flow, which is dangerous for both Lithuania and the EU, or they are looking how to replace the Iraqi route if the EU manages to close it.”
The existing route for Iraqis to enter the EU via Lithuania must be closed, Landsbergis underlined.
“The Iraqi line is key. If that line remains, it might be viewed as an encouragement for others: look, Europe has done nothing, that line is effective and we can open other countries as well,” Landsbergis said.
On July 15, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's order came into force on a visa-free regime for citizens of 73 countries who want to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Under the new rules, people can stay up to five days in Belarus without a visa.
Over 4,100 irregular migrants have been detained in Lithuania so far his year after crossing in from Belarus.
Lithuania has declared a state-level extreme situation over the unprecedented migration influx.