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2021.10.08 11:10

Dozen EU countries call on Brussels to fund border walls, 'legalise' pushbacks

Benas Gerdžiūnas, LRT.lt2021.10.08 11:10

Interior ministers from 12 EU member states have signed a joint letter, calling on Brussels to finance a barrier on the border with Belarus, EUobserver news website reported on Friday.

"Physical barriers appear to be an effective border protection measure that serves the interest of the whole EU, not just member states of first arrival," they wrote. "This legitimate measure should be additionally and adequately funded from the EU budget as a matter of priority.”

The letter addressed to the European Commission and dated October 7 was signed by ministers from Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia.

Read more: EU's border agency records 'collective expulsions' in Lithuania

This comes after the Minsk regime opened a migration route to the EU via Belarus, which Vilnius has called “hybrid aggression” in response to international sanctions.

Over 4,000 asylum seekers have entered Lithuania, before the authorities approved pushback measures, allowing officers working at the border to return migrants to Belarus.

Latvia, as well as Poland, have also reported a major influx of irregular migrants. At least five deaths have now been confirmed on Poland’s border with Belarus.

Legalising pushbacks?

The letter also feeds into the previous calls by the Commission to amend the Schengen border rules, according to the EUobserver. The twelve EU ministers said there are no clear rules when a country is faced with a “hybrid attack”.

While not directly mentioning pushbacks, “some diplomats are already referring to the proposal as a call to ‘legalise pushbacks’”, Politico Europe news website said on Friday.

France, Germany and Spain, the countries that get the most asylum applications, did not sign the letter, according to Politico.

Read more: ‘Legal’ pushbacks: Lithuania not alone in EU calling for changes

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