European Council President Charles Michel stated on Monday (July 5) that the EU “speaks with one voice” and condemned Belarus’ decision to allow illegal immigrants to enter Lithuania in response to EU sanctions.
The Lithuanian government declared a state of emergency on Friday, because the majority of Iraqi immigrants arriving from Belarus reached about 150 per day, exceeding the number of people entering each year in the past three years.
“My colleagues in the European Council know very well… the Belarusian authorities are using irregular immigration to try to put pressure on the European Union, including Lithuania,” Michelle and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda held in Vilnius. Said at a joint press conference.
“The European Union loudly condemns the pressure exerted by the use of immigration. I want to express the unity of the European Union,” he added. “I personally want to assure Lithuania of the unity of the member states.”
Michel said that he will meet with the Iraqi Prime Minister next week to discuss the repatriation of Iraqi nationals.
In the four days between Friday and Monday, 560 migrants crossed the 679 km (422 miles) border between Lithuania and Belarus, bringing the total number of migrants this year to 1,232.
Nauseda said at a press conference: “Communications with a regime that we do not recognize its legitimacy are very complicated. The regime did not make mistakes or negligence, but deliberately used immigration as a political tool.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated on May 26 that Belarus will no longer prevent immigrants from crossing the western border into the European Union.
Earlier, a Ryanair plane was forced to land in Minsk, where a Belarusian dissident was arrested, and the European Union imposed sanctions on it.
Lukashenko said: “We used to catch migrants here in droves – now, forget it, you will catch them yourself.”
Michel promised that more officials from Frontex, the European Union’s border and coast guard agency, will help patrol the borders of Lithuania and Belarus.
The Vilnius government has ordered the construction of a tent village with a capacity of 1,000 people and asked all its municipalities to find places to resettle the migrants.