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2021.10.26 09:59

Lithuania ‘more transparent’ than Poland in dealing with migrants – EU commissioner

Saulius Jakučionis, BNS2021.10.26 09:59

Lithuania is dealing with the migrant crisis transparently, European Commissioner Ylva Johansson says. However, there might be violations of EU law in the way migrants are being treated on the border with Belarus.

Lithuania is more transparent with EU institutions than neighbouring Poland which is also facing an influx of irregular migrants, Johansson says.

Read more: Migration crisis in Baltics and Poland

"I can't give a carte blanche to everything that might happen or has happened at the Lithuanian borders," the European commissioner in charge of home affairs said in an interview with BNS on Monday.

"I am very concerned about reports of pushbacks, but overall [...] Lithuania is really trying to comply with the acquis and really trying to do the best and are trying to be transparent here,” she added.

“Actually, I can also see a difference in the attitude from the Polish government that has been less transparent that has now adopted a new law that, in my view, may not comply with EU acquis and there is a lack of access towards this emergency. So if I compare, I must say I think of Lithuania as really trying to do its best in this very very difficult situation,” she added.

Read more: Lithuania will still seek EU funding for border wall – minister

Her comments followed a statement in the European Parliament last week when Johansson said migrant push-backs should not become a norm on the EU border and should not be legalised.

Frontex, Europe's border and coastguard protection agency which has deployed resources to Lithuania, stated several weeks ago that it recorded around 20 violations of migrants' rights on the Lithuanian border. The agency is investigating them, it said.

Lithuanian officers maintain that the measures they are using on the border with Belarus should not be considered push-backs. They say that migrants are not allowed to enter Lithuania, but are offered an alternative of asking for asylum legally at border checkpoints or Lithuania's Embassy in Minsk.

Read more: Belarus sends truckloads of asylum seekers to Poland, Baltics – BBC

Only three migrants have so far used this option, according to the State Border Guard Service (VSAT) and the Foreign Ministry.

Johansson says that Belarus is responsible for the migration crisis.

“We are in a situation that is really dangerous and this is a hybrid threat that Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland are facing from the Lukashenko regime and he's using people in an unprecedented and very very dangerous way, where people are being lured into a trap at their external borders,” the European commissioner said.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. A slightly larger number of people were stopped from crossing into the country since August 2.

Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating migrant smuggling, calling it “hybrid aggression”.

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