Lithuania struggles to maintain diplomatic ties with “criminals” in the Belarusian government, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has said, commenting on a note that Vilnius handed to Belarus in protest of repeated border violations.
The minister told the Žiniu Radijas radio station on Thursday that contacts between Vilnius and Minsk were “minimal”. According to him, Alexander Lukashenko's regime continues to use “criminal measures to create pressure points” on the European Union, Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia.
“Obviously, it is quite difficult to talk with criminals, as we call them, in any political-diplomatic language,” he said. “You usually talk with criminals in court and [...] expect some punishment or at least compensation. That option is not off the agenda.”
The minister said he sees more sense in talks with airlines and countries from which asylum seekers are coming before being redirected to Lithuania and other neighbours of Belarus.
In response to statements by Germany's top diplomat that the key to solving the problem lies in Moscow, Landsbergis said that he did not rule out that “Germany's contacts with people in the Kremlin might be effective in persuading Lukashenko”.
“But we need to understand what price we are going to pay when we talk with Putin about Belarus. Most likely, that price will be any statehood of Belarus. All paths need to be weighed. My suggestion would be to simply ask the Kremlin, when in contact with it, to stay out of the Belarusian affairs,” he said.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry handed a note to Belarus on Wednesday to express its “strong protest” at repeated violations of the Lithuanian border.
The move came after a Belarusian border guard walked up to a sign marking the Lithuanian border near the municipality of Druskininkai on Monday.
Almost 4,200 irregular migrants, most Iraqi citizens, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it “hybrid aggression”.
Latvia and Poland have also been facing an increase in irregular migration in recent months.
Read more: Migration crisis