2021.11.30 15:55

Lithuanian president in Paris calls for response to Belarus crisis, Russia's military buildup

BNS2021.11.30 15:55

As French President Emmanuel Macron voiced support for Lithuania over the ongoing migrant crisis, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said in Paris that the European Union must find ways to resolve crises at its eastern borders.

He also stressed the importance of deescalating the situation near Ukraine's border where Russia has been increasing its military activity.

“We see that risks are accumulating in these countries [Belarus and Ukraine], and we, as EU and NATO partners, need to find ways to respond,” he said on Tuesday as he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

As Russia is massing its military forces near Ukraine's borders, there's a risk to the country's “territorial integrity and sovereignty”, Nausėda said.

Nevertheless, he added, Kyiv has to feel safe, because Ukraine “is a very important territory for Europe as a security guarantor”.

Stepped-up cooperation

Speaking about the ongoing migrant crisis in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, the Lithuanian leader pointed out to Minsk's disrespect for human rights and the need to protect them.

“Unfortunately, we see that the Belarusian regime, which previously showed disrespect for the human rights of its own citizens, is now showing the same disrespect for the human rights of illegal migrants. [...] Therefore, I very much appreciate you effort, and EU effort, for us to find ways to prevent this crisis which is evolving into a humanitarian crisis,” the Lithuanian president said, addressing Macron.

“First of all, we need to speak about the protection of the EU's external border. It has already been done a lot at the EU level to step up this protection. We do feel this support. We also need to work on the issue of repatriation of migrants and the suspension of new flights to Belarus that are increasing the risk that people will suffer at the EU border,” Nausėda added.

Meanwhile, Macron said the ongoing migration crisis near the EU's eastern borders was the Belarusian regime's hybrid attack, adding that the EU jointly responded to the situation, but had to deepen cooperation to resolve this problem.

“We want to step up cooperation. [...] We continue to seek to ensure that United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi could work in Belarus to organise migrants' return to their countries of origin,” the French president said.

“We need to boost border protection and work with third countries,” he added.

Changes to EU law

Macron also said Europe supported “eastern countries in ensuring border protection”.

He also said the ongoing migration crisis had revealed flaws in the Community law: “Our EU refugee and migration management system could be improved.”

In late October, EU leaders called on the European Commission to propose “all necessary changes to the EU's legal system”.

Lithuania has been actively seeking a review of the EU acquis for it to include clear rules and measures countries could take when facing similar situations.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. Some 7,400 people more have been turned away since early August, when border guards were instructed to keep them out.

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