Airlines that fly to Belarus should not be allowed to operate in the European Union, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis proposed at the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
According to Landsbergis, Belarus continues sending irregular migrants into Lithuania. As the weather keeps getting cooler, it is becoming more difficult to provide decent accommodation to foreigners who ask for asylum in the country.
Political measures are as important as a physical barrier in stopping the migrant flow, he said.
“One of the measures is flight suspension. We managed to persuade Iraqi and Jordanian airlines to terminate their flights [to Belarus],” Landsbergis said. “But new flights appear every week. The European Commission is trying to stop them, but it takes a very long time.”
“That is why I proposed banning airlines that fly to Minsk from flying to the EU. It is a wide-reaching measure,” he added.
According to Landsbergis, it is unfair that Lithuanian taxpayers must fund the construction of the physical barrier, while some airlines “earn money from bringing migrants to Minsk”.
Almost 4,200 irregular migrants, mostly Iraqi citizens, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. Vilnius has accused Minsk of orchestrating migrant smuggling, calling it “hybrid aggression”.