Lithuania will continue to seek EU funding for the construction of a wall along its border with Belarus, Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė says.
“I believe we need to work in this direction. We have to prove and offer arguments why it is important. Despite the absence of decisions right now, we have already made our own decisions, and we will have a physical barrier, it is being constructed, and work is underway,” the minister told BNS on Monday.
Read more: Migration crisis in Baltics and Poland
She added that she had personally inspected the construction. “It shows that we will have this barrier over the next year,” according to Bilotaitė.
Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU leaders that Brussels would not fund border walls.
The European Commission's and the European Parliament's longstanding view is that “there will be no funding of barbed wire and walls” on the border, according to von der Leyen.
However, the EC president recognised that the recent intensification of irregular migration across the EU's eastern border was a “hybrid attack” by the Belarusian government.
Lithuanian Minister Bilotaitė says that “there's agreement” with Brussels about changing the bloc's migration policy.
“It's been clearly said that they [EU institutions] understand and recognise it to be a hybrid attack and that it's not just irregular migration. There's agreement that changes in the migration policy and the entire legal system are necessary,” she said.
“Of course, we heard the position that there are doubts over the physical barrier, but we need to stress that Lithuania has made a decision and is building the physical barrier and will do that. I believe we will continue working consistently for the physical barrier to be recognised as one of the key measures, and we will also seek funding,” Bilotaitė said.
Almost 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. In early August, Lithuanian border guards started pushbacks of migrants.
Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating migrant smuggling, calling it “hybrid aggression”.